Learning Disabilities in Higher Education

Research Paper
Topic Learning Disabilities in Higher Education

Like other writing experiences (e.g., thesis, dissertation, writing to publish), the main
purpose of the first draft of your literature review (i.e., not a “rough” draft) is to
provide you an opportunity to submit your best work and receive feedback prior to
your final submission. The purpose of your final draft is to present the results of
your review of the literature related to your topic, demonstrating your level of
mastery of the content taught in this course.
As you create your drafts, remember to:
1. include a title page (see p. 32 in APA manual)
2. include the three main sections we have discussed in class:
a. Introduction, including:
i. An overview of your topic
ii. The significance/importance of your topic
iii. The purpose of your literature review (guided by the significance of
your topic)
iv. The structure/agenda of your paper (i.e., “sign-posting” what is to
b. Body. The organization/sections of this section will vary by student and
topic; however, a few things must be clear in your paper:
i. You found, organized, analyzed, and critiqued a group of no
fewer than 10 studies/scholarly pieces related to your topic.
ii. You are making arguments of discovery (regarding the topic
itself, the research you reviewed, and the gaps/limitations of that
iii. You are making arguments of advocacy (regarding future
directions for research, practice).
c. Conclusion, which should:
i. Connect back to the significance/importance of your topic
ii. Connect back to the purpose of your literature review
iii. Provide a sense of closure to your paper
3. refer to the rubric for guidance on the expectations for this assignment (writing,


1.    The Four “Pillars” of Your Paper. In the body of your paper, you should be able to look at every point in your outline/first draft and discern what kind of argument it represents (an argument of discovery or an argument of advocacy) related to your topic or the research on your topic. Together, those make up the four “pillars” of your paper, as discussed in our last class. I saw some outlines that focused on just one of these “pillars,” all the way up to including all four. As a review, below are some (very over-simplified and basic) examples, just to give you a further sense of what they look and feel like (see Class 2 slides for more examples).
a.    Arguments related to my topic itself:
i.    Argument of Discovery 1: Certain things have been found to make intergroup dialogues successful.
ii.    Argument of Advocacy 1: Intergroup dialogue programs and facilitators should ensure that those things are present/more present in their dialogues.
iii.    Argument of Discovery 2: Certain things have been found to hinder intergroup dialogues.
iv.    Argument of Advocacy 2: Intergroup dialogue programs and facilitators should ensure that those things are not present in their dialogues.
b.    Arguments related to the research on my topic:
i.    Argument of Discovery 1: Past research has focused almost exclusively on race dialogues and gender dialogues.
ii.    Argument of Advocacy 1: Future research should study dialogues on other important topics as well (ability status, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion).
iii.    Argument of Discovery 2: Researchers have focused mostly on students’ experiences, less on dialogue facilitators’ experiences, and not at all on dialogue administrators’ experiences.
iv.    Argument of Advocacy 2: Future research should give more attention to the experiences of dialogue facilitators and administrators.

I suppose it is possible that you some of what you write cannot be categorized as one of these kinds of arguments. For example, you might need to define terms for the reader . . . but even then, the definitions you provide represent arguments of discovery: You are basically saying, “here is how these terms are defined in the literature/field.” In sum, there should be very little text that is now somehow connected to one of these kinds of arguments, and you being able to make sense of your thoughts in this way will be a very helpful step in your journey.

2.    The Value Placed on Following Instructions. If you look at the outline assignment rubric, four of the five points focus on following instructions very closely. Only one point is given for the outline content itself. This is not by accident. Following instructions closely, and perhaps more closely than you ever have before, is one focus of this class. This is a disposition we want you to develop in your first semester so that it can benefit all of your subsequent semesters, jobs, etc., and this disposition will only become more important for future assignments in this class.
a.    As one example, the “Conclusion” section of your first draft is not where you share your conclusions; it is where the paper is wrapped up and concluded. All of the conclusions you have drawn (or, “arguments,” see #1 above) should be in the body of your paper (and only briefly revisited in the conclusion section as you bring things nicely to a close).
b.    Make sure your “Introduction” section explains the purpose of your literature review and outlines what “is to come” (right before jumping into the body of your paper).

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