Skip to Main Content

WAYS 102 - Real Teachers Please Stand Up - Lynn Hall Fall 2023

Your Assignment

Fall 2023 - Argumentative Essay from Dr. Lynn Hall

This 5-6-page essay will draw from all that you have learned about finding, evaluating, and critically reading a variety of sources to inform your ideas to then compose a focused, credibly evidenced, cohesive argument about who teachers need to be, and how they need to teach to bring change in education -- to stand up for equity. In your argumentative essay, you will first establish how certain characterizations, assumptions, and/or stereotypes about teachers and teaching (e.g., the “hero teacher” myth) have contributed to social inequities in education. You will then argue which characterizations of a teacher and teaching are needed to reform public education to address social inequity in society as it relates to your topic of interest.

Step 1: Choose a topic and craft a research question.  This will lead to your statement of scope for the bibliography assignment.

Step 2: Find 6 RELEVANT scholarly sources THAT YOU CAN UNDERSTAND (if you can't follow the abstract, don't choose it)

Step 3: For each of the 6 sources, write an annotation per the directions in the bibliography assignment.

Step 4: Look for the commonalities in your annotations.  You will be crafting your essay around these commonalities, NOT around the citation list.

What to Do - specifically

Step 1: Topic Analysis

Look at the handout. (Research Process Exercise -link to left)


Choose a general topic

Students with disabilities/special education

Consider what aspects of that topic interest you and form a working research question

What is the best way to address the continuing stigma of special ed?

Create a list of possible search terms - NOT SENTENCES! Individual words that represent your interest

  • disabilities, special education
  • stigma, stereotypes,
  • {specific types, e.g. physically disabled or multiple sclerosis or else maybe learning disabilities, etc}
  • Inclusion, social integration
  • self-esteem, support services

Be prepared to adjust and change the list as you start searching


Step 2: Choose a database

Decide whether you need a:

  • General Database that covers lots of disciplines.
    • The quick search box on the library home page
    • Academic Search Complete
  • Or a focused database that narrows in to the sources for just that discipline
    • On the library home page, click on "choose databases by subject and type"
    • Choose the subject and type of sources you want and see what databases are suggested.

for this assignment, a focused database will be more effective because you need discipline specific scholarly articles.

Step 3: Search the database effectively

  • Use the four main search techniques
    • AND - to connect different ideas 
      • disabilities and stigma
    • ( OR ) - to contain synonym in a group to be searched together 
      • (disabilities or special education) and (stigma or stereotypes)
    • quotation marks - to keep words together that express a single idea
      • "(disabilities or special education) and (stigma or stereotypes) and "support services"
    • Wildcard character - to catch multiple endings of a word.
      • (disab* or "special education") and (stigma or stereotyp*) and "support services"
  • Use the limiters on the left side of the results lists to hone in on useful items, e.g.
    • Recent
    • Articles from Academic Journal
    • in English

Step 4: Evaluate your results and revise your search as necessary

Step 5: Retrieve the articles you choose

Periodicals: A Closer Look

A Periodical is anything that is published regularly and includes newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, as well as some less well-known categories.  You will be required by faculty to use articles from scholarly sources and  peer-reviewed journals in your academic work.  What does that mean?  How do you know that what you are finding is acceptable?

  • name of the periodical (journal, bulletin, quarterly, review...)
  • more pages in the article than in a magazine article
  • abstract present in the article (not just the database record)
  • author affiliation given
  • presence of a bibliography or references

And how do you find them in the first place?  The best way is to use a database designed to locate scholarly articles in your field of interest.

General Searching Techniques for library databases

  1. Try a title or keyword search
  2. Some databases have a list of suggested subject words on the initial results page. Look at them and copy the useful ones. If there is no list, then look at a number of potentially useful records and copy down words and phrases from the "subject" or "descriptor" area of single record. Some databases provide a thesaurus of terms which can lead to broader, related, or narrower terms you may not have thought of.
  3. Go back to the search screen and search BY SUBJECT/DESCRIPTOR using the words you learned about as a result of your first search.
  4. Be sure to connect search terms correctly using the following techniques
  • Boolean connectors
    • AND connects different concepts and narrows a search: Fish AND chips
    • OR, with parentheses, combines synonyms/related terms and broadens a search: Fish AND (chips OR fries)
  • Use quotation marks for phrases: Fish AND (chips OR "french fries")
  • Use the asterisk as a wildcard character to retrieve variations on a common stem: educat* retrieves educate, education, educating, educated, etc. Very useful for capturing plurals


Crumb Library: 315-267-2485
Crane Library: 315-267-2451

Text Us!: 315-277-3730

Social Media

College Libraries


SUNY Potsdam College Libraries
44 Pierrepont Ave
Potsdam, NY 13676