Welcome to Big Idea 2: Understand and Analyze. In this topic, we'll discuss how to understand and analyze other people's arguments.
You might have noticed that AP Research's Big Idea 2 has the exact name as AP Seminar's Big Idea 2. Conceptually, they cover the same skills.
You can find the study guide for AP Seminar's Big Idea 2 here
, if you'd like to refresh.
However, you'll need more in-depth skills for AP Research because...
You'll probably be reading more scholarly papers in AP Research than you did in AP Seminar in order to write your final report.
You be working on a topic specialized to your specific research interest. This means your teacher might be able to help you less than in AP Seminar, where you were working with stimulus materials. You also won't be working with a group at all like you did in AP Seminar's Performance Task 1.
You may be tackling more complex arguments than you did in AP Seminar.
With all those in mind, let's look at Big Idea 2's Essential Questions!
What strategies will help me comprehend a text?
What is the main idea of the argument or artistic work and what reasoning does the author use to develop it?
What biases may the author have that influence his or her perspective?
Does this argument acknowledge other perspectives?
How can I assess the quality or strength of others’ research, products, or artistic works?
Four out of these five questions are almost the same as those found in AP Seminar's Big Idea 2. In AP Research, you'll be taking what you've learned in AP Seminar a step further with question 5: assessing the strength of other people's research, products and artistic works. Not only are you asked to make a judgement call about other people’s works, you're also given the freedom to analyze non-text forms of work such as paintings.
How do we find the answers to these questions? Let's take a look at each Essential Question to find out.
Learning Objective: Employing appropriate reading strategies and reading critically for a specific purpose.
This essential question is about active reading and reading comprehension skills. It's important because, after all, it's necessary to be able to understand a text before you can use it for your research. If your understanding is weak, you might oversimplify or misrepresent the texts you're using, making your paper weaker and doing a disservice to the original authors.
📕 We cover this topic exclusively in 2.1 Reading critically for a purpose.
Learning Objective: Summarizing and explaining a text’s main idea or aim while avoiding faulty generalizations and oversimplification.
Learning Objective: Explaining and analyzing the logic and line of reasoning of an argument.
This essential question asks us to find the main idea and line of reasoning of a work. We did this in AP Seminar all the time, and the same skills 100% apply to the works you'll be looking at in AP Research. The only difference is that now, the arguments and artistic works might be more complex. Furthermore, you won't have to analyze a work for a test. This EQ will be indirectly tested by how well you convey your understanding of other peoples' arguments in your paper.
Remember, the comprehension and analysis skills you learned before still apply, even to complex arguments. That said, here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with long papers...
Complex arguments may take more time to read and understand than less complex ones. Go slow and take breaks if you need!
It can be helpful to look at the main idea or line of reasoning of certain sections before you tackle the whole paper.
Learning Objective: Evaluating the relevance and credibility of evidence used to support an argument, taking context into consideration.
Learning Objective: Evaluating the validity of an argument.
Learning Objective: Connecting an argument to broader issues by examining the implications of the author’s claim.
Learning Objective: Evaluating potential resolutions, conclusions, or solutions to problems or issues raised by an argument.
These essential question asks us to think critically about the complexities of an argument: in other words, the stuff that just looking at the main idea and line of reasoning won't answer.
Analyzing the evidence a work uses is part of this process. Does the work use reliable evidence? Is the evidence relevant or outdated? What context does this evidence come from? You won't need to scrutinize every statistic this way, but you should for the key facts you want to use in your paper.
Here are some key aspects to look for when you want to study an argument's complexity...
Context of the argument/paper/artistic work
Limitations of the argument's research
Authorial bias and its effects
Opposing arguments and how they are treated in the work
Implications of the argument's conclusion
Larger connections the conclusion could have to other fields
Learning Objective: Evaluating and critiquing others’ inquiries, studies, artistic works, and/or perspectives.
In AP Research, you have complete freedom in what sources you use for your paper. This is cool, but also terrifying. Fortunately, all of the skills you've been practicing throughout this Big Idea will help you tell if a piece of research or an artistic work is a good one, or if it will be helpful to you.