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BEAM: Using sources purposefully in writing: Home

On the BEAM

Writing and research assignments often urge students to consult as many sources, and as many kinds of sources, as possible. These requirements are not necessarily unsound, but students may believe that the mere number or variety of their sources is more important (or even as important) than how well they use them in their texts. Joseph Bizup's BEAM framework focuses students' attention directly on what they should be doing with the materials they read and introduce into their texts.*

*Bizup, J. (2008). BEAM: A rhetorical vocabulary for teaching research-based writing. Rhetoric Review, 27(1), 72-86. DOI:       10.1080/07350190701738858.

Learning Goals.

Students will be able to...

  • Identify appropriate uses for sources in crafting an argument
  • Identify how a writer has chosen to use sources in a range of ways
  • Make informed choices about how to deploy sources in their own writing

Supports EWP Outcome 2

To work strategically with complex information in order to generate and support inquiry by...

  • gathering, evaluating, and making purposeful use of primary and secondary materials appropriate for the writing goals, audience, genre, and context
  • creating a "conversation"--identifying and engaging with meaningful patterns across ideas, texts, experiences, and situations

Supports EWP Outcome 3

To craft persuasive, complex, and inquiry-driven arguments by...

  • considering, incorporating, and responding to different points of view while developing one's own position

Basic Lesson Plan

Basic outline:

[Any or all materials provided may be distributed and scanned or read before the class session.]

1. Introduce the BEAM framework to your students. This can be done synchronously in the classroom, ideally using the slide deck (BEAM slides [ppt]) provided. They can also be assigned asynchronously to provide more in-class time to answer questions, discuss, and practice applying the concept to specific materials.

2. Divide the class into working groups of any appropriate size. Provide time to scan/read the materials included in the Practice Topic [ppt] file, as necessary. Announce the topic ("The music and politics of Stax Records in Memphis, TN played a valuable part in our national history of racial integration.")

3. Have the class work in their groups. Ask them to experiment bringing in bringing the readings together in support of the given thesis.  They may discuss a variety of uses for each source and write their decisions and rationales on their printouts (if you printed the materials), highlighting chunks of relevant text, as necessary, to support their decision(s) or have them mark up the slides with their annotations.

Writing & Rhetoric Librarian

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John Holmes
M109 Odegaard Undergraduate Library
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3080

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