Social science w4: opinion column assignment

W4: Opinion Column Assignment

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Opinion Column Assignment Content


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Aligned Objectives:

· Identify specific types of social work documents through advanced searching in social work periodical databases and examination of documents located in periodicals therein.

· Write an argumentative document using appropriate language within the social work field.


The purpose of the Opinion Column Assignment is to give you practice designing and writing a word-limited argumentative document to a broad public audience—the readership of a major metropolitan newspaper, for example. Some social workers will agitate for social change—in a good way—using the newspaper opinion column so that a wide public audience can be involved in the issue at hand, with the goal, of course, of rousing public support for what is seen by the author as a needed change. 

Opinion columns are short—500–600 words—argumentative essays that are usually front loaded with the argumentative thesis in the introductory paragraph or opening paragraphs. What follows is a series of sub-claims supporting the thesis, and then a restatement of the thesis in the concluding paragraph. All of this must be done in 500 to 600 words, remember.

The Opinion Column is, for some social work writers, a practical, short, effective rhetorical tool, one that instantly reaches a broad audience.


Because the Opinion Column is a short document, at first glance, the assignment seems easy, but trust me, it is hard to make a well-argued, well-supported argument in 500 to 600 words. 

One of the best things to do if you have never written an opinion column is read a number of opinion columns. I have provided an excellent sample document, one written by a previous OLLU Social Work graduate student.

As well, every newspaper, print and online, publishes a number of opinion columns each and every day. 

What you are going to do is choose a topic of interest, a topic relevant to social work, and write a 500 to 600 word opinion column.

Many of you, already self-directed to social work, will have topics that interest you. Choose one, one with which you are familiar.

Next, ask yourself: Why is this issue important to me, and what needs to change with this issue? 

Your answer is your claim—your argumentative thesis. 

Then, ask yourself, why does this change need to occur? 

You need 3 to 4 to 5 reasons why this change needs to occur. These are your sub-claims. These support your claim. 

If you look at the sample document, the author is arguing for the creation of “recovery high schools,” high schools at which students in recovery can attend so as not to relapse by returning to old hallways and haunts.  

The author places a number of sub-claims throughout the column, and then, she closes with a restatement of her thesis. 

This is an opinion column, written in a social work context. 


Now, as part of pre-writing, once you have your topic and your thesis, and your sub-claims, you need to write these out in a sentence outline:

1. Claim

1. Sub-claim 1/4

1. Sub-claim 2/4

1. Sub-claim 3/4 

1. Sub-claim 4/4 

1. Conclusion—restatement of Claim

The format for this document is very specific, as are newspaper submission guidelines. If you want to publish in a newspaper, you must follow the submission guidelines exactly, or your column will not be considered for publication.

You need a heading—your name; my title and name; the course prefix (ENGL), the course number (1314), and section (OLXX)—ENGL 1314-OLXX; the due date. 

You place the title two spaces below the due date.

The body of the document is written in 12-point Times New Roman, double spaced, 1” margins all around, with Paragraph After set at 0, 500 to 600 words—no more, no less. Paragraphs are indented 1 Tab (1/2”).  

You need an introduction paragraph with the topic and claim. Then, you need 3 to 4 to 5 short sub-claim paragraphs. Then, you need a single-sentence concluding paragraph that restates the claim. 


We will have an assignment Q&A thread, of course, in the weekly discussion.

This is a short assignment, but it does take some forethought before you draft. 


The column is to have no external sources or in-text citation. This document is your argument.

Save your document:

LastName_FirstInitial_Doc Type

Herrera_M_Opinion Column Assignment

Place any questions you have in the discussion, please.


OLLU-ENGL1314-Sample Document_Opinion Column.pdf

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