• All assignments assume that framing and context will be provided by readings, further documentation, and/or in-class work.  When adapting an assignment for your own use, be sure to provide such framing and context through your own course’s text(s) and in-class work.
  • Outcome tags indicate that an assignment addresses one of our writing program’s seven learning outcomes.  While an assignment may relate to multiple outcomes, it usually focuses on one or two particular outcomes, the others being peripheral or merely implicit.  Carefully evaluate each assignment you choose for the outcome(s) on which it focuses.



Instructor: Chris Carroll

  • Rough Draft Due: Wednesday 2/18/09 (Bring three copies to class for peer editing)
  • Final Draft Due: Wednesday 2/25/09 (Bring final draft & the three rough drafts)


A casebook brings together writings on a particular topic. It typically organizes a range of perspectives on a topic so that readers can reconstruct for themselves the context of issues surrounding a topic.

In writing your casebook, you first will pick a current issue that has generated debate. It could be the U.S. Patriot Act, affirmative action, immigration, eligibility standards for college athletes, or any other issue that has provoked a good deal of commentary. If appropriate, it could also be the topic you researched for your letter.

After you select a topic, you will have to do library research on your topic; you can search newspapers and magazine articles to begin finding commentaries written from different positions. As we learned in the Michael Phelps example, remember that most controversies do not have two distinct sides; be sure to include more than one side of the debate. Select at least eight commentaries that are representative of the various positions you find.

Finally, you will assemble a casebook on the issue which incorporates multiple writings on your topic. This will entail an introduction, headnotes, and discussion questions on each source. The document should be double spaced with 1” margins.

Examples of casebook entries can be found in CTW on p. 194-195, p. 271-274, p. 329-331, and elsewhere throughout the book.

Casebook Format

  • Cover Page — Include a title for your casebook, your name, and the date. Also include an illustration; you can design it yourself or you can find an appropriate picture. Be sure it relates to your issue!
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction — Write a brief introduction that gives readers an overview of the issue—what it is, how it began, why it is controversial—and mentions the articles you have selected. Do not be biased; I should not know where you stand on the issue (1-2 pages)
  • Eight Casebook Entries
    • Headnote – before the reading, tell who the author is, where the source comes from, and briefly introduce the reading
    • The Reading
    • Discussion Questions – after the reading, provide at least four discussion questions pertaining to issues the source raises, in order to provoke thought on the subject
  • Discussion Questions — At the end of the casebook, include at least five questions that pull together the various readings
  • Works Cited Page


Your casebook should be written for an audience of fellow students who are interested in researching the topic or issue you are investigating; however, these students are not familiar with the sources you are reviewing. Your aim is to bring them up to speed with what is known at the time and what questions still exist.

Purpose and Goals

  • To explore online research databases and become familiar with the library resources at Virginia Tech
  • To synthesize the issues on a particular topic
  • To effectively use sources in your writing
  • To examine different sides of an issue
  • To learn conventional forms of citing and describing the positions of other authors


The Casebook will be 15% of your final course grade. A grading rubric will be discussed in a later class.


Feel free to e-mail me or stop by office hours with any questions.

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