Project 1: Desegregation of Education in Virginia


This course focuses on writing in order to investigate the history of education. We began with a broad topic: the desegregation of education in Virginia. In developing research questions to explore, we engaged with primary sources in the DOVE Project’s digital collections. We visited ODU’s Special Collections to learn about other manuscript collections related to integration and massive resistance. Next we will read a peer reviewed scholarly article about the rhetoric of massive resistance by ODU’s own Dr. Epps-Robertson. While considering this variety of sources, we have brainstormed about potential projects, and now it is time for each of you to initiate your own project about a more specific topic you find of particular interest.

Assignment [pdf]

Your assignment for Project 1 is to write an essay in which you explore a research question in order to solve a conceptual problem. As you share your findings or answers with readers, be sure to convey the significance or “so what” of your responses to the problem.

Minimum Requirements

As detailed in the syllabus, projects are expected to be a minimum of 1200 words and make use of MLA guidelines for citation. In terms of the sources you select for your project, ideally your decisions will be based on which sources allow you to develop a compelling research problem and response. That said, passing essays will engage a minimum of at least two primary sources and two secondary sources, with at least one of the latter being a peer reviewed scholarly work

Helpful Hints

You are free to investigate any question that is related to desegregation and/or education. Keep in mind your earlier in-class reflections on the benefits of “find[ing] a topic that you care about, ask[ing] a question that you want to answer” (Booth et al. 14). If you have a research question in mind that genuinely interests you, but you’re unsure whether it’s too far afield, please don’t hesitate to talk with me and I’ll be happy to provide feedback.

Also keep in mind the discussions from The Craft of Research that you have found most helpful. Pages that directly relate to key terms used in this assignment include the following:

  • Topic (29-38, 47-8); questions (38-43); research problem (49-63); conceptual problem (51-7).
  • Primary vs. secondary sources (65-8); archives (37, 66); peer reviewed work (78).
  • Significance and “so what” (43-6); readers (16-25).


The in-class deadline for Project 1 is Tuesday, February 14. However, as the syllabus explains, electronic files are due to BB before class, by 12 noon. Then, you will bring 3 hard copies of your project to class. In class, you will meet in small writing groups, reading each other’s work and composing self-reflective cover letters. A hard copy of your project—along with your self-reflective cover letter—will be due in class, in a folder with your name on the outside of it. Any projects not in keeping with these and other guidelines will not be accepted (resulting in a 0 for Project 1).