Supporting Your Ideas: Module Activities


1. For each of the claims below, identify the most compelling form of evidence that the speaker might offer. List as many as you can think of.

  • Photo-retouching alters our perspective on beauty.
  • The Internet is an effective protest tool.
  • Body scanners in airports are detrimental to our health.

2. You are giving a speech about the importance of legislation banning text messaging while driving. You want to offer diverse support for your argument that the legislation is necessary. What research tools would you use to find the following forms of evidence?

  • A personal narrative concerning the effects of texting while driving.
  • An academic study concerning the effects of texting while driving.
  • Existing legislation regarding cell phone use in automobiles.
  • A visual aid for your speech.

3. Checking the quality of your evidence is an important step in refining support for your argument. What are three elements that you should look for when determining source quality? Why is each element necessary?

4. You are giving a speech about bed bugs. You point out that bed bugs are a common pest that can be found almost anywhere. You have found a variety of sources for your speech including a bed bug registry website where people can report seeing bed bugs in hotels, an encyclopedia entry on bed bugs, a blog containing pictures and personal testimony about an experience with bed bugs, a scientific study on the conditions under which bed bugs thrive, and a psychological study concerning the way that people are conditioned to respond to the sight of bugs in their bed. Which of these is the most credible source to support your point? Why?

5. The following is an excerpt from John F. Kennedy’s 1963 Civil Rights Address. Read the excerpt, and offer your own paraphrase of his ideas without incorporating any direct quotations from the text:

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened (Kennedy, 1963).

6. Imagine you are giving a speech on ______________ [fill in the blank]. Write a potential specific purpose statement. Then identify three types of research that you would integrate in order to offer balanced and compelling support for your statement.


1. Get to know your library. Use your library website to determine the name of the librarian who works with your major, or in the area of your speech topic. This activity is not designed for you to get the librarian to do your work for you, but rather for you to get to know the librarian better and make them a partner in your research process. Make an appointment with that person and interview them concerning the best way to conduct research for your speech. Take a summary of the assignment, your specific purpose statement, and at least one source that you have already found for your speech. Be sure to ask the following questions:

a. What types of sources would you advise me to focus on in my search for supporting materials?

b. What search terms are likely to yield results that are relevant to my specific purpose statement?

c. Can you offer any tips that will make searching this particular library easier?


2. Using the topics below, or your own speech topic, practice developing productive search terms. Begin by brainstorming synonyms for the topic. Then, consider other concepts that are closely related to the topic. Using those terms, conduct a preliminary search in the search engine of your choice. Skim the content on the 3-5 most promising results and highlight common terms and phrases that appear on each page. Those common terms and phrases should help you narrow your searches as you move forward with your research.

a. National Security

b. Alternative Energy

c. Economic Stability

d. Media Piracy

e. Privacy

f. Local Events



3. Using one of the topics listed in the previous activity, conduct a search on the topic using identical search terms in Google Images, Google Scholar, and Google Books. For each search, identify the source that you think would best support a speech on the topic. Cite each source using a consistent style guide (MLA, APA, or Chicago), and offer your evaluation of the sources’ relevance, quality, and credibility.

4. Watch Stephen Colbert’s report concerning Wikipedia or search “wikiality” if the link does not work ). Using research that you have found on your speech topic, update the Wikipedia page for your topic. Be careful not to replicate the errors that Colbert discusses. Offer only accurate information, and cite the source where support for your entry can be found.

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