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Essay writing Sara Steinke STAY AHEAD AUTUMN PROGRAMME 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Essay writing Sara Steinke STAY AHEAD AUTUMN PROGRAMME 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Essay writing Sara Steinke STAY AHEAD AUTUMN PROGRAMME 2011

2 Aims of the session Approaching writing your essay in a systematic manner Understanding the question Producing a first draft – writing introductions, conclusions and paragraphs Presenting your final draft – style / presentation / referencing Reflecting upon your present strengths in essay writing, the areas for improvement that you are hoping for and the strategies that work best for you

3 Think about the following 1.What do you think is a ‘good’ essay? 2.Why do you write essays? 3.What is your experience of writing essays? Think about your strengths and the areas of improvement that you are hoping for.

4 What is a ‘good’ essay? Structure Effective paragraphing Considers the reader Evidence of research around the topic Addresses the question Adheres to style / presentation requirements Uses quotes and correct referencing Applies critical thinking / reading / writing

5 Why write essays? Deepens your learning of the subject You learn to use ideas to argue a case Enables you to extend and refine your critical thinking and writing skills Allows you to demonstrate your academic progress Different situations – coursework and exam essays Because you have to!

6 Clarify task Collect and record information Organise and plan Reflect and evaluate Outline and first draft Review first draft Final draft Feedback Stages of essay writing Adapted from Cottrell, S. (2008: )

7 Analysing the question Not answering the question is one of the key pitfalls in essay writing Essay questions can be broken down into: Its topic Any restriction / expansion to the topic The aspect / angle you are asked to consider Instructions you need to follow An analysis of the changes in US policy towards China during the 1970s.

8 Class activity Break the following questions down into their: topic any restriction /expansion to the topic aspect/angle you are asked to consider instructions you need to follow 1.A comparison and contrast of the effects of overcrowding in the developed world. 2.An outline of the requirements for declaring bankruptcy in French law. 3.Trace the origins of the civil rights movement in Texas.

9 Introductions 1.Aim of the essay – use phrases like ‘This essay will evaluate… / assess… / discuss… / compare and contrast…’ 2.Background material and content / define key terms 3.Narrow the focus of the essay 4.Outline the structure of essay 5.Make your thesis statement

10 Conclusions 1.Summary of the main points raised – refer directly to the question 2.Recommendations – and justifications for recommendations 3.Points of consideration for future research / analysis Do not present new material / ideas in your conclusion

11 Paragraphing

12 Rearrange these sentences to form a paragraph A.Later on, people began to write on pieces of leather which were rolled into scrolls. B.In the earliest times, people carved or painted messages on rocks. C.In the Middle Ages, heavy paper called parchment was used for writing, and books were laboriously copied by hand. D.With the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century, the modern printing industry was born. E.Some form of written communication has been used throughout the centuries.

13 Answer ESome form of written communication has been used throughout the centuries. BIn the earliest times, people carved or painted messages on rocks. ALater on, people began to write on pieces of leather which were rolled into scrolls. CIn the Middle Ages, heavy paper called parchment was used for writing, and books were laboriously copied by hand. DWith the invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century, the modern printing industry was born.

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15 When to reference 1. Distinctive ideas 2. Distinctive structure or organizing strategy 3. Information or data from a particular source 4. Verbatim phrase or passage 5. Anything that’s not common knowledge 6. Finally, if in doubt, cite!

16 Where to reference Direct / in-text quotes (used in essay) Bibliography (end of essay)

17 Content editing / proof reading Have you answered the question title? Have you used relevant material? Do you show a good grasp of the ideas? Have you presented a coherent argument? Is the essay written in an objective, analytical way, with appropriate use of illustration and evidence? Is the essay clearly written and well presented?

18 Reflective learning 1.Write down the three most important things that you have learnt / thought about in this session? Why were they important to you? 2.Are there any areas of improvement that you need to take action on? If so, what are you doing to do to improve this aspect of your learning?

19 Recap of the session Approached writing your essay in a systematic manner Understood the importance of addressing the question Looked at writing introductions, conclusions and paragraphs Considered style / presentation / referencing Reflected upon your present strengths in essay writing, the areas for improvement that you are hoping for and the strategies that work best for you

20 Useful reading Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3 rd Edition (Palgrave Macmillan, London) chapter 8 ‘Writing for university’ pp and chapter 9 ‘Developing your writing’ pp Northedge, A. (2007) The Good Study Guide (Open University Press, Milton Keynes) chapter 10 ‘Writing the way ‘they’ want’ pp and chapter 11 ‘Managing the writing process’ pp Crème, P. (1997) Writing at University (Open University Press, Milton Keynes) Redman P (2001) Good Essay Writing (Sage, London) Useful websites /services/facilities/support/essay- writing/services/facilities/support/essay- writing (online resources available on the Birkbeck Library website) /get-ahead-stay-ahead/skills/writing- skills /get-ahead-stay- ahead/skills/structuring_writing (Get ahead Stay ahead interactive tutorials) study/studyskills/reading/essay.asp study/studyskills/reading/essay.asp (website supporting the Palgrave MacMillan study skills books)

21 Example of a strong conclusion Question: Urbanisation in Developing countries To conclude, it seems that urbanisation is, and will remain a problem in developing countries unless international organisations, governments and urban planners put more effect into saving the situation. On the other hand, governments should stop the ‘urban bias’ approach and concentrate on decentralising amenities all over the country. If the government does not do this, they should know that while the cities grow, the rural base on which they depend may be eaten away. It should also be noted that by the time the population stabilises, the rural population will have become a minority.

22 Summary of the main points raised – refer directly to the question Recommendations – and justifications for recommendations Points of consideration for future research / analysis Urbanisation in Developing countries To conclude, it seems that urbanisation is, and will remain a problem in developing countries unless international organisations, governments and urban planners put more effect into saving the situation. On the other hand, governments should stop the ‘urban bias’ approach and concentrate on decentralising amenities all over the country. If the government does not do this, they should know that while the cities grow, the rural base on which they depend may be eaten away. It should also be noted that by the time the population stabilises, the rural population will have become a minority.

23 Example of strong introductory paragraph Question: Discuss the causes of the American Civil War Almost as soon as the Civil War ended, Americans began to search for a way to understand the reasons for a bitter conflict. Even today, strong feelings and personal bias influence debate over the causes of the war. Because the years leading up to the war were characterised by growing conflicts over a series of political and economic disagreement between the Northern and the Southern states, it is difficult to isolate individual causes of the war. It is easy to assume that the main cause of the war was disagreement over slavery simply because the outcome of the war had such dramatic effects on the institution of slavery. In fact, disagreement between the north and the south over tariffs and states’ rights was a more significant cause of the civil war that were opposing views about slavery.

24 Green: Background information Blue: Author explains aim and how it relates with current discussion of war Red: Thesis statement Discuss the causes of the American Civil War Almost as soon as the Civil War ended, Americans began to search for a way to understand the reasons for a bitter conflict Even today, strong feelings and personal bias influence debate over the causes of the war. Because the years leading up to the war were characterised by growing conflicts over a series of political and economic disagreement between the Northern and the Southern states, it is difficult to isolate individual causes of the war. It is easy to assume that the main cause of the war was disagreement over slavery simply because the outcome of the war had such dramatic effects on the institution of slavery. In fact, disagreement between the north and the south over tariffs and states’ rights was a more significant cause of the civil war that were opposing views about slavery.


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