December 13, 2010

Trying to write a better essay

As the title suggests, this workshop entails teaching and reminding Arts and Social Science students the basics of writing an essay, and what is expected of us as university students.

The workshop first introduces us to the many basic types of academic writing, the approaches to understanding/choosing a topic and utilizing the sandwich paragraph structure, which consists of the topic sentence, supporting factors, and then finally the concluding sentence. Our workshop teacher then teaches us about Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy, which identifies a classification of levels within the cognitive domain and recognizes the different levels of intellectual behaviours that are important in learning[1]. In this model, we learn the very basic form of learning (ala recalling information) to the most advanced recognized form of learning: evaluating a topic and forming our judgements. We then translate this into our essays, where we were reminded about the core elements of an essay: POINT (the hypothesis), EVIDENCE (the supporting facts) and, lastly, ANALYSIS (process of examining the topic).

As a law student with a lot of essays on my plate, I really appreciate the value of this workshop. It reminds us that it is crucial to understand our Essay Question (EQ) and understand its critical aspects instead of merely assuming. It is from there that we are able to form a purpose in our research and thus create a structure of how we can present our argument and our views. In fact, I am applying the values that I have learnt from the workshop in one of the essays that I am currently working on, which entails discussing whether recognition, despite confirming the existence of a state, is not constitutive of a statehood in any meaningful sense by recognizing how a recognition may confirm the claim to statehood even though the conditions to achieve these statehood was not entirely fulfilled. When I was choosing the essay topic, I have chosen this particular topic by doing some research and asking the seminar teachers to confirm my suspicions about the topic’s aims. Although I believe that recognition does not identify the significance of the requirements of statehood, I was unsure how I can support my stand based on what I know. Hence, I am now organizing my research with the particular purpose of exploring my topic and supporting my stand, whereby I question what constitutes as a state and how recognition is achieved. I will then research for any real-life scenarios that will help me establish my claim. I will also, on a fairer aspect, acknowledge arguments that contradict my claim, although I will try disputing these arguments to support my stand.

With this in mind, I plan to utilize the many lessons obtained from the workshop in my essay. I plan to use Bloom’s taxonomy to determine the level of my evaluation/academic-writing, and the sandwich to structure my essay. However my first plan would be to determine what is required of the EQ, and thus organize the necessary research and the structure in which the essay is to be presented.

[1] 'Bloom's Taxonomy.' Academic Writing for Arts and Social Science Student, Warwick Skills Workshops. Gerard Sharpling.2010

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  • It's always worth remembering that variety, not turmeric, is the spice of life. by Sue on this entry

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