CORE Worker Profile: Good Interview–Good Project February 16, 2011Posted by jhicks in : Content, CORE, Essay Planning, Uncategorized, Work & Vocation Unit , comments closed
Good questions will elicit detail useful for the paper and make the interview lively and fun for both of you. Plan out questions well ahead of time. Try some of these:
Describe a typical day at your workplace.
How did you arrive in this field or job? Would you choose it again? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I read an article that said one of the challenges in your field is [ . . . ]. How does this issue impact you?
People have this impression [ . . . ] about your career. In what ways is this accurate or inaccurate?
What is something people don’t generally know or realize about your field?
I’ve been thinking about/hearing about [ . . .] in your field. What can you tell me about that?
How do publications or organizations help you in your field?
Before your interview, write out specific questions related to the theme or direction you plan to take in the paper. When you make arrangements, let your candidate know how much time you think you will need, and at the end of the interview, ask if you can contact him or her again in case you need more detail.
We’d be happy to help you write out questions before spring break! Or check out this handout of other suggestions. How to Interview for the Worker Profile
The Freedom to Write November 1, 2009Posted by lundquistthe3rd in : CORE, Essay Planning, Getting started , comments closed
Beginning an essay or paper where the professor encourages you to define your own topic, either with no restrictions or within a very very general framework, can be quite intimidating at first. I say “at first” because once you learn to channel your energy, writing can become an activity from which it is hard to pull yourself away.
Here I will address a few things that work for me. They are things that I was originally encouraged to do in high school and have stuck with me ever since. When I was a sophomore in high school, I hated writing. I cringed whenever we were given an assignment. It wasn’t until my teacher told me, “Write on any topic you choose. The topic does not have to be ‘academic’ per say or common at all. ” I went to her to get more specifics and she asked me a few questions:
- “What are you passionate about?” Music, I answered without hesitation.
- “What type of music?” Metal, I said.
- “Is there a specific band or aspect of this music you would like to learn/teach people about?” (This assignment was supposed to be a highly-detailed research paper.) I’m not interested in teaching others at this point, but I want to learn about several specific bands. That would be cool, I said.
- She then sent me off to narrow these bands in which I was interested down to one.
- I came back, having decided, and she sent me off to find articles, interviews, and other resources concerning the band.
From there on out, things went fairly well for the first major paper that I would call my own. I came to find out that the band I picked also happened to take very strong stands on different social and political issues. To top that off, I found that I agreed strongly with their stances on these issues. Before long I had too much information for the length of the paper we were supposed to do. Then I had to narrow things down, but too much is always better than not enough.
I think the key step is asking “What are you passionate about?” or “In what area do you have or want to have specific interest or knowledge?” These are questions which will quickly get you on a streamlined path towards finding your research and writing your paper.
Although not everyone is likely to fall into the category of ‘passionate,’ each of us has something that is very important to us. Even if your life philosophy is apathy, there is still something valuable to be said or to explore towards that end. There are others who can and will learn from your words and experiences. There are always new things to learn about your areas of interest. Almost always the process of this learning opens you up to even more.
The Very Quick Guide to Organizing your Paper August 24, 2009Posted by jhicks in : Content, CORE, Essay Planning, International Students , comments closed
Many students organize papers in a deductive organization. This means the first paragraph has a clear statement of the thesis, including its major premise and significance. The rest of the paper presents paragraphs of evidence. A good thesis sentence has a key phrase that can be used throughout the essay.
Ideally, many paragraphs begin with a sentence that sums up the major point of the paragraph. The topic sentence will use key phrases from the thesis sentence.
The conclusion will further discuss the significance of the thesis. The conclusion might make a prediction related to the thesis, suggest ideas for further analysis at another time, or add one more thought-provoking point related to the thesis.
Writing a Thesis Statement July 2, 2008Posted by jhicks in : Essay Planning, Uncategorized , comments closed
You’ve probably heard time and again how important it is to have a thesis statement in your essay. But what exactly is a thesis statement, and where in your essay should you put your thesis once you’ve come up with it?
It’s helpful to think of your thesis as a one-sentence summary of your essay topic and an attitude or position related to your topic. In essence, your essay will explain, elaborate, and defend your thesis in much greater detail.
For example, let’s say you find yourself writing about the following topic
the Internet and its effect on college life
and you decide that in your first draft your thesis statement should be
“The Internet has an impact on college life.”
Writing an essay explaining the fact that the Internet does have an effect on college life would be defending a general observation. You wouldn’t be engaged in an analytical discussion about a topic because the thesis does not include how this topic is significant. Instead, as one of my old profs would say, you’d be writing a “duh” paper. It’s clear that the Internet has an impact on college life. So what?
In order to write an effective essay about the Internet and its effect on college life, you would have to include your take on this matter; that is, how this topic is significant in your eyes. Is the Internet beneficial for students? How so? Or do you feel that the Internet (and all the time spent on Facebook and Myspace) is too much of a distraction for college students? How so? You should also define what kind of Internet activity you are referring to–entertainment or access to research materials. Remember also that you should choose a side and stick with it. To say that the Internet has both positive and negative aspects would be “straddling the fence,” and you rarely want to do that. Instead, argue a particular side but acknowledge briefly the opposing viewpoint – what others believe, why they believe it, and what makes their belief wrong in your eyes.
Thus an effective thesis statement, which will be argued throughout the rest of the essay, will include a topic and an opinion or attitude to defend. But where in your essay should you insert the thesis statement? Many students place the thesis at the end of the introduction paragraph. This way the reader will know exactly what you’re arguing and will be able to follow along as you explain and prove your thesis.
Writing Center Consultant
Planning Your Essay November 15, 2007Posted by egutierrez in : CORE, Essay Planning, Getting started, Uncategorized , comments closed
So you have just received your essay assignment, and now you want to get started. But where should you begin? Should you just start writing, hoping that it will all make coherent sense in the end? Obviously, you don’t want to start writing without a plan, for it is easy to deviate from a specific topic and start talking about something else. So how should you get organized and get your essay started?
The first thing you need to do is analyze the essay prompt. Within a set of instructions given to you by your professor, you need to figure out exactly what he or she is asking of you and what your essay topic should be about. For example, say you are given the following prompt:
“Describe the events leading up to the American Revolution, and analyze the effects of Great Britain’s new taxation policy on the colonists’ need to revolt. Was ‘taxation without representation’ the biggest issue for the colonists?”
This prompt tells you exactly what you need to focus your essay on. Firstly, you need to describe the events leading up to the American Revolution. In this part of your essay, you would simply tell your reader what happened, leaving your own personal opinion out of the discussion. In the second portion of your essay, you would analyze the effects of Great Britain’s new taxation policy on the colonists’ need to revolt. This will require you to move beyond a mere description of this taxation policy and towards a more in-depth look at how this change in policy affected the colonists’ need for independence and self-determination. The third part of the prompt is asking for your educated opinion: was this policy change the biggest issue for the colonists? Here you would either argue in favor of this view or against it, giving supporting evidence from the course texts and lectures to back up your claim.
Now if your prompt is not as specific as the one mentioned above – say if your professor asks you to write a 10-page paper on some aspect of the American Revolution, then you might need to brainstorm for ideas, keeping in mind that your topic needs to be focused and specific. Writing a 10-page paper on the entire revolution would be too general and superficial (there are whole books committed to the American Revolution!). Instead you need to narrow your topic to a specific aspect of the revolution. “Women and the American Revolution” and “warfare technology of the American Revolution” are narrowed topics, but even these will need to be narrowed further. “How women helped further a sense of patriotism during the American Revolution” and “how new military tactics and technology influenced the American Revolution” are good examples of narrowed, focused topics.
Now that you’ve analyzed the prompt and what your professor expects of you, it’s time to formulate a thesis statement and plan your essay. Some people come up with the thesis first and then plan out the essay; others wait until after they have established a conceptual framework to write a good thesis. The best method is, of course, whichever way works for you. In coming up with a thesis statement, make sure it describes your essay topic and your opinion of it (see the section on Writing your Thesis Statement for more information).
Planning your essay requires that you outline which topics you plan to discuss. You need to outline your essay from start to finish, whether you find it more helpful to come up with a very detailed outline of everything you plan to discuss in each paragraph of your essay or whether you find it easier to briefly note what will be discussed in each paragraph. In our above example, you would start with an introduction (that includes your thesis statement), then you would (using as many paragraphs as you need) describe the events leading up to the American Revolution, analyze the effects of Britain’s new taxation policy, and then give your educated opinion as to whether this policy change was the biggest issue for the American colonists. You would finish your essay with a conclusion that not only restates your thesis but also, and more importantly, states how your essay topic is significant.
Now that you’ve planned your essay, you can begin writing it. The essay pre-writing stage is indeed very important because it allows you to look at not only what you’ll be writing but, more importantly, how and in what way you’ll be getting your point across. Write more coherent and thought-provoking essays – and make the writing process itself easier – by taking time to thoughtfully plan your essay.
Writing Center Consultant
Ending your paper October 25, 2007Posted by arussell in : Content, CORE, Education Unit, Essay Planning , comments closed
The conclusion of a paper is always hardest to write . . .I’ve already said everything–what more is there to do?
This is the opportunity to wrap everything up. It is best to restate your thesis at the beginning of your conclusion, just to bring the reader back to your main point. But don’t use the exact same sentence as in your intro, though you should have some key words from the thesis. A slight variation will keep you from sounding redundant.
It is also important not to put any new evidence in your conclusions. All those should be in the body of your paper. This is where many writers have trouble: It is difficult not to sound redundant when you can’t put in any new facts. The conclusion is the place to provide the answer to, “So what?” Why is your contention (thesis) and evidence significant?
Here are interesting questions to think about as you apply your analysis to the big picture and give it significance.
- Why is your argument/analysis important? What effect does your argument have in your life, or in your reader’s life?
- Does this text cast new light on a question people have always asked–i.e. Is human nature inclined toward goodness or selfishness? Since writers from ancient and modern times explore this idea, what does this tell us?
- Have you reached any startling revelation through your argument?
- Do modern readers see this text (idea, topic, issue) differently than readers in former times? If so, what does this say about its significance?
- A prediction or warning: How might life be different if we accept or don’t accept your argument? Picture it for us!
Your conclusion will give readers more to think about and assure them their journey with you was worthwhile.