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Exercise 27: Editing the final draft

1. Evaluate essay writing skills

Discuss your essay writing strengths and weaknesses.

According to my marked essay one, I believe my strengths are correctly formatting my essay and good understanding of referencing. I take particular care in having an aesthetically pleasing essay, because this helps my work stand out. I have learned that good referencing is vital to essay writing, so I make sure I have all my information correct.

My weaknesses continue to be topic sentences and paragraph structure. I worked hard in my essay one, but I still failed to put my plan into action. I have so many ideas that I wish to use, but feel restrained by the word limit. I fear this is something I need to keep a close eye on for my next assessment because I know I need to practice my essay writing skills.

Explain any problems you have with essay writing. Explain if you would benefit from additional assistance.

I really want to work on my paragraph structure and have gone back to previous week’s activities to analyse where I have gone wrong. I am also using the feedback I received for my essay one to help me rectify my mistakes. I would certainly benefit from assistance, I may ask for help from my tutor or fellow students and I will also read out loud my work to my husband for his input.

Compile a list of questions to ask your tutor.

  • Can I confirm I do not need full stops after my in-text referencing and before the brackets? I am little confused about this.
  • Can I also confirm it is best to leave out comments in parentheses?
  • Can I ask for hints and tips on writing effective topic sentences?
  • Am I right in thinking I can only go over 10% of allotted word count for my essays?
  • Can I use two paragraphs to convey one argument?

Reflective Comment

This week’s activity helped me take stock of where I went wrong in my first essay and where I could improve on my style. Together with the feedback I received I hope I can develop a better understanding of essay writing. I understand I really need to work on my topic sentences, which have let me down previously. I think I need to practice because I want to do well as I know I will need to write an essay in my exam at the end of the unit. Having good essay writing skills will also go a long way to boost my confidence in the future.

This week I sat down and really noticed not just where I went wrong, but also what I did right and I was glad to be on the right track. I have learned that I need to give my self a break and be glad that I did well. I stay up until late most nights reading and I have made some adjustments in my life in order to study, such as sending my eldest two children to day care sooner than I planned, but receiving such good marks makes the sacrifices worthwhile. I think that studying and keeping my brain active while I care for my baby is good for me too, because I can remember more now than when I was caring for my eldest two. This to me is good news and I hope I can absorb more as I continue along this path for the rest of my studies.

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Posted by on 01/29/2013 in SSK12

 

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Discussion – Week 9

Discussion – Priest Reading Week 9

 

Remember, we are still on the theme of university culture and a big part of that is writing essays.

So, are essays ‘Expressions of the Interesting’ or, ‘rigid and (even) obsolescent’?

Should you be allowed to express personal opinions on a topic in an essay? Or, is it important to back up your claims and opinions with evidence in the form of quality peer reviewed and scholarly references? If you don’t justify your claims, what would the consequences be? I want you to think not just outside the box here, but why is there a box…?

Are academic essays a way to regurgitate information, or are they a way to think originally and contribute to knowledge in your field? Remember, academic essays are not just written by undergraduates.

What are your thoughts?

 

I like how Priest is optimistic in this reading, in that students might see essay writing as a joyful activity… To me, it is at times scary and frustrating, other satisfying, but after receiving feedback for my last attempt, I know where to start to improve and hopefully learn from my mistakes.

I think that essay writing is putting your own spin on things, but backing your arguments with references, giving credit where it’s due. I have read some scholarly journals and they cite many other authorities, but I always learn something new.

Who knows? I might one day be cited by a student in the future for research I might conduct as part of my own learning journey!

I think that there are always students who need a little structure and purpose to do well in their studies, so they might welcome the rigidity, and as long as there is learning, essays will be an important aspect of academic life.

 
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Posted by on 01/29/2013 in SSK12

 

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Exercise 26: Writing the first draft

1.         The essay writing process

Explain how you go about writing essays. What process do you follow, from you look at the question to when you hand in the finished essay?

The majority of essays I have written have had several topics that I must choose from, so my process begins there. I take a look at each topic to see what I already know and if it interests me. Once I narrow my options down to one or two, I start doing some research; I also break down the question and check for directional words.

Now that I have all the information, I choose the question I will be answering in my essay and I start to flesh out my first draft. I do this by breaking down the question and forming my thesis. I refer to my notes, and to my research and check to make sure my ideas are properly supported and my arguments are strong. I write out my introduction and conclusion, then depending on the word count, I write out the main points.

I try to match the quotes to my ideas, making sure they are correctly referenced and when I am happy with my draft, I polish it, taking care there are no grammar or spelling mistakes and then submit it to Turnitin. Once I have the all clear I submit the complete essay with coversheet to the tutor.

2.         Assessing progress

Reflect on and discuss your progress with your essay. (Refer to the circular model, ‘Essay writing process: Circular model’ to do this.)

More often than not I write out my essays with an introduction and thesis. The conclusion follows and then the main arguments. I tend to do some initial research prior to starting the essay, but if I feel that I am not expressing my point of view effectively, I may do more research and try again. This happens when I cannot find a quote that will support my argument or point.

I have learned to simply write and then when I am finished to go through my work with a fine tooth comb to check for discrepancies and then writing the final product that will be submitted. I generally have a plan; however, if the information is not making sense to me, I may start again and write another draft. For this reason, I like to start on my assessments earlier so that I have time to amend what I have written and still hand my work in plenty of time.

3.         The argument and structure of essays

Write about your responses to these aspects of your essay:

–             the thesis or conclusion;

–             the premises or reasons to be covered that support your thesis;

–             the organisation/structure or order of your premises or reasons.

I have always had trouble formulating a solid thesis on the first try. I am most grateful that tutors give me an opportunity to test it our prior to committing myself to a final thesis statement. Overall, I find writing a thesis very intimidating, but once I have one, I can turn it into a conclusion and I am happy with that.

I really want to make my point and in doing so I need to write good, strong arguments. My initial response is to get as much information as I can, then sift through it all to find something that I can use and be effective. My concern with the premises is that I use in-text referencing correctly.

I have been working hard at utilising correct paragraph structure, which includes a topic sentence, a developing sentence, a supportive sentence and linking sentence. I also find this task a little intimidating, so it is something I take great care in writing correctly.

4.         The importance of writing to you

Explore your answers to these questions

  • Do you like to write? Why or why not?

I love to write and had been an avid writer of short stories and poetry until I got married and life became hectic, doubly so after I had children. But writing always made me feel like I could escape real life and go to places found only in my imagination.

  • Does writing come easily to you? How often do you write?

I think because I find reading so fascinating, it comes more easily to me, I enjoy playing with words, finding out meanings and how to use them in my writing. I would love to be able to write for fun again. Perhaps when I finish my course, or when the children are a little older and I have time to my self again.

  • What do you write?

I used to write short stories and when I was younger I tried my hand at romance, however, I never had any formal training so nothing came of it. I also used to write some poetry when I was in high school, but I do not think I was much good at it.

  • Who reads your writing?

Unfortunately, all my high school books were stored at my parent’s place and they were flooded in 2011, so I do not have anything that anyone can read. The part of me that is not confident in my abilities does not mind that at all. Currently, my husband will read anything I write if I ask him to.

5.         Strategies to improve writing

What strategies do you need to develop or refine to improve your writing? Write a paragraph or two about these strategies.

I would like to implement all the strategies suggested by my Learning Companion text book, these ideas are just what I need to really start writing again. For example, writing a little each day is a great idea. I used to write short stories when I was younger and I think this will help with not only the academic side of studying but also as stress release. I used to write about going off to far away places and this, I feel can come in handy when I am feeling pressured.

As well as writing daily, I would like to share my writing with my husband and perhaps other family members to obtain some feedback. This would give me an opportunity to get used to receiving negative criticism and work toward using that constructively rather than letting it make me feel like a failure. By sharing my work, academic or otherwise, I am also building my confidence about what I write.

Reflective Comment

This week’s activity has opened my eyes to writing for fun again. This, I believe could help me develop creative thinking that will aid me in writing academically. I took a moment to remember what I used to write about and the joy that writing gave me when I was younger. I stopped because I got married and I started working and was simply too tired and time poor to sit down and put pen to paper. I did not realised how much I missed it until completing this exercise.

I have taken to heart the strategies I read in the text book and hope to implement them as soon as possible. I feel that I must make the time to write, if not for my assignments but for my self also. Writing a little each day about anything that takes my fancy sounds enormously luxurious, given that I have three kids to take care of; however, this is something I really want to do and am in fact looking forward to it.

 
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Posted by on 01/14/2013 in SSK12

 

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