1 The essay writing process
Your approach to essay questions
Consider and answer the following questions.
- What do you do first when confronted with a question or topic on which you will write an essay?
The first thing I do is panic for a little bit, then I breathe in and out and try to figure out what type of research I need to do. Some times, I simply Google a key term to see what is out there and read what ever hits I get. Then I get down to business and start looking through my readings and anything relevant in the Library.
- What questions do you ask about the essay question or topic?
I ask myself if I understand the question. Do I understand what it is being asked of me? If I do, then I go on to do my research. If not, then I first take the question apart, finding the meaning behind the words, looking up key terms on dictionaries and my readings and if I still don’t get it, ask for clarification from my tutor or fellow students.
- How do you usually go about analysing an essay question or topic?
I take the question apart. I set aside the key terms and look at the directive words. I take note of what it is that I need to do, whether it is to argue, explain or discuss, once I know what to do, I can go ahead and sort through my research so I can flesh out a clear message in my essay.
Your approach to essay writing
Reflect on and discuss the following question.
When developing and writing an essay do you usually examine the question or topic, research it, draw up a plan, write a draft, write final copy and then submit it as shown in the linear model?
I have written several essays in my previous units, all of which begin with an idea and a sense of direction. I must admit, in the past, I have typed the first draft straight into a word document and just made sure my grammar and spelling was correct as I went along. Having all the information I needed at my disposal, I simply worked until I finished and then submitted that draft.
I realise now that I should just write a draft, proof read it, make any corrections and then type it and submit it. This way, I can strengthen my arguments with better ideas I may have missed previously.
Activity 3 24.3
Analysing an essay question
Topic: Using the concept of a ‘world view’, identify some of the beliefs and attitudes, particularly to education and learning, that you bring to your learning now.
Reflect critically on how your world view has been shaped by factors such as your gender, age or community.
In your answer refer to Hobson (1996) and Samovar and Porter (2004) from the SSK12 Reader, and Chapter 1 in A Guide to Learning Independently (Marshall and Rowland, 2006, 1-18).
1 What is the question about? List the key terms and ideas and their meaning.
I am being asked to look at the concept of ‘world view’ and its meaning. Once I understand that concept, I am to recognise what I believe in, what shapes me, and how this affects my studies.
I have also been asked to ‘reflect critically’ on what makes me, me with regards to my environment, and I have been given some reading to do.
What assumptions seem to underlie the question?
I assume that the question refers primarily to my beliefs and how these have shaped me into whom and what I am today and how this either helps my learning or impairs it. I think that I am being asked about my background and if this plays a role in how I learn.
2 What do you already know about the question?
I already know what I believe in, even if I’m not certain what my ‘world view’ is. I have always been strong in my faith, and I understand that I am part of a community which may hold sway over the way I live my life.
3 What are the possible main points of the question?
Perhaps I could define the idea of world view, this may be my introduction. Another point could be the beliefs and attitudes I bring to my studies. Further, I could describe what factors shape my world view and reflect on these. I could conclude with what I have learned during this process and how it can help my studies down the road, to complete this degree.
What key words will you use for library search?
I would use world view; beliefs and attitudes; education and learning; gender, age or community.
4 What might your thesis (or conclusion) be?
- What interests you most about the topic?
I am compelled by the idea that I may be influenced in my way of thinking by my environment and my beliefs. I have never really questioned why I think the way I do and I hope that I may learn something about myself. I am also looking forward to learning more about the idea of ‘world view’.
- What aspects of the topic do you want to explore?
I would like to explore why I learn certain way. I find that, just now, really thinking about my learning processes, I tend to dismiss certain concepts because they are in direct contradiction to what I believe, for example, evolution, or Darwin’s theory of natural selection. I wonder if there are many other concepts I refuse to learn about simply because they go against my faith.
- What seems most important about the question?
What I think is important in my mind is that I understand what ‘world view’ means and how it has shaped me and my way of learning.
Given your responses to the above, what is a possible thesis?
Does my world view affect my learning in any way? Does it in fact hinder or help me in my method of studying and applying new concepts?
Questions on approach
5 How might you structure an answer to the question?
List the directive words and their meaning
– Identify: to establish or indicate who or what (someone or something) is.
– Reflect: to think, ponder, or meditate
How many parts are there to the question?
Two parts, one to identify and two, to reflect.
How will you structure your information?
I will have an introduction and a conclusion of roughly 100 words each, two main points with about 200 words each, plus their supporting arguments with the remainder of the word count.
6 How will you acknowledge and examine your subjectivity?
To what extent will you include personal opinions? How will you acknowledge these?
This essay is about my beliefs and attitudes, so it will be very personal indeed. I will be speaking in the first person as I am now, and will continue to use formal language.
7 How much breadth or depth can this essay have?
As I only have a thousand words to work with, I plan on having two main points that I can write in depth about identifying and reflecting on my world view. And because this essay is essentially about me, there’s not that much research I have to add in support to my arguments, just what I believe in and what sways me with regards to learning the way I do.
This week’s activity has been the best one yet. I feel like I am really pushing on and the essay is coming along in my mind and on paper. I know that the essay is compiling information on me, however, I still need guidance and the readings and activities such as these are a great assist! During this exercise I was able to hash out what I want to put into my essay and how to distribute the information. All I have to do now is write out the first draft and see if it makes sense.
When I first read the topic question, I didn’t know where to begin and I became anxious but with the help of this activity I feel I am able to analyse the question, break it down and together with the advice my tutor has supplied via Blackboard, I now can begin to hopefully write an essay worth reading.