Writing better essays!

I have finished reviewing your second essays, and the grades are posted on Canvas.  (I graded hard copies of the essays, so you can pick them up with my specific comments by visiting my office hours.)   Here are some thoughts I have about what you wrote.

Read the Guidelines to the Essays carefully and follow the directions specified in the Guidelines.

  • Make sure your paper is double-space with one inch margins and reasonable-sized fonts.
  • Make sure you include a cover sheet with your name on it.
  • Make sure someone carefully proofreads your essay.  Put their name on the cover sheet.

Beginning with the next paper, I will give explicit credit for doing these things right, which means if you don’t you will not earn all the points available for the assignment.

Read the directions for each assignment carefully and make sure you answer every question posed in the assignment.  Each question corresponds to a certain number of points.  If you don’t answer the questions, you don’t get those points.

Your grade is also based on the quality of your writing.  Writing quality is explained in the Guidelines to the Essays.   Flawed writing means you won’t earn all the points for writing quality.  A number of the essays so far have shown the signs of inexperienced writers.  Inexperienced writers need to think more deeply about the assignment.  It’s not enough to just answer the questions posed.  You need to explain your reasoning.   Keep asking yourself why you think what you wrote.  Add that reasoning to your essay.  Deeper thinking will enable you to write in more detail.  Whenever possible, use specifics rather than generalities.  Assertions without evidence are not convincing.   If I indicated problems with your writing or if you just want to write better, you should consider taking your next essay to the Writing Center for them to review.  It’s better for them to discover any problems with your writing so that you can fix those problems before I discover them.

Do you know the difference between analysis and research?  I ask because many of your essays about Katrina seemed to be research (which I said in the assignment I wasn’t looking for), rather than the analysis you were supposed to do.   Research means looking up what experts think.  Analysis means figuring out what you think using the tools (e.g. Supply and Demand) that you have learned in this class.  The essays in this course are mostly asking for analysis, not research.  Please keep that in mind when you write your next essay.

One final note:  *Anyone* can learn to write more effectively.  All it takes is practice.

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