Advanced composition Projects
Copyright © 2015 by Penn Foster, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of the material protected by this copyright may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to Copyright Permissions, Penn Foster, 925 Oak Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania 18515.
Printed in the United States of America
All terms mentioned in this text that are known to be trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Use of a term in this text should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.
Note: Students cannot take ENG300 until or unless they
take English Composition. Students need to show proof
of the prerequisite before they take this course.
INSTRUCTIONS TO STUDENTS 1
LESSON ASSIGNMENTS 13
LESSON 1: A REVIEW OF THE WRITING PROCESS 17
LESSON 2: PLANNING A RESEARCH PAPER AND 37 EVALUATING SOURCES
LESSON 3: FINDING SOURCES, TAKING NOTES, 51 AND SYNTHESIZING
LESSON 4: DRAFTING, REVISING, AND FORMATTING 67 A RESEARCH PROJECT
LESSON 5: DEFINITION: 85 EXPLAINING WHAT YOU MEAN
LESSON 6: READING AND WRITING 107 ABOUT LITERATURE
LESSON 7: COMPARISON AND CONTRAST: 137 SHOWING SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
LESSON 8: ARGUMENTS 161
SELF-CHECK ANSWERS 183
INTRODUCTION Welcome to your Advanced Composition course. In this course, you’ll practice research and writing skills by develop- ing papers that require you to use sources and correctly cite them using MLA formatting. You’ll learn to look at writing with a critical eye—a skill you can apply to your own work, as well as to the reading you do for research or in your daily activities. You’ll apply these skills to your own writing through editing and revising.
COURSE OBJECTIVES The primary objective of the course is to use research to plan, organize, develop, and edit a variety of papers with clarity and precision using standard MLA formatting.
When you complete this course, you’ll be able to
n Use the writing process to write essays using different patterns of development
n Apply an appropriate rhetorical style to an audience and purpose
n Write effective thesis statements
n Develop paragraphs using topic sentences, adequate detail, supporting evidence, and transitions
n Identify, define, and analyze literary elements
n Develop critical reading skills
n Use responsible research methods to locate appropriate secondary sources
Note: For Lesson 7, you’re required to read one novel that has
been turned into a movie and to watch that movie. The list of
movies made from books is extensive and includes To Kill a
Mockingbird, The Princess Bride, and Girl with a Pearl Earring.
(A short story or children’s book isn’t an appropriate selection.
You must read a full-length novel.)
n Use Modern Language Association (MLA) citation and documentation style to reference secondary source mate- rial correctly and appropriately
n Quote, paraphrase, and summarize secondary source material correctly and appropriately
n Use the conventions of standard written American English to produce correct, well-written essays
COURSE MATERIALS The following materials are part of this course:
1. This study guide, which contains
n An introduction to your course
n A lesson assignments page, which outlines the study assignments in your textbook
n Self-checks and answers to help you assess your understanding of the material
2. Your course textbook, Successful College Writing, which contains your assigned readings, as well as additional quizzes, essay assignments, as well as additional quizzes and essay assignments.
Instructions to Students2
YOUR TEXTBOOK Your primary text for this course is Successful College Writing, 6th edition, by Kathleen T. McWhorter. Begin reviewing the text by reading the table of contents on pages xxvii–xlv. Then follow the study guide for directions on required reading assignments. Note the following features of your text:
n The “Quick Start” features at the beginning of each chapter are short introductions designed to help you get a head start on the material. Make sure you work through the exercises, even though they won’t be formally evaluated.
n The organization within chapters includes major head- ings and subheadings that break down each chapter’s content into manageable sections. Exercises and model essays are also important parts of every chapter.
n Modern Language Association and American Psychological Association (APA) style guides for citing and documenting your research. These can be found beginning on page 616 in Chapter 24.
n A grammar handbook that includes information and exercises on the foundational elements of writing, such as grammar, sentence structure, punctuation and word choice.
Instructions to Students 3
YOUR STUDY GUIDE This study guide is intended to help you get more out of the material in your textbook. It’s not a substitute for reading your text. The material for this course is divided into eight lessons. Each lesson contains one or more assignments. Here’s a good procedure to follow:
1. Read the introduction to each assignment in this study guide.
2. Read the required sections in the textbook, keeping your study guide handy as you read. If the study guide refers to a specific figure in the textbook, pay particular atten- tion to that item.
3. After you read the material in the textbook, return to this study guide and use the assignment summaries to quiz yourself on the material you’ve read. Use the headings in the outline to ask yourself questions.
4. When you feel confident that you understand the mate- rial for a particular assignment, complete the self-check in this study guide and compare your answers to those given at the end of this study guide. Do not submit the self-checks for grading.
5. When you’ve completed all the assignments for a particular lesson, review the material and complete the examination, quiz, and/or essay exam(s) for that lesson. Submit each written project for grading and evaluation as soon as you complete it.
6. Complete each lesson in this manner.
Instructions to Students4
Instructions to Students 5
A STUDY PLAN This study guide contains your lesson assignments, quizzes, exams, and essay exams for the eight lessons you’ll complete for this course. The self-checks at the end of each assign- ment will help you assess your understanding of the material so you’ll know whether you should move on to the next assignment or review the material before continuing.
Study pace. You have a study time limit for the semester but not one specific to Advanced Composition. You must pace yourself wisely through the semester’s courses to meet the expiration date, allowing sufficient time for reading, prewriting, drafting, revising, and grading. Generally, you should allot at least two weeks for each lesson, with some taking longer than that. You must complete each exam in the correct order.
The goal of this course is to help you grow as a writer by building on your strengths and improving your weaknesses with each assignment. Therefore, this course emphasizes the process approach to writing. Ideally, you’ll submit each exam, quiz, and prewriting and essay project in order after you’ve received your evaluation of the previous lesson, so that you can apply the instructor’s feedback to your next writing proj- ect. You must successfully complete the prewriting exams for Lessons 6 and 7 before you submit the essay exams. While you’re waiting for evaluations, you should begin to work on the next lesson’s assignments. If you have other courses available for study, you may work on those materials while taking this English course and submit any completed exams.
Organization. To keep your work for this course organized, create clearly labeled files in your word processing program. We recommend you create a primary file folder named “Advanced Composition.” Within that folder, create separate folders, such as “Self-Checks” and “Course Notes.” Also cre- ate a folder for each written exam (Lessons 5, 6, 7, and 8), where you’ll keep files of your research notes, rough drafts, and final draft. Establish a clear naming system for each file so you don’t confuse early drafts with your final version of an essay. When you reopen a rough draft, immediately click
Instructions to Students6
Save As and add the date before further revision. That way you won’t lose anything you may delete but later wish you had kept.
Required video lectures. There are three required videos for the course posted on your student portal. Each video includes information that will help you to complete your assignments successfully.
Exam submissions. Use the following guidelines when submitting your exams:
n Multiple-choice quizzes and examinations: You’ll submit your answers for these exams online.
n Written essays and prewriting projects (Lessons 5, 6, 7, and 8): Unless the individual essay or project instruc- tions specify otherwise, papers must be typed double- spaced using a standard, 12-point font (Times New Roman or Calibri are good examples) and left justifica- tion. Use 1-inch margins on all sides. Each page must have a header in the proper format, containing student name, student number with exam number, page number, mailing address, and email address.
Jane Doe 23456789—50050400
987 Nice Street
My Town, AZ 34567 email@example.com
Name each document using your student number first, then the six-digit lesson number, and finally your name (for example, 23456789_500504_Jane Doe). Save each as “File Type: Rich Text Format” regardless of the word process- ing program you use. Follow the instructions in the textbook on pages 614–615 to ensure your paper is properly format- ted. Use “Instructor,” rather than an instructor’s name. The course is Advanced Composition ENG 300. Don’t use headings in the body of your paper.
Instructions to Students 7
Exams can be submitted online from the student portal using the Take Exam button next to the lesson number on the stu- dent portal. Check to be sure that the document you’ve uploaded is the one containing your final work for evaluation.
Evaluation. Evaluation usually occurs within seven business days of receipt. Exams are scored according to the parame- ters of the exam assignment using the Advanced Composition Course Rubric, which is located in the Appendix of this study guide with a complete explanation of evaluation criteria and skill levels. Instructors may write feedback on both the essay and the evaluation chart. To read the instructor’s comments, download the Instructor Feedback file. Be sure to save this file to your computer since it’s available on your student portal for just a brief time.
Evaluation Process Your instructors will score each writing assignment by apply- ing the rubric contained in this section to evaluate how well your work illustrates both the basic and advanced traits of good writing in various research settings (see Appendix). Although the basic techniques of writing aren’t taught in this course, you’re required to produce good writing. If you’re unsure of something, return to the textbook to fine-tune your skills. For general information, scan your textbook’s table of contents for a chapter breakdown and page numbers. For specific characteristics, use the textbook’s index.
On the chart in the Appendix, each trait is broken into three skill levels explaining what writing at each level looks like and to what extent the writing shows the listed trait. Each skill level is assigned a score that corresponds to the appro- priate letter grade within the Penn Foster College grading scale. (For information about the grading scale, see the Student Handbook.) As such, these scores don’t represent an amount awarded from a possible range of points. Instead, each score value is constant. That means if your writing exhibits the given characteristics, you automatically earn the designated score for that trait and skill level. Papers with inconsistencies among skill levels will be scored according to the middle ground. For example, you may have spelled and punctuated everything with excellent style but your grammar
Instructions to Students8
is poor. The evaluator will average the score of high Skill Realized for Conventions with the score of low Skill Emerging for the score on Conventions. The three levels of skill assess- ment are defined as follows:
n Skill Emerging describes writing that either doesn’t have the trait or that lacks controlled, deliberate application. Writing with traits at this level earns a D or an F.
n Skill Developing refers to writing which shows general competence in the trait but which lacks finesse or depth of understanding in application. Traits in this range earn a low B or a C.
n Skill Realized indicates the writing demonstrates the trait effectively and creatively, earning an A or a high B.
When evaluating your paper, the instructor first reads through your essay to become familiar with its content and flow. He or she then works through the essay, evaluating both problem areas and strengths related to the rubric. Next, he or she fills out a blank evaluation chart identifying where your writing falls within each trait, relying on the descrip- tions in the Appendix to provide the full explanation of the traits your writing displays. Consequently, while reviewing your evaluated exam, refer to the following rubric.
Instructions to Students 9
Thesis: Focus for Audience and Purpose
The thesis establishes a clearly defined, analytic focus unique to the assigned topic, purpose,
Development and Structure of Ideas in Relation to Thesis
Using applicable pattern(s) of development, the writer explores in depth the relationship between
thesis, assertion, and evidence. The opening engages the reader with the thesis. The body para-
graphs develop the thesis in a controlled fashion. The discussion closes with a sense of finality
reinforcing the thesis.
Incorporation of Source Material
Paraphrases, summaries, and direct quotations are aptly integrated with the writer’s style for the
purpose and audience. Sources are relevant and reliable.
Overall Organization of Writing
Transitional words and connective phrasing guide the reader through the relationships between
ideas. Each paragraph contains one idea that supports the thesis. The supporting sentences
connect to/develop the paragraph’s focus.
Word Choice and Presentation Style
The writer shows a consistent point of view, captivating the reader with skillful, precise language
for the purpose and audience. The essay is graceful and easy to read aloud with a natural, pleas-
ant rhythm through varied sentence length and structures.
Using the MLA citation style, the writer accurately documents the required number of sources.
According to standard written American English, the writer correctly applies spelling, punctuation
(including sentence structure), and grammar. These choices make the writing professional and
easy to understand. The writing meets the required length and overall submission format for
The instructor may provide further comments or explanation about a particular strength or weakness within a trait, but primarily you’ll depend on the information given in your study guide. In light of that feedback, you should reexamine your paper and review the textbook to learn ways to strengthen that trait the next time you write. With each exam, your goal is to craft your writing more deliberately and skillfully.
Retakes. Students are required to complete all assigned work, including a retake for any first-time failing attempt on an exam. The evaluation of any first-time failing exam will include a Required Retake form. That form must then be included with your retake exam submission to ensure proper handling. If the assigned work isn’t provided, submissions will be evaluated according to the criteria but additional points will be deducted for not following the instructions. In addition, please review school policy about retakes in the Student Handbook (available online).
Plagiarism policy. Carefully review the plagiarism policy in the Student Handbook (available online). The first submission that departs from this policy earns a grade of 1 percent. If it’s a first-time submission, you may retake the exam (per retake procedures). A second plagiarized submission will earn a final grade of 1% and will be reported to the Academic Review Board.
Instructions to Students10
ACADEMIC SUPPORT AND ONLINE RESOURCES Penn Foster’s digital library offers students access to online resources in all major disciplines and courses offered at Penn Foster, as well as one of the most comprehensive academic databases available today, Expanded Academic ASAP.
Penn Foster’s librarian is available to answer questions about research and to help students locate resources. You can find the librarian in The Community, by using the Contact an Instructor link in your student portal, or the Ask a Librarian link in the library.
Grammarly.com is offering discounts to Penn Foster students who register for a year of service. For a discounted fee, Penn Foster students have unlimited access to the Grammarly’s grammar, spell, and punctuation check, as well as the pla- giarism check. For students who have limited experience with research writing, Grammarly could be the helping hand you need to negotiate the research papers in your future. To register for Grammarly, please contact your English instructor.
Other Resources Other online resources for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and mechanics include the following:
Instructions to Students 11
Daily Grammar: http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.shtml
Blue Book of Grammar and Mechanics: http://www.grammarbook.com/
Guide to Grammar and Writing, sponsored by Capital Community College Foundation:
Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
Instructions to Students12
Lesson 1: A Review of the Writing Process For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 1 Pages 18–21 Pages 73–95
Assignment 2 Pages 22–24 Pages 118–137
Assignment 3 Pages 25–28 Pages 138–158
Assignment 4 Pages 29–32 Pages 159–173
Assignment 5 Pages 33–36 Pages 174–193
Examination 500520 Material in Lesson 1
Lesson 2: Planning a Research Project and Evaluating Sources For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 6 Pages 38–43 Pages 558–565
Assignment 7 Pages 44–49 Pages 565–573
Examination 500497 Material in Lesson 2
Lesson 3: Finding Sources, Taking Notes, and Synthesizing For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 8 Pages 52–55 Pages 575–581
Assignment 9 Pages 56–58 Pages 581–586
Assignment 10 Pages 59–66 Pages 586–596
Examination 500498 Material in Lesson 3
Lesson 4: Drafting, Revising, and Formatting a Research Paper For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 11 Pages 68–70 Pages 598–603
Assignment 12 Pages 71–76 Pages 603–612
Assignment 13 Pages 77–79 Pages 612–616
Assignment 14 Pages 80–84 Pages 616–638
Watch the “Using and Citing Sources” Lecture
Examination 500499 Material in Lesson 4
Lesson 5: Definition: Explaining What You Mean For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 15 Pages 86–88 Pages 263–277, 283–286
Assignment 16 Pages 89–91 Pages 297–311, 318–320
Assignment 17 Pages 92–95 Pages 400–413
Assignment 18 Pages 96–100 Pages 429–457
Essay Examination: 50050400 Essay: Extended Definition
Lesson 6: Reading and Writing About Literature For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 19 Pages 108–109 Pages 658–662
Assignment 20 Pages 110–112 Pages 662–673
Assignment 21 Pages 113–119 Pages 674–678
Assignment 22 Pages 120–121 Pages 679–688
Watch the “Figurative Language: Analyzing Poetry” Lecture
Prewriting Examination: 50050200 Prewriting: Literary Analysis Essay Examination: 50050300 Essay: Literary Analysis
Lesson 7: Comparison and Contrast For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 23 Pages 138–140 Pages 365–378
Assignment 24 Pages 141–143 Pages 378–388, 394-396
Assignment 25 Pages 144–147 Pages 459–488
Watch the “Using Comparison and Contrast: Analyzing a Novel” Lecture
Prewriting Examination: 50050500 Prewriting: Comparison and Contrast
Essay Examination: 50050600 Essay: Comparison and Contrast
Lesson 8: Arguments For: Read in the Read in the study guide: textbook:
Assignment 26 Pages 162–165 Pages 500–512
Assignment 27 Pages 166–168 Pages 512–525
Assignment 28 Pages 169–172 Pages 526–551
Assignment 29 Pages 172–173 Pages 552–555
Essay Examination: 50050700 Essay: Argument
Lesson Assignments 15
Note: For Lesson 7, you’re required to read one novel that has been
turned into a movie and to watch that movie. The list of movies
made from books is extensive and includes To Kill a Mockingbird, The
Princess Bride, and Girl with a Pearl Earring. (A short story or children’s
book isn’t an appropriate selection. You must read a full-length novel.)
Note: To access and complete any of the examinations for this study
guide, click on the appropriate Take Exam icon on your student
portal. You should not have to enter the examination numbers.
These numbers are for reference only if you have reason to
contact Student CARE.
Lesson 1: A Review of the Writing Process
INTRODUCTION In this section, you’ll practice some of the basic writing skills you’ve learned in other courses, such as English Composition or another English course. Because you’re expected to know how to put together balanced sentences and cohesive para- graphs, this review won’t be teaching you how to use the basic tools of writing. Instead, it reminds you to use the skills you have and gives you some practice before asking you to put them to use in your lesson exam.
In this lesson, you’ll learn how to
n Use active reading methods to understand and interpret text
n Identify bias and recognize the difference between fact and
n Develop effective thesis statements and support them with
n Develop unified paragraphs using supportive details
n Use transitions to express coherent ideas
n Use methods of organization in writing, including topic sen-
tences and supporting details
n Apply appropriate techniques of revision and organization to
n Apply the rules of standard written American English for punc-
tuation and spelling
ASSIGNMENT 1: THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT TEXT AND VISUALS Read the assignment in this study guide. Then read pages 73–95 in your textbook. Then, test your progress using the self-check.
Introduction As you may recall, there are two parts to the reading process. First, you must comprehend what the author says, and second, you must figure out what the author means. Interpreting the author’s use of words and their connotations or symbolism isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. No matter how schol- arly an article seems, you must approach it with a critical eye. Sorting out facts and opinions or generalizations and valid con- clusions comes easier with practice. You’ll become more skillful in active reading the more you use it.
Succeeding in college and, ultimately, in your career depends heavily on developing the skills necessary to read and think critically about texts and visuals. It’s important to understand what an author means, as well as what he or she writes, to determine whether there’s more going on in a text than meets the eye. You need to make inferences (reasonable guesses based on the available facts and information) to draw logical connec- tions between what the writer states and what he or she implies. You’ll need to look closely at the available evidence, or note whether there’s no evidence to support either the author’s points or your inferences and decide what that means for the information he or she is attempting to convey. You’ll need to distinguish facts from opinions to determine if you can rely upon the author, and analyze his or her language to ensure that you aren’t being manipulated by connotations, figurative language, euphemisms, and doublespeak. Finally, look for any
Lesson 1 19
generalizations and assumptions the author makes. If you have doubts about the author’s claims, you’ll want to check other more reliable sources.
This section offers you some helpful tips on making sense of visuals, such as photographs or computer-generated images, as well as charts and graphs designed to illustrate relation- ships among observable datasets. For most readers, interpreting visuals poses two basic challenges. First, you may get stuck on a particularly engaging image; you can get distracted from the flow of the written text. Second, you may simply tend to skip over or ignore the image. Instead, you should stop, look, and reflect on the image consciously. Then, as you study the image, reflect on its message and how it relates to the text. Always assume that the image is there to enhance the author’s narrative. Table 4.2 on page 89 of your textbook provides some helpful guidelines for analyzing photographs.
When it comes to graphics such as charts, graphs, or com- plex tables and figures, readers may be inclined to scan the graphic without analyzing it. That’s not a good idea. A better idea can be illustrated by how you should read text material related to mathematics. When you get to an equation, stop. Study it until you actually understand what it means. Apply that same principle to tables, charts, and graphs. Table 4.3 on page 91 of your textbook offers a handy reference for understanding common types of graphics, while Table 4.4 on page 92 provides useful guidelines for analyzing graphics.
Self-Check 1 At the end of each section of Advanced Composition, you’ll be asked to pause and check
your understanding of what you’ve just read by completing a “Self-Check” exercise.
Answering these questions will help you review what you’ve studied so far. Please com-
plete Self-Check 1 now.
1. Read the following passage from the essay “Civil Disobedience,” written by Henry David
Thoreau in 1849, and answer the following questions.
This American government—what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to
transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not
the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort
of wooden gun to the people themselves. But it is not the less necessary for this; for the peo-
ple must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of
government which they have. Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed
on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow.
Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it
got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not
educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accom-
plished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in
its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one
another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let
alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of India rubber, would never manage
to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and, if one
were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions, and not partly by their inten-
tions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put
obstructions on the railroads.
a. What reasonable inference can you make about the author’s opinion of the American gov-
ernment? In composing your inference, use three adjectives that the author would use to
describe American government.
b. Which specific words or phrases in the selection provide hints regarding his attitude
toward American government?
c. What details are particularly revealing about American government?
2. Complete Exercise 4.6 on page 80 of your textbook.
3. Turn to Exercise 4.7 on page 81 of your textbook and answer question 1.
4. Complete Exercise 4.9 on page 82 of your textbook
Lesson 1 21
Self-Check 1 5. Read “American Jerk: Be Civil, or I'll Beat You to a Pulp” on pages 49–50. Complete Exercise
4.11 on page 84 of your textbook.
6. The following topic sentence is an opinion. Which one of the answers gives a fact that sup-
ports this topic sentence?
Although boxing can be a great way to keep in shape, it’s too dangerous for young
adults to pursue boxing seriously.
a. Approximately fifteen to twenty percent of long-term boxers experience the disease
dementia pugilistica, or “punch-drunk syndrome,” which causes loss of memory, speech
impairments, and difficulties in moving.
b. Boxing has a long history and was even selected by the ancient Greeks as an Olympic
c. The violence of boxing makes it unpleasant to watch.
d. Although homicide, suicide, and cancer are among the leading causes of death for
American teenagers, more teens die in automobile accidents each year than from any
7. The following topic sentence is an opinion. Which one of the answers gives a fact that sup-
ports this topic sentence?
If you want to get the most out of your reading, it’s important to read actively by
taking notes, underlining, and carefully focusing on the material rather than rushing
a. It’s now possible to multitask on public transportation, waiting at the doctor’s offices, and-
while at the gym.
b. A Stanford study has suggested that reading with close attention, rather than just for
pleasure, sends blood to many areas of the brain that are important in thinking and deci-
c. The only kind of reading students should skim is material they already understand.
d. Some teachers recommend that students practice quickly skimming to determine if a
bookwill be helpful for their research.
Check your answers on page 175 of this study guide.
ASSIGNMENT 2: DEVELOPING AND SUPPORTING A THESIS Read the assignment in this study guide. Then, read pages 118–137 in your textbook. Check your progress by completing the self-check exercises.
Introduction You may recall from previous writing courses that a thesis statement serves as a unifying principle for an essay or an article. It summarizes the key idea you want to convey, high- lights your approach to the topic, and stimulates the reader to follow your thought process. It must accomplish those feats in a clear, tightly focused way, however. Otherwise, you—and your reader—can become lost in a confusing, vague, or overly broad tangle of ideas.
A thesis statement is the main point of an essay. It tells you what the essay is about and what the author’s position is on the chosen topic. Although a thesis statement is usually short, comprised of one or two sentences, creating an effec- tive statement typically requires a good deal of synthesizing ideas and details that you discovered during the prewriting process. The following guidelines for writing effective thesis statements can be found on pages 122–124.
n Make an assertion.
n Be specific.
n Focus on a central point.
n Offer an original perspective on your topic.
n Avoid making an announcement.
n Use the thesis to preview the organization of your essay.
Lesson 1 23
A thesis must be supported by evidence; otherwise it will be considered a generalization or opinion. There are many differ- ent kinds of evidence you can use to back up your thesis and give it substance. Common types of evidence include exam- ples, explanation of a process, advantages and disadvantages, comparison and contrast, historical background, definitions, and explanation of causes and their effects, among others. Study Table 6.1 on page 126, which shows you the types of evidence that can be used to support a specific working the- sis: Namely, “Acupuncture, a form of alternative medicine, is becoming more widely accepted in the United States.” Figure 6.2, on page 129, offers an example of a worksheet you might use to organize evidence to support your thesis.
Read and analyze the essay “Internet Addiction” by Greg Beato. As you read, take note of the strategies and the evi- dence the author uses to poke fun at overblown concerns about Internet addiction, calling attention to expensive treat- ments and dire predictions from the 1990s, when the Internet was too slow to do much harm. Note also how he shifts his tone and presents evidence that suggests that, while the likelihood of serious social problems resulting from Internet addiction are unlikely, some form of Internet obses- sion could affect society because of the number of people spending so much of their lives online.
Self-Check 2 1. You’ve been researching adult illiteracy in the United States and have a 14-page draft that
includes two pages about how widespread the problem is, six pages analyzing the causes of
the problem, and six pages evaluating possible solutions and proposing one you feel would be
effective. Write a brief evaluation of the appropriateness of each of the following thesis state-
ments in terms of what you’ve already written.
a. Adult illiteracy poses the greatest threat to America today.
b. Adult illiteracy in America has many causes, but it can be eliminated.
c. How can the problem of adult illiteracy in America be effectively addressed?
d. Subsuming a myriad of causal factors, adult illiteracy manifests itself throughout contem-
porary American society.
2. From the following, choose the best working thesis for a research paper about the impact of
governmental policies on the way hospitals provide health care.
a. U.S. government policies on health care have changed during the past 20 years resulting
in hospitals that currently function as oligopolies.
b. U.S. government policies on health care differ greatly from those of Asian nations due to
the different social and economic structures underlying the government.
c. U.S. government policies on health care should be changed to reflect citizens’ current
3. Read the following thesis statements and decide whether they’re effective. Mark each one as
either effective or not effective. If the statement isn’t effective, revise it to make it so.
a. The American economy should provide jobs, fair wages, and police instances of
discrimination in hiring.
b. The point I want to emphasize is that sex education in public schools can reduce the rate
of teenage pregnancies.
c. A healthy exercise program must be based on a person’s level of fitness.
d. I learned a lot about nature from hiking.
4. Read (or reread) George Beato’s essay, “Internet Addiction.” Then turn to page 135 and
respond to the three questions under “Analyzing the Writer’s Technique.”
5. Read (or reread) George Beato’s essay, “Internet Addiction.” Then turn to page 135 and
respond to the three questions under “Thinking Critically about the Reading.”
Check your answers with those on page 176.
Lesson 1 25
ASSIGNMENT 3: DRAFTING AN ESSAY Read the assignment in this study guide. Then, read pages 138–158 in your textbook. Check your progress by answering the self-check exercises.
Introduction To make a point with your essay, you obviously must get people to read it. A strong introduction will grab your readers’ attention and let them know what to expect. As you make your points, effective illustrations can help readers follow your argument and influence their thinking toward your point of view. Your ending should tie it all up in a conclusion that completes your argument, reflects your thesis, and leaves your audience thinking.
The introductory section of this chapter examines a general structure of an essay. Figure 7.1 on page 139 presents an overview of the entire process of writing an essay, from prewriting to editing and proofreading the final draft. Figure 7.2 on page 140 offers a graphical illustration of the main features of an essay, which include
n A title that states your topic in a way that generates readers’ interest
n An introduction that presents your narrowed topic, states your thesis, offers background, and endeavors to capture and hold readers’ interest
n The body, which is typically composed of four or more paragraphs that support and explain your thesis using evidence
n A conclusion that draws your essay to a close by reaf- firming your thesis without simply restating it
This section looks at various methods of organizing evidence within the body of an essay. Among the most common strate- gies are
n “Most-to-least” or “least-to-most,” through which evidence is presented according to importance or relevance to the thesis
n Chronological order, in which supporting details are pre- sented in the order in which they occurred—an organizational method often used in narrative essays
n Spatial order, often used in descriptive essays, presents details in terms of location
This section also discusses different ways in which you might approach creating an outline for your essay. Once you’ve determined the organizational method. Informal outlines (sometimes referred to as scratch outlines) are shorthand summaries of each paragraph using key words and/or phrases. Formal outlines typically use numbers and letters to organize paragraphs in a logical order that begins with a gen- eral statement, under which specific details are listed. Formal outlines may be composed of either sentences or topics and subtopics. Some writers prefer to use a graphic organizer. A sample is presented in Figure 7.3 on page 147.
This section examines strategies for writing a strong intro- ductions, effective conclusions, and titles that present the topic in a way that captures readers’ attention and suggests your approach.
Chapter 7 concludes with two essays, which illustrate the principles of organizing an essay discussed in the chapter. The “Students Write” essay (pages 152–154), “No Place Left for Privacy,” is the first draft of an essay by Latrisha Wilson. The process though which she established her working thesis was covered in Chapter 6. The second essay, “Black Men and
Lesson 1 27
Public Space,” by Brent Staples (pages 154–156), is a narra- tive in which the author recounts a number of incidents in which his blackness inspired such fear that he was afraid for his own safety, explains how he tries to set his “victims” at ease, and touches on his feelings of anger at so often being mistaken for a criminal.
Self-Check 3 Study the following paragraph, and then complete items 1–4.
How did a handful of Spanish conquistadors overcome a Mexican empire comprising a popula-
tion in the millions? The mighty, literate, and culturally sophisticated Aztec society of Mexico
may have appeared invincible. But two factors seem paramount in their conquest. First, the
Europeans had superior weaponry. Second, and perhaps of much greater interest, subtle cul-
tural factors were involved. Ancient prophecies recorded by Aztec priests foretold the arrival of
a bearded god, an incarnation of the mighty Quetzalcoatl, arriving in the Aztec year Reed I
(1516)—exactly when Hernando Cortez arrived. Had Cortez been viewed as a demonic, rather
than a divine, apparition, superior weaponry wouldn’t have saved the Spaniards from Aztec
fury. Cortez took practical advantage of his temporary “godliness” to gather indigenous allies
against the hated Aztecs. Meanwhile, to hasten the success of the Spanish conquest, both
Aztecs and their oppressed populations began to succumb to European diseases like typhoid,
measles, and cholera.
1. Does the first sentence of this paragraph engage the reader? Explain your view in a
2. Create a thesis statement for an essay based on the paragraph.
3. Read this concluding paragraph; then note which two tips for writing a conclusion were used.
The Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire of Mexico was aided by one of the great ironies of
history, the myth of the return of the bearded god Quetzalcoatl. Yet, as we revisit this terrible
drama, we are reminded of a broader fact and a wider context: Similar tragedies still occur
today when Western civilization encroaches on ancient indigenous cultures.
4. Which one of the following titles would be best? Why did you reject the others?
a. They Expected a God and Got a Grandee
b. Cortez and the Prophecy that Betrayed the Aztecs
c. An Empire Falls for a Fable
5. Having read or reread the essay by Brent Staples on pages 154–156, turn to page 157. Under
“Analyzing the Writer’s Technique,” respond to all five items.
Check your answers with those on page 180.