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Sample Essay Format Assignment

Use your concept map or plan

Write your assignment using your map or plan to guide you.  As you write, you may well get new ideas or think about ideas in slightly different ways.  This is fine, but check back to your map or plan to evaluate whether that idea fits well into the plan or the paragraph that you are writing at the time. Consider:  In which paragraph does it best fit?  How does it link to the ideas you have already discussed?

Paragraph planning

For every paragraph, think about the main idea that you want to communicate in that paragraph and write a clear topic sentence which tells the reader what you are going to talk about. A main idea is more than a piece of content that you found while you were researching, it is often a point that you want to make about the information that you are discussing.  Consider how you are going to discuss that idea (what is the paragraph plan). For example, are you: listing a number of ideas, comparing and contrasting the views of different authors, describing problems and solutions, or describing causes and effects?

Use linking words throughout the paragraph. For example:

  • List paragraphs should include words like: similarly, additionally, next, another example, as well, furthermore, another, firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally, and so on.
  • Cause and effect paragraphs should include words like: consequently, as a result, therefore, outcomes included, results indicated, and so on.
  • Compare and contrast paragraphs should include words like: on the other hand, by contrast, similarly, in a similar way, conversely, alternatively, and so on.
  • Problem solution paragraphs should include words like: outcomes included, identified problems included, other concerns were overcome by, and so on.

Note:
Some paragraphs can include two plans, for example a list of problems and solutions.  While this is fine, it is often clearer to include one plan per paragraph.  

Linking paragraphs:

Look at your plan or map and decide on the key concepts that link the different sections of your work.  Is there an idea that keeps recurring in different sections?  This could be a theme that you can use to link ideas between paragraphs.  Try using linking words (outlined above) to signal to your reader whether you are talking about similar ideas, whether you are comparing and contrasting, and so on.  The direction that your thinking is taking in the essay should be very clear to your reader.  Linking words will help you to make this direction obvious.

Different parts of the essay:

While different types of essays have different requirements for different parts of the essay, it is probably worth thinking about some general principles for writing introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions.  Always check the type of assignment that you are being asked to produce and consider what would be the most appropriate way to structure that type of writing. 

Remember that in most (not all) writing tasks, especially short tasks (1,000 to 2,000 words), you will not write headings such as introduction and conclusion.  Never use the heading ‘body’.

Writing an introduction:

Introductions need to provide general information about the topic. Typically they include:

  • Background, context or a general orientation to the topic so that the reader has a general understanding of the area you are discussing.
  • An outline of issues that will and will not be discussed in the essay (this does not have to be a detailed list of the ideas that you will discuss).  An outline should be a general overview of the areas that you will explore.
  • A thesis or main idea which is your response to the question.  

Here is an example of an introduction:

It is often a good idea to use some of the words from the question in the introduction to indicate that you are on track with the topic.  Do not simply recount the question word for word. 

Writing the body:

  • Each paragraph should make a point which should be linked to your outline and thesis statement.
  • The most important consideration in the body paragraphs is the argument that you want to develop in response to the topic. This argument is developed by making and linking points in and between paragraphs.

Try structuring paragraphs like this:

  • Topic sentence: open the paragraph by making a point 
  • Supporting sentences: support the point with references and research
  • Conclusive sentence: close the paragraph by linking back to the point you made to open the paragraph and linking this to your thesis statement.

Here is an example of a body paragraph from the essay about education and globalisation:

As you write the body, make sure that you have strong links between the main ideas in each of the paragraphs.

Writing the conclusion:

This is usually structured as follows:

  • Describe in general terms the most important points made or the most important linkage of ideas
  • Do not include new information, therefore it does not usually contain references
  • End with a comment, a resolution, or a suggestion for issues that may be addressed in future research on the topic.

Here is an example conclusion from the essay on education:

Sample essay 1

The assignment topic

How can schools make the best use of information technology in the classroom?
(Word limit: 800 words)

Analysing and researching the topic

Interpreting the question

According to the technique described at interpreting the assignment question, this topic can be divided up as follows:

  • Topic: schools' use of information technology in the classroom
  • Command: how can
  • Focus: the best use

This question requires you to go beyond merely identifying schools' use of information technology in the classroom. You need to develop an argument around how schools can make the best use possible of such technology in the classroom.

There may be many uses of information technology in the classroom, and you may wish to acknowledge this in the beginning of the essay. However, the focus of your essay needs to be based on examining and explaining the best usage of information technology. It may be that there are several best methods available. Hence, you could then proceed to explain each of these and how they can be implemented in the classroom. Alternatively, there may be one overall best method amongst a group of very good methods, in which case you will need to highlight why one method is better than the others, and how this method can be implemented in the classroom.

The following keywords and phrases were useful in searching for information for this assignment: computers and education, computers in schools, computers in classrooms, internet in classrooms, online technology and education, computer-mediated communication and classrooms, online classrooms, online schools, e-learning.

The essay

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Click on the highlighted links in the text for commentary.

Education means considerably more than just teaching a student to read, write, and manipulate numbers. Computers, the Internet, and advanced electronic devices are becoming essential in everyday life and have changed the way information is gathered. How this new technology is utilized in the curriculum and managed by teachers will have an important role to play in widening the resource and knowledge base for all students. Technology affects the way teachers teach and students learn. To make the best use of information technology (IT), schools need a workable plan to fully integrate it into all aspects of the curriculum so students are taught how, why, and when to use technology to further enhance their learning.

If a school does not have a clear plan of how and why it wishes to implement IT, then it runs the risk of wasting money. In schools today, nearly all classrooms have access to a computer. However, many schools mistake this as incorporating information technology into the curriculum. School staff need to research what IT is available and what would best serve the school's purpose, not simply purchase the latest equipment. There should be a policy stating how IT is going to assist pupils' development and what teachers want pupils to achieve (Reksten, 2000). Staff members need to be clear about what they want IT to do for them before they can start incorporating it into their lessons.

The only way information technology is going to be useful to schools is if all staff members are well-informed and fully supported. It is the principal's responsibility, and should be part of the school's plan, to ensure that all staff are consulted about the changes, and that the change is carefully organised. Some teachers may be resistant, especially if they have not had much experience with computers, so training teachers is essential in implementing IT into the school curriculum. Staff members must feel involved in the process of acquiring technology, and in learning how to operate it, in order for them to increase their confidence in using IT as a curriculum tool. Teachers are only going to be able to incorporate IT into their lessons if they are competent users themselves (Reksten, 2000).

In addition, teachers need to be aware that IT within the classroom is extremely flexible, but that they need to plan what purpose IT serves in each lesson. The skills a child learns are the important part of any lesson, and it is the same with technology. IT needs to be used and understood in all subjects in the same way as the ability to read is necessary for all subjects, and “must be used across the curriculum, in the same way that a pen and pencil are used in most subject areas” (Ager, 2000, p. 15). The best way to plan the use of IT in the classroom is to approach it as simply a learning tool that is more advanced (and more exciting) than the traditional pen and paper.

It is vitally important for students to be taught the strategies for using IT. Children also need to be fully informed about the capabilities of IT before being asked to use it. Pupils should be aware that the contexts in which they use IT will change, and they need to know what the appropriate use of IT is and what is not. Whilst it is important that children learn to use IT effectively, teachers must emphasise that IT is not always suitable. According to Apter (1968), the danger is that the “computer dehumanizes people and inevitably leads them to act like machines themselves” (p. 58). Teachers must make sure they plan to use variety in their lessons. Too much IT instruction may be just as harmful to a child as not enough.

The usefulness of IT in the classroom, as with any learning tool, depends on the innovation and imagination of the teacher. It is imperative, though, that the implementation of IT into a school is carefully planned. The current information explosion makes it essential that IT be used extensively within the classroom so children know how to use IT appropriately and effectively. Teachers must, therefore, be fully informed about what kinds of IT are available and whether or not they are appropriate for classroom use. School boards and teachers must therefore ensure that all staff have a clear plan about what they want their students to achieve through IT. The appropriate incorporation of IT into the classroom will broaden the minds and skills of students, allowing them to be better prepared for further technological advances.

References

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You can also download a copy of the essay with all the comments attached: Sample Essay 1 (56KB)

Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012

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