Approaches To Essay Writing

The main 3 Approaches of writing a Persuasive Essay 

The persuasive essay is the one you try to persuade others to accept your position or point of view by argumentation and providing grounds. Your argument or rationale is the most important thing in the whole essay. This makes it more resembling to the argumentative type of essays. Aristotle, the great philosopher of Greek history, named use of persuasive words as rhetoric.

There are three main doors or in other words, approaches to writing a persuasive essay.

Reason:

Reason is the rationality and logic that makes your argument effective and appealing to the audience or reader. This is the main and basic part of persuasion. Reason convinces people on your stance. But presenting reason is itself a strategic task. You are not just going to simply write it. Make your statement or point in opening or beginning sentence. In next sentences or paragraphs, provide evidence for your statement through expanding it and giving supporting arguments. More original arguments will evoke more persuasion. The type of evidence depends upon the nature of argument. In next sentences, make conclusion about your point. Evaluate merits of thesis you provided. You can also engage in points or evidence against your statement. It will formulate the impression of originality and openness to other points of view which will in turn make your argument stronger. Link points in each paragraph with each other so that it arises as a sequential discussion with a good flow, not random. It will also help to combine similar themes which will be even more strengthening to your argument or persuasive essay.

Emotion:

Evoking emotion will help you to get deeper attention and feelings from the audience towards your statement or argument. It is a tactful task. Do not exaggerate the feelings or emotions in your essay that might make people judge it as outcome of emotional approach towards the subject. There should just be touch of emotions between the lines that touches the heart of people in a rational way.

Beliefs:

You can use beliefs of your audience as nurturing point for your essay or argument. For this you must be aware of the audience that is the people for whom you are writing this essay. It will not only become more rational for them but also enhance the emotional element which will essentially make you essay more effective and persuasive.

Overview: 10 Tips for Improving Essay Writing

The knack of writing a good essay in a subject like history is a skill which is a challenge to acquire for many students, but immensely rewarding and useful. The ability to carry a reader along with a well-crafted argument is no easy feat, since it involves carefully synthesising the creative arts of the storyteller with the scientific rigour of the evidence-driven empiricist.

With this in mind, it is not enough to simply take in an essay, mark it and provide feedback, and then hurry on to the next lesson or activity. Much better is to take in a first draft of the essay, involve the students in some reflection and redrafting, and then take it in for final marking so that the advice is immediately being put into effect rather than going stale whilst the class awaits the next essay assignment several weeks later.

Listed below are a few activities that can be used to help students improve their essay-writing skills after their initial draft of work has been completed.

To accompany this post, you may wish to read these other entries on Tarr’s Toolbox:

  1. Compare first paragraph of several books to analyse stylistic techniques
  2. Develop links between factors using a “Connection Web” template
  3. “Linkage Bingo” to summarise and connect key factors
  4. Using Hexagon Learning for categorisation, linkage and prioritisation
  5. Visual essay-writing: cartoons, sticky-notes and plenty of collaboration!
  6. Use the “Keyword Checker” to ensure student essays cover the essentials
  7. Rubric Grids: Essay Marking Made Easy!
  8. Using the “Battleships” format to Teach Historical Interpretations
  9. Sticky-notes and project nests: collaborate, collate, categorise, connect
  10. Connecting Factors with “Paper People” display projects

Sample Exercises

1. Analysis Skills

▪ Produce an essay plan which contains merely the first sentence of each paragraph. Leave space underneath each sentence so it can be completed.

▪ Pass your essay to a partner. Their job is to explain the points you make using evidence.

▪ Finally, take your essay back (or pass it to a third person) to write a conclusion.

▪ Take your own (or someone else’s) completed essay. Read out just the first sentence of each paragraph to a partner or to the class. If at any point anyone in the class thinks that an opening sentence is a narrative statement of fact rather than an analytical argument they should say “objection” and explain why. Develop your opening statements until the class is happy with the finished piece.

▪ Take your own (or someone else’s) completed essay. Read out just the first sentence of each paragraph to someone else in the class, who has the task of summarising your argument on the board in the form of a flowchart.

▪ A poorly constructed essay will consist of simple narrative statements.

▪ An adequately constructed essay will consist of isolated analytical statements.

▪ A well constructed essay will consist of analytical statements, linked together in a logical way.


2. Narrative Skills: “Mr. Interpretation”

▪ Read out a sentence of factual detail to someone else in the class from your essay. Their job is to provide an analytical point that it illustrates, for example:

▪ Person 1 presents a fact – “Tsarina Alexandra was German by birth”

▪ Person 2 the interpretation – “Provides explanation for opposition to Tsar during WW1”

Any student unable to provide an interpretation promptly is “knocked out” of the game. The winner is the “last person standing”.


3. Source Evaluation Skills: “Mr. Sceptical”

▪ This is the same as “Mr. Interpretation” except a third person in each “round” has to show an awareness of the limitations of the evidence:

▪ Person 1 presents a fact – “Tsar Nicholas was ‘not fit to run a village post office’ (Trotsky)”

▪ Person 2 the interpretation – “Provides explanation for opposition to Tsar during WW1”

▪ Person 3 the limitations – “But Trotsky was a hostile witness”, “But the Russians were deeply loyal to the principle of Tsarism”.


4. Challenging the Question: “Mr. Angry”

▪ Take a list of sample questions from past exam papers. For each one, copy it down and then underneath explain

▪ What loaded assumptions are within it.

▪ Why these are quite obviously completely and utterly wrong.


5. Structural Skills: Where are the paragraphs?

▪The teacher should take an article available in a digital format (e.g. from the History Today archives), paste it into a Word document, and then remove all of the paragraph marks and (as a final act of stylistic sadism) make it ‘fully justified’. Students should then be presented with this essay from hell, and challenged to deduce by reading it carefully where they think that each of the original paragraphs began. This can then lead into a discussion about how a writer determines when to start a new paragraph – for example, when they are about to make a brand new point in relation to the question,


6. Structural Skills: How effective are the topic sentences?

▪The teacher should take an article available in a digital format (e.g. from the History Today archives), paste it into a Word document, and then remove all of the paragraph marks and (as a final act of stylistic sadism) make it ‘fully justified’. Students should then be presented with this essay from hell, and challenged to deduce by reading it carefully where they think that each of the original paragraphs began. This can then lead into a discussion about how a writer determines when to start a new paragraph – for example, when they are about to make a brand new point in relation to the question,


7. Avoiding Stock Responses: “Rewrite the model essay”

▪ Take a model essay or an article provided by your teacher which answers a central question.

▪ Now examine past exam papers to see what other questions have been asked on this theme. In what ways would you need to re-write and re-structure the essay to focus on this question given?


8. Focusing on the command terms: “Guess the title of the essay”

▪ Another technique is for the students to copy and paste the entire article / essay into a piece of Word Cloud software such as Wordle or Taxedo. Students then have to guess the title of the essay from the results. If a writer has clearly focused on the command terms then these will appear at a higher frequency in the word count and therefore will be displayed more prominently in the word cloud.


9. Only incorporate a quote / historiography when you DISAGREE with it

▪ Using quotes in essays is too often a technique used by students to avoid thinking for themselves. Worst of all is the paragraph which is effectively a potted summary of another writer’s point of view. To avoid this, students should be asked to remove any quotes which they actually agree with. Instead, they should use quotes as a means of setting up a debate and demonstrating clear evidence of independent thinking (“Although AJP Taylor argued that…(quote)…this does not bear close scrutiny because…(contrary evidence))”.


10. General advice: The shape of an essay

a. In the introduction…

▪ Demonstrate understanding of the question. Clarify any key concepts that are mentioned (“Marxist”, “Propaganda”); outline which events and time period you will consider, and why

▪ Signpost the reader through your essay. In other words, give a very brief overview of how you plan to tackle the question.

b. In the main body of the essay…

▪ Start each paragraph with an argument (analysis). If you read the first sentence of each paragraph when you have finished, you should find that you have a summary of your case.

▪ Proceed to explain this point using evidence (including quotes from historians). The more specific this evidence is, the better.

▪ Wherever possible, explain why this evidence is valuable, or acknowledge its limitations.

c. In the conclusion…

▪ Answer the question by such things as

▪ Showing how your factors link together

▪ Showing how it depends on where / when / at whom you are looking

▪ Challenge the question by tackling any assumptions within it:

▪ E.g. “Why did the League of Nations only last 20 years?” suggests that this is a dismal record; you could make the point that the surprising thing is that it lasted so long as this given all the overwhelming problems it faced.

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