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Preparing your Essay
Your essay may take the form of an objective expository essay (i.e. a section of the textbook or an encyclopedia entry) or an opinion piece (i.e. an editorial in The New York Times). Don’t confuse the two.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this initiative is the requirement that the student submit multiple drafts of his/her writing project. The only way anyone can improve the quality of his or her writing is to write often and have his or her work consistently reviewed and evaluated. Theoretically, all Berkeley students should expect that every major piece of writing assigned throughout their academic careers will require at least one rough draft that will be carefully reviewed for content and grammar. Because this is a central component of the exercise it is imperative that all submissions are received by the designated due date, with penalties for any late submissions.
Your work will be evaluated by specific criteria, which you should keep in mind as you look over your work.
Are all of the assignment instructions and guidelines provided by the instructor followed?
Is there a thesis/central idea?
Are the ideas, arguments, and examples contained within the composition appropriate and relevant, and do they support the thesis/central idea?
If not thesis-based, does the scope or focus of the composition adhere to the assignment guidelines?
Is this composition well-structured? Is each paragraph focused, embodying a singular idea? Are the distinct points of analysis of the work organized logically?
Are relevant and up-to-date research materials used—and are they cited properly?
Are all the standards of the specific field or discipline—including adherence to APA citation style—accurately followed?
Are these materials appropriately analyzed, interpreted, and incorporated into the work?Students in this class are participating in a new college initiative designated as “Communicating Across the Curriculum.” The objective is to improve the writing skills of our students in order to meet the demands of an extremely competitive job market and to help them understand the crucial importance of careful revision. This is a structured writing assignment that is built on the following:
(1) The ability to understand and follow clear written instructions of the essay’s content;
(2) The requirement of submitting at least one rough draft before preparing your essay for grading; and
(3) The use of a self-evaluation checklist for feedback.
Students participating in this initiative will be provided supportive services such as individual writing consultations or online tutorials. In a writing tutorial, the consultant engages the student in a two-way discussion about his or her work in progress so as to build skills incrementally and develop successful habits. Topics can range from higher-order to lower-order, from effective argumentation and organization to grammatical correctness and cosmetic presentation. The given assignment provides the occasion for that discussion, but simply completing a draft is never the singular agenda for a tutorial session. The goal is to help build a stronger, more confident writer, not just a better paper. As such, writing consultants do not simply proofread or “fix” student writing; doing so would not ultimately help the student to learn. Where grammar issues exist, the writing consultant will identify patterns of error in the student’s draft, explain how to correct them, and encourage the student to locate additional occurrences. The writing consultant explains that even after the session, the paper is not finished; it is the writer’s responsibility to apply the concepts discussed in the tutorial. For complete details read the Specifications document (“CAC-Best Practices in Creating Writing Assignments…”) under COURSE INFORMATION.
You will have a choice of topics based on what we discussed in class. Each topic will require integrating academic material from the eText with current news events, library research, and your own interests. Your first task is to choose one of the following topics that are most aligned with your current interests and concerns. Note that each topic is coordinated with specific sections of the course eText.