ASSIGNMENT PAPER 3: Explaining a Concept Paper (The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing, chapter 4)
“Write an essay about a concept that interests you and that you want to study further. When you have a good understanding of the concept, explain it to your readers, considering carefully what they already know about it and how your essay might add to what they know.” (167) “Concept explanations inform a reader about processes, phenomena, theories, principles, or ideas.” (136) Basic features (164-165)
A focused concept. When the writer focuses on a particular aspect of a larger concept, the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow. •
The topic appeals to the reader with new and interesting information. The reader can be both informed and engaged by lively writing and vivid detail. •
A logical plan. The writer clearly cues the reader by strategies such as a forecasting statement, transitions, and/or summaries. •
Clear definitions. Key terms associated with the concept are defined. •
Careful use of sources. Although the writer may use her/his own experience and observation, expert sources will lend authority to the essay. Sources must be used and documented in an appropriate standard format.
Assessment. The teacher may consider the following when assessing a concept essay: •
Purpose and audience: Does the writing meet the assignment requirements and engage the audience? •
Idea development: Is the topic appropriate, neither too broad nor too narrow? Does the topic appeal to the reader with new and interesting information? Is there sufficient information so readers’ questions are answered? Is the concept clearly and fully defined? Are any other key terms defined? •
Organization: Does the title capture the central focus? Does the introduction capture attention, convey the topic and include a thesis? Is forecasting, if used, effective and clear? Do transitions and the overall organizational pattern provide a smooth flow? Does the conclusion provide a sense of closure and make the topic relevant to the reader (Is it more than just a summary)? •
Style: Are the sentence and word choices appropriate to a college essay? Are words vivid, exact and correct? Does the sentence structure add impact? Are sentences complete, smooth, clear, correct and efficient? •
Conventions: Are there few, if any, mistakes in following the conventions of Standard Written English? •
Citing Sources: Do the sources used provide reliable and adequate information? Is source material properly cited and documented in a standard format?
Expository Essay Ideas: Explaining a Concept Paper
It makes sense to have students research and choose the same topic for papers 3, 5, and 6. Please see the accompanying Library Research Guide, Points of View Reference Center database search instructions. Points of View is an excellent resource for finding and writing about debatable issues. It provides a collection of topics, each with an overview of opposing viewpoints and associated research materials for multiple, diametrically opposed positions. These materials are academic quality and at quite accessible levels for college freshman and sophomores’ use.
Another quality database under EBSCO HOST—>ACADEMIC SEARCH PremiereOpposing Viewpoints provides topics, overviews, and source materials.
Sample Assignment Explaining a Concept
Essay 3 is an Expository Essay. This means that you will write an explanation of the topic for your reader.
The purpose of this essay is to present and explain a concept, in this case a debatable issue. Your task is to explain what the debatable issue is, what it means, and its significance to our school, community, state, and/or society. Think of this task as explaining to your reader “What is X?” “What does X mean?” “What is the importance of X?”
You will not express an opinion, argue a point, persuade the reader to accept or reject an idea, or take a stance in this essay.
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