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Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Different types of essays

ESSAY: ARGUMENTATIVE
An argumentative essay is a selection of writing designed to defend a position or thesis.
The purpose of the argumentative essay is to convince the reader through reason, logic and illustration that a
stated position, view, theory or premise is true or false. Structurally the argumentative essay follows the thesis,
point development, conclusion pattern of the formal essay. The audience must be clearly understood by the writer
as he develops arguments, anticipates rebuttals, defends conclusions which that audience is likely to present or
need in order to be convinced. Thought may be either inductive (moving from the specific to the general) or
deductive (moving from a generalization to specific application). The language will be precise, organized,
denotative. Where effective, exposition will provide the needed explanation or analysis in order to make a point.
While persuasion appeals to emotion and personal involvement, the tone of argumentation is factual, removed,
precise, logical. The impact of an argumentative essay is to convince logically and rationally that a viewpoint is
true or false, right or wrong.
ESSAY: DESCRIPTIVE
The descriptive essay focuses on the use of a descriptive style develop the chosen topic.
The purpose of the descriptive essay is to use description to support ideas about a subject. The audience is
determined by the subject matter of the essay. The structure of this essay blends the conventions of the essay
(introduction, development, conclusion) with those of descriptive writing. The language is built around a
descriptive style which uses vivid language, figurative devices, emotive vocabulary, sensory imagery to appeal to
the audience. The description is not limited to people, places or things, but may make clear abstract thought,
establish the power of a feeling. The development of ideas on a topic remains the dominant throat of this writing,
and the descriptive style is the dominant technique used. The voice of the writer will show sensitivity and creative
appreciation of the manner in which description will enhance the development of the chosen topic. The voice may
be objective or impressionistic communicating the observer’s feelings. In the descriptive essay the tone will be
strongly individualistic as the personality of the writer is brought to bear on the chosen topic. The impact of the
descriptive essay is its appeal to the reader’s senses and feelings.
ESSAY: NARRATIVE
The informal narrative essay focuses on the use of a narrative style to develop the chosen topic.
The purpose of the narrative essay is to communicate a significant experience in order to enlighten and perhaps
persuade the reader. The audience is determined by the subject matter of the essay. The structure of this essay
blends the conventions of the essay (introduction, development, conclusion) with those of a narrative. It has
elements of story, but its thrust is to relate an idea or thesis, explicitly or implicitly, as opposed to developing
character or plot in a pure narrative. A strong sense of sequencing is retained to establish a point in time, and the
consequences of that experience. Chronology may be altered for dramatic or emotional impact. The language
may be formal to informal and even colloquial. It is strongly expressive, using striking images, vivid storytelling.
The voice of the writer is strongly individualistic as it uses those narrative activities to present his/her audience
with thoughts about a chosen topic. The impact is determined by how effectively the narration elucidates the
chosen thesis for the reader.
ESSAY: PERSUASIVE
A persuasive essay is a selection of writing designed to change the reader's mind.
The purpose of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader through a strong voice, the writer's conviction, vivid
example and illustration to support the stated position taken by the writer. Structurally the persuasive essay
respects the organization of the formal essay with greater freedom being taken in the use of supporting material
and the impact of voice. The audience will shape the voice and tone of the writer, as it is the writer's intent to
influence that group of readers. The voice of the writer is intentionally slanted, but must retain its credibility or
integrity by avoiding generalization, fallacious reasoning, exaggeration. The language of a persuasive essay
appeals to emotion more than to reason. Because of the predominance of the writer's voice, persuasion may be
more emotional, the language more informal and even colloquial. The tone is fundamentally one of appealing to
the reader to accept a thesis. The impact of a persuasive essay is to change or to confirm the reader's thinking
about an issue or subject with a strong appeal to the emotions, by using examples and illustration, and by citing
experience.
ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY
|
Definition Refuting opposing arguments
Organization Language
Supporting our ideas Sample argumentative essay

Definition: In this kind of essay, we not only give information but also present an argument with
the PROS (supporting ideas) and CONS (opposing ideas) of an argumentative issue. We should
clearly take our stand and write as if we are trying to persuade an opposing audience to adopt new
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

beliefs or behavior. The primary objective is to persuade people to change beliefs that many of
them do not want to change.

Choosing an argumentative topic is not an easy task. The topic should be such that
• it should be narrowed down
X Marijuana should be considered illegal. (Not a good topic because it is too general. In some
medical cases, marijuana is prescribed by the doctors and the patients are encouraged to
use it in case of suffering from too much pain)
√ Selling and using marijuana in public places should be considered illegal.
• it should contain an argument
X We should decide whether we want a bicycle or a car. (our stand is not clear: do we support
having bicycles or cars?)
√ If we are under the age of 30 and want a healthy life, we should definitely get a bicycle instead
of a car.
X Are you one of those who thinks cheating is not good for students? (a question cannot be an
argument)
√ Cheating helps students learn.
X Considering its geological position, Turkey has an important geopolitical role in the EU. (facts
cannot be arguments)
√ Considering its geopolitical role, we can clearly say that the EU cannot be without Turkey.
• it should be a topic that can be adequately supported (with statistics, outside source
citations, etc.)
X I feel that writing an argumentative essay is definitely a challenging task. (feelings cannot be
supported; we cannot persuade other people)

If you believe that you can find enough evidence to support your idea and refute others effectively,
you can choose challenging topics as well. You can enjoy writing about such topics:
Cheating is beneficial for students.
Murat 124 is a very good choice for conscientious drivers.
Stress is good for the human body.
Polygamy is quite natural.
For women, there is no need for men.

Organization: All argumentative topics have PROs and CONs. Before starting writing, it is
imperative to make a list of these ideas and choose the most suitable ones among them for
supporting and refuting.

There are three possible organization patterns:

Pattern 1:
Thesis statement:

PRO idea 1
PRO idea 2
CON(s) + Refutation(s)

Conclusion

Pattern 2:
Thesis statement:

CON(s) + Refutation(s)
PRO idea 1
PRO idea 2

Conclusion
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Pattern 3:
Thesis statement:

CON idea 1 -----> Refutation


CON idea 2 -----> Refutation
CON idea 3 -----> Refutation

Conclusion

The sample essay has been written according to the third pattern.
Thesis: Do Reiki instead of taking medicine.

Counter arguments Refutation


1. People should trust medicine since -----> Reiki is also scientifically proven and does
it is effective and scientifically not have side effects. (refutation
proven. method: insufficient claim)
2. Serious illnesses such as -----> Medicine also cannot treat serious illnesses
HIV/AIDS and cancer cannot be if not diagnosed at an early stage.
treated without medicine. (refutation method: opponents are
partially correct)
3. Reiki, like alternative healing -----> Reiki requires less time if done regularly.
methods, requires a lot of time. (refutation method: opponents are
completely wrong)

Supporting our ideas: This is the most important part when persuading others. We are asking
some people to change their beliefs or actions. We should be supporting our ideas with such facts,
statistics and/or authorities that there should not be room for any doubts. Here are some faulty
supports we should avoid:

Thesis: Leaving the university and starting to work is good for the adolescent because …

• Feelings, emotional arguments (… it makes one feel much better.)


• Irrelevant examples (wandering off the topic) (… he would then be able to take his girlfriend to
expensive restaurants.)
• Oversimplification (… only then would he understand what it means to be an adult.)
• Hasty generalizations (... it is a widely known fact that all adolescents look forward to earning
money.)
• Unreliable, even false outside sources (… according to www.doubtme.com, 80% of working men
wish they quit school when they were at university and started working at an earlier age.)

For more mistakes in the logic of arguments, see Fallacies.


Refuting opposing arguments: Before we start saying that the opponents are wrong, we should
specify their opposing ideas. Otherwise, it would be like hitting the other person with eyes closed.
We should see clearly what we are hitting and be prepared beforehand so that he cannot hit us
back. We can do this by knowing what we are refuting.

e.g. X Some people may say that adolescents should not leave university education; however, they
are wrong. (what they say is not wrong. Maybe their supporting idea is wrong /irrelevant
/insufficient. We should state their supporting idea specifically to be able to refute it.)
√ Some people may say that adolescents should not leave university education because they
are not physically and psychologically mature enough to cope with the problems of the real world.
However, they forget one fact: adolescents can vote or start driving at the age of 18 (in some
countries even before that age!), which proves that they are considered physically and
psychologically mature at that age.
Language: Signposts gain importance in the argumentative essay. They enable the readers to
follow our arguments easily.
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

When pointing out opposing arguments (CONs):


Opponents of this idea claim / maintain that …
Those who disagree / are against these ideas may say / assert that …
Some people may disagree with this idea.
When stating specifically why they think like that:
The put forward this idea because …
They claim that … since …
Reaching the turning point:
However,
but
On the other hand,
When refuting the opposing idea, we may use the following strategies:
• compromise but prove that their argument is not powerful enough:
They have a point in thinking like that.
To a certain extent they are right.

• completely disagree:
After seeing this evidence, there is no way we can agree with what they say.

• say that their argument is irrelevant to the topic:


What we are discussing here is not what they are trying to prove.
Their argument is irrelevant.
Sample argumentative essay:

HEALTH AND HEALING AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Throw out the bottles and boxes of drugs in your house. A new theory suggests that medicine could
be bad for your health, which should at least come as good news to people who cannot afford to
buy expensive medicine. However, it is a blow to the medicine industry, and an even bigger blow to
our confidence in the progress of science. This new theory argues that healing is at our fingertips:
we can be healthy by doing Reiki on a regular basis.

Supporters of medical treatment argue that medicine should be trusted since it is effective and
scientifically proven. They say that there is no need for spiritual methods such as Reiki, Yoga, Tai
Chi. These waste our time, something which is quite precious in our material world. There is
medicine that can kill our pain, x-rays that show us our fractured bones or MRI that scans our brain
for tumors. We must admit that these methods are very effective in the examples that they
provide. However, there are some “every day complaints” such as back pains, headaches,
insomnia, which are treated currently with medicine. When you have a headache, you take an
Aspirin, or Vermidon, when you cannot sleep, you take Xanax without thinking of the side effects of
these. When you use these pills for a long period, you become addicted to them; you cannot sleep
without them. We pay huge amounts of money and become addicted instead of getting better. How
about a safer and more economical way of healing? When doing Reiki to yourself, you do not need
anything except your energy so it is very economical. As for its history, it was discovered in Japan
in the early 1900s and its popularity has spread particularly throughout America and Western
Europe. In quantum physics, energy is recognized as the fundamental substance of which the
universe is composed. Reiki depends on the energy within our bodies. It is a simple and effective
way of restoring the energy flow. There are no side effects and it is scientifically explained.

Opponents of alternative healing methods also claim that serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and
cancer cannot be treated without drugs. They think so because these patients spend the rest of
their lives in the hospital taking medicine. How can Reiki make these people healthy again? It is
very unfortunate that these patients have to live in the hospital losing their hair because of
chemotherapy, losing weight because of the side effects of the medicine they take. Actually, it is
common knowledge that except for when the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, drugs also
cannot treat AIDS or cancer. Most of the medicine these patients use are to ease their pain and
their sufferings because of the medical treatment they undergo. Instead of drugs which are
expensive and have many side effects, you can use your energy to overcome the hardships of life,
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

find an emotional balance, leave the stress of everyday life and let go of the everyday worries.
Most of the chronic conditions such as eczema or migraine are known to have causes such as poor
diet and stress. Deep-rooted anger or other strong emotions can contribute to viral infections as
well. Since balancing our emotions and controlling our thoughts are very important for our well-
being, we should definitely start learning Reiki and avoid illnesses before it is too late.

Some people may still maintain that in our material world, everything depends on time. It is even
“lacking time” that causes much of the stress that leads to the illnesses we mentioned. How would
it be possible to find time to do Reiki to ourselves and the people around us when we cannot even
find time to go to the theater? This is one good thing about Reiki; it does not require more than 15
minutes of our time. There is no need for changing clothes or special equipment. It is a wonderfully
simple healing art, an effective method of relaxation and stress-relief. Most important of all, it is
less time consuming than medicine if we think of all the time we spend taking medicine for some
complaints and taking some more for the side effects as well.

Having said these, resistance to Reiki would be quite illogical. Reiki is natural and drug-free. What
is more, it is easy to learn by anyone, regardless of age and experience. It can be used anywhere,
anytime. It also enhances physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and the benefits last
a lifetime. It is definitely high time to get away from the drug boxes we store in our drug cabinet!

Retrieved from:
http://www.buowl.boun.edu.tr/students/types%20of%20essays/ARGUMENTATIVE%20ESSAY.htm

Essay Structure

Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays
are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most
sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.
The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the
order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're
making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis),
there are no set formulas.
Answering Questions: The Parts of an Essay
A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections.
Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counter-
arguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counter-argument,
for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the
ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or
criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and
the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.
It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might
ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely
simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim).
"What?" The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the
phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus
demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often
directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might
have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third
(often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or
description.
"How?" A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The
corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counter-argument? How
does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the
claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since
you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in
mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counter-
argument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.
"Why?" Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It
allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its
own significance. Alhough you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly
belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse,
as pointless or insular.
Mapping an Essay
Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a
reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds.
The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a
preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in
understanding your idea.
Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counter-argument,
close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with
paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect
your essay to make. Try making your map like this:
 State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that
claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're
anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
 Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know
is..." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence
you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you
may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
 Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is..." Once
again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay.
Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what,
how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are
flexible; they evolve with your ideas.
Signs of Trouble
A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or
"description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such
essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that
lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Alhough
they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need
work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words:
first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition,
the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil"). Copyright 2000,
Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University.

Overview of the Academic Essay


A clear sense of argument is essential to all forms of academic writing, for writing is thought made visible.
Insights and ideas that occur to us when we encounter the raw material of the world—natural phenomena like the
behavior of genes, or cultural phenomena, like texts, photographs and artifacts—must be ordered in some way so
others can receive them and respond in turn. This give and take is at the heart of the scholarly enterprise, and
makes possible that vast conversation known as civilization. Like all human ventures, the conventions of the
academic essay are both logical and playful. They may vary in expression from discipline to discipline, but any
good essay should show us a mind developing a thesis, supporting that thesis with evidence, deftly anticipating
objections or counter-arguments, and maintaining the momentum of discovery.
Motive and Idea
An essay has to have a purpose or motive; the mere existence of an assignment or deadline is not
sufficient. When you write an essay or research paper, you are never simply transferring information from one
place to another, or showing that you have mastered a certain amount of material. That would be incredibly boring
—and besides, it would be adding to the glut of pointless utterance. Instead, you should be trying to make the
best possible case for an original idea you have arrived at after a period of research. Depending upon the field,
your research may involve reading and rereading a text, performing an experiment, or carefully observing an
object or behavior.
By immersing yourself in the material, you begin to discover patterns and generate insights, guided by a
series of unfolding questions. From a number of possibilities, one idea emerges as the most promising. You try to
make sure it is original and of some importance; there is no point arguing for something already known, trivial, or
widely accepted.
Thesis and Development
The essay's thesis is the main point you are trying to make, using the best evidence you can marshall.
Your thesis will evolve during the course of writing drafts, but everything that happens in your essay is directed
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

toward establishing its validity. A given assignment may not tell you that you need to come up with a thesis and
defend it, but these are the unspoken requirements of any scholarly paper.
Deciding upon a thesis can generate considerable anxiety. Students may think, "How can I have a new
idea about a subject scholars have spent their whole lives exploring? I just read a few books in the last few days,
and now I'm supposed to be an expert?" But you can be original on different scales. We can't possibly know
everything that has been, or is being, thought or written by everyone in the world—even given the vastness and
speed of the Internet. What is required is a rigorous, good faith effort to establish originality, given the demands of
the assignment and the discipline. It is a good exercise throughout the writing process to stop periodically and
reformulate your thesis as succinctly as possible so someone in another field could understand its meaning as
well as its importance. A thesis can be relatively complex, but you should be able to distill its essence. This does
not mean you have to give the game away right from the start. Guided by a clear understanding of the point you
wish to argue, you can spark your reader's curiosity by first asking questions—the very questions that may have
guided you in your research—and carefully building a case for the validity of your idea. Or you can start with a
provocative observation, inviting your audience to follow your own path of discovery.
The Tension of Argument
Argument implies tension but not combative fireworks. This tension comes from the fundamental
asymmetry between the one who wishes to persuade and those who must be persuaded. The common ground
they share is reason. Your objective is to make a case so that any reasonable person would be convinced of the
reasonableness of your thesis. The first task, even before you start to write, is gathering and ordering evidence,
classifying it by kind and strength. You might decide to move from the smallest piece of evidence to the most
impressive. Or you might start with the most convincing, then mention other supporting details afterward. You
could hold back a surprising piece of evidence until the very end.
In any case, it is important to review evidence that could be used against your idea and generate
responses to anticipated objections. This is the crucial concept of counter-argument. If nothing can be said
against an idea, it is probably obvious or vacuous. (And if too much can be said against it, it's time for another
thesis.) By not indicating an awareness of possible objections, you might seem to be hiding something, and your
argument will be weaker as a consequence. You should also become familiar with the various fallacies that can
undermine an argument—the "straw man" fallacy, fallacies of causation and of analogy, etc.—and strive to avoid
them.
The Structure of Argument
The heart of the academic essay is persuasion, and the structure of your argument plays a vital role in
this. To persuade, you must set the stage, provide a context, and decide how to reveal your evidence. Of course,
if you are addressing a community of specialists, some aspects of a shared context can be taken for granted. But
clarity is always a virtue. The essay's objective should be described swiftly, by posing a question that will lead to
your thesis, or making a thesis statement. There is considerable flexibility about when and where this happens,
but within the first page or two, we should know where we are going, even if some welcome suspense is
preserved. In the body of the paper, merely listing evidence without any discernible logic of presentation is a
common mistake. What might suffice in conversation is too informal for an essay. If the point being made is lost in
a welter of specifics, the argument falters.
The most common argumentative structure in English prose is deductive: starting off with a generalization
or assertion, and then providing support for it. This pattern can be used to order a paragraph as well as an entire
essay. Another possible structure is inductive: facts, instances or observations can be reviewed, and the
conclusion to be drawn from them follows. There is no blueprint for a successful essay; the best ones show us a
focused mind making sense of some manageable aspect of the world, a mind where insightfulness, reason, and
clarity are joined.
Copyright 1998, Kathy Duffin, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Essay Structure

Introduction
This module introduces you to the process of essay writing - from analysing the question through to the final
redrafting and editing. This diagram summarises the process. Click on each of the stages to find out more. Don't
forget that the first place to start is at the essay question itself.

The Question

Analysing the question is the most crucial part of the essay


writing process. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Set time frames for specific tasks


2.Read the essay question carefully
3. Underline the key words and check their meaning
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

4. Highlight the action words


5. Mindmap the essay question
6. Establish a structure
7. Reread the essay question.
Example
Here is an example of where a student has used a mindmap to analyse an essay question "Aboriginal poverty can
only be understood in the light of institutionalised racism" Discuss.

Information Gathering

According to the time you have allocated for this task,


follow the following steps:

1. Access a variety of resources


2. Read effectively and make clear notes
3. Record details to include in references
Planning

The planning stage of the process involves buiilding on the


mindmap you created when you analysed the question.
Here are the key steps:

1. Mindmap your research


2. Refine your essay structure
3. Re-read the essay question
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Writing

You should have allocated a large amount of time for this part
of the process and it should occur well before the due date.

1. Use your mindmap and essay plan.


2. Expand each idea into a paragraph.
3. Arrange the paragraphs logically.
4. Write the introduction and conclusion last.
Editing

The time allocated to this final stage in the process is often


the difference between a pass and a distinction; or a pass
and a fail. If possible the editing should occur in the week
prior to the due date.

1. Check that all parts of the question have been answered


2. Check the structure is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
3. Check that each paragraph is linked.
4. Check that the conclusion fulfils the promise you made in the introduction.
5. Check grammar and spelling.
6. Reference using the required format.
Redrafting Checklist
1. Have I answered the question?
2. Have I done sufficient research to enable me to carefully answer the question?
3. Do I have an introduction that states what I believe the question to mean, the position I am working
towards and the areas that will be covered in the essay?
4. Does the body include all parts of the question?
5. Have I constructed each paragraph of the body so that it contains several sentences of evidence to back
up the topic sentence which begins the paragraph?
6. Does the conclusion restate your attitude to the topic and refer the reader back to the topic?
7. Check the length. More than 10% over/under word length may be unacceptable.
8. Check title page. It should include your name, course, lecturer, topic, length, due date and anything else
your lecturer requires.
9. Have I cited sources for ideas and direct quotations using the method required by your lecturer?
10. Does my essay satisfy lecturers's requirements?
For example:
o writing on one side of the page
o large margins
11. Is my writing correct at the surface level of:
o spelling?
o punctuation?
o grammar, including one idea per paragraph
o is it legible? (It is useful to ask a friend to check on these aspects! They see things we don't see!
Otherwise try reading the essay aloud).
12. Is the reference list accurately and correctly set out according to the lecturer's requirements?
Assessment Criteria
Your total mark for the essay will be determined by assigning marks for various aspects independently. The
number of marks assinged to each aspect will be approximately as follows:
Answering the question 30%
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Writing style (clarity and organisation) 20%


Analysis of issues 20%
Understanding and interpretation of literature 20%
Bibliography (finding appropriate references) 10%
Total marks assigned to essay 100%
Sample Essays
The following sample essays may be downloaded. They have been graded as either Distinctions or High
Distinctions and contain comments from lecturers or tutors. Some of the samples also contain assessment criteria
and marking schedules. Please note that these sample essays have been written for different subjects and the
requirements and assessment criteria vary substantially.
Interpersonal Communication (Effective Writing EL1010) D
Captain Cook Discovered Australia (Effective Writing EL1010) D
Developed and Developing Countries (Society, Space & the Environment TG1090) D
Language Defined (Language and Literacies in Education ED1421) HD
My Brilliant Career (Australian Literature EL2020) D
Psychology -at the Intersection of Biology and Culture (Introduction to Psychology PY1001) HD
Subject: Effective Writing (EL1010)
Topic: “Interpersonal Communication”.
Grade Awarded: Distinction.
Lecturer’s Comments: Where you have not used the primary source you should indicate this e.g. Phillips in
Francis 1992.
AREA CRITERIA COMMENTS
INTRODUCTION (10) • Subject matter and direction Clear focus
clearly shown and defined.
• Clear link to question

CONTENT - BASIC (10) • Evidence of basic Base reading well understood.


reading/data/understanding Clear definitions consistently
s appropriate to topic. used.
CONTENT - REACTION (10) • Evidence of personal Very little personal reaction on
reactions to basic ideas. example 3.
• Depth analysis of major
ideas
CRITICAL ANALYSIS (10) • Evidence of wider reading Excellent reading beyond the
and critical analysis. base set. Not a lot of critique
• Contributions and through culture introduced.
conclusions drawn.
PRESENTATION (10) • Correct grammar, Well written with useful
punctuation and spelling. headings and coherent
• Acceptable and consistent argument.
referencing format.
• Reference list up to date
and relevant.
• Originality, format and style.
• Development of a logical
thesis clearly linked to the
question asked.
(Note: This sample is provided in the exact form it was submitted and corrections and comments made in the text
by the lecturer are not included.)
To function effectively in today’s society people must communicate with one another. Yet for some
individuals communication experiences are so unrewarding that they either consciously or unconsciously avoid
situations where communication is required. (McCroskey & Richmond, 1979) The term ‘communication
apprehension’ was coined by James McCroskey (1976a) and is defined as “an individual’s level of fear or anxiety
associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons” (McCroskey, 1984). In
the last two decades communication apprehension and related constructs, such as reticence and unwillingness to
communicate, have received extensive research and theoretical attention by scholars in communication and
psychology. In 1984, Payne and Richmond listed over 1000 entries in a bibliography of publications and papers in
this area (Payne & Richmond, 1984). Overwhelmingly the underlying theme of the articles has been the negative
effects that these constructs can have on academic and social success. It has been forwarded that two out of ten
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

people suffer some form of communication apprehension (CA). The focus of this paper is on communication
apprehension as a construct and on how it affects the behaviour and lifestyle of an individual.
Although constructs such as CA, communication reticence, and unwillingness-to-communicate have often
been treated in literature as interchangeable, (McCroskey, 1982) particularly in earlier work, some researchers
have found the need to distinguish between them. Reticence was originally thought of in relation to CA,
particularly in connection with stage fright, and anxiety was identified as the causative agent that produced the
characteristic behavior patterns. (McCroskey, 1977b; McCroskey, 1982). However during the 1970’s the
constructs of reticence and CA evolved and changed to become quite disparate. According to McCroskey (1982)
the contemporary view is that reticent people are those who do not communicate competently. Phillips (1984)
further states that reticent people “avoid communication because they believe they will lose more by talking than
remaining silent” (p.52). So while the construct of reticence was initially the same as CA, reticence is now
perceived as a concept that represents a broad range of communicative incompetence while CA relates to
communicative incompetence that stems from anxiety or fear. (McCroskey, 1982).
The unwillingness-to-communicate construct, which was introduced by Burgoon (1976, as cited in
McCroskey, 1982) focuses on the individual's unwillingness to communicate with others. This construct was an
attempt to look beyond the concepts of CA and reticence (as it was perceived at the time) and along with fear and
anxiety, considers low self-esteem, introversion, anomia1 and alienation. “Thus this construct can be viewed as
intermediary between CA and the contemporary view of reticence. More simply, reticence is concerned with
people who do not communicate effectively; unwillingness-to-communicate is concerned with one of the reasons
that people may not do so (i.e., they do not want to); and, [although it is highly associated with ineffective
communication], CA is concerned with one of the reasons that people may be unwilling-to-communicate”.
(McCroskey, 1982, p.4).

Types of Communication Apprehension


A person may be apprehensive in one situation but not in another. Additionally, as communication does
not confine itself to just talk, a person may, for example, be apprehensive about communicating by engaging in
talk but feel quite comfortable about writing. McCroskey & Richmond (1987) identify four types of communication
apprehension: traitlike, context-based, receiver-based, and situational. Traitlike CA concerns mainly oral
communication and refers to a relatively stable and enduring predisposition of an individual towards
experiencing fear and/or anxiety across a wide range of communication contexts. Context-based refers to a
relatively enduring, personality-type CA that an individual experiences in a specific context. For example a person
may experience high levels of CA when speaking in groups but be not in dyadic interactions or when speaking to
others who are from a different cultural group. Receiver-based CA depends on the person or type of person or
group that is involved in the communication. For example, being fearful or anxious when communicating with the
boss or with strangers but not with friends (McCroskey & Richmond, 1987). Situational CA depends upon
changes in the environment in which communication takes place.

Causes of Communication Apprehension


Causes of Traitlike CA. When we consider the aetiology of human behaviour generally two primary
explanations are hereditary and the environment. In other words, we can either be born with certain
characteristics or we can acquire them through learning. While no specific “CA gene” has ever been identified, as
a result of studies on infants and twins, most writers today agree that there may be a hereditary component.
(McCroskey, 1982; McCroskey, 1984). It is argued that children are born with certain personality predispositions
or tendencies which affects how they will react to environmental stimuli. However, although heredity may have an
impact on traitlike CA most researchers propose that the patterns of reinforcement that an individual experiences
in the environment are the dominant components. (McCroskey, 1982; McCroskey, 1984). The notion is that
children make attempts at communication and if they are positively reinforced they will be encouraged to
communicate more but if they are negatively reinforced the child will communicate less.
Causes of Situational CA. While many different elements have been forwarded as causes of situational
CA some of the main ones are novelty, formality, subordinate status, conspicuousness, unfamiliarity, dissimilarity,
the degree of attention from others, evaluation and prior history (McCroskey, 1984). When an individual is
presented with a novel situation (ie: one that is unfamiliar or occurs infrequently such as an interview) concerns
such as how to behave can result in anxiety. Formal situations tend to be more restrictive with more rigid
behaviour rules and CA increases because of the narrower confines. Similarly, CA can result when a person is in
a subordinate position because the person with the higher status defines the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.
Generally, the more conspicuous a person feels, or the more unfamiliar the situation, the more CA is likely to be
experienced. Likewise people often feel less apprehensive with others who are most like themselves.
Sometimes, however, an individual will be more apprehensive with similar peers because they become more
concerned with how they will be evaluated by them and the feeling of being evaluated in any situation often leads
to anxiety. Studies have shown that the majority of people are most comfortable with a moderate degree of

1
Anomia refers to difficulty in finding (remembering) the appropriate word to describe an object, action, or attribute.
(Carlson, 1994)
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

attention. (McCroskey, 1984) When individuals are ignored or stared at the level of CA often rises. The level of
CA also often rises where a prior history of failure increases the likelihood of failure again. (McCroskey, 1984).
Clearly, some of these causal elements stem from reticence due to inexperience and/or communicative
incompetence within certain contexts, while others are the result of learning or conformity to social norms and
expectations.

Effects of Communication Apprehension


It has been argued that “learning proceeds best when [an] organism is in a state of tension” (Phillips, nd,
as cited in Devito, 1985, p.325) so it should be noted that while the effects of CA for the individual generally tends
to be negative CA is not always detrimental. Low levels of fear can energise us to try harder and learn more.
However, as CA is heightened, feelings of discomfort tend to increase and the willingness to communicate
declines (McCroskey & Richmond, 1987). Hence, “high CA is seen as a potential inhibitor of the development of
both communication competence and communication skill and as a direct precursor of negative communication
affect. Low CA, on the other hand, is seen as a facilitator of the development of communication competence and
communication skill and as a precursor of positive communication affect”. (McCroskey, 1982, p.21). Studies have
shown high CA can impact on a person’s behavior, relationships, the perceptions of others, occupational choice
and employment opportunities and education. (McCroskey, 1976b; McCroskey & Richmond, 1979; McCroskey &
Richmond, 1987; Richmond, 1984)
Behaviour. Many studies have shown that the behaviours of people with high CA actually discourage
interaction (McCroskey, 1976b). When approached, mannerisms such as averting eyes, staring into drinks,
appearing generally anxious, aloof and unfriendly are all typical (Richmond, 1984). In this way high
communication apprehensive’s attempt to avoid communication. When avoidance is not possible they will
contribute far fewer ideas, make less relevant comments and agree with the ideas of others more often.
(McCroskey, 1976b; McCroskey & Richmond, 1987; Richmond, 1984). Compared to low communication
apprehensive’s, in small groups high communication apprehensive’s also tend to use more pauses and rhetorical
interrogatives (such as “you know”) in speech; exhibit more tension; and participate less (McCroskey, 1976b;
Richmond, 1984). High communication apprehensive people also tend to physically locate themselves where they
are less likely to have interaction (McCroskey, 1976a; McCroskey, 1976b). In rooms they choose seats that are to
the sides and rear and avoid influential seats and, in wider society, choose housing that is more remote from
centres of interaction. (McCroskey, 1976a; McCroskey, 1976b)
Relationships. As the behavioural response of CA is to avoid and\or discourage interaction with others it
is not surprising that CA has been linked to feelings of loneliness, isolation, low self esteem and the ability to
discuss personal problems (Daly & Stafford, 1984; McCroskey, Daly, Richmond & Falcione, 1977; McCroskey &
Richmond, 1987; Richmond, 1984; Scott & Rockwell, 1997). High communication apprehensive individuals have
difficulty in forming and maintaining close relationships and when they are formed will try to ‘hang on to the
relationship for dear life’ (Richmond, 1984). Compared to low communication apprehensive’s, they interact less
with peer strangers, have fewer friends, are less likely to accept blind dates, are more likely to engage in
exclusive dating, are more devastated on relationship breakups and have more difficulty in re-establishing new
relationships (McCroskey, 1976b; McCroskey & Sheahan, 1978; Richmond, 1984). Characteristically, compared
to low communication apprehensive people, high communication apprehensive’s are perceived to be less socially
attractive and less attractive by members of the opposite sex, less likely to be opinion leaders or leaders in a
group and less successful in the social environment. (McCroskey, 1976b; McCroskey, Richmond, Daly & Cox,
1975)
Occupational Choice and Employment Opportunities. For the communicative apprehensive individual
prospects of employment, retention and advancement are all significantly lowered. (Richmond, 1984). High
communication apprehensive’s are less likely to receive job interviews, be offered employment, or retain their
positions than are other people (McCroskey & Richmond, 1979). Research indicates that high communication
apprehensive people tend to self select jobs with low communication requirements even though they may offer
less status and lower incomes; have less desire for advancement; are less satisfied with their jobs and their
supervisors; and find it more difficult to establish good relationships with co-workers than do low communication
apprehensive people (McCroskey, 1976b; McCroskey & Richmond, 1979). They are also perceived as being less
productive, less competent and needing more training than low communication apprehensive people (McCroskey
& Richmond, 1979).
Education. High CA has been found to have a significant impact on an individual’s learning and education
(McCroskey, 1977a; McCroskey & Daly, 1976). Students who are highly apprehensive tend to score lower on
standardised achievement tests, have lower Grade Point Averages and benefit less from personalised instruction
than low communication apprehensive students (McCroskey, 1977a; McCroskey & Daly, 1976). Literature has
suggested that CA can even affect language acquisition (Asker, 1995). High communication apprehensive
students will try to avoid classes which involve communication; have a higher school drop out rate and experience
lower teacher expectations than others (McCroskey & Daly, 1976). McCroskey (1976a) has suggested that
communication apprehension “may be the single most pervasive handicap confronting children in our schools and
citizens in our society” (p.3).
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

Culture
While communication exists in all cultures and subcultures communication norms and expectations may
be vastly diverse as a function of culture. For instance, in the United States and many other western nations oral
communication is highly valued with positive social evaluation while silence is often perceived as representing
high CA. In other cultures, however, silence may be an integral part of the communication process. In Apache
culture, for example, strangers who come together in an environment such as work may remain silent for several
days and young Apache women are explicitly taught that silence is a sign of modesty (Devito, 1985). In Papua
New Guinea individuals learn to remain silent in the presence of an elder as a sign of respect (Francis, 1992).
They believe that overriding the talk of an elder may endanger key relationships and networks within the whole
group. Thus, one’s communication norms and competencies are culture-bound. Unfortunately, the majority of the
studies in communication have been carried out in the United States and have rarely made allowance for the
differences in communication styles between cultures. “Consequently remaining silent is considered a problem
and silent cultures are interpreted as representing a high prevalence of communication apprehension.”
(McCroskey & Sallinen-Kuparinen, 1991, p.56).
However, CA may still play a part when different cultural groups come together. When individuals find
themselves in situations where their culture or sub-culture is in the minority they are said to be ‘culturally
divergent’ (McCroskey & Richmond, 1990). To be effective communicators in another culture the onus is generally
on the culturally divergent individual to adjust to the communicative norms of the dominant group. Culturally
divergent individuals may be likened to people who have deficit communication skills. Because they do not have
effective communication skills, they tend to be much less willing to communicate at all for fear of failure and
possible negative consequences. This may be particularly so when speaking a second language. For example,
one study found that 43 % of Puerto Rican students experienced CA when speaking their second language,
English, compared to only 11% when they were speaking their native language, Spanish (McCroskey, Gudykunst
& Nishida, 1985). Therefore, the difference between the culturally divergent person and the skill-deficit one is that
a culturally divergent individual may have excellent communication skills in their own culture and within the
confines of their own culture CA may not be a problem (McCroskey & Richmond, 1990; McCroskey & Richmond,
1987).
The conclusion that we can draw from the research and studies that have been conducted so far is that
communication is an ongoing process that involves constant changes within the people involved and their
environment. When communicating with others, individuals are influenced and affected by many variables and CA
may be the result of any number of different causes. The degree of CA that an individual experiences can vary
depending on their personality and the context of situation. Nonetheless, the notion that high levels of CA
negatively affects an individual’s success both academically and socially appears to be supported by the
research.
Written Language III- Ana Laura Bozzani

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