Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)
A teacher stands before you representing an accumulation of many qualities. A teacher has fulfilled the requirements to teach, which include earning an undergraduate degree; obtaining the proper credentials to teach at a certain grade level; experiencing the world of teaching through volunteering; gaining practical experience; and continuing to study everyday people in order to be prepared for each class. A teacher must study the world and its inhabitants in order to bring the world into the classroom. She never stands fully unprepared. Even if she decides not to teach from a prepared lesson, she will always remain prepared to teach because it is her duty and her passion.
The above paragraph represents a meaningless discussion, speculation on the importance of a teacher. The paragraph isn’t italicized because I want you to believe that it is, in fact, a paragraph that starts out as an introduction to the comment. I think you are smart enough and confident enough to understand my perspectives. You don’t need a lot of information to know how important the role of a teacher is. You have a teacher; and you have had many teachers. You know what teachers look like. You know what teachers sound like. Every teacher is just about the same. Teachers always come to class with their homework. They sometimes come to class with their purposes. Either way, teachers love to teach.
The immediate paragraph above represents an irrelevant tangent.
The first two paragraphs of this comment read similarly to two people talking in conversation than a logical, analyzed discussion on the nature of a teacher. In both paragraphs there isn’t one single piece of evidence to support any of the statements. The first paragraph’s second sentence brushes over the requirements that teachers must meet to teach. What are the actual requirements? What is a teacher’s major? What are the proper credentials? Where do teachers volunteer? How does a teacher study the world and its inhabitants? How is a teacher never fully unprepared? Why doesn’t a teacher teach from a prepared lesson? In other words, where is the support for the above statements of the two paragraphs?
When your papers lack supporting evidence, your essay becomes meaningless speculation and you waver between assumptions, digressions, and irrelevant tangents. You have undoubtedly heard these comments from your professors: “Your ideas are too general” and “You don’t bring in specifics.” These comments mean that your ideas appear as unsupported assumptions. In other words, nothing appears credible and/or verifiable. The reader doesn’t really know how to receive your ideas or what to do with them. There is no challenge from the writer to the reader to research the subject matter. Until you can support what you have written as a prevailing thought, the professor doesn’t know if there is any truth to your ideas or if they are just mere assumptions subject to debate.
Therefore, you must equip statements within your papers with enough power to call your reader into action: power in terms of 1) directing the reader to a source, 2) informing the reader about statistical data, 3) helping the reader add to his or her personal vocabulary by defining words shaped by ideas, 4) defining concepts and their relationship to your overall thesis, and 5) demonstrating to your reader that your ideas are novel. In essence, never leave your reader in the dark, alone, without your guidance. When you have read the text and have begun the writing process, be prepared to do or be aware of three things: know what the meaning(s) of the text implies; demonstrate its significance; and teach the meaning of the text to others.
1. Know exactly what the central theme of the text is. Don’t assume. Don’t project anything onto the text that doesn’t belong to it. Don’t add an adjective or an adverb. Don’t say “All dogs are very nice” when the author of the text clearly states in the first paragraph, “All dogs are nice.” Respect the author’s purpose by not getting sidetracked on your own ideas about the subject matter. You reflect your own ideas at the beginning by establishing a thesis. Therefore, make certain that when you are outlining and discussing the author’s perspectives you stay true to the original intention of the author.
2. Demonstrate the text’s significance or relationship to other texts you are discussing. If the relationship between two texts is comparative or contrastive, then demonstrate this in your papers by using transition words such as on the other hand, in contrast, and subordinating conjunctions such as although and even though. Remember this: Whatever we need to know, as readers, about the topic and what certain people think and about if the certain people agree, like gossip, don’t leave anything out. When you are confused about how each author thinks, pretend the authors are first friends. If they agree with each other, then within your papers they remain friends.
However, if you determine that one believes one thing and the other believes another, then consider these two friends as now enemies on the subject matter. Choosing this method will help you to categorize the information within your papers. One last thing to remember is that any author who agrees with you on the subject is your friend.
3. Teach the text to someone else. As the teacher, you are forced to know the material because you want to appear knowledgeable. No one person likes to stand before any crowd without one piece of information to use as a starting point. When you teach the text, you find yourself remembering connections between authors; and remembering where something is on the page. You prepare an outline to make sure you have transitions. You prepare the material as a presentation. You base the whole of your discussion on proof.
In other words, you seek to prove your ideas to your audience. You will never stand before a crowd and function merely on unsupported assumptions, because you know that the students in the classroom will ask you questions. To help your paper get the support it needs, each time you write, pretend you are presenting your paper before the class and ask yourself this question: “What have I left out?”
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.