Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)
A professor typically writes “Good Job” after reading the entire paper; he or she places the comment at the top left or right corner of the first page of your paper. When professors use this comment as a grading tool, they are making a general assessment about your effort as a whole.
In other words, “Good Job” means you have done your job, nothing more. You have answered the essay prompt, but you really haven’t enlightened the professor. Your paper lacks fresh and new ideas. Your ideas, in essence, are representative of what’s already a part of the canon. In other words, they fit into the overall scheme of what critics have said already about the work you are analyzing. You did a good job of just interpreting and synthesizing the information.
Remember professors expect you to use the canon. They expect you to complete the assignment. However, you must also go beyond just fulfilling the standard. Your analysis at both junior and senior levels should reflect advanced critical thinking. If you are still composing the basic five-paragraph essay and nothing more, then you are stuck on the fundamentals.
The best methods for correcting or preventing “Good Job” from affecting your confidence are to 1) always first talk to your professor about the comment on your paper. Ask your professor about how you can improve, about gaps in your understanding of the level in which you are writing, and about the purpose and nature of “critical writing.”
2) During the revision phase, for paragraphs that you are particularly having trouble with analyzing, cut and paste the paragraphs into another Microsoft Word document, create a two-column table, and place a paragraph in the left side column; then in the right column, ask questions about what you have written. Answer each question you ask. Evaluate your own answers and offer insight about the author’s ideas and what they mean in terms of contemporary thinking on the topic.
Although you are still outlining pretty much the canon, your additional assessments represent critical thinking, nonetheless. As you think about what you believe, develop your assessments so they reflect a third-person point of view, which is an objective observation. Your purpose is to be insightful and show the professor another side of a character in addition to the one he or she already knows. When you have done this, you will have moved from “Good Job” to “Good Insight,” on the road to “Good Discussion,” “Strong Effort (Solid Effort),” and “Nicely Done.”
The best way to get better at analysis is to continue critically thinking and to keep asking questions. Put yourself in that character’s place and then also be judgmental as possible. This will set you on the path to developing a stronger analysis.
Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.