Archive for category Affirmative Replies

Well Written and Researched

Although this comment represents an affirmative reply, to understand it, follow the directions below. Do each one, even if you just create one sentence.

Exercise

  • Write out the following sentence below on the lines.  John is ugly and nasty.

__________________________________________________________________

  • Write down your telephone number.

__________________________________________________________________

  •  Write in to your apartment complex in order to complain about an ongoing problem that the company hasn’t fixed yet. Put today’s date at the top of the letter. For now, practice here. You only need one sentence or a few words.

Today’s Date:  _______________________________

Complaint

__________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  • Write off your vacuum cleaner. Go buy another one.

Explanation

1) When you wrote the first sentence John is ugly and nasty, did you deviate in any way? If you forgot the period at the end of the sentence, then you did not write exactly word for word what you saw on the page.

2) Did you write your telephone number? If you didn’t, you did not follow the directions and put action to the words.

3) Did you write out your complaint to your apartment complex? If you did not, then you just procrastinated.

4) Did you go out and buy a vacuum cleaner? If you did not, then good for you. If you did, then good for you. The result of either action would be fine for this discussion.

The purpose of this exercise was to show you your attitude. Think about the following:

  • In some cases, you found one activity probably stupid by saying aloud something such as the following: I’m not giving her my phone number. I don’t want anyone to know my number.
  • You found another activity probably as urgent: She was thinking just what I was thinking.  Yes, I do need to get that toilet fixed.
  • You found another activity as probably confusing: I don’t even know who John is.
  • Last, you found another activity as probably crazy of me to ask: I don’t have any money to buy a vacuum cleaner. I have a good vacuum cleaner and I don’t need another one.

You will undoubtedly experience many of these feelings when you approach the task of writing about a subject you have never encountered. You will feel that the subject is confusing, crazy, urgent, and probably stupid all at once. These are all of your attitudes; and you have a right to them. However, what makes a paper receive the comment “Well Written & Researched” from a professor is dependent upon the attitude of the writer developing the paper and what the finished product reveals about the writer’s attitude.

A professor knows 1) when you like the subject, 2) when you are confused by it, 3) when your attitude seeps through the page as your professor reads, 4) when you have only studied the subject for one or two days, 5) when you think that the subject is worth studying, 6) when you think that the subject is stupid and that nothing can be written about it, and 7) when you do the assignment out of mere obligation to a requirement versus do the assignment because the subject has sparked some interest.

A professor experiences what you experience as he or she reads your paper. The professor feels a multitude of emotions too. A professor doesn’t like to read a paper that demonstrates a student’s distaste of the subject or the task of writing. It doesn’t matter if you like the subject, if you hate it, if you think that it is all-around great! The only thing that matters is your genuine consideration of the subject and what you produce as a result.

With this in mind, examine the subject, in its varieties, multiplicities, changes, deviations, and effectiveness. Evaluate the subject in the same way that you would evaluate a person. Examine the subject to test its fitness, to understand its complexity, to mull over its connection to other subjects, to figure out its nature, and to pick apart at its belief systems. There is more to the task of writing than the mere feeling “I have to write this paper.”

Likewise, there is more to the task of revising than just checking for grammar. Analyze your own statements. As you revise your papers, ask yourself questions: Why do you use “have to” as if the task of writing and/or revising is burdensome? If you can answer this question, then ask more: Why am I in school? What is my purpose? Why do I need this class? All of these questions and more will help you to develop a subject. Place a title on it and you have the beginnings of a paper.

When your professor writes “Well Written & Researched,” it is more of a testament to your attitude about the subject matter versus a testament to your ability to write, research, and synthesize material. These are all of the things you are supposed to do. You can’t get extra credit for doing what you are supposed to do. Your attitude toward the task of writing and your professor’s attitude toward your paper, after reading it, will match if you have approached the task with the feeling of wanting to know more and more about your subject.

If you like your subject, it will show up in the final product. If you don’t like your subject, this will also show up in the final product. The comment “Well Written & Researched” is a testament to your ability not only to allow sufficient time to researching and writing, but also more importantly your ability to take a subject, even if you don’t like it, and present it well, with much passion, fervor, and potential.

The comment also refers to the presence of unbalanced views within the essay. For example, as you develop a revision plan, search for those areas of the essay that reflect personal bias. In addition, search for those areas where you use the bias of an author to form the greater part of your analysis. You must balance views. If you want to keep the author’s quote that reflects personal bias on the topic, then balance this view with another author’s quote.

If you have a personal bias, and you include an author with a personal bias, then you will develop a product that is one-sided. Your paper will appear actually unfinished, because you haven’t explored the topic fully. In this case, your paper will not reflect a fully written, well-researched piece of work. Keep all of these ideas in mind as you revise your papers and ensure that they fully meet the requirements of your professor and the essay prompt.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Well Done

This comment represents an affirmative reply. Most students who receive this comment typically write papers that are clearly distinguishable (i.e. in quality, effort, critical thinking) from the other students’ papers in the class, but this is a simplistic explanation.

To best illustrate what your professor means by this comment, I have provided an example on the subject of baking. Study the example and the explanation that follows. The sample is subject to U.S. copyright law and is only displayed here for educational purposes.

Figure 87: Sample Instructions for “JIFFY” Corn Muffin Mix

Yield 6-8 muffins depending on size

Ingredients

1 pkg. JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix (box)

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease muffin pans or use paper baking cups.

BLEND ingredients.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  (For maximum crown on muffins let batter rest for 3 or 4 minutes, restir before filling cups.)

FILL muffin cups ½ full.

BAKE 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source:  Chelsea Milling Company, www.jiffymix.com

To really understand this example, buy a JIFFY Corn Muffin box and follow the instructions on the box, which are the same above. According to JIFFY, all of the ingredients above are necessary for the mix to become corn muffins. If the egg was not necessary, for example, then other words such as “just add water” would be on the box. One ingredient not added during the mixing process will result in a product that is not completely done.

The batter must be baked at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. If the batter is cooked for only 12 minutes at 400 degrees, then the batter will not be completely done when you take it out of the oven. In other words, you will not have corn muffins. Remember what your mother used to say: Stick a fork in it and see if it is done. You know when a batter is done when you stick a fork into it and there isn’t wet batter on the fork. When it’s done, the mix will be dry. If any of these steps are not followed as instructed, then you will NOT have corn muffins for dinner.

Why offer “cooking corn muffins” as an example for this comment? This is the best illustration because it is important to follow instructions. This is the simplest way we can help you understand the value of instructions. Everything has a set of instructions. If you want to learn a certain computer program, you read the instructions. If you want to program your VCR, you read the instructions. If you want to play video games, you read the instructions on how to hook up the joystick and other controllers. If you want to bake a cake, ride a bike, do your taxes, drive a car, watch a movie, call someone on the phone, do anything on this earth for that matter, YOU READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! You cannot negotiate life without reading the instructions.

Likewise, you cannot write your papers without understanding first your professor’s instructions. If your professor instructs you to incorporate (BLEND) ten reference sources within your paper and you incorporate only eight, then your paper is not done. If your professor instructs you to double-space the paper, and you single-space it, then your paper is not done. If your professor instructs you that your paper must be at least 15 pages (FILL) and you have only 14 pages, then your paper is not done. Last, if you work (BAKE) on a paper that is supposed to be 15 pages for only a day, then your paper is not done. If you do anything other than what your professor instructs you to do, then your paper is not done.

In other words, all of the ingredients you do have cannot mix together to become the paper that the professor has instructed you to make. When you do exactly what the professor instructs you to do, how he or she wants you to do it, for the approximate amount of time he or she thinks it should take, then your paper is done. You have followed the instructions.

Now here comes the “but”! Just because the paper is done, doesn’t mean that it is complete. You can follow the instructions of your professor and mix all of the ingredients and still forget to add analysis. Of course, the instructions on the JIFFY box don’t use the word “analyze” in reference to watching the batter in the oven like a hawk. However, it does use the words “BAKE 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.” The muffins are complete at both the 15-20 minutes increment and at the stage of “golden brown.” In other words, if you choose to take the muffins out at 15 minutes or 20 minutes, you can do this without being penalized from the stove. You can also take the muffins out at “golden brown.” The difference between the two is that at “golden brown,” the muffins are well done!

You can follow the instructions of your professor and write a paper according to the way the professor wants it. You can mix all of the ingredients of thesis, topic sentences, examples, quotes, body paragraphs, conclusion, and anything else that your professor says to mix together and bake, and your paper will be done. However, if you add in analysis to make the paper “golden brown,” then your paper will be well done!

We know that you want to ask this next question, so we will ask it for you: Can we add to the instructions? No. Your professor expects you to do what he or she tells you to do. Don’t take away from the instructions. Don’t add to them. However, at the college level, it is a given that most of your papers will be in the form of analysis in the same way that it is a given that in order for the mix to become muffins they must be placed in the stove to cook. This is a given. If you don’t understand this, then you will not be successful at cooking muffins, let alone homemade biscuits.

Similarly, if you don’t understand that analysis is an important ingredient to your paper, then you will not be successful at finishing a paper, let alone revising it. Make sure that your papers are done. In other words, use the professor’s instructions as a pre-writing to-do list and as a post-writing checklist. Hold the professor’s instructions in one hand and your paper in another and go down each line of both lists to make sure that you have followed instructions, first, and to make sure that your paper is fully cooked (done), second.

Your mother tells you to take out the trash, but instead you wash the dishes. You say to your mother, “I did something extra. I did the dishes.” However, you did not do the first thing your mother told you to do. Just because you do something extra doesn’t mean you have done exactly what mom has told you to do. Follow the first instruction. Don’t substitute. Likewise, just because you add in an extra paragraph with nice and appropriate examples doesn’t mean you have done the job your professor has instructed you to do through the essay prompt. You were supposed to use 10 sources (bibliography), two tales from the Canterbury Tales, two characters from each tale, and two examples of things that “each character” does. Adding one character and an analysis of three tales is not following the first instructions of your professor.

Make sure the paper is done the way the professor wants it. With this in mind, you will garner a “well done” from your professor when you analyze the two tales, when you analyze the 10 sources you incorporate into the analysis, when you analyze each character from each of the two tales, and when you analyze the two example things that each character does. Don’t just analyze two paragraphs and leave the rest of the paper to plot summary.

Therefore, the best way to achieve a “Well Done” from your professor, in addition to the instructions above, is to develop a relationship with the characters you want to include in your paper. What do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? What makes you mad? What makes you happy? Why do you think that these characters are in the right roles within the story? Why do you think they would be better in another role within the story?

Now think about how the author presents them. What do you think is the author’s reason behind placing one character in one position and another character in another position? Do you think the author has been wise in his or her assessment of each character or do you think the author has been wise in presenting how another character thinks about the character you are discussing within your analysis?

Pick at the characters. Pick at the author. Think about the context, the time period, the language, the tone, and the larger implications. Revise your papers to make the professor remember your analysis as different from every other student. For extended explanations, see also the comments “Excellent Synthesis,” “Incomplete,” and “Nice/Nicely Done.”

For extended explanations, see also the comments “Excellent Synthesis,” “Incomplete,” and “Nice/Nicely Done!

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Yes/Ah, Yes; Right; Exactly; True; Checkmark

These are affirmative replies that signify agreement.

Oftentimes professors will use one or more of these words to call attention to a particular area of your analysis that fully reflects a sound assessment of the ideas within the author’s work. In the following excerpt, the student incorporates a quote and follows it up with an assessment that reflects a cultural understanding on the subject of arranged marriages. Let’s read the excerpt.

Sample Excerpt

Cymbeline states to Innogen, “O disloyal thing,/ That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap’st/ A year’s age on me” (1.1.134-136).  In making this statement, Cymbeline is attacking his daughter’s sense of reason.  It doesn’t make sense to marry such a base fellow as Posthumus. He is beneath the nobility and Innogen should have employed another option as suitor to carry on the legacy of the throne. In marrying Posthumus, Innogen goes against the arranging of marriages, set laws, and she is overall disobedient to her father’s wishes. Her father “expects” her to conform to his way of thinking. This is why he calls her “. . . foolish thing . . .” (1.1.153).

Figure 60: Essay Excerpt on Cymbeline, William Shakespeare

The student’s assessment reflects truth in the sense that she incorporates a quote that correlates to her follow-up statement. In other words, the follow-up statement bolded after the quote complements the ideas the author expresses within the quote.

In addition, the student’s assessment is true in the sense that the father’s attitude represents common knowledge, regardless of marriage. All parents typically want their daughters to marry someone who can take care of them. This assumption transcends all cultures and races. All you would need to validate this assumption is an example of a culture’s customs and beliefs to bring credibility to your analysis.

Therefore, when a professor uses the comment “true” (or “yes,” “right,” exactly,” or “checkmark”) to assess your work, he or she may be alluding to common knowledge. To be sure you have a good understanding of your professor’s comment, ask for clarification.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Right/On the Right Path.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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True

The comment “True” is close to an affirmative reply, signifying your professor’s agreement with the ideas you express within your analysis. Examine the following sample excerpt. Notice the student’s observation.

Sample Excerpt

In the beginning, Caliban is forced into humility, but now he opts to be humble.  He just gives up.  There is no mention of a dual conspiracy to get Stefano to kill Prospero and then Caliban try to kill him.  Caliban just accepts his plight.  If anything has been truly stolen from Caliban, it is his sense of pride; but even he contributes to that theft.  He definitely makes his plight with Prospero even harder when he tries to violate his daughter, Miranda (1.2.350351).

Figure 58: Essay Excerpt on Caliban, The Tempest

The student’s observation highlighted in bold represents an extended, observer’s view of the situation between Caliban and Prospero. The student’s observation is easily verifiable by referring to the play and examining the scene line by line. In addition, we can also study the implications of each character’s actions and motivations to validate the student’s claims.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Right/On the Right Path.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Right/On the Right Path

It is one thing to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and misrepresenting the meanings; and it is another to make a point of explaining the implications of a text and actually be right about the meanings. Always be careful not to project onto a text meanings that have nothing to do with the overall scheme of a work.

When you take the time to examine the contexts within the immediate text, it is highly unlikely that you will find yourself going beyond its boundaries.  When you receive “Right” or “On the Right Path” from your professor, then this means that you have not wandered off the path and direction of your thesis.

There are cases in which you may be on the right path, but lack sufficient supporting evidence to determine your full understanding of the work. For example, in the first sample excerpt, the student maintains the path of her topic sentence. The student’s analysis represents a good understanding of the ideas housed within the author’s work.

On the other hand, although the student is “on the right path” in the second sample excerpt, she fails to provide answers for some of the implied questions. The student makes a connection between the fence Elisa creates for the flowers and the fence Henry creates for Elisa. However, she doesn’t provide enough substantial information to close the gaps in her analysis.

Let’s begin with the first excerpt.

First Sample Excerpt

The thought of the mass man being more clever only serves to keep him from using this capacity.  He possesses the most exact and circumstantial ideas on everything in the universe; but he has lost all of the ability to listen and hear.  Why should he?  He has all of the answers.  He knows everything.  He understands everything.  The only thing he does now is pass judgments and issue proclamations regarding his opinions and ideas to the contrary.

Figure 49: Essay Excerpt on the “Mass-Man,” Ortega Y. Gasset

The student’s analysis reflects the sentiments outlined within the author’s work.

“Right”

A professor uses this comment to highlight areas within your analysis that are in agreement with the ideas and perspectives of the author. The bolded sentence represents the student’s thoughtful and careful analysis about Gasset’s views of the mass-man.

Suggestions

Continue to develop an analysis that best reflects your understanding of the author’s work. Therefore, read the work in its entirety. Don’t let your analysis conflict with the author’s ideas.

Second Sample

In terms of the second sample excerpt, examine the questions. In just about every comment you read throughout this glossary, you will see that the student writer fails to analyze her essays fully, or at least parts of them. When questions remain, gaps exist. In other words, if there is a gap, this means that you could say much more in an area of your essay.

In the case of the comment “Right/On the Right Path,” the questions we use here represent methods to help the student bring clarity to the analysis. The student starts well, but needs a better finish. In providing answers for these questions, the student will learn how to develop the analysis further and offer insight necessary for understanding the work more fully.

Excerpt

It is evident that the fence that protected the flowers was put there also to protect Elisa.  It is also clear to say that the protection from the cattle, dogs, and chickens symbolizes protection from outsiders.  Henry protected Elisa in the same way she protected her flowers.  No one could get close or converse with Elisa.

Figure 50: Essay Excerpt on Elisa, “Chrysanthemums”

Questions

1) What does the “fence” represent, figuratively?

2) We don’t just use fences for protection. We also use them to separate two things or people.

Revision Considerations

1) If Elisa protects her flowers in the same way as her husband protects her, then what does this signify?

2) Why are both Elisa and Henry motivated to protect?

Explanation

Just remember that questions are not condemnatory assessments of your lack of attention to “analysis.” 

Instead, questions represent critical thinking and provide an opportunity for you to elaborate further on the ideas you express within your analysis. In this instance, both the second sample excerpt and the questions that follow represent the continued development of the analysis.

For an extended explanation, see also the comment “Elaborate.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Right

This is another affirmative reply that signifies agreement. Your professor is in agreement with the point you make and support you use.

See also the comment “Right/On the Right Path” for further explanation.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Very Nicely Done

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

This comment represents an affirmative reply typically written after the final reading of your paper.

“Very Nicely Done” is a comment professors use when they are eager about the ideas you express within the paper and how you present those ideas.

See the comment “Nice/Nicely Done” for an extended explanation.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Nice/Nicely Done

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

“Nice” and “Nicely Done” are affirmative replies.

For example, a professor may use “Nice” to refer to a specific paragraph or idea you express within your paper or to point out that your analysis is a reflection of connected ideas. The same professor may write “Nicely done” after reading the entire paper; typically, you will see the affirmation at the end on the last page or sometimes on the first page near the top left corner. The choice of location is subject to the professor’s discretion. These are general definitions of these comments. On another level, professors may use the comments for one of two reasons: 1) to highlight those areas of your analysis that are pleasing to the eye or 2) to call attention to the skill you have in terms of presenting information on the page.

In terms of the first reason, a paper filled with gaps, illogical structure, mismatched chronology, unsupported thesis, and irrelevant quotes is not a paper that is pleasing to the eye. When we use the word “eye,” we are referring to sight in terms of the physical sense and vision in terms of the word discernment. The thesis represents your vision for the paper, how you view the topic. The examples and evidence you use must support this vision. The structure you adopt must serve to present the vision clearly.

Therefore, when you construct a paper in the beginning with a vision, but fail to follow through with the vision to the very end, then your professor will accuse you of not understanding the direction in which you want to take your paper. In other words, you don’t understand how to present, support, and evaluate the topic using the thesis as a guide. On the other hand, when you properly construct a paper that includes a definable thesis (vision), supported claims, logical analysis, and balanced view, you have created a product that is pleasing to the eye. Under these conditions, the comment “Nice” means “delightful read.”

In terms of the second reason, developing an analysis requires great skill. The ability to position the right quote in order to support a topic sentence is characteristic of a student who understands both the purpose of incorporating quotes and the purpose of the author. Understanding the purpose of the author means understanding his thesis, or what he believes. You can’t incorporate a quote into your analysis unless you understand the views of the author.

For example, if you want to use a literary critic within the analysis of your essay, you must review his purpose for evaluating the literary work. Once you locate the critic’s thesis, then you must also search the text to find topic sentences he uses to support his claims. Remember that the author of a literary work is not in the business of appealing you, but the literary critic’s objective is to persuade you that his claim or thesis may be applicable to the author’s work. Once you locate the topic sentences, you must also review the critic’s examples, which are the tools he uses to support his claims even further.

Your task after this is to develop a one-page outline of the critic’s views. Once you finish with the critic, go back to the literary work, which is actually the basis of your paper. Review the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion of the work. What is the main theme of the work? In other words, the work is about what? Who is the main character? What are the main relationships of the story? What are the main events?

From this information, the next task is to develop a brief outline and include reference numbers to the text. When you can answer these questions, you have developed a good understanding of the work. Now you must bring together your 1) prep statements, 2) the quote you want to use from the literary work, 3) follow-up statements where you evaluate the quote, 4) the literary critic’s view about the quote and/or particular event in the story you highlight, and a 5) follow-up analysis of all these elements. The sixth element is 6) skill.

Using skill to combine all of these elements requires attention to detail, patience, and an ability to discern the best method for presenting information accurately, cohesively, and logically. Details are important. Giving attention to them is equally important. A detail consists of specific information about a particular thing, person, place, or idea. A detail is a noun. Within each quote you use there is present detail, a piece of information specific to the context of the quote.

For example, through the literary work, the author provides ample details about characters, relationships, and contexts. In addition, the literary critic uses the medium of criticism to highlight details about the author’s work; the critic focuses on a key aspect that he feels is a problem with the literary work and analyzes it using one or more schools of literary thought such as “Cultural Studies,” “Marxism,” “Postmodernism,” and/or “Reader-response Criticism.” Moreover, as students you use your prep statements and analysis to offer details concerning the author’s work.

Therefore, aligning the details is an ability you need, because including specific information about the literary work brings focus to your essay. Aligning the details requires patience, because you must ensure that the detail in your prep statement corresponds appropriately to the author’s detail. Once you have finished incorporating the quote, you must then evaluate it and provide the same detail again. In other words, you can’t begin focusing on one detail with your prep statement, incorporating a quote to support your claim, and then evaluating it with another detail. During the process of incorporating and evaluating the quote, you must stay on the path of your prep statement in the same way that every sentence within your body paragraph must stay on the path of the main topic sentence.

You will have to exercise additional patience when incorporating a literary critic’s view about the author’s work. What this means is, if you want to use any quote from that critic’s work as supporting evidence within your essay, then you will have to locate the detail suitable for proving your case. Aligning the details becomes even more important here, because now you have the details from your prep statement, from the author’s work, and also the literary critic’s view to bring together for the purpose of presenting the information on the page accurately, cohesively, and logically.

Discerning how to present information under these conditions is important, because each element of your paper must fit into a whole. This is what arranging elements cohesively means. When you align the details, you fulfill the accuracy requirement, by default. However, when you align the details, you still need to ensure that what you present on the page is cohesive and logical. This is where the revision process comes in, because before you can move on to another section of your paper, you may have to rearrange information. You want each element of a body paragraph to serve a purpose whether the purpose is to inform, persuade, and/or support.

For example, if you are using a quote within a body paragraph, it is likely that you are using the quote as supporting evidence from the literary work. However, when you use a prep statement before the quote, it is likely that you are using that statement to persuade the reader. That’s why before you can rearrange information, you must understand the purpose of each sentence you use. This will help you to rearrange the information so that it is cohesive. When you arrange elements cohesively, you arrange them under one central idea, theme, example, detail, viewpoint, and/or literary thought. In our example, when we align the details of our sentences within the body paragraph, we are in fact arranging elements cohesively. Each element falls under a particular, central detail. This simplifies the revision process, because when you revise this group of sentences, you will do so with the central detail in mind.

Once you have arranged the elements cohesively, then you must perform one last step, which requires you to revise for logic. Revising for logic includes first examining the sentences for keywords. If you use keywords such as “inference,” “allude,” “denote,” or “connote,” then you must ensure that the sentences you include within your paper actually reflect the definitions of these words.

For example, according to a standard dictionary, the term “inference” means the process of deriving logical consequences from a set of assumed premises. In simple terms, there is a higher certainty that the conclusions we draw actually derive from the premises we assume in the beginning. With this in mind, the term is interchangeable with “deductive argument,” which basically means that we have all that we need to reach a conclusion from what is present in the premises.

Therefore, when using “infer,” “we can infer,” “it is inferred,” “we can deduce,” or “the argument infers,” make certain that the conclusions you draw derive from the initial statements (premises) you make just before the conclusion.

The best method for revising sentences that don’t appear logical on the page is to start with the conclusion and then work your way backward. After this check to be certain that what you say in the conclusion is present in the few statements that precede it. Under all of these conditions, “Nice” refers to how skillfully (delightfully) you present the information on the page. However, “Nicely Done” refers to how logically you present the information in terms of both cohesiveness and accuracy.

For an extended explanation of deductive reasoning, see also the comment “Logic and Articulation.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Job

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.

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O.K. (Okay)

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Analysis vs. Plot Summary)

This is an affirmative reply.

This comment can mean one of two things, or both, depending upon the requirements of the professor and what he or she wants you to know as a requirement of the whole course. 1) The professor may comment that the whole paper is okay, making a reference to a statement of purpose in preparation for the final paper. 2) The professor may comment that a particular example you provide is not quite where it needs to be in terms of clarity, but it is “O.K.”

If “okay” is in reference to satisfactory, then you haven’t tried as hard as you know you can. Satisfactory always means you need to allow more time to read, take notes, and ask questions. Your essays are a reflection of how hard you really have worked. If you don’t work hard, then the professor will know it; and sometimes your lack of effort will warrant “O.K.”

In terms of the second, the use of “O.K.” always depends upon the mood of your professor and whether or not you have adhered to course requirements. You can never really know what a professor is thinking all the time. Think about how you respond with “okay” to someone.  Sometimes you feel good when you say it; but then there are days you just use “okay” because you don’t have anything else to say.

To go into depth here will reflect only a generalization.  Therefore, because “okay” is typically subjective, always ask your professor what he or she means by this comment. Then, start from there.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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