Archive for category G

Good Timing

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

You have heard this from a driver to the other passengers in the car: “We’re making good time.” Everyone in the car understands that if an event is scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m., when the driver makes the above statement at 7:50 p.m., there is still hope of arriving on time.  “On time” means before and up to 8:00 p.m.

When your professor reads your paper, he or she will always want you to get to the point accurately and efficiently. It is understandable that sometimes you may need to prep a quote or an example. The topic sentence of a body paragraph may need two additional sentences just before you move further into the analysis.

However, this isn’t the only thing that is necessary. As you write a paper, it is always important to remember your thesis, your purpose for outlining the ideas within your paper. When you continue to present your perspectives with more examples and subsequent paragraphs (along with the perspectives of other primary and secondary sources), and you cause the professor to remember an important point so much to the point that if you don’t reiterate the significance of a major theme within an author’s work your professor will not believe you have a firm grasp of the reading, then your professor considers the point(s) you make to reflect “good timing.”

Just as John (the driver) keeps a constant eye on his watch to make sure that he and his fellow companions arrive at least by 7:50 p.m. and any other minutes before 8:00 p.m., your professor also keeps a constant eye on your understanding of how your thesis fits into every example and of how you connect your thesis with the ideas of the author you are discussing.

In other words, to present just the information without connecting ideas and perspectives does not demonstrate your ability to synthesize information. Synthesizing your analysis means piecing together essay parts and elements with the purpose and intention of forming a whole. Specifically, to present examples and/or quotes without tying them into your thesis also does not reflect an ability on your part to synthesize.

The following excerpt represents a good example of how the student pieces together and offers a perspective about the author’s ideas. Let’s examine the excerpt.

Sample Excerpt

Several critics support Gasset’s assertion. They prove with their examples, observations, and careful analysis the validity of Gassett’s view.  Serge Moscovici’s “The Age of the Crowd” looks at the crowd, or mass, as a social animal breaking its leash:  “the masses are like a heap of bricks without course or mortar, liable to collapse at the first hint of bad weather, since there is nothing to hold them together” (5).  This view is based upon the masses being followers and not leaders and it falls under the concept of mass psychology.  Mass psychology is one of two human sciences that has left its mark in history.  The term crowd, or mass, was first recognized during the French Revolution, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that the term was given definition, scientifically collective.

Figure 37: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Comment

Timing: the pace of various scenes

First, “Good Timing” is represented in the student’s forethought in providing a definition for “mass psychology.”

Second, in the professor’s mind, this is a recall of a previous idea about Gasset’s assertion of the nature of the mass-man as a follower and not a leader; but the only difference here is that the student has tied the idea to another secondary source. In other words, the thesis and this theme of the mass-man as a follower are equally considerable and applicable in another example/context.

Timing within the context of the excerpt relates to “follow-up” and “follow-through.” Refer to the comment “Follow-Up/Follow-Through (Good/Perfect)” for an extended explanation.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Point/Clearly Stated

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

See the comment “Right” and/or “Right/On The Right Path.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Point

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

See the comment “Right” and/or “Right/On The Right Path.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Observation

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

Based upon entries within the World English Dictionary, there are four major types of “observations.” 1) The first type represents the “act of observing.” This is “observation” defined in its basic, physical sense. 2) The second definition refers to scientific activities; in this context, observation refers to “facts learned from observing.” Scientists who conduct lab experiments will produce a report of their observations concerning a particular scientific phenomenon. 3) The last two definitions actually refer to writing activities. Within the context of writing, the term “observation” refers to “comment, remark” and “detailed examination.”

Understanding the meaning of a term is important. When you receive the comment “Good Observation,” you need to know to what the professor is referring. You know for certain that your professor is not referring to the first two definitions, unless you are writing an essay for a science class. Therefore, you can conclude that your professor must be referring to the last two definitions. Since this is likely the case, to which of the two does “Good Observation” apply? Before reading the rest of this entry, locate the comment on your paper and determine if it is near a particular sentence or a major body paragraph. This will help you understand the explanation for the comment more fully.

“Good Observation” may fall under one or two of the definitions. For example, if the comment is 1) near a particular sentence, this means that of all the sentences you have written this one sentence provides more insight about the example, topic, or quote. Your insight might highlight something different or something that the professor hasn’t thought about concerning the literary work or the topic. In other words, the observation is unique. In this instance, your observation is an objective comment based solely on logic and deductive reasoning. On the other hand, if the comment “Good Observation” is 2) near a full body paragraph, then it refers to the fourth definition of observation, which is “detailed examination.” In this case, your observation represents a patient exploration of the ideas expressed within the literary work. What does this mean?

First, you explain concepts and ideas the author expresses. In other words, you don’t just insert a quote, but you provide a follow-up analysis of the author’s viewpoints. Second, you develop and present the information logically. This is what we mean by “patient exploration.” You don’t suffer the reader to misunderstand your points of view. Last, you set reasonable boundaries. In other words, you know that you can’t discuss the world in one body paragraph. Therefore, you only include ideas that are relevant to the work and to proving your claims and that also provide insight to stir the professor’s and reader’s interests in the topic. “Good Observation” within the context of these two examples represents positive replies to your essay.

“Good Observation” may also represent a negative reply depending upon the goals of your professor for the class. For example, if you only provide one good observation throughout the whole essay, then your professor can accuse you of not fully exploring the topic as in the case of the remark placed near a line and/or a body paragraph. Your professor may not say this to you aloud, but you have done basically the minimum required for the assignment. You have not fully explored the theme, example, quote, idea, issue, and/or problem within your essay. In other words, you could say much more, but you don’t. Because you haven’t fully explored the topic, this either means that you don’t know how to discuss, examine, and evaluate or you actually know how. If you know how to explore a topic, but you don’t fulfill the requirement, then your professor may use “Good Observation” as a negative reply to prompt you to reach higher than satisfactory.

It is not always easy to know if you have truly covered every base within your analysis. However, there are times when you know with certainty that you have not allowed enough time to meet the writing requirement. If you don’t know how to explore a topic, then here are some tips and questions to consider as you develop your analysis.

1) First, look for contradictions in a character’s “character.” A character is never perfect. Evaluate the character in light of how he or she interacts with others in the story in order to locate the flaws.

2) Second, describe the kinds of relationships the main character has with other characters. Stories are always filled with relationships. The main character is in relationship with someone in the story. What is that relationship? Is the main character dependent upon a secondary character? What are the conflicts between characters?

3) Last, bring in historical context and explain how the past influences or contributes to the attitude of the main character within the story. What is the character’s environment? Who affects the character’s attitude within this environment?

By answering these questions and implementing one or more of these tips, you will ensure that you not only meet the requirement, but also fully explore the topic. Remember always to do what your professor requires you to do. On a basic level, you must ensure your paper reflects the instruction on which it is based. On another level, allow sufficient time for providing good observations that include detailed examinations of the topic, not just mere comments or remarks.

For an extended explanations, see also the comments “Good Job,” “Well Done,” and “Well Written & Researched” for extended explanations.

You may also view related margin comments such as “Right” and “Right/On the Right Path.” 

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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Grammar

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

Grammar is an integral part to your papers and to your whole life. Grammar involves a body of rules concerning the form and structure of sentences. Letters make words. Words make sentences. Sentences develop into paragraphs. Paragraphs form the structure of an academic paper. If you do not have a firm understanding of all grammar concepts, especially those that concern the use of commas, semicolons, conjunctions, subject-verb agreement, verb tense, prepositions, which are the foundation, then you will have problems creating a complete thought within your papers.

Oftentimes, your professor will write the word “grammar” in the margin(s) as an indication that there is a larger issue with your grammar and that you need to refresh your memory about certain concepts. In addition, your professor will use proofreading marks such as CS for comma splice; Tense or Shift for when you shift the tense of verbs within a paragraph; and an underline mark under a subject and verb to highlight that your subject and verb don’t agree.

Grammar is necessary. It is important that you understand the nature of a noun, the verb and its many tenses, and the function of a preposition. You must also understand the arrangement of words and phrases. Without an understanding of the basic principles concerning the construction of sentences, knowledge gained typically during secondary education, you will not be able to comprehend the functions of all elements within complex sentences.

Your paper on the whole can be largely good, but the grammar problems will be distracting to the professor grading it. Grammar issues can change a B+ to a C- depending upon what grammar issues are most prevalent. If you don’t understand basic subject and verb agreement or you shift tenses within a sentence or paragraph, expect the above illustration to apply as an indication of where you may stand with your professor.

The best prevention method is to allow a day for proofreading these issues, in addition to the other one or more days you dedicate for revision. Take each line one-by-one and examine each sentence. For an example on how to approach proofreading your paper see Figure 41. Favors Quick Self-Proofreading Checklist under the comment “Proofreading.”

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Use of Quote

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Quotes)

There is a difference between the proper use of something and the improper use, or abuse, of something. For example, mothers love to put their children to good use, which always means that the children must set aside the video game to do housework such as taking out the trash and washing the dishes.

These are all good character-building activities children need to help them grow emotionally and psychologically. Parents demonstrate the concept of “responsibility” and the value of “hard work.” However, using children to do heavy, labor-intensive tasks is illegal, because children are not slaves.

Here’s another example. A tool that sits in the toolbox is just an instrument to use, but it is not useful until someone comes by, picks up the tool, and begins to use it for its intended purpose. A person who works for a company is an instrument, but when an employer puts the person to work, then the person becomes an employee; the person becomes useful.

However, using an employee beyond the scope of company policy and laws that govern employee rights is illegal also, because employees are not slaves.

A quote that lies on a page within a book is just a sentence (s) without quotation marks. Its only use is to fill the page with words that are representative of ideas, perspectives, and ideology. When you incorporate the quote into your paper, by placing quotation marks around its beginning and ending, then the quote becomes useful.

However, as much as the quote is important and may have some significance to your paper, it is important not to abuse the quote. The way you abuse a quote is by 1) leaving off the quotation marks, 2) changing its elements to the point that the process disturbs the original meaning of the author, and by 3) forgetting to cite verifiable referencing information.

When you receive the comment “Good Use of Quote,” your professor is saying one of many, or all, the following things to you:

1) You have properly used the quote.

2) You have observed the rules of citation.

3) The quote is suitable within a certain paragraph and it fits the overall scheme of your discussion.

4) The quote is effective (effectively persuasive) within a certain paragraph.

5) The professor likes the quote.  In other words, it stimulates the senses and interest.

6) The quote is connected to the subject matter.

Always remember that the best way to consider using a quote is to see if it’s a match to what you are discussing within your paper. If it is not, consider either rebuilding on previous ideas within your “analysis,” or using a more appropriate quote. Using the wrong quote within your papers is similar to using the wrong tool from a toolbox.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Material

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

Think about material used to make clothes. Material comes in wool, cotton, silk, polyester, spandex, suede, and leather. Although the material has a form, it doesn’t have one standard form. Sometimes the form is triangular or rectangular; and other times, material can take an irregular shape. An experienced seamstress would have to take an irregular shape or a pattern (the material) and cut and form it into something usable, because on the sewing table, it is just a shape, nothing more.  It doesn’t serve a purpose. It doesn’t forewarn us about what it will become. All we see on the table is the potential of the material.

As you perform the research for your papers, you will discover types of materials. In this sense, material comes in the form of reference sources such as journals, books, anthologies, newspapers, and films. When you place these sources on your desks, they look like shapes. They don’t have any particular form other than the form presented to you. In other words, the book remains a book until you incorporate some of its elements into your essay.

When you do this, the book takes on a shape. Similar to the seamstress who takes an irregular shape or a regular pattern and cuts it into something of use, you, as the student writer, take a book’s elements, in the form of a quote, analyze (cut) its value, and incorporate it into your academic paper. What originally had no shape in the beginning is shaped. In other words, the book as a shape is useful.

However, don’t get too excited. You were successful in locating a source for your paper, yes, but anyone can find a source. You can pick a source off the library shelf and incorporate any quote; but just because you are able to incorporate an element from a book (a quote) doesn’t necessarily mean that the element is completely useful.

In other words, just because you have found a book–and have found some use for a book–doesn’t mean that the book is good to use for your paper. This is why it is important to understand the purpose of your essay, what you hope to accomplish, because if you incorporate an element that doesn’t fit within the overall scheme of your essay, then your element, the quote or the book, isn’t useful.

Therefore, “Good Material” means two things: 1) you know how to analyze a source to determine its value, and 2) you know how to incorporate sources that are the right fit for a position within your essay.  No one reading your essay should ask the question Why is this here? A professor can easily determine if you understand the quote you are incorporating within your paper just by your ability to incorporate the quote accurately. You may have not read the whole book, but your professor knows that you have a good understanding of the material.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good Example(s)

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Examples)

In the following sample excerpt, the student moves from general to specific in incorporating textual evidence to function as an example.

Sample Excerpt

According to Diana Trilling’s The House of Mirth Revisited, this standard implies differences for the married woman and differences for the unmarried woman at the turn of the century; and these distinctions support the authoritarian social structure.  These standards are traditional in that they support “a married woman so long as she has the protection of her husband’s name and bank account but where the woman who has not yet reached this economic sanctuary must guard against the slightest misstep” (117).  For example, the reader readily recognizes a double standard at work when Lily’s society condemns her for the gambling debts she incurs, the visits to Selden, and the money she takes from her friend’s husband; but this same society looks the other way and “can accept unruffled Mrs. Dorset’s extramarital excursions of Mrs. Fishers’ ‘loan’ from the gentleman of her acquaintance” (Trilling 117).

Figure 24: Essay Excerpt on Lily, The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

Assessment

Lily’s gambling debts represent her “slightest misstep.”

Without this textual evidence, the paragraph lacks credibility. 

In adding this example, the reader can easily validate the writer’s claims.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Good

Essay Section: Thesis

“Good” is an affirmative reply. This reply is standard. It is the most consistently used reply of all professors. Professors seldom use “excellent” and “brilliant,” unless your work is extraordinary.  There are different factors involved with these categories. See the comments regarding these topics in their respective sections.

The comment “Good” encompasses many qualities, and the best way to approach this is to review its definitions and synonyms: suitable to a purpose, effective, efficient; fresh, valid, genuine; enjoyable, desirable, pleasant; dependable, reliable, right; thorough, complete; excellent of its kind; best or considered best; and morally sound or excellent. Although “excellent” is one of its definitions, this definition is only in reference to a “kind” of work.  In other words, not every work graded by a professor is of the quality of excellence.

An “excellent” paper is a “kind” of essay where the student completely fulfills the assignment. For example, if a professor requires you to write on the Canterbury Tales, compare and contrast two tales, include two characters from each, but you write on two tales and include one character from each, your paper does not represent a complete product. In terms of fully meeting the assignment, the excellent paper represents an “A.”

Of course, there are other factors that professors consider. Sometimes you can have an “A” paper, but lack sophistication in prose, follow-up explanation, and balanced analysis. This type of paper may move from an “A” to an “A minus,” even though you have fulfilled the assignment completely. When this happens, your paper moves from “excellent” to “good.” After this, your paper at this grade level is subject to different definitions. You may receive “good” because through your paper, you effectively and efficiently prove your thesis.

You may also receive “good” because your ideas are fresh, dependable, and suitable for the topic. In the following excerpt, “good” represents “thorough.”  In other words, the professor calls attention to the ability of the student writer to analyze the information, incorporate quotes, and follow through by providing more evaluation of the topic. Let’s read.

Sample Excerpt

The real question is how do the masses think?  What is their process and how is it related to their will for progress?  Gasset connects philosophy to man and his will or lack thereof.  He does this through careful examination of the ordinary thought processes of everyday human beings, which includes the masses.  It is necessary for us to explore this because we can first get a clear view of how the “average,” or mass-man thinks, leaving us to understand how sound Gasset’s argument is.

The second aspect of the philosophical past is consistently committing errors, which are involuntarily transformed into the instruments of truth.  Truth is normally regarded as something quite unattainable.  It is reasonable to assert because “we are prone to think of error as being overly likely, which is less salutary” (Gasset 20).  For example, the contemporary addresses the existence of error lightly.  He thinks that it is the most natural thing in the world to him.  He never questions the existence and accepts the error as delightfully as possible.  At best, this continued acceptance to the existence of error can be connected to the contemporary man’s innate skepticism; skepticism deals in part with man’s inability to deal with truth.

Figure 20: Essay Excerpt on Ortega Y. Gasset

Assessment

The first paragraph represents an in-depth examination of Gasset’s views, which represent a characterization of his attitude toward a major character, the “mass-man.”

The bolded sentences in the second paragraph highlight Gasset’s method, his way of persuading you about his perspective on the “mass-man.”

The underlined sentences after the quote represent good follow-through. The student explores the quote and provides additional assessment on the author’s views.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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