Archive for category Transitions

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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Follow-Up/Follow-Through (Good/Perfect)

Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

You have undoubtedly read the Academic Life Tips of this glossary and some comments where we express the importance of setting goals, enduring them, and reaching completion. When you sit down to write a paper, you are setting a goal to finish. You endure the heartache of coming up with ideas, with how to structure the paper, and with using support. However, there is one goal you don’t have the option of setting: the goal of incorporating a quote to meet the course requirement.

Typically, your professor will direct you to locate and examine evidence from the course textbook to support your claims; and if the evidence is in the form of a quote, incorporate the quote. With this in mind, your professor has added an additional requirement to your initial goal. Not only must you create a thesis, but also you must develop an analysis and incorporate quotes to support your claim. In essence, the original goal you set now has conditions. You will have to base your “finish” on fully meeting the requirements of the essay prompt. In other words, you will have to examine the prompt to make sure your paper reflects the instruction on which it is based.

Students develop the habit of incorporating a quote, and sometimes offer a few sentences just before the quote; but they don’t follow through or add an extended explanation on how the quote relates to the overall scheme of their papers. Quotes are not fillers. They serve a purpose within your essays. You must determine what purpose the quote will have between two sentences. In other words, you must prepare the reader for the quote; this is sentence number one. After you insert the quote, you must then follow up and define its significance within the body paragraph. This is sentence number two. By inserting “before and after” sentences, you ensure that you have addressed this element within your paper. Remember that you determine all of the elements that will be a part of your paper. Every element such as an example or a quote is foreign; it is an enemy until you make it a friend.

When you are introducing the quote, if the quote supports your claims, identify the quote as a friend immediately. However, if the ideas within the quote don’t support your claims, then identify the author’s beliefs as foreign. For example, if your claim is “All dogs are nice,” then you must make certain that you locate and incorporate those quotes to support this claim. You wouldn’t use a quote from an author that states, “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face” to support your claims. This author believes one thing and you believe another. Of course, you may use the quote within your essay to highlight different belief systems, but just be sure to identify the quote as opposing your own claims.

Your prep sentence must directly relate to the quote you are incorporating. What this means is you must have an understanding of what the quote means before you use it. Analyze each quote before incorporating it into your essay. Take the quote, separate its parts, and evaluate each part. A quote such as “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face” is two-part. The first part is “All dogs are nice.” The second part is “All dogs are nice, if they lick your face.” The first part is a general statement about all dogs. The quote doesn’t provide information about a specific dog. The second part represents a conditional statement. These are all the dogs that are both nice and lick your face. When providing an example for the second quote, it is possible to include a specific dog here. You can make the point that mean dogs are not nice and therefore do not lick your face. This will allow you to provide a list of non-mean dogs that are, by default, nice. The list of mean dogs will serve as a contrast.

Once you have developed a prep sentence and incorporated the appropriate quote, you must now provide a “follow-up.” The follow-up statement is an extended analysis of the quote itself. That’s why it is important to know and understand all of the parts of a quote, because there are often at least two. Don’t just use the follow-up statement to summarize the quote or what you have just said before it.

Instead use the statement that follows as an opportunity to reason logically. Don’t push the boundaries too far because you might lose your reader. Bring in an example of a nice dog in comparison to a mean dog. In one to four sentences, compare and contrast their histories. Nice Dog A is the type of dog that will greet you at the door. On the other hand, Mean Dog A is of the type that will bark louder than Nice Dog A. I could get Nice Dog A to lick my face before the other one would.

This is a simple illustration, but it is effective for this comment. Just remember that you shouldn’t use the follow-up statements only to summarize the quote. After explaining the quote, use a follow-up statement to analyze ideas housed within the quote. The following excerpt represents an example of how to provide a follow-up statement after incorporating a quote.

Sample Excerpt

The reason why the masses are followers and not leaders is because leaders have the ability to promote teamwork.  A leader offers the concept of togetherness and the illusion of a man-to-man tie. Moscovici contends that the masses are unable to exercise political power, nor do they have the ability to change the world or run the state: they have neither the ability to reason nor the gift of self-discipline necessary for survival and culture, for they are to a high degree the slaves of momentary impulse and susceptible to the influence of anyone. . . . (27) The masses are seen as collective and not as individual. When the individuality is lost, the masses forget their own interests and accept common desires, or desires told to them that seem appropriate for all.

Figure 36: Essay Excerpt on the “Mass-Man,” Ortega Y. Gasset


The student does a good job of providing a follow-up to the quote. It is not enough to just provide a few sentences after a quote. It is always important to finish that part of a discussion central to your argument.

The bolded sentence represents a follow-up to the quote. It represents analysis. The student focuses on the quote, its elements, structure, impact, and contribution to other paragraphs and to the paper as a whole. The analysis sentences represent an interpretation of the quote. In other words, the student completes the goal of explicating the quote before moving on to other areas.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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Essay Section: Supporting Evidence (Transitions)

What does it mean to have fluid writing? What does it mean to write fluidly? What does it mean to you, in terms of your writing, to receive a comment from your professor that your writing is fluid? In order to answer these questions, we must work backwards before we can develop a definition and provide examples for this comment.

Water is fluid. Anything liquid is fluid, for that matter. Brokers can turn stocks into liquid by cashing them in for an equal, greater, or lesser value. When something melts, it becomes fluid. This is a discussion on a general level.

Let’s go further to provide an additional explanation. For something to be fluid it cannot be solid. It cannot demonstrate complete unity. Whatever is fluid must be the opposite of solid. When something is solid, the something is characterized by having no pauses or interruptions. If something is fluid, then the something has pauses or interruptions.

Therefore, whatever is fluid has no form. It is not strong and/or dependable. It flows. Under these conditions, the something is able to move, change, and experience pauses and interruptions. Although fluid may move and experience pauses and interruptions, it does all of these things without separating under pressure completely. In contrast, anything solid, when under pressure, separates. Something in its solid form can change shape by turning into liquid under even less extreme conditions.

To separate, in essence, means to disunite, to become disengaged. In other words, to disunite means to become distinct from what is characterized as a whole, to be set apart from, to dissociate or become disconnected. Now let’s return to our questions and add in a few more elements.

1) What does it mean to write fluidly?

2) What does it mean to write in such a way that my ideas don’t keep to a solid form and don’t show complete unity?

3) What does it mean to write in such a way that my paper as a whole is characterized by having pauses and interruptions, rapid changes, and an unfixed shape?

4) What does it mean to write in such a way that my ideas flow and are able to move without separating under pressure?

5) What does it mean to write in such a way that my ideas flow and are able to move without becoming disconnected from the whole?

These are the definitions of what it means to write fluidly. If you have received this comment on a paper, at first glance, it appears that the comment is positive. In some ways it can be positive, for water does flow. However, if you look up the definition for “fluid,” you will see that there are some areas of the definition that may be less than satisfactory.

With this in mind, fluid writing is characterized as the ability of the writer to make ideas flow and move without separating under pressure, without becoming disconnected from the whole. This is the part that contributes to the overall development of the essay.

On the other hand, fluid writing is also writing where the ideas don’t keep to a solid, stable form. There is no unity. Much of the whole package is filled with pauses, interruptions, rapid changes, and an unfixed (unsettled), restless shape.

Receiving this comment may involve one or both of these definitions. Be sure to ask your professor what he or she means by the comment before assuming that your contribution represents considerable (noteworthy) effort.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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