While reading the sample paper I was initially impressed with the writer’s command of textual support and the essay’s fluidity. My second reading of the essay, however, revealed the writer’s failure to expound upon ideas he/she presents. For example, the writer states “Generation Me focused solely on their needs unaware of the possible consequences” and furthers this notion without addressing what the consequences could be. Following the next sentence, the writer jumps into a Krakauer quote with an inadequate transition. This makes the paragraph confusing to read.
Many of my comments were focused on avoiding generalizations and developing ideas fully. Generalizations are often commented upon by teachers and then damage the credibility of the preceding argument. I was culprit of making sweeping generalizations and creating slippery slopes that I based my ideas on and wrote entire essays on. A student’s argument cannot be based on assumptions, especially with little textual support. Without completely developing ideas, the writer can ignore potential counter arguments that disprove the idea as well as potential secondary ideas to branch off of. I wrote down questions that challenge the writer’s idea where I felt the idea could be more developed.
This struggle to develop ideas stems from the thesis. Seeing as it is the most crucial component of an essay, it must be complicated and complex enough to sustain an entire argument, five pages worth to be exact. This writer’s thesis was simply a rendition of Johnson’s argument in Myth of the Ant Queen in stating that the environment reads individuals’ behavior and amplifies the effects of it in return. It is also very vague and unoriginal for a third essay. Many of the topic sentences are not complex as well, however, they are understandable. The first two topics sentences are too similar. The first argues that individuals’ work towards goals decided by society and the second argues that society determines an individual’s agency. Both ideas could be combined into a single paragraph. The writer may have felt the need to subtly separate both ideas due to the lack of a third topic sentence. The entire suffers from the bland thesis.
The way in which the writer utilized the texts was good. The writer used Gladwell as a frame and Twenge and Krakauer as cases. This was the appropriate set up in my opinion as Gladwell presents many complexly universal ideas while the other two others provide concrete examples that exemplify Gladwell’s ideas. Another issue with this essay is the writer’s word choice. The writer chose words such as “doing” and “successful” in instances where they did not make sense. Word choice is critical in expressing an idea. Many students use synonyms to avoid repeating words but this can lead to the use of a word whose meaning does not apply. I replaced a few of these words with more suitable ones.
When I took Expos, my teacher left comments that illuminated the positives of my essay but then gave me a B grade. This always confused and frustrated me. I always preferred constructive criticism that challenged my writing and posed questions to steer me in a better direction. Teachers should not tell a student what is wrong without stating why it is wrong. This discourages students who cannot understand what and how to improve the essay. Teachers should focus primarily on the essay’s structure, thesis and topic sentences. I feel once these components are improved, the overall quality of the essay will improve as well. While positive criticism is encouraging, an abundance of it does not encourage the desire to improve. Even for A+ quality students, there is room for improvement.