The student will effectively use structural elements to set up progressive arguments: stylistically strong incorporation of direct support with pertinent context, powerful, controlling thesis and topic sentences, and insightful development of arguments.
Structural Elements Artifact: A research paper for my Latin America class on the Shining Path of Peru, their methods, and how those methods led to their downfall.
This paper was assigned about a month before its due date and the way we went at it made it so that I could not procrastinate until the night before to do all my research and writing. Instead, every week I had to bring in twenty-five notecards with information on my subject and ten or twenty bibliographic cards with sources. No matter how much this irked me in the process, it helped me amazingly. I thought more and much longer about my topic and therefore my arguments were deeper and clearer.
Of course this did not mean that I did not procrastinate to the best of my abilities anyway. I actually ended up writing the entire paper the day before it was due. But because I had really thought through my arguments, it was almost easy to write; I just had to fit all the piece together like a great big jigsaw puzzle. The final product turned out to be a very well-made puzzle, whereas my essays are usually assembled more like the ones above: ill-fittingly. The pieces in this paper fit together nearly seamlessly to create the bigger picture, each piece just as important as the next and the whole just as dependent on any one piece being crafted just right as any other piece.
I think one of the strongest parts of this essay is my use of direct quotations. I had quite a few of them throughout my paper and they supported my arguments well and were incorporated into my text so that it was hard to tell where one left off and the other began. However, the essay’s introduction could have been better. Instead of a broad picture of the Shining Path’s beginnings, I gave quite a detailed report of them and Abimael Guzmán, its founder. This did not serve to further my arguments, rather it gave the paper the feel of a straight research paper with no thesis, until the end was reached and I got to my point. From my thesis onwards, I think the paper was quite good, and I even liked my conclusion (which I hardly ever do).
Each topic sentence was concise and to the point as well, while still telling the reader exactly what I would be arguing. And the arguments developed well throughout the paper. The flow was logical and this essay rambled much less than many of my previous papers.
However, I feel that I am portraying my experience writing this paper very positively; making it sound easy. It was not! This paper taught me a lesson in procrastination. Essentially: don’t do it! I am very prone to procrastination and I know I need to break the habit, but this paper really made me open my eyes and realize it had to stop.
The weekend before the paper was due (on a Monday of course) I had still not written a thing. Friday I told myself I would start writing Saturday. Saturday I said there would be plenty of time Sunday. Sunday. . . well, when Sunday came I had a lethargic panic attack. I knew that if I didn’t start writing I’d probably fail, but at that moment I couldn’t bring myself to care all that much, so my panic attack about my impending F lacked enthusiasm. Ironic, isn’t it?
I continued to procrastinate all Sunday until I noticed that it was four-thirty and I knew that if I didn’t start writing then, I never would. So I sat down with my computer and stacks of notecards and stared at a writer’s worst nightmare: the blank screen. I must’ve continued to do this for about half an hour, for it was getting dark when I actually set finger to key and typed out the title: “The Shining Path: Their Methods and Downfall”. And as they say, the rest is history (though really it isn’t).
Image Source: http://stepintohiscourts.org/Puzzle%20Pieces%20Pic.jpg