ENGLISH 494: Writing and Tutoring

Spring, 2002

Guidelines for Essay #3:
Analysis of a Student Text

Student Essays

Overview. For this assignment your focus will be on writing by someone other than yourself. Attached to this prompt are two student essays, both written by first-year students in a large state university for a basic writing class. The students were placed in the class as a result of their performance on a required written placement exam. The attached drafts are revised versions of rough drafts that the students did after receiving responses from classmates in an in-class peer editing session. Now the students have come to the Writing Center for help as they revise their essays to submit to their instructor. The essay you will write for this assignment is, in a way, a written version of the tutorial you might do if you were to tutor these students in person.

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Content. For this assignment, select one of the two student essays below.

Your task for this assignment is twofold. First, write an analysis of the essay you selected in which you discuss the essay's strengths and weaknesses. What does the writer do well? What problems do you see? How would you categorize these problems? Be sure to do your analysis in the context of the assignment for which the student is writing his or her essay. Cite specific instances in the essay to illustrate your analysis. Try to come to an overall sense of the student as a writer. You should also identify errors and/or patterns of error that need to be addressed.

Second, propose and justify strategies for addressing--in a tutorial--the problems you've identified in the essay. How would you approach a tutorial with this student? What would you focus on? What priorities would you establish and why? How would you help the student address the problems you see? What issues do you think would be most significant in working with this student? What information would be helpful for you in conducting a tutorial and why? How might you elicit that information? Try to be as specific as possible in discussing your proposed strategies.

For both of these tasks you should refer to any of the assigned readings that you think are appropriate for any points you might wish to make. If you propose a strategy discussed in a reading, cite it. If you draw on an idea discussed in a reading, cite it. In fact, I encourage you to use the readings in your analysis and discussion of your strategies. You might also refer to your observations of tutorials in our Writing Center.

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Length. The essay should be approximately 1200 words (or about five pages) in length.

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Format. All texts for this course (with very few exceptions) should be submitted electronically. You may submit the final version on disk or via email (as an attached file). You may also paste your essay to our WebCT site. Please save your essay as a Microsoft Word file, a Rich Text File (RTF), or a text (ASCII) file. If you submit your essay via email, be sure to let me know in class on the day it is due.

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Deadlines. Please bring a draft of this assignment to class on Tuesday, March 12th. (Bring your draft in a form that is readable: either on disk or printed out in hard copy or both.) Final versions are due on Tuesday, March 19th.

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Student Essays

ESSAY 1: "A Lesson Taught From a Public School"

Course: Basic College Writing.

Semester: Spring, week 2.

Assignment Prompt: You have been in school for at least twelve years of your life, perhaps more. In fact, you have probably spent more time in school than in any other activity or setting (outside your home). In that time you have had many imprtant experiences--some good, some bad, most probably good and bad--that have in some way affected you and the way you think about school. Think of one such experience that you have had in school and write an essay in which you describe that experience to us. Tell what happened and explain as fully as you can why that experience was important to you. Keep in mind that your main purpose in this essay is to relate your experience effectively so that we (your readers) can gain an understanding of what happened; at the same time, you must give us a good sense of why this experience was important to you and what it says to you about schools. Your essay should be about 800-1000 words long.

"A Lesson Taught From a Public School"

by Amy

As I cautiously walk down the foreign hallways, I tried to find Mrs. Eynon's first period French class, room 108. "How difficult could this possibly be?" I though to myself. "The school only has 800 students." Finally, I stumbled upon her room. I slowly pulled back the door and peaked my head inside to make sure this was the right place. As I peered my head inside, about fifty unfamiliar eyes were all on me. "Hello dear, can I be of assistance to you?" These were the first words spoken to me in my new school. After identifying herself as Mrs. Eynon, I took my seat and started my first day of class at my new school.

You must understand how I felt. I was excited but yet nervous for I did not know what stood ahead for me. See, I have attended a small, private, catholic school for the last eight years and was in the process of making a difficult change in my life. I was going from private to public schooling. Maybe, it is how I pictured it in my eyes, that is a public school.

Never had I been to a public school, my only notion was that given to me by the media. A scene setup to look something like this; crowded hallways filled with a variety of people from different worlds. Students are classified by who they are, what they wear and who they hang around with. What your parents do for a living and how much money they make also help the picture. That is if you have a family and/or a home. I guess I had seen it all as a inner city school in a bad section of town. But my new school seemed to be nothing like this.

The place was Smithfield High and academics was one quality they shined in. Of course, we were sent there for an education but here it was the best. Outstanding teachers, advisors, and student body; they had it all. But on the other hand, they did have a sore spot; sports. Their athletic department was not one of the finest. Extras, such as, clubs, sports, and band were entertaining but academics came first as a necessity. They wanted to prepare us well for college and they did so by caring for us. Caring in such a way as by offering college prep classes. They were there to help and see us succeed. They were given the satisfaction to see that they did so on graduation day.

I guess my attitudes towards public schools was all wrong. For, today I have the best of friends and an education. Achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams are what my public school wanted to see me do. I'd like to thank them very much because today I attend college.

ESSAY 1: "Competition"

Course: Basic College Writing.

Semester: Spring, week 5.

Assignment Prompt: For the past few weeks we have been reading, writing, and talking about our experiences in schools, and in our discussions we have identified many problems with schools and issues in education. Our task now is to probe deeper into those problems and issues. For this essay, think about our discussions over the past few weeks and try to pinpoint one problem or issue that seems important to you. Then write an essay in which you explore that problem or issue. In your essay describe the problem or issue as fully as you can. What exactly is the problem or issue? Why is it a problem? What might cause it? How does it affect students and teachers and the way schools work? How has it affected you? Your purpose is to discuss this issue as fully as you can. Keep in mind that the essay is not simply a story about something that happened to you but a discussion of something that you see as a problem or issue in education. You can tell a story to help illustrate the problem, but your purpose is not primarily to tell a story. Your essay should be about 800-1000 words long.


by Jared

School is some place kids go to each day to learn. What they learn is what the teacher wants to teach them. One quality teachers can not teach is competition. You learn to compete on your own. I feel this is a problem becauze to cause people to take shortcuts to win.

Our society is based on competition. It is natural for all of us to compete. The first place we experience competition is when we cry to be held by our parents. We compete with their busy schedule to get their attention. Our next major competition is upon getting into school and our first tests of school. They are all compared with other students. Until this time we only know that the time we spend with our parents is limited but if we exert ourselves we get what we want. Being compared with other students is when we first realize that we compete for time and complimints. As children we only know that we need and we must turn someones eyes to achieve what we need. We find that most competition is based upon being recognized.

In school we are recognized by the better grades. This is where one of the problems of competition come in. We are afraid to make mistakes because we lose our recognition, therefore we take shortcuts to win in recognition. In school work it turns to cheating and taking easier classes. As it has always been said "if you cheat you just hurt yourself" and easy classes are a waste of time because they limit your chance to compete later. But the grades and the recognition are more important to students than the truth.

Some turn to other activities for competition. The main thing being extracurricular activities and for or with friends. Extracurricular activities are good but there are still shortcuts here for example, using steroids. With friends it causes people to do dumb things like drugs and plainly being stupid.

My experience with competition was in school and in sports. I took a few shortcuts early in school and learned that shortcuts would just hurt me. So instid of cheating on a test I took an F and tried my best in sports instid of using steroids. I lost a few friends because they started taking shortcuts.

Teachers do not know how much of an impact they have on competition. Always giving someone credit and putting someone else down is their major fault. Compeition can not be avoided but it could be lessened to reduce the need for shortcuts. Once someone starts down the road of shortcuts, in the long run it will hurt them. Years later the person is still taking their shortcuts and as others become aware of these they lose that persons recognition, therefore defeating their purpose. Teachers could lessen the need for shortcuts by treating everyone as equals and instilling the quality of honesty. If you are honest you know that you have competed and can accept the outcome. You know you will not lose recognition but gain it for the honesty.

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