Appendix 20: Text Analysis Essay
With writing, as with most things, we can learn a great deal from example. Students at all levels tend to feel more confident when they are able to see examples of the types of writing they are being asked to do. In primary or secondary school, many of us probably learned what was considered a "good" book report when the teacher read an "A" paper aloud to the class. Most CO150 students would say that they understand their instructors' expectations for assignments much more clearly when they are able to see sample student essays in response to those assignments. And any graduate student faced with the task of writing a masters thesis or doctoral dissertation will head directly to the library early in the game to look at the work of former graduate students in the same discipline.
This examination of sample writing doesn't stop at the university level, either. It extends into the workplace as well, where we are asked to write business letters, contracts, brochures, grant proposals, reports, case studies, and a variety of other job-related texts. All of these types of writing, like academic assignments, demand adherence to certain conventions or expectations. They ask us to make use of particular terminology and jargon, and they often ask us to present our information and ourselves as authors in very prescribed ways.
Purpose and Goals of the Assignment: This Text Analysis assignment is an opportunity for you to learn more about writing in your intended or prospective major by not only reading texts in that discipline, but also analyzing them. The goals of the assignment are as follows:
to understand that the choices authors make in writing are intentional and governed by particular conventions, not arbitrary
- to select sample texts by identifying journals important to your own discipline
- to learn more about the writing conventions demanded by your own discipline by way of analysis of these sample texts
- to draw conclusions about these conventions, in an effort to understand WHY and HOW authors in your discipline use the strategies they do
- to practice examining the rhetorical context (purpose, audience, etc.) texts in preparation for presenting your own position on a topic in the next unit of CO150 (Written Argument)
Audience: Your instructor as part of an academic audience outside your discipline.
Texts: You will find two sample texts on your own in the library, determining which journals are valued or authoritative in your discipline and choosing two representative articles from them.
In class: We will practice analyzing various types of texts (non-academic texts and texts from various academic disciplines), using the same tool (an extensive set of questions that will direct your analysis).
On your own:
- Select two sample texts (preferably articles) from appropriate journals in the library, on the basis of advice given to you by your instructor and by reference librarians.
- Analyze both texts using the same set of questions we have used in class to this point.
- Compare and contrast the findings of both analyses. Based on the similarities and differences you find between the two texts, decide what you can conclude (at least somewhat confidently) about writing conventions in your discipline.
- Write an organized essay in which you report the most notable findings of your analyses, then draw conclusions based on those findings. Note: At least half of your essay should be devoted to your conclusions; in other words, to a discussion of what your findings really MEAN.
- In working on your conclusions section, remember that your responses to the last section of analysis questions, "Drawing Conclusions," can serve as your starting point for this discussion.
- Remember that although you will be submitting the analyses themselves (as process materials) along with your essay, your actual essay still needs to represent all of the points from these analyses that you want your audience to see. You cannot, in other words, consider the analyses themselves to be part of your essay, but rather you must select carefully the material you wish to present in the formal essay.
- Essay length should be 3-5 pages.
- Remember that your conclusions section should constitute the bulk (at least 50%) of your complete essay.
- Type your essay in a readable, 10-12 point font (please, no script fonts or entire papers in italics).
- Use margins of one inch all around and double-space.
- Print on an ink jet or laser printer.
- Submit your essay in a pocket folder and include with it all collecting, including all homework assignments and the analyses themselves.
Grading Criteria: Your essay will be graded...
- Primarily, on the basis of the complexity and thoroughness of your analysis and conclusions
- Secondarily, on the coherence of its ideas, clarity, logical organization, and sophistication of style.
Due Dates: INSERT APPROPRIATE DUE DATES.