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Essays at TAFE need to respond to the question by developing an argument which is based on evidence and critical reasoning. They must have certain key elements including;
Essays are used to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of a topic. They are also useful tools to promote thinking and learning.
Before you start, it is important to understand what type of essay you are required to write. The language of the question, especially the task words, will indicate the type of essay and suggest an appropriate structure to follow in your essay. Refer to the Task words TAB for definitions of task words.
Often, assignments have more than one part. The most logical way to approach a multi-part assignment is to address each part of the task in the order that it is stated on the assignment task sheet. The first sentence of each section of the assignment should be a direct response to each part of the task.
This is perhaps the most common structure. Examples of this include questions which ask you to discuss, analyse, investigate, explore or review. In an analytical structure you are required to break the topic into its different components and discuss these in separate paragraphs or sections, demonstrating balance where possible.
Examples of this type of essay include questions which ask you to take a position on a topic, such as a particular decision or policy, and present arguments which support your position. An effective way to argue a point can be to present the opposing view first then counter this view with stronger evidence.
Examples of this type of essay include assignments where you are given data such as a case study or scenario, a diagram, graphical information, or a picture and expected to interpret this information to demonstrate your application of knowledge when answering the task. Based on this data, you may be asked to do a range of things such as provide recommendations or solutions, develop a community development plan, or plan a marketing strategy.
Examples of this type of essay include compare, compare and contrast or differentiate questions. In this structure the similarities and/or differences between two or more items, for example, theories or models, are discussed paragraph by paragraph. Your assignment task may require you to make a recommendation about the suitability of the items you are comparing.
These essay questions often require you to structure your answer in several parts. An example may be to ask you to investigate a problem and explore a range of solutions. You may also be asked to choose the best solution and justify your selection, allow space for this in your essay.
Examples of this type of essay include questions which ask you to state or investigate the effects or outline the causes of the topic. This may be, for example, an historical event, the implementation of a policy, a medical condition or a natural disaster. These essays may be structured in one of two ways: either the causes(s) of a situation may be discussed first followed by the effect(s), or the effect(s) could come first with the discussion working back to outline the cause(s). Sometimes with cause and effect essays you are required to give an assessment of the overall effects e.g. on a community, a workplace, an individual. Space must be allocated for this assessment in your structure.
A case study is a description of a real life problem or situation which requires you to analyse the main issues involved. These issues need to be discussed and related to your research findings on the topic. Conclusions can then be drawn about why the situation occurred and how best to respond to it.
A case study is a way to apply the knowledge gained from your reading to real life situations that you may encounter in your work.
Writing a case study response enables you to
Conclusion / Recommendations
Good reflective writing usually involves four key elements:
Reflecting on an experience involves drawing on current understandings to think deeply and purposefully about what can be learned from the experience. The purpose of academic or professional reflection is to transform practice in some way, whether it is the practice of learning or the practice of the discipline or the profession.
This form of writing is a process where you can learn from your experiences and connect theory with practice in your professional field or discipline. It can help you become more aware of assumptions and preconceived ideas, and it can help you to plan future actions.
Reflective writing can take many forms, depending on the discipline being studied and the assignment structure. More formal reflective essays or reports have a clear structure with an introduction, body and conclusion. Less formal reflective writing, such as blogs, discussion entries or ongoing journals, may not be organised in such a distinct way. Reflective constructions in some discipline areas may also involve multimedia elements or performances.
All reflective writing, however, has certain key features you need to include that relate to the 4Rs of reflection:
Recount the experience or issue on which you have chosen to reflect. Explain what happened and in what context. Your initial response to the experience or issue can show where you stood before you started to analyse the situation.
Describe any similar or related experiences you've had and whether the conditions were the same or different. Make connections between this and your previous knowledge and experience of similar situations.
You should highlight significant factors in the experience showing why they are important for a new understanding. Relate these back to your research on the incident/issue. Use qualitative and/or quantitative evidence where appropriate. Discuss different perspectives involved, e.g. ethical, social, legal, organisational, and professional.
Outline the changes in your understanding and/or behaviour as a result of the experience and your reflection upon it. Explain the implications for this in your future professional practice. What actions will you take and why?
A report is a clearly structured document that presents information as clearly and succinctly as possible. Reports should be easy to read and professional in presentation.
Reports are used to help make decisions or account for actions. Reports use research to make recommendations for action. There are many different types of reports including business reports, research reports and case study reports. The common feature of all reports is that they are structured into sections with headings. Always check with your teacher for any other specific requirements and report conventions.
Reports are a common form of workplace communication, from a simple work assessment report to the high flying technical write-up. Report writing is an essential skill for professionals in many fields including business, science, education and information technology. Mastering report writing will help prepare you for your professional life.
This page should include:
An executive summary is a paragraph that provides the reader with a quick overview of the entire report, including its purpose, context, methods, major findings, conclusions and recommendations. It is often easier to write the executive summary once the report has been completed.
This is placed on a separate page between the title page and the table of contents. This may often be the only part of the report that is actually read.
Table of contents
The table of contents lists the main sections (headings) of the report, and the page on which each begins. If your report includes tables, diagrams or illustrations, these are listed separately on the page after the table of contents.
The introduction should:
Discussion or body
This contains the main substance of the report, organised into sections with headings and subheadings rather than paragraphs. The body of a report can include the following:
This summarises the key findings from the discussion section and may be numbered here for clarity. Relate your conclusion to the objectives of the report and arrange your points logically so that major conclusions are presented first. Some reports may require a discussion of recommendations, rather than a conclusion.
These are subjective opinions about what action you think could be followed. They must be realistic, achievable and clearly relate to the conclusion of the report.
This must contain all the material cited in the report. It must be accurate and consistent with a standard referencing style. Refer to the Referencing TAB on our course research guides or access this directly through our Bibliographies guide.
These contain extra supporting information that is put at the end of the report so as not to distract the reader from the main issues. They contain detailed information, such as questionnaires, tables, graphs and diagrams. Appendices should be clearly set out and numbered in the order they are mentioned in the text.
(Note that this is a generic example of a research report only. Your table of contents may vary depending on the type and function of your report. Please check with your teacher which headings are appropriate for your purposes.)
Table of contents
1.1 Purpose of the report
1.2 Issues to be discussed and their significance
1.3 Research methods
1.4 Limitations and assumptions
2.1 Literature review
2.1.1 Issue 1
2.1.2 Issue 2
2.1.3 Issue 3
2.2.2 Sample size
2.2.3 Selection criteria
2.3 Discussion and analysis of data
2.3.1 Issue 1
2.3.2 Issue 2
2.3.3 Issue 3
2.3.4 Reliability and accuracy of data
4.1 Recommendation 1
4.2 Recommendation 2
Before you start writing your assignment, it is important you are clear about the assignment type and any specific requirements you need to complete.
Step 1 Collect the information about the assignment
Collect all the information about your assignment. This requires careful reading of the task and any guidelines your teacher may have provided. Highlight important words in the task.
Step 2 Work out the type of assignment
Identify the type of assignment you have been asked to write. Is it an essay, report, case study or class presentation? Do you need to provide a bibliography?
Step 3 Identify the keywords in the assignment
Consider the language of your question. Assignment tasks contain keywords that you will use to research your assignment. The assignment task becomes easier to understand if you break the question down by looking for keywords. If you are unsure of the meaning of a word or concept use a dictionary or encyclopedia to clarify meaning. Encyclopedias will give you background information to aid understanding of a concept.
Australia's tourism industry is the third largest in the country in terms of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Much of its success is due to Australia's unique geography. Analyse the geographical factors that both contribute to and hinder the success of tourism in Australia.
Tell you what areas of the subject you will need to address in your assignment.
Australia's tourism industry
Tell you what you have to do with the topic.
Define the scope and focus of your assignment; they limit the subject matter so that you know what should and should not be included in your writing.
geographical factors that both contribute to and hinder the success of ...
|Account for||Explain why something has occurred.|
|Analyse||Take apart a concept or statement in order to consider its elements. Answers should be very methodical and logically organised.|
|Assess||This requires a judgment about an idea or subject. You may need to state whether the idea or subject being discussed is valuable or relevant after acknowledging points for and against it. Your judgment should be influenced by other authors’ views as well as your own opinion (similar to Evaluate).|
|Comment on||State your opinion on a topic or idea. You may explain the topic or idea more fully. Your opinion must be supported by evidence from reliable sources.|
|Compare/compare and contrast||This requires a balanced answer that sets items side by side and shows their similarities and differences.|
|Contrast||This requires an answer that points out only the differences between two or more topics.|
|Critically||Often used in conjunction with other directive words, such as critically discuss, critically examine or critically analyse. It does not mean criticise. It requires a balanced answer that points out mistakes or weaknesses and indicates any favourable aspects of the subject of the question. The decision or overall judgment you make must be supported with evidence from reliable sources.|
|Define||This requires an answer that explains the precise meaning of a concept. A definition answer will include a discussion of a concept and may also state the limits of a concept.|
|Describe||This requires you to identify and outline the attributes or characteristics of a subject. Differentiate See Contrast.|
|Discuss||Explain the item or concept, and then give details about it with supporting information, examples, points for and against, plus explanations for the facts put forward from various points of view. This can be one of the most difficult types of essay question.|
|Enumerate||This requires you to list or specify and describe items or ideas one by one. Evaluate See Assess.|
|Examine||This requires you to investigate a topic thoroughly.|
|Explain||Offer a detailed and exact rationale behind an idea or principle, or a set of reasons for a situation or attitude. The explanation should increase the reader’s understanding of a topic or idea.|
|Explore||See Examine. Generate This often requires you to come up with new ideas or interpretations on a subject.|
|Hypothesise||A hypothesis is a theory regarding particular occurrences. You confirm hypotheses through testing. Suggest the reasons for and the processes by which something has occurred.|
|Illustrate/demonstrate||This requires an answer that consists mainly of examples to demonstrate or prove the subject of the question. It is often accompanied with further instructions.|
|Interpret||Very similar to Explain. Describe what your subject means. Examine the key components of a topic or idea and give an evaluation of it.|
|Investigate||Research, study and carefully survey all areas of the subject.|
|Justify||Give only the reasons for a position or argument. The proposition to be argued may be a negative one. It should convince the reader of your point of view.|
|Outline||Summarise information about a subject. Only the main points and not the details should be included. Questions of this type often require short answers.|
|Prove/disprove||Both of these require answers that demonstrate the logical arguments and evidence connected with a proposition. Prove requires the points ‘for’, and disprove requires the points ‘against’.|
|Relate (relationship)||Make links or connections between two or more ideas, and show how these ideas are associated, as well as the nature of the relationship.|
|Review||Analyse, criticise and comment on the main ideas of a topic. Your assignment needs to be structured in logical order. State This requires an answer that expresses the relevant points briefly and clearly without lengthy discussion or minor details.|
|Trace||Trace is frequently used in historical questions (but not only in History courses). It requires a statement and brief description—in logical order—of the stages in the development of a theory, a person’s life, a process, etc.|