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Coursework Writing – All Shapes and Sizes

October 29, 2015 - Posted to Writing

Content coursework writing   all shapes and sizes x essays

Course Writing

You will have coursework writing in every course. Accept it. Whether it is short answers to questions at the back of a chapter, essays, research papers, lab reports, case studies, book reviews, and so on, there will be lots to write. Some will involve research; some will not; some will be relatively short; some will be pretty long. But there are common threads that weave among all coursework writing, and mastering the art and science of scholarly writing will mean great grades in the long run.

Defining Coursework Writing

There are two things upon which most course grades depend. Exams are given to gauge student mastery of the common content and skills that an instructor wants every student to learn. Coursework writing, on the other hand, is all of that additional assignment work that is more individual in nature, and it is graded on several factors:

  1. Was the topic appropriate?
  2. Was the topic addressed comprehensively?
  3. Was the purpose of the assignment fulfilled?
  4. Was the presentation scholarly and well-organized?
  5. Was the composition grammatically correct?
  6. Were instructions regarding format, length, etc. followed?
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How to Write Coursework – Here are the Common Steps

  1. Topic Selection: In most instances, you will receive a general topic field from which to choose a more specific topic. If you are in an abnormal psychology course, for example, you may be given the assignment to select a specific mental illness or psychosis and produce a research paper on that subject. If you are in an English comp class, however, you may have an even broader base for topic selection. You may be simply told to write a persuasive essay on an issue that is important to you. Here are some tips for finding some good topic options:
  • Go through your textbook and look at the large headings in chapters. Is there anything that caught your interest as you read you text? Make a list of possible topics
  • Get online and Google topic ideas in the broader subject area. For example, you can type in “topic ideas for papers in abnormal psychology” or “topic ideas for papers on The Great Depression.” You’ll get hundreds of them. Make a list.

Once you have your lists, narrow them down to 2-3 topics that interest you most. Then go see your instructor. Ask if these topics are appropriate and is there one that might be better for the specific assignment?

  1. Set up a timeline for completion. If the coursework does not involve research and is shorter in length (e.g., an essay on something studied in class or a book review), you won’t have to plan too much. However, if this is a long-term research project, then work back from the due date, giving yourself ample time for each stage of the process.
  2. Do the research. Obviously, you have done this before, so you know that you must take good notes and that you must make note of the source from which any information, ideas, or data has come. Some research may not involve academic work of others, but, rather experimentation or research projects that involve interviews, surveys, polls, etc.
  3. If you don’t need to conduct research for this particular assignment, what else do you need to do? If it is a book review, you obviously have to read the book, keeping in mind the specific topic of your review, so that you can take notes along the way. Is it a characterization, a discussion of the theme(s), or the way in which the author characterized society of the time?
  4. Organize Your Information: For shorter works that do not require research, this will involve preparing at least a rough outline of your body paragraphs, so you have the order in which you will make your points. For research works, this is a bit more complex and time-consuming. The research must be divided into sub-topics, and notes from a variety of sources all consolidated under those sub-topics.

Here’s a Hint: If you are struggling with organization, get online and look at some sample papers on the same topic. You can see how others have organized their sub-topics, and this can save you a lot of agony.

  1. Create Your Outline: If you have your sub-topics carefully identified, writing your outline is just a matter of deciding the order in which you will cover each sub-topic. Again, having looked at some samples will really help you do this.
  2. Write Your Rough Draft: Follow your outline to keep yourself organized and to keep the flow of your information and thoughts logical.
  3. Proofread and Edit: You must never submit any piece of writing that has not been carefully checked for grammar, punctuation, and overall organization.
  4. Check Your Formatting: Be certain that you have used the format and citation style that your instructor has specified.

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Other Points to Consider

  1. Make sure you use a variety of resources if your coursework writing involves research.
  2. Try to vary sentence structure as you write. You should use short simple sentences to make a strong point. But then use complex and compound sentences around that strong point. And don’ make sentences so long that your reader will lose track of the point you are making or the information you are presenting.

Common Mistakes

Here’s a short list of some common mistakes that students make in their coursework writing.

  1. They procrastinate and then are attempting to finish up an essay, report, case study or research project at the last minute. When you are rushed, you will make mistakes that can lower your grade.
  2. They do not construct good transition sentences between paragraphs and sections. You need to let your reader know where you are taking him/her.
  3. They fail to give credit to authors for ideas and concepts. It’s easy to remember to cite facts and data, but often forget the views an ideas of others.
Do’s Don’ts
  • Do stick to your timeline so you are not rushed
  • Don’t use resources that are too “elementary”. Like Wiki
  • Do have a back-up copy of your research notes. If they were handwritten, get to a copy machine. 
  • Don’t introduce any new information in your conclusion
  • Do proofread more than once or get a friend to read your piece.
  • Don’t skip any steps in this process. Your finished product will not be good.

Final Thought

Learning how to write coursework in a wide variety of ways is just part of being in college. For each writing assignment you get, follow these steps, and you will develop great writing habits.

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