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Formal Essay #3: Reporting Information/The Expository Essay
Expository writing is a staple of academic writing. Throughout your academic and professional career, you will be called on to write hundreds of expository articles, reports and essays. A thorough knowledge of this writing form will hold you in good stead all through your career.
What is Expository Writing?
‘Expository’ is a synonym of ‘explanatory’. An expository essay is a piece of writing that explains or informs. It should be based on fact and free of the writer’s prejudices. Opinion is often expressed, but only if it is backed by fact. For example, if someone asked you to write an essay on the causes of World War II, you would write about Germany’s losses in World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, the fall of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hitler led Nazism. In other words, everything would be based on verifiable fact.
The expository writing process centers on four activities:
- Generate a rough idea or hypothesis.
- Find evidence to back up this idea.
- Expound on the idea.
- Present an argument to back up the idea.
Thus, if you were to say that the Treaty of Versailles was the chief cause of World War II, you would first talk about the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, the financial condition of Germany after WWI, the ineffectiveness of the Weimar Republic, and how they all led to the rise of Nazism.
Structurally, a piece of expository writing has the following components:
- An introduction that introduces the central idea you will discuss in the essay.
- The main body that presents evidence to back up the idea. This is the meat of the essay.
- A conclusion that presents your idea again in the light of the evidence.
Thus, the central thrust of expository writing should be to build towards proving an argument, fact by fact, piece of evidence by piece of evidence. You will use expository writing a lot throughout your academic life. Most essays that you write in college will be expository in nature. Most writing that you will do in your professional life will involve a lot of expository content as well. In other words, sharpening up this skill will serve you well throughout your life.
Required Essay Format: All response papers must be typed, double-spaced, and stapled. Font size should be 12 point Times New Roman font.
***AT MINIMUM, YOUR WORKS CITED PAGE WILL CONTAIN 3-4 SOURCES!!!!
Essays should demonstrate the following kinds of understanding. Essays should meet assignment requirements of page length and number of sources, quotes, and summaries/paraphrases. The writing should be interesting and engaging because of its informative or creative approach. Each essay should demonstrate consistent critical and creative thinking. Your purpose for writing and your audience should be clear. Your ideas should be unified, coherent, clear, and developed tightly, thoroughly, and thoughtfully. Supporting details, quotes, and summaries/paraphrases should be relevant and well-chosen. You should incorporate artful transitions, thus demonstrating a progression of thought that has been consciously planned for and achieved. You should strive to maintain a definite voice behind the writing. Each essay should express a definite point of view that is strongly supported. Grammar, punctuation, and usage should be controlled by the writer and create a fluent, clear expression of thought. Finally, MLA format for the heading, the use of quotations, and the works cited page are followed. These are what we call “higher-order concerns” because much good writing demonstrates the use of these elements.
After these higher-order concerns, I attend to “lower-order concerns,” important matters to be sure, elements that can negatively impact the clarity of one’s writing, but they don’t necessarily impede understanding of an essay. After I’ve assessed the paper looking at the above elements, I will consider the following:
- Sentence Fragments and Run-On Sentences: By far the biggest problem I see in the majority of the papers I grade in any class is sentence construction, and besides spelling, sentence fragments and run-on sentences are the most frequent errors I see.
- MLA Guidelines: Be sure to review MLA guidelines regarding the formatting of essays in English classes. Those guidelines can be found in the Rules of Thumb text as well as online in a multitude of sites. Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL for short) is a good place to start. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ (Links to an external site.)
It is absolutely important that you strive to eliminate misspelled words, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences from your writing, all writing not only formal essays. Emails and professional writing looks much more intelligent when it is free of these common errors. Therefore, a great deal of our class, when it comes to editing, will focus on eliminating these common mistakes that can detract from your intended meaning.
Revisions: It is my firm belief that writing is rarely, if ever, “finished.” In this class, you will notsimply submit an essay to be graded and promptly dismissed before moving onto the next assignment. Writing is always a recursive activity. To that end, we will complete multiple drafts of each essay before turning it into me. Grades earned on an essay can almost always be improved through revision. Once a paper is returned, you will have time to revise, edit, and re-submit a revision to be re-evaluated. If you submit a revision, you must submit the following: 1. The original, graded essay; 2. Proof of at least one form of peer revision, either in the form of a visit to DSU’s writing center or documented help from a peer; and 3. The latest draft of your essay. I will not accept your revisions without these three (3) things because it’s impossible to see what you’ve changed without these three things.
RubricEnglish 1010D Grading Scale
English 1010D Grading Scale
Criteria Ratings Pts Thesis
Create a precise thesis that controls the essay's content and structure.10 pts Create a thesis that controls the essay's content and structure.8 pts Thesis does not adequately restrict and/or control the essay's content and/or structure.7 pts Thesis is illogical, fallacious, and/or superficial.6 pts Lack of thesis statement.0 pts 10 pts Organization
An overall effective structure that includes topic sentences, transitions, and parallel structure.10 pts An essay structure that sometimes includes topic sentences, transitions, and parallel structure.8 pts Essay does not follow a consistent, logicalorder, though some organization may be apparent.7 pts Essay is inappropriately organized or random.6 pts Essay lacks a clear organizational strategy.0 pts 10 pts Introduction and Conclusion Sections
Introduction “hooks” readers and states thesis. Concluding paragraphs give a sense of closing.10 pts Introduction states thesis. Concluding paragraphs avoid needless repetition.8 pts Introduction is formulaic and dull but states thesis. Conclusion is formulaic and dull.7 pts Introduction does not state thesis or engage reader. Conclusion repeats previous points.6 pts Introduction and/or conclusion lacks purpose or is missing.0 pts 10 pts Paragraphs
Paragraphs are unified, coherent, and developed with topic sentences and transitions.10 pts Paragraphs are unified, coherent, and developed.8 pts Paragraphs may be focused but lack topic sentences and transitions are weak.7 pts Paragraphs lack development and/or transitions.6 pts Paragraphs lack clear structure; topic sentences and transitions are inappropriate or missing.0 pts 10 pts Supporting Evidence
Evidence is compelling, relevant, and substantial.10 pts Evidence is relevant, concrete, and substantial.8 pts Evidence does not clearly support the thesis, irrelevant, or too general7 pts Evidence is insufficient, contradictory, or aimless.6 pts Evidence may be random and/or without explanation.0 pts 10 pts Sentence Structure
Sentences are unified, coherent, and varied. Sentences avoid sentence fragments, run-ons, errors in subject-verb agree. and pronoun-antecedent agreement.10 pts Sentences are purposeful and varied but contain one or two errors.8 pts Sentences are competent but lack variety and contain several errors.7 pts Sentences lack necessary variety and contain many errors.6 pts Sentences are incomplete, fused, monotonous, or elementary.0 pts 10 pts Word Choice
Word choice is fresh, precise, and concise.10 pts Word choice is precise and distinctive.8 pts Word choice is generally correct and distinctive.7 pts Word choice is vague or inappropriate.6 pts Word choice is inappropriate0 pts 10 pts Grammar, Punctuation, Mechanics, and Usage
Consistently use grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage consistent with standard written English.10 pts Grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage deviate from standard written English only slightly.8 pts Grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage deviate significantly from standard written English.7 pts Grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage interfere with the essay’s overall clarity and effectiveness.6 pts Grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage obscure meaning.0 pts 10 pts Required Elements
Writer has clearly met the requirements of the assignment, including topic. page/word count, sources, etc.10 pts Writer has met most requirements of the assignment.8 pts Writer has met some but not all requirements of the assignment.7 pts Writer has not met most of the requirements of the assignment.6 pts Writer has not met or followed basic requirements of the assignment.0 pts 10 pts MLA Format
Proper MLA format is consistently followed throughout essay.10 pts 2 – 3 minor errors in MLA format are present.8 pts 4 – 5 minor errors in MLA format are present.7 pts 6 – 7 errors in MLA format are present.6 pts Essay does not adhere to MLA format.0 pts 10 pts Total Points: 10
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