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FOUN 1105

Scientific & Technical Writing


Plenary Lecture 6
Elements of Essay Writing II:
Topic Sentences
Paragraphing
Conclusions

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Lessons Objectives:
At the end of this session, students should be
able to:
Discuss the concept, attributes and function of topic
sentences in paragraphing
Identify the main features of a formal essays body
and conclusion
Explain the concept of a paragraph
Identify the formats and the three rules of
paragraphing
Outline the conventions of paragraphing
List common expressions associated with
paragraphing
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An Alert!
The focus of this weeks plenary lecture builds
on Mondays teaching points:
* Elements of Essay Writing I
(Structure, Introduction and Thesis Statements)

Please review the related PowerPoint in order to


ensure full understanding of the critical aspects of
essay writing.

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Review: The Thesis Statement
The controlling idea of the entire essay

A one-sentence summary that presents the essay topic and the


areas of focus of the entire essay

Tells how you have interpreted the topic and the angle with which
you are approaching it. It takes a specific view of the topic

Directs answer of question, that is, how it can be interpreted. It


therefore acts as a sign-post to the development of the essay

The main points for the entire essay may be found in the thesis
statement

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Review: Characteristics of the Thesis
Statement

S single declarative sentence


P positioned at the end of the
introductory paragraph
L language/vocabulary of expository tool
A announcement it is NOT
C concise & compact
E expectation by reader
D direction for writer
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Topic Sentences
A topic sentence is the main idea of an essays
body paragraph written as a complete sentence.

It basically summarizes the entire paragraph in


one sentence.

It includes 3 major elements: the essays topic,


the main idea of the body paragraph and the
language of the expository method being used in
the essay
(more on this 3rd element will be discussed as
the course progresses).
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Developing Topic Sentences
A sound topic sentence emerges from the essays
thesis statement as a powerful sub-topic. This
sub-topic is fundamentally the main idea of the
entire paragraph.

A well-written thesis statement clearly yields the


essays topic sentences.

There is, therefore, a progressive interrelationship


between an essays topic, its thesis statement, its
topic sentences and its body paragraphs.
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Exploring an example:
A HAPPY MARRIAGE
Thesis Statement Apart from unconditional love, mutual
trust and open communication are
aspects of a happy marriage.
Sub-Topics Topic Sentences

Unconditional love Unconditional love is one component


of a happy marriage.
Mutual trust Mutual trust is another aspect of a
happy marriage.
Open Additionally, open communication is
communication an element of a happy marriage.
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The Body of a Formal Essay
Comprised of several paragraphs, each of which
develops a single main idea. The essays body
reflects all aspects of the thesis statement and
fleshes out the essays topic.
The main idea of each body paragraph is really
that particular paragraphs topic sentence.

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HOW THE INTRODUCTION DIFFERS
FROM THE BODY

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An example of a body paragraph
Topic sentence
Another benefit of physical exercise is that it may
prolong life and offer protection against coronary
disease.
1st supporting sentence
A major study of the exercise habits of a group of
American college graduates (Paffenbarger et al. 1993)
concluded that those who participated in sports during
the fifteen-year time frame of the study had a lower risk
of coronary disease, including a 23-29% lower chance of
dying from any disease, than those who were non-
participants.
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Paragraph Development:

What is a paragraph?
When does one end and another begin?
Is there a particular format to use in
paragraphing?
Are there any rules in paragraphing?
Should there be linking expressions or transition
devices?

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The concept of a paragraph

A continuous block of writing which develops a


single main idea. This, however, does not equate
to a single sentence.

A sound paragraph reflects a topic sentence (the


main idea of the paragraph as an opening
sentence) and a number of supporting sentences
that contain details which expand on the topic
sentence.

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Example of a Grade A body paragraph
Essay topic: A physical education curriculum for the infant group
of ages five to seven years

Movement education is a fundamental component of the


physical education curriculum for the five-to-seven age
group. The development of an appreciation for movement is often
the primary aim of physical education activities for infant level
children because of the inherent human need for movement. By
the age of five, children have developed gross motor skills but
lack the well-developed locomotor skills required for daily
operations like walking, running and balancing. The movement
education subset of the physical education curriculum for this five
to seven age group focuses on directing young children to explore
the space around them through various methods. Methods
include walking, crawling, hopping, sliding and stretching at
different levels like high up or on tiptoes, crouched or sometimes
lying flat on mats, rugs and carpets while moving in different
ways.
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Example of a Grade F body paragraph

Essay topic: An unhealthy diet

In this fast paste society where everyone is


eager to climb the ladder of success and
becoming sick in a short time. Where both heads
of a house holds are working. It is quite possible
that junk food and fast food are all that some
families have. Alot of the places where fast food
outlets are located are not sanitary. They are
infested with rats that carry all types of deseases.
No one seems to care. Not forgetting a major factor,
the oils, that are high in colesterol, the amount of
time it is reused.
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The content of a paragraph
(TEEES)
A paragraph constitutes one topic sentence and
supporting details.

These supporting details incorporate the following:


Explanation and amplification of the point made in the
topic sentence
Examples of the point
Empirical evidence in the form of quotations,
illustrations, statistics, research findings, or a synopsis
of a case study
Summarizing statement about the point.
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The format of a paragraph

1. The traditional format

This is marked by a 2cm indentation from the


left margin to commence a paragraph.

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Example of the traditional format
Many renowned religions are centred
around the notion of a single god. This is a
phenomenon that underpins world societies
and cultures. Followers adhere to this belief
despite differing perspectives.
The concept of a deity or deities may be
traced to ancient times when men sought
answers to lifes problems. Diversity evolved
through the ages

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Format Continued.
2. The block format

This format has no indentation.


It begins at the left margin and different
paragraphs are designated by the skipping of a
single line between paragraphs.

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Example of the block format

Leaders of the faith ensure that there is a strict


policing of the doctrine. It is well-known that
infringements are dealt with expeditiously in an effort
to maintain the status quo. Related practices have
been internalised by followers.

Practical dimensions of the faith are adhered to in


daily life. Both men and women attempt to instil an
awareness of these in their children during the
formative years of the latters development.

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The length of a paragraph

Nothing is cast in concrete but the length of a


paragraph really depends on the full
development of the main idea. This consists of
a topic sentence and supporting details
Perhaps 6 10 sentences (not lines!)
Perhaps 100 130 words

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The 3 rules of a paragraph
Unity
one idea; not veering off in other directions; sticking
to a central notion.
Coherence
use of words and expressions that allow a smooth
flow of thought.
Development
every sentence takes the reader one step forward;
not circular; not padding or rambling.

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Linking expressions in and
between paragraphs
In addition Therefore
Additionally On the contrary
Hence Contrariwise
Moreover On the other hand
Indeed Likewise
Instead Nevertheless.
Thus

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PARAGRAPH CHECKLIST

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The Conclusion of a Formal Essay

This is a re-statement of the controlling idea in


the final paragraph of the essay which
generates a sense of closure.

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Conclusions
A conclusion of a formal essay brings the essay to a
satisfactory end
It generates a sense of closure
It is always the final paragraph of a formal essay
It contains no announcement of intent
It reiterates the controlling idea (the thesis statement),
through summary or paraphrase, without repeating it or
simply listing the points of the essay
No new points are introduced here
It does not forecast the future
It does not offer solutions to a problem or call for action to be
performed
It is at least 3 sentences long

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An effective conclusion avoids the
following terms

In conclusion
To conclude
All in all
In the final analysis
Finally
To sum up
Lastly

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Example of a Grade A conclusion on
sexual harassment within an
organization
Although several laws have been passed against
sexual harassment in the workplace, it continues to be
a critical issue. Sexual harassment in the workplace
may have several implications for the victim and takes
various forms. Physical, visual and verbal harassment
are types of sexual harassment which often exist within
an organization.

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Example of a Grade F conclusion for
an essay on an unhealthy diet

People in todays society often wonder when


tragedy strikes, why me. But dont stop to think
about his or her life style. One begins to beg god
for a chance, and begin praying. In some
instances, it may change ones life, in others it
changes for a short time. And then, the cycle of
an unhealthy diet starts again.

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Todays Recap!

Elements of Essay-Writing II:


Topic sentences
Paragraphing
Conclusions

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Important Information!
Do note that this weeks Home Assignment requires you
and your partner to generate a narrowed topic for the
literature review for next weeks class (Tutorial 4). The
broad topic, which is also on myeLearning, is Climate
Change and Ecosystems. It is critical that you come up
with a (draft) narrowed topic in time for next weeks class
since this exercise forms the major component of Tutorial
4!

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This Weeks Tutorial Information

Worksheet #5
Exercise in research and documentation

Overview of introductions and thesis statements


in formal essay writing

Submission of Credit Assignment 1 (On Friday!)

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This Weeks Independent Study
myeLearning
Chicago Manual of Style
The structure of a formal essay
Introduction
Thesis statements steps, rules and examples
Checklist for thesis statements
Paragraph Advice
Self-Assessment (Grammar):
Complete Sentence Construction 3
Complete Concord 1 Assignment 3
Complete Punctuation Exercise
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Next Plenary

Introduction to the Literature Review

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