Module Two: Evaluative Essay The Cause/Effect Mode

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For essay two, you are asked to choose a topic which is some personal challenge in your past (either distant or recent) which you have overcome. Your thesis will be the life-lesson you learned by overcoming this challenge. Your thesis supports in this second essay will be EITHER the three main effects this challenge had on you (or perhaps those close to you), OR the three main causes of the challenge.

To study how you can write about either the main causes of some situation, or the main effects of some situation, please open the attached file.

In it, you will find these things, in this order:

  1. A general explanation of what “modes” are
  2. An explanation of the cause/effect mode
  3. An outline for this mode, based on the three-part writing format
  4. A sample student essay writing about the main effects of a situation (of losing a loved one)
  5. A second sample student essay writing about the main causes of a situation (of a failed effort to stop smoking)

Essay Two (Instructions only–assignments to follow)

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Cause or Effect Essay Assignment: Open Topic

Like your previous essays, this one has an intro paragraph plus the first body paragraph due as a partial draft. Also as before, that partial draft will be submitted in two ways: first to the discussion board, and then, revised if needed, to me for grading. Your essay should be a minimum of 1000 words. As before with the previous essay, this essay will be graded on these criteria:

  • Focus on the assignment;
  • Organization according to the three-part format, with emphasis on use of a clear thesis sentence, clearly previewed supports, and equally clear topic sentences which use transition wording;
  • Development in terms of clear general explanation and use of specific examples;
  • And last, it will be graded for effective proofing.

For this essay you must make several choices. One choice is whether to write an essay on causes, or an essay on effects. You should not try to write about both causes and effects, which is a much more difficult task; in such an essay, causes and effects tend to run together confusingly. It will help if you first learn about the cause/effect mode of writing before you can understand this choice. To read about this mode, please see the item on this mode here in Module Two. (Note that this item is about the cause and effect mode, not about this particular essay assignment. Note also that if the assignment already seems clear to you, then you may not need to study this item.)

The second choice is what narrowed topic you will write about. Your topic could be about your own personal or family life, or it could be some broader social issue or situation that involves you only indirectly, if at all. NOTE: This is not intended to be a research essay. The next essay will focus on a researched topic. For now, it is wise to choose something you know a good deal about. In particular, it is wise to choose something about which you have some stories to tell, because those will become your specific examples.

Open Topic Choice

So you will choose any topic–ideally, some problem or issue–which can be discussed in terms of its causes or its effects (do not try to write about both!) As I said above, this could be a personal topic, or it could be a broader topic of the sort I call a “social issue” topic.

HINTS FOR TOPIC CHOICE:

  • Some major personal or family issue you have been through yourself can make an excellent choice of topic. For example, a student who has conquered some sort of substance abuse issue might choose to write about that–either the causes of the issue, or its effects.
  • As another example, a student might write about an issue having to do with personal relationships; this could be about a romantic relationship, but could also have to do with family.
  • As a similar topic, a student who has children might choose to write about parenting.
  • Along different lines, a student who has gone through some major career change might choose to write about that.
  • However, please note that if you choose to write about some issue which is still going on, and has not reached anything like a conclusion, then while you might be able to write about its causes, you obviously should not try to write about its effects, because those are still changing.

TOPICS TO AVOID, PLEASE: I really do not want to be asked to read and grade essays which are overly ‘preachy’ or critical of other groups of people who are different in some way from the writer.

  • This means to please avoid writing an essay which seeks to proselitize on behalf of some religious faith (though I have no objection to an essay about your own path of spiritual discovery). Please note the difference: It would be alright to write about one’s own spiritual beliefs–their causes, or their effects on one’s life; but please do NOT write an essay which, for example, tries to spell out the horrible eternal effects on others who fail to convert to the writer’s preferred set of beliefs.
  • Similarly, please avoid rants of any kind, either along religious lines or political lines. No student may write about how wrong and horrible some different group of people is (in that writer’s opinion). So I would reject topics in which those with vigorous political beliefs want to demonize those with different political beliefs.
  • The same goes for essays which might try in any way to speak negatively about any other aspect of people different from the writer, whether that aspect has to do with politics, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, or anything else you may feel is offensive. (Most of us, including me, are offended by something–and there are people and movements which are truly offensive. But this is not the place to air those concerns. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.)
  • Note that I reserve the discretion to reject topic selections. I do not need to do that often, and I hope to not need to do this at all. If I do, I would try to help that student quickly select another topic.

Please fee free to email me about your possible topic choice, before you begin writing! While I will not insist on this, it is an excellent way to get off to a good start on this essay.

Whichever you choose, decide whether to write about its causes, or whether to write about its effects. Don’t get them mixed up! So if you choose to focus on causes of some problem or issue, pick its three main causes, list them in your preview, then you will write a body paragraph about each cause, including the usual elements of TS, GE, SE, and CS. As with earlier essays, your SE should consist of a detailed story of some particular incident that is related closely to one of the causes (or effects) of your chosen topic.

Alternatively, you may pick the three main effects pertaining to your topic, list them in your preview, then write a body paragraph about each effect. As with the focus on causes, each body paragraph should contain a detailed story of some particular moment or incident as an SE.

No matter whether you are focusing on causes of some situation or effects of some situation, you should use the Background Information segment of the Intro paragraph to describe the situation itself; this is just another form of using Background Info to present your topic, as you have done before. As for your thesis, it will be your main point or opinion about your topic. In the case of any topic you choose which is about some challenge or overcoming something bad that happened, then your thesis can simply be some lesson you learned by dealing with that challenge.

I want a minimum of 1000 words. Your completed essay will contain three body paragraphs plus an intro and a concluding paragraph. It should use all the elements of the Three-Part Format you have studied, and it should be well proofed, as usual.

As already mentioned, this essay will include the same two daily assignments, prior to the final draft, as with Essay One:

  1. You will write a two-paragraph partial draft as before, then post it to Peer Review as instructed. This will open very soon and will be the first daily grade, as before.
  2. Then you will submit your draft to me for grading, in a second daily assignment here in Blackboard. There will be a small window of time available for doing any revision suggested by the peer review process.
  3. After that, working from my comments to you in your graded partial draft, you will revise your draft further, then complete the other four paragraphs, proof carefully, and submit that completed essay as your final draft. This final draft will be worth 20% of the course grade.

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