Student Writing Samples
The following samples are meant to provide new college students with some helpful context. New students to MCC, some who may have been away from school environments for a period of time, often wonder about the expectations for writing as they enter a college environment. And although schools districts and states in this country have curriculum guidelines and assessments for writing for Kindergarten through high school graduation, some students entering MCC may not have had the many years of ongoing writing experiences needed to develop their writing abilities as others entering college. Below are some links to writing samples gathered from students at a variety of academic levels and written for a) a variety of college courses across the academic disciplines, b) first-year college English Composition courses, c) basic writing or pre-college level writing courses taken on a college campus, d) high school courses and/or assessments, as well as e) middle school classes and/or assessments, and f) elementary school classes and/or assessments.
COLLEGE LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Writing Samples In a Variety of Disciplines and Courses
MCC Writing Samples from a variety of courses across the curriculum
Writing Across the Curriculum & In the Disciplines: A Journal of Student Writing from Middlesex Community College provides student writing samples from the following classes: Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Anatomy & Physiology 1, Art on the Web, Child Growth and Development, Early Childhood Education–Supervised Field Placement and Seminar, Film Analysis & Production, Microcomputer Applications, Music Appreciation, Nursing Care of the Adult 1, Introduction to Philosophy, Piano III, Popular Culture and Society, Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Statistics, and Tourism Geography. Follow this link to an electronic copy of this complete journal.
CONNECT Writing Outcomes and Rubric for First-Year Writing
CONNECT is "A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership" of Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. The following outcomes and rubric grid was created by the CONNECT First-Year Writing Group and is used across these public colleges in southeastern Massachusetts
Freshman English Composition– 2nd semester level (equivalent to ENG 102 at MCC)
Victimized Against Her Will in Naguib Mahfouz's "The Answer is No" by Doris Osiimwe-Johnson (a literary research paper)
(This paper can be found in Writing Across the Curriculum & In the Disciplines: A Journal of Student Writing from Middlesex Community College; available in electronic form)
Tiara Trudelle: All for Love (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth)
Sue Mechler: Finding Cape Cod (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth)
Freshman English Composition– 1st semester level (equivalent to ENG 101 at MCC)
Deborah Marcelonis: Overspending is Responsible for the College Cost Crisis
NOTE : Some colleges teach the researched essay and/or the research paper in the second semester of English Composition. This student's research paper was written in her second semester composition course at a college in southeastern Massachusetts (courtesy of CONNECT: A Southeastern Massachusetts Public Education Partnership, which includes Bridgewater State College, Bristol Community College, Cape Cod Community College, Massasoit Community College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, & University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth).
ENTERING COLLEGE: WRITING PLACEMENT ESSAYS
The ACT system is one that many colleges around the country use for placement testing. Here are the detailed scoring guidelines that indicate level of writing proficiency, from 1 (low) to 6 (high):
Although these scores may be used by individual colleges in a variety of ways and at times in combination with reading placement scores, generally a score of 1 or 2 would place a student in a basic writing or pre-college level writing course, 3 - 5 would place a student into an English Composition course, and a 6 might place a student beyond English Composition 1.
The following link provides sample student essays, one sample at each of these 6 different levels: http://www.actstudent.org/writing/sample/index.html
BASIC WRITING or PRE-COLLEGE LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
The following samples are from MCC Basic Writing (ENG 071) students who completed their essays in a proctored environment in two blocks of time. Students are given 50 minutes during the final class to read the assignment options and begin their essays; all writing and materials are collected and then redistributed during final exam period where students have two additional hours to complete their essays. The essays are then read by two different English instructors who grade it as passing or not passing based on the following Basic Writing essay criteria for an in-class or timed essay:
- A relatively well-developed and expressed main idea
- A sense of introduction, conclusion, and organization
- Most paragraphs developed around appropriate topic sentences
- Sufficient relevant supporting details
- Few if any fragments or run-ons that suggest lack of sentence sense
- Appropriate capitals and end marks
- A reasonable grasp of rules for commas and apostrophes
- Few serious spelling errors
NOTE: Sample Essays #1, 2, & 6 below were in response to the following assignment option:
Though opinions may vary greatly, after at least twelve years of school, most college students know an excellent teacher from a poor one. Drawing from your personal experiences, knowledge, observations, and analysis, state and explain what you believe are the main qualities of a good teacher. Use specific examples (but please no names) and clear explanations to support your general ideas about what makes a good teacher.
NOTE: Sample Essay #5 below was in response to the following assignment option:
Write an essay giving advice to high school students on what they can do to be best prepared for the academic and personal challenges of college.
Basic Writing Sample Essay #1 (meets the above Exit Criteria; Passing)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #2 (meets the above Exit Criteria; Passing)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #5 (does not meet the above Exit Criteria; Not Passing
on Exit Criteria #1, #2, #5, #7)
Basic Writing Sample Essay #6 (does not meet the above Exit Criteria; Not Passing
on Exit Criteria #3, #5, #6, #7, #8)
HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Samples from local high school - 10th Grade Classes (Acton – Boxborough High School)
"Penalty! 10 Yards on the Offense for Lack of Integrity!: Editorial on Cheating in Professional Sports Today" (persuasive essay)
"The 7th and 8th Grade Boys Football Team. But By "Boys", I Mean Boys and a Girl" (narrative essay)
MIDDLE SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
8th Grade Writing Samples
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEVEL WRITING SAMPLES
Grade 4 Writing Samples
uite unlike the ordinary meaning of the word, argument as a term in rhetoric refers to the process of reasoning by advancing proof. Indeed, academic argument can seem dispassionate if one expects that all argument is done with raised voices and heated tempers. Though academic argument often does grow very acrimonious, it is more often the product of careful research and thoughtful consideration of all the facts that one can acquire about the issue. For centuries therefore rhetoricians advocated the writing of an argumentative essay as a means of learning how to think. Argument demands that the writer examine a belief by testing the strength of the reasons for holding such a belief. Argument of this kind forms a "dialectical structure," a dialog, within the essay itself. In this dialog, the writer explores several sides of the issue under consideration with the readers in an attempt to demonstrate why one perspective is the most enlightened. The writer's analysis of the issues (his/her evaluations of the claims, evidence, assumptions, hidden arguments, and inherent contradictions) leads the writer to champion one perspective of the subject at hand, even though reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent people advocate different perspectives.
n short, the writer of an argument essay has several goals: the primary goals is to persuade and move the audience to accept his/her position on an issue, but that is often a very difficult challenge. A secondary, and more modest goal, is for the writer to articulate why s/he chooses the stance that s/he does on an issue. The secondary goal recognizes the fact that to persuade is a difficult objective but that at least the writer can explain his/her reasoning behind his/her position.
or those reasons, many rhetoricians describe the argument as a dialog, set in writing, between the writer and the readers. In this dialog, the writer introduces his/her subject, makes his/her claim, discusses any necessary background information, and then presents the evidence for the position and in rebuttal to other positions.
riters use different patterns to organize their thoughts as they compose the argument. Essentially, the two most common patters of development are the "clustering" and the "alternating" patterns of presenting evidence. In the clustering pattern, the writer collects the evidence in one place, the objections in another section, and the rebuttal in a third section. In the alternating pattern, the writer shifts between evidence, objection, and rebuttal for each separate piece of evidence before moving to the next piece of evidence.
eading through the lists above, you can see the give-and-take, the back-and-forth nature of the argument's dialectic.
Argument vs. Opinion
he single most common misunderstanding in composing an argument is to assume that there is no difference between an argument and an opinion. "But it's all opinion!" we might rightly point out, and, yes, it is true that all claims start out as opinions. (Columbus was thought mad for suggesting that the world was round, remember. The ancients argued that the earth was the center of the universe.) At first glance, it may seem that argumentative essays are "merely" asking you to write your opinion, since there may be no single "correct" way to answer the crucial questions raised by controversial subjects. The crucial difference is that an argument should present a claim (an opinion) supported by reasoning and evidence, which persuades your reader that the thesis your paper advances is a valid one. An opinion is an assertion that is not supported by logic or evidence.
elow is an essay that I wrote in response to Ossie Davis's interesting and well-written piece entitled "The English Language is My Enemy." (I wish the piece were available to us on the web; it's a good read. You can find it widely anthologized in many different collections of essays in the library.) Davis argues on the basis of an analysis of the meanings associated with the words black and white that the English language is his enemy. My essay argues that Davis's evidence is valid but that his interpretation of the evidence is not.
he example above uses the clustering method of development. I often find the clustering method works better for a short essay while a longer, more complicated argument (with many different pieces of evidence to present) works better with the alternating method of development.