English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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English: skills for learning

4.6 Practice producing draft outlines

You will now look again at the essay questions you analysed in Activity 9 and evaluate different outlines that can be used to answer them.

Activity 10

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Below is a list of assignment tasks. For each assignment look at the outlines provided and make notes in response to these two questions:

  1. Which outline best answers the question?
  2. What kind of information are you likely to need in order to write this essay?

Table 1 Assignment 1: Why do people codeswitch?

Outline 1Outline 2
IntroductionIntroduction
1st codeswitching technique + example1st reason for codeswitching + typical techniques + examples
2nd codeswitching technique + example2nd reason for codeswitching + typical techniques + examples
3rd codeswitching technique + example3rd reason for codeswitching + typical techniques + examples
ConclusionConclusion
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Answer

  1. Outline 2 is the most appropriate because it provides a range of reasons why people codeswitch. It also explains the codeswitching techniques used and some examples that help to explain these reasons. Outline 1 is incorrect because it describes the techniques but doesn’t answer the question.
  2. To write this essay, it would be useful to find the following information in the course materials:
    • definition of codeswitching
    • theories about codeswitching, particularly reasons for doing so
    • codeswitching techniques
    • examples.

Table 2 Assignment 2: Deciding which primate species you would prioritise for conservation action and explain how you came to this conclusion.

Outline 1Outline 2
IntroductionIntroduction
Why conservation is importantPrimate species that should be prioritised – brief description
Types of primate speciesReason to prioritise 1 + evidence + acknowledge reasons against
Primate species becoming extinctReason to prioritise 2 + evidence + acknowledge reasons against
The most important primate speciesReason to prioritise 3 + evidence + acknowledge reasons against
ConclusionConclusion
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Answer

  1. Outline 2 is the most appropriate because it directly answers the question by selecting one species and using each paragraph or section to clearly give reasons for this selection. For each reason, the writer also shows that they have considered and dismissed a contrasting viewpoint (e.g. a reason for not selecting this species). This adds strength to the points they make.

    The themes covered by Outline 1 provide background information but fail to directly address the question. As the requirement is to write only 800 words there is no space to provide much background information. Some of this (e.g. reasons why conservation is necessary) could be included very concisely in the introduction.

  2. To write this essay, it would be useful to find the following information in the course materials:
    • definition of primate species
    • list of species that risk extinction and their characteristics
    • how important a species is to the environment: is it likely to benefit or damage it?
    • theories of conservation
    • examples.

Table 3 Assignment 3: Compare and contrast your own education to date with that of one of your parents. Which points of comparison seem important to you and why?

Outline 1Outline 2Outline 3
IntroductionIntroductionIntroduction
Point of comparison 1 (e.g. subjects studied) – similarities and differences – examples
  • My own education – why it was effective – examples
  • Similarity 1 – explanation – examples
Point of comparison 2 (e.g. teaching quality) – similarities and differences – examples
  • My parents’ education – why it was effective – examples
  • Similarity 2 – explanation – examples
Point of comparison 3 – similarities and differences – examplesConclusion
  • Difference 1 – explanation – examples
The most important points of comparison + reason
  • Difference 2 – explanation – examples
Conclusion
  • Most important points of comparison + reason
Conclusion
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Answer

  1. Outline 1 answers the question because it identifies and develops several points of comparison and clearly compares and contrasts the two experiences. It also uses the last paragraph to indicate which one is the most important and why.

    Outline 2 provides information about the two educational experiences but does not compare them. Therefore, this outline does not help to answer the question.

    Outline 3 is also appropriate because it compares and contrasts the two experiences. However, the points of contrast need to be clearly mentioned when looking at similarities and differences. The last paragraph clearly indicates which points of contrast are the most important and why.

  2. To write this essay, it would be useful to draw from your own experience and to find the following information in the course materials:
    • information about my own education
    • education theories; in particular, factors that have an effect on people’s education as these help to explain the choice of points of contrast
    • examples.

Table 4 Assignment 4: Describe the causes of deforestation, explain its negative effects and evaluate the solutions that have been implemented to date.

Outline 1Outline 2
IntroductionIntroduction
Deforestation technique 1Cause 1 – description + example
Deforestation technique 2Cause 2 – description + example
Effect 1 – examplesEffect 1 – description + example
Effect 2 – examplesEffect 2 – description + example
Solution 1 – examplesSolution 1 – description + example + pros/cons
Solution 2 – examplesSolution 2 – description + example + pros/cons
ConclusionConclusion
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Answer

  1. Outline 1 is inappropriate because it develops two paragraphs about deforestation techniques, which are not required. It does provide examples of possible effects and solutions but does not describe them. The solutions are neither described nor evaluated.

    Outline 2 is appropriate because it clearly focuses on the three key content words included in the question: causes, effects and solutions. For each of these, it provides a description and some examples. When looking at solutions, it looks at reasons in favour of and against choosing them.

  2. To write this essay, it would be useful to find the following information in the course materials:
    • information about deforestation: causes, effects, solutions
    • theories about how forest management affects people’s lives and the planet
    • examples.

This section has highlighted the importance of fully understanding the essay question as this helps to produce an appropriate outline. In the next section you will look at ways to represent outlines visually through a diagram.

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