An essay is a meaning-making piece of writing in which a writer seeks to make sense of the world by exploring some particular problem or phenomenon, often through the lens of some particular idea. The essayist tries to make connections among ideas and experiences to create knowledge.
As you read your peer’s Occupational Discourse drafts, write comments to help the writer improve these global dimensions of their writing:
- How well does the opening of the essay work to introduce readers to a fairly narrow set of questions to be answered (or claims to be supported) about how to enter an occupational Discourse community and to initiate a line of explanation?
- In more fluent openings, the reader will be able to easily identify the writer’s set of questions or claims, recognize their significance, and anticipate the line of explanation to follow.
- Novice openings might seem overly general, simply mentioning one or more concepts without setting up a question or problem.
- Peer reviewers can help writers by summarizing or paraphrasing the questions or problems driving the writer’s paper, or suggesting ones to the writer. Peer reviewers can also help by pointing out sentences and paragraphs that might cause trouble for a reader unfamiliar with the concept of Discourse.
- To what degree does the writer briefly and appropriately introduce Gee’s text in a way that relates to his or her approach to the paper?
- More fluent papers will focus readers on the particular aspects of Gee’s text that establish their approach to the paper fairly quickly.
- Novice papers may spend too much space summarizing Gee’s theory without seeming to have a point.
- Peer reviewers can help by suggesting cuts, or providing bits of language to help the writer connect their introduction of Gee to their approach to the paper.
- To what degree does the paper go beyond the gist and engage specific passages and scenes from the texts?
- In more fluent papers, writers will use Barclay’s Formula, TRIAC, signal phrases, voice markers and parenthetical citation to paraphrase/quote, explain, analyze, interpret and connect specific passages to one another and their argument.
- In more novice papers, writers may point to ideas in overly general paraphrase, without making much use of the quoted or paraphrased ideas, with the result that the controlling ideas of the paper are not advanced. Quoted and paraphrased material may not be explained, analyzed, or interpreted or connected to the controlling ideas of the paper.
- Peer reviewers can help by pointing to missing TRIAC or Barclay’s Formula elements, or by pointing out sentences and paragraphs that might cause trouble for a reader unfamiliar with the concept of Discourse.
- To what degree does the writer incorporate and advance some ideas developed in response to the Focused Prewriting Prompts on the Entering an Occupational Discourse Assignment page?
- In more fluent papers, writers will have incorporated multi-paragraph responses to the Focused Prewriting Prompts, having adapted the prewriting material to fit well in its new context, in such a way that the material is connected to and advances the controlling ideas of the paper.
- In novice papers, prewriting material may seem underdeveloped or simply “dropped” into the paper with little signs of revision, prewriting material may not be connected to the controlling ideas of the paper, or may not advance the controlling ideas.
- Peer reviewers can help by making suggestions to help the writer develop their prewriting ideas, or adapt them to better fit their new setting in the draft.
- To what degree is the writer clear about his or her perspective or point of view on the ways to cope with the challenges and obstacles that accompany the effort to enter an occupational Discourse?
- In more fluent papers, the writer will be clearly driving the argument, using sources to a) introduce new concepts, b) to grapple with arguments, and maybe c) to shift the conversation out of its track. Signs of fluency include use of voice markers to signal the writer’s point of view on quoted or paraphrased passages, explicit use of the They Say/I Say organizational pattern, and robust analysis, conclusion, and connecting moves in the TRIAC and Barclay’s Formula paragraph structures.
- In novice papers, writers may not use voice markers or signal phrases, resulting in “dropped” or “hit-and-run” quotes. In general, the writer’s voice and perspective take a back seat to Gee’s ideas and assertions.
- Peer reviewers can help by pointing to missing TRIAC or Barclay’s elements in source-based paragraphs, suggesting claim-based topic sentences for paragraphs that present evidence without making a point, prompting the writer to bring his or her viewpoint to the fore, encouraging the writer to use sources to introduce new concepts, grapple with arguments, or to shift the conversation, and suggesting signal phrases and voice markers.
A good comment will:
- Be generous and considerate in tone;
- Describe what you see or think as a reader, leading to a diagnosis of a problem or description of an improvement to be made;
- Suggest a specific strategy for improvement;
- Provide additional insight by asking leading questions, providing further detail, suggesting specific materials for inclusion, or engaging in dialogue with the writer.
- Indicate whether this is a high-, medium-, or low-priority issue.
Aim for no more than two or three comments per page.
In an end comment, write some sentences that give the writer an idea of your overall impression or general effect of the paper. If you can, explain the central insight you have gotten from the paper as a careful reader. Make suggestions about what improvements the writer should prioritize as s/he continues to develop his or her paper’s argument in global revision.