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Many students become anxious at the prospect of having to write an essay or term paper. They don't understand the conventions for organizing essays, and they don't know how to manage their time and the writing process.
The result is that many students enter college without the skills necessary to succeed simply because they were never properly taught how to write essays.
This course aims to overcome this problem by offering a systematic framework for essay writing that removes the mystery and presents a clear path for moving from idea to outline to completed first draft.
A STRUCTURED APPROACH TO SUCCESSFUL ESSAY WRITING
The most efficient way to improve your essay writing is to focus on the key structural features that define successful writing at the essay level. An essay can be written beautifully, but if it's missing key structural elements (like a well defined thesis statement), it will fail as an essay.
This course provides a set of concepts and tools for thinking about, analyzing and fixing problems with the structural elements of your essay.
CONTENTS AND OVERVIEW
Students in this course will learn how essay writing skills are related to "deep reading" and "deep thinking" skills, and why this is increasingly important in today's world. You will also learn how standards of good essay writing are related to standards of good written communication more broadly. You'll learn why academic essays are structured the way they are, how essay style is related to essay structure, how to approach the writing process, and how to organize your time so that you can actually get the work done before the deadline.
But the centerpiece of the course is two detailed case studies. In one of them I take a short student essay that has some serious problems, analyze the structural issues and rewrite that essay from start to finish.
In another case study I take an actual essay assignment from an actual college class, that I don't teach, and take that essay from initial brainstorming and researching to a detailed outline to a completed first draft with a reference list and inline reference citations.
At the end of this course you will feel more confident about your ability to successfully complete essay assignments in school, and you will have a greater understanding of the skills and habits of successful writers.
NOTE: ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS LOVE THIS CONTENT
I have a lot of positive feedback about this content over the years. College and universities from around the world have paid me thousands of dollars to license the use of these videos on their institutional servers (libraries, academic integrity programs, etc.).
Here are some of the institutions that have purchased copies of these videos for use on their own institutional servers:
… among others.
But I would like to share this content with as wide an audience as possible, and Udemy is a fabulous platform for hosting it.
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|Section 1: Welcome and Introduction|
A Brief Introduction to the CoursePreview
Where Do I Start?!Preview
|Section 2: Why Are Writing Skills So Important?|
This lecture describes four benefits of improving your essay writing skills. The first is the obvious one -- better grades in school. The other three will surprise you.
|Section 3: What is the Most Efficient Way to Improve My Essay Writing?|
The Craft of Writing from 20,000 Feet
There are a lot of factors that go into good writing -- spelling, vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, usage, paragraph structure, and so on -- but good ESSAY writing hinges on a few key factors. This lecture explains what these are.
Introduction, Main Body, Conclusion: Why Are Essays Written This Way?
How Essay Style is Related to Essay Structure
|Section 4: How Should I Approach the Writing Process?|
Writing for Discovery versus Writing for PresentationPreview
Why Rewriting is Important (And Why Students Don't Think So)
How to Deal With Writer's Anxiety and Writer's Block
|Section 5: What is My Ideal Writing Workflow?|
The Right Way to Think About OutliningPreview
My Ideal Writing Workflow
Tools for Mind-Mapping, Outlining and Drafting
The Writing Tools I Use: A Quick Introduction to Scrivener and Evernote
|Section 6: What Does a Structured Approach to Essay Writing Look Like?|
Two Kinds of Structure to Keep in Mind
A Structured Approach to Essay Writing Using Scrivener
Download the Essay Writing Template
A Short Essay Demo Using a Structured Essay Writing Template
|Section 7: Follow Along As I Write a Real College Essay From Start to Finish|
Writing a Real College Essay - Part 1 - The Assignment
Writing a Real College Essay - Part 2 - Initial Research
Writing a Real College Essay - Part 3 - OutliningPreview
Writing a Real College Essay - Part 4 - Drafts
Writing a Real College Essay - Part 5 - References and Citations
|Section 8: How Can I Improve My Writing Style?|
The #1 Misconception About Writing StylePreview
Oratorical Style, Prophetic Style and Romantic Style
Practical Style, Reflexive Style and Academic Style
Classic Style: Prose as a Window Into the World
Classic Style as an Antidote to Bad Writing
|Section 9: How to Write a Good Argumentative Essay|
A Note About URLs in the Videos in This Section
The Minimal Five-Part Structure of a Good Argumentative EssayPreview
Writing the Introduction
Writing the Conclusion
The Essay: "Should Teachers Be Allowed to Ban Laptops in Classrooms?"
Analysis: The Introduction
Analysis: First Argument
Analysis: Second Argument
Analysis: Third Argument
Analysis of the Main Body: Evaluation and Recommendations
Analysis: The Conclusion
The Essay: An Improved Version
The Essay: An Improved Version with Commentary
|Section 10: What is Plagiarism and How Can I Avoid It?|
What is Plagiarism?
Downloading and Buying Whole Papers
Cutting and Pasting From Several Sources
Changing Some Words But Copying Whole PhrasesPreview
Paraphrasing Without Attribution
The Debate Over Patchwriting
|Section 11: How Should I Cite Sources in My Essay?|
When Should I Cite a Source?
What Needs To Be Cited?
How to Cite: Mark the BoundariesPreview
Citing Exact Words
Citing a Longer Quotation
Citing a Source But Not Quoting
Do I Have to Cite Information That is "Common Knowledge"?
Citation Styles: MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian, oh my!
|Section 12: Wrapping Up|
Bonus Lecture: Other Courses I Teach, Podcasts I Produce, etc.
I'm a philosopher of science by training, and I've taught philosophy and critical thinking at the university level for twenty years.
From 2009-2013 I was Chair of the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Iowa State University.
In 2015 I left my tenured academic job to pursue a career as an independent online educator. I produce video tutorial courses on topics in science, philosophy, critical thinking and communication skills.
I currently live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with my wife and family.