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Analyzing Writing Assignments and Providing Constructive Feedback

Analyzing Writing Assignments and Providing Constructive Feedback


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  1. Writing for Exams – Selecting Methods of Development

Classroom writing exams present special challenges because of time limitations. One of the best ways to succeed in a classroom writing exam is to read the entire assignment with great care. First, underline or highlight key words that are important to the subject matter of your essay; then, circle directional words that give you clues to the primary method of development you might use to organize your response.

Directions: Read each of the writing assignments. Then, answer the questions.

In Henry James’s short story “The Beast in the Jungle,” the main character, John Marcher, spends much of his life worried that something terrible will happen to him one day. Describe Marcher’s fears. Give the reasons for them. Discuss the effects of them on Marcher.

——?——–     are key words that are important to the subject matter.

Identify the directional words or phrases in this writing assignment.  Check all that apply.

1.Marcher’s fears

2.Discuss the effects

3.Spends much of his life

4.Henry James’s short story


6.Give the reasons for

Explain the procedure of hydraulic fracking. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using this method on the environment and economy.

——–?——-     are key words that are important to the subject matter.

Identify the directional words or phrases in this writing assignment.  Check all that apply.

1.Discuss the advantages and disadvantages

2.Hydraulic fracking

3.Using this method

4.Explain the procedure

5.Environment and economy

Discuss Bloom’s six levels of cognitive domain, giving examples that illustrate each level based on your own educational experiences.

What pattern or patterns of development are suggested in this writing assignment?

1.Example and argumentation


3.Classification and example

Imagine you go to the fish department in your local grocery store. You decide to buy the swordfish labeled “MSC certified sustainable.” Define what this label means. Explain the procedure by which a company can gain this certification for its fish products. State your evidence for agreeing or disagreeing with labeling them as certified sustainable.

What pattern or patterns of development are suggested in this writing assignment?

1.Definition, process, and argumentation

2.Classification/division and description

3.Causal analysis, example, and argumentation

  1. Characteristics of Effective Business Letters

Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of a good business letter. Concentrate on delivering a clear, straightforward message with a friendly tone, in the proper form.

Read the following scenario and choose the best answer to the question below.

A volunteer is composing a letter to encourage concerned citizens to donate money to your nonprofit organization. She asks you for advice on how to write an effective closing.

What advice would you give?

1.Stay away from setting end dates.

2.Never give a reason for a deadline.

3.Include action information and deadlines.

Select the best answer from the dropdown menu.

1.A clearly written letter Error! Filename not specified.     .

2.To build goodwill in a letter, Error! Filename not specified.     .

3.To achieve correct form in a letter, Error! Filename not specified.     .

  1. Creating Professional Email

Technology has expanded communication options. Consequently, e-mail communication tools are increasingly important to workplace success. Understanding the elements of  successful e-mail communication will help you craft effective professional messages and build your credibility in the workplace and beyond.

E-mail is advantageous in the workplace because it  Error! Filename not specified.     .

Read the e-mail message to Kate Newcomber, consider the guidelines for preparing successful e-mail messages, and answer the corresponding question.

May 1, 2011, 9:45 a.m., Eastern Standard Time

To: Kate Newcomber <>

From: Linus Rebaldi <>

Subject: Invoice for Logo Redesign

Hi Kate,

Last week AceMan Sports experienced a malware attack that deleted all incoming e-mail before it was received. Consequently, I never received your invoice for the AceMan logo redesign.

Please submit the invoice at your earliest convenience. Also, can you give me a quote on the four-color brochure print job? I’m not really sure I want to use the other printer.

I want to compare prices.


Linus Rebaldi

Senior Marketing Manager, AceMan Sports

What advice should you give Linus to help him revise his e-mail?  Check all that apply.

1.Use a more formal tone and approach.

2.Provide a useful subject line.

3.Focus on a single topic directed toward the receiver’s needs.

Read the scenario, and then answer the related question about  netiquette.

Karin has an internship with DKH Financial. Karin rarely uses e-mail; she prefers to text friends, family, and classmates to communicate. During her first week at her internship, Karin is very aware that she needs to use e-mail appropriately on the job. Consequently, Karin copies multiple people on each e-mail and forwards every e-mail she receives to her boss.

What netiquette advice would you give to Karin?  Check all that apply.

1.Check your e-mail every fifteen minutes and send immediate responses.

2.Develop an effective system for handling e-mail.

3.Do not contribute to e-mail overload.

Read Elijah Alexander’s e-mail message to Harry Nickerson and then answer the corresponding question.

March 7, 2011, 7:56 PM, Pacific Standard Time

To: Harry Nickerson <>

From: Elijah Alexander <>

Subject: Thanks a lot!

Hey Harry,

Glad you managed to really screw up the numbers in today’s presentation to the vice president of finance. I doubt anyone noticed at the time, but once they read the report it will become extremely obvious.

FYI, I let our supervisor know that you were the one responsible for that section of the report. I don’t want to lose my job over your stupid mistake.

Have a great weekend.



Which of the following would be the best response to this e-mail?

1.Harry should respond to Eli immediately and provide his perspective on the situation.

2.Harry should refrain from responding to Eli’s e-mail until he is no longer angry.

3.Harry should forward Eli’s e-mail to his supervisor and ask for guidance.

  1. Writing Beyond College

Which of the following statements accurately describes writing in the workplace?  Check all that apply.

1.Writing helps employees successfully complete their responsibilities.

2.Effective writing skills are essential to succeeding in various career fields.

3.Writing in the workplace is limited to simple communication through emails.

Select the correct answer from the drop-down menu to fill in the blank.

1.If you are concerned about a local proposal to stop a needle exchange program, writing a letter to the local newspaper would Error! Filename not specified.     .

2.If you were writing a research paper on how stay-at-home orders during the 2020 pandemic impacted depression rates, you would likely gain insight into Error! Filename not specified.     .

Chapter 3 Check Your Understanding: The Ten Core Concepts in Action

Tanner’s professor has assigned the class a descriptive essay. He is considering writing about a recent hunting trip he made with his father, but he is not sure what his main idea will be. How can he narrow his topic to help find his main idea?

1.He can research common activities done on a hunting trip.

2.He can ask his father what his favorite part of the trip was.

3.He can list the most dominant impressions, like sight, sound, and touch, he remembers from the trip.

Tanner recalls his father telling him to be silent and observant while waiting for animals to appear. He clearly remembers the sights and sounds surrounding him while he sat quietly. Through this experience, he feels he has learned the importance of being patient. He has decided to write about this lesson. Which working thesis statement best expresses Tanner’s main idea?

1.Listening to the birds chirping and the wind rustling through the trees, I realized how much I enjoyed being out in the woods.

2.I found it hard to be patient, like my dad told me to be.

3.I learned that being quiet and patient in the woods may lead to rewards both in terms of hunting and in personal character development.

What should Tanner explore about his topic to ensure a thoughtfully considered and focused essay?  Check all that apply.

1.His expectations going into the trip

2.The sights and sounds in the woods

3.The long drive to the hunting location

4.The equipment they needed to buy for the trip

  1. Introduction to the Thesis Statement

The  thesis statement declares the main point or controlling idea of your entire essay. The thesis frequently appears near the beginning of a short essay. The thesis should answer these questions: What is the subject of this essay? What is the writer’s purpose in this essay? The purpose might be to explain something, to argue a position, to move an audience to take action, or to define your point of view. Often you will start with a working thesis, a sentence of your main point, in its trial or rough-draft form. You can revise this working thesis as you narrow your ideas about your essay.

Complete the exercises that follow.

True or False: Your working thesis might begin as a simple statement.



Which of the following is a sound revision technique?

1.Modify the support for your thesis so that you provide lots of details in the beginning, and fewer and less developed points towards the end of your essay.

2.Revise for balance, clear organization, and accuracy, making sure you have cited all sources appropriately.

3.Write a complete essay draft, revise the thesis to change its direction, and then hand it in to the instructor with no typographical errors.

Which of the following would make the best thesis statement?

1.Pilgrimage to Mecca is a pillar of Islam involving several important rites.

2.In this article, I will discuss the importance of Mecca to members of the Islamic faith.

3.The Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is of great importance to Muslims.

  1. Practicing Peer Revision

Peer revision workshops can be a great opportunity to gain fresh insights about your writing. Come to your peer revision session prepared and with a constructive attitude.  To gain the most benefit as a writer from interactions with your classmates, you should be clear and specific, address important issues, and encourage the writer.

Directions: Review the following student scenario before reading the passage and questions that follow.

Today, Beth is participating in her first peer revision workshop for her composition class. Beth is nervous about her role as a reader. “What if I can’t think of suggestions for the writer? How can I tell someone that the essay is really terrible? What if I sense something’s wrong, but I’m not sure what it is or how to fix it?” Beth exchanges her essay with her classmate, Carl, and begins to read and offer suggestions to him.

Directions: Read Carl’s paper and Beth’s feedback. Then answer the questions about Beth’s feedback.

Carl Gonzales

Professor Xu

English 101

6 May 2020

Jaywalking (Rough Draft #1)

Last spring break, I went to Santa Monica, California to enjoy its famous beaches and soak up its laid-back attitude. My first morning there, I stepped out into the sunshine and felt relaxed for the first time since the semester began.  Until I heard the siren. Irritated by the jarring noise, I began walking more quickly to get away from it. I thought, “That squad car is practically on my heels!” Then, a policeman bellowed, “You, in the red shirt. Stop where you are.” My mind raced. What had I done? What crime had I committed? I was just strolling down the street. In fact, I was strolling across the street.  Not at an intersection. That’s right, I was jaywalking. I was the criminal.

Since when did walking in the street become a crime? What happened to drugs being a crime? That seems a lot more criminal to me. Also, my ticket was for $350, which seemed draconian. This experience and the price I paid for it made me enraged. It also made me wonder though. When did jaywalking become criminal?

Jaywalking wasn’t always a crime. Although jaywalking is a small infraction, its history reveals an important time in what some call the war between the haves and the have nots—those who have cars and those who don’t.

First, the etymology of the word “jaywalking” offers insight into how the act became against the law. According to Peter D. Norton, a historian of technology, jaywalk used to mean something very different. The term now means to cross the street illegally. However, a “jay” used to be a slang term for a country bumpkin. A jaywalker was distracted by the activity of the city and bumped into other pedestrians. That meaning changed when automobiles began to appear in 1910 and made use of the city streets dangerous. In order to keep pedestrians out of the streets, safety educators redefined jaywalking. “In a number of cities, they had clowns dressed up to look like uneducated rural people with sandwich boards signs that would say things like ‘I’m a jaywalker.’ And they would walk around looking like idiots.”

BETH: “This title is so boring. Change it to something more engaging, like a pun.”

How could the feedback above be improved or changed?

1.Be more sensitive to language as a reviewer.

2.Adopt a more informal tone.

3.Use more specific language.

BETH: “I pointed out a few fragments in the opening paragraph. Maybe change to complete sentences?”

How could the feedback above be improved or changed?

1.Develop a more cynical and authoritative tone.

2.Comment on a larger issue first.

3.Focus more on grammatical errors than just fragments.

BETH: “Could you combine and condense paragraphs 2 and 3? It seems as if they’re addressing the same main question: why did jaywalking become a crime?”

Why is this strong feedback for the writer?  Check all that apply.

1.It addresses an important issue.

2.It focuses on important grammatical issues.

3.It uses sensitive language.

4.It is clear and specific.

5.It takes a critical and sharp tone.

BETH: “Source?”

The feedback above is Error! Filename not specified.     .

  1. Revision: Clarifying and Supporting Your Ideas

When you  revise your draft, it is often useful to try to focus on specific aspects to improve. For example, you might ask yourself questions about thesis, audience or purpose, revising for ideas and evidence, revising for organization, and revising for clarity and style.

Directions: Read the student’s rough draft. Then answer the questions about the draft that follow.

Writing Prompt

Write a four- to five-page argumentative paper about a contemporary controversial issue. Use at least two outside sources as evidence to back up your argument and better convince your audience.

Preventing Modern-Day Piracy

¹Pirates conjure up images of seamen who look rough or dirty. ²In many legends, these pirates often were seeking or stealing treasures in faraway lands. ³However, besides being outlaws of the sea, modern-day Somali pirates have little in common with their swashbuckling predecessors. ⁴These pirates make their fortunes by holding people hostage until their ransoms are paid by the shipping companies, which have expensive insurance policies. ⁵To stop modern-day Somali piracy, international shipping companies must get aggressive.

⁶After the Somali Civil War in 1991, the government could not support a naval defense to patrol the coastline for illegal fishing vessels from other countries. ⁷Approximately $300 million in annual fishing revenue is taken by European and Asian fishing vessels operating illegally in Somali waters. ⁸Also, some European corporations have been accused of dumping massive amounts of toxic and radioactive waste, which surfaced on the Somali shores after a 2004 tsunami. ⁹Given these environmental and financial abuses from other countries, Somali pirates argue they are Robin Hoods who are using the hostage money to help their fellow countrymen.

¹⁰However, this argument is a leaky vessel; Somali pirates are now hundreds of miles beyond their country’s shore. ¹¹Moreover, their profits are going to crime organizations that supply them with vessels, fuel, and guns, instead of spending the money to revitalize the fishing industry or coastal cleanups.

What question should you ask about  [this sentence]  when revising for  clarity and style?

1.Can I energize my prose by adding “showing” details and by replacing bland, vague words with vivid specific ones?

2.Did I meet the length requirement of the assignment?

3.Are my major points ordered in a logical, easy-to-follow way?

What question should you ask about  [this sentence]  when revising for  thesis?

1.Have I included all the major points necessary to the readers’ understanding of my subject?

2.Is my argument appropriately narrowed and focused?

3.Did I evaluate the strength and source of my evidence?

What question should you ask about  [this sentence]  when revising for  organization?

1.Does this sentence contain misplaced words or convoluted phrases that might cause confusion?

2.Is the main point of this paragraph presented in a topic sentence?

3.Did I check for logical fallacies?

What question should you ask about  [these sentences]  when revising for  evidence?

1.Have I fulfilled the length requirement of my assignment?

2.Did I cite the sources of my information?

3.Am I satisfied with the organizational strategy?




  1. Writing for Exams – Selecting Methods of Development
    • Key words: “Marcher’s fears,” “Discuss the effects,” “Spends much of his life,” “Henry James’s short story,” “Describe,” “Give the reasons for.”
    • Directional words: “Marcher’s fears,” “Discuss the effects,” “Spends much of his life,” “Describe,” “Give the reasons for.”
  2. Characteristics of Effective Business Letters
    • Best advice for effective closing: “Include action information and deadlines.”
  3. Creating Professional Email
    • Advice for Linus: “Provide a useful subject line” and “Focus on a single topic directed toward the receiver’s needs.”
  4. Practicing Peer Revision
    • Feedback improvement: “Use more specific language” and “Focus more on grammatical errors than just fragments.”
    • Strong feedback: It is clear and specific, and it addresses an important issue.
  5. Revision: Clarifying and Supporting Your Ideas
    • Revision questions:
      • Clarity and style: “Can I energize my prose by adding ‘showing’ details and by replacing bland, vague words with vivid specific ones?”
      • Thesis: “Is my argument appropriately narrowed and focused?”
      • Organization: “Is the main point of this paragraph presented in a topic sentence?”
      • Evidence: “Did I cite the sources of my information?”

Analyzing Writing Assignments and Providing Constructive Feedback

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