Week 1: Course Introduction and Essay Writing

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to do their own work and not copy from other students or from books or other sources. Being honest!

Introduction to Essays

Learning Objectives

  • explain what an academic essay is
  • identify the parts of an academic essay
  • explain what each part of an academic essay is for

What is an essay?

  • a piece of writing about one topic
  • several paragraphs that help to develop the topic

Parts of an essay

  • Title
  • Introduction
    • Background
    • general statement
    • thesis statement
  • Body Pragraphs
    • at least 2, able to have more
    • help to develop thesis statement
    • Reasons and examples
  • Conclusion
    • Wrap up
    • Summarize main points or restate thesis

Purpose of the paragrphs

  • Introduction
    • Thesis Statement
  • 1st Support Topic
    • Details & Examples
  • 2nd Support Topic
    • Details & Examples
  • 3rd Support Topic
    • Details & Examples
  • Conclusion
    • Summary

If the body paragraphs are not related thesis statement, rewrite the paragraphs or update thesis.

Types of Essays

  • Illustration: supports a thesis using examples
  • Argument: Give reasons for thesis
  • Classification: Divide topic into categories
  • Compare/Contrast: Shows similarity/differences between two things.
  • Cause/Effect: Describe the causes/effect of something

These essays use a 5 paragraphs structure.

Rules of Academic Essays

  • Use 3rd person pronouns
    • he, she, they, him her, them
    • not I, you, your, me, our, us... (not appropriate for essay)
  • Cite your sources
    • Use quotes and names of sources
  • Use correct grammar and punctuation
  • Use correct format
    • handwritten, typed, MLA, APA
    • double spaced, 12 point fonts, but it depends
    • teacher tell which one to use

Different Kinds of Essays

  • Description (a place or event)
  • Narration (a story)
  • Process (how to do something)
  • Definition (define something with a special way)


  • Introduction with a thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs support thesis
  • Conclusion summarizes or restates
  • Don't use first or second person pronouns (I, me, you, we, etc.)
  • Use quotes if you borrow words
  • Use the correct format
  • Argument, Illustation, Cause/Effect, etc.

Introduction Paragraphs

Learning Objectives

  • identify the parts of an introduction paragraph
  • explain the purpose of an introduction paragraph in academic essays


  • Attract attention
  • Create interest
  • Make the reader want to continue

Surprising Statement

Some people may not realize that McDonald's hamburgers can last for many years without rotting.

Anecdote (story)

The American soccer team was not expected to do well in the World Cup. Then they surprised everyone by beating Ghana in the first match. This early success made fans believe that the U.S. team could go far in the tournament.

Short story related topic.


What makes teenagers lie to their parents?

Sould be careful. Get to the point rather than asking rhetorical questions.


Andy Warhol wisely pointed out that "As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it."

Don't use quotes that everyone knows.


Researchers have found that there are 1.22 more deaths from car accidents in rural areas than in urban areas in the U.S.

Numbers can be boring. Don't use too common or too complated one.


  • General statements / Hook
  • More specific statements
  • Thesis statement

Form of the introduction paragraph. Narrow down from general to thesis, specific, controlling idea.

Sample Introduction Paragraph

  1. Two years ago, John Smith was robbed at gun point while walking home from a movie theater. The thief took his money, watch, and cell phone. (Anecdote)
  2. In high crime neighborhoods like his, this frequently happens. (Anecdote)
  3. There are not enough police to protect innocent people walking home at night. (more specific)
  4. Smallville needs more police to control gangs and drug users and to decrease violence. (Argument, very specific = Thesis statement)

Thesis Statements

topic + controlling idea

  • topic: subject or thing what you are talking about, prove or show in essay. Specific as possible.

Things to avoid

  • Don't announce your thesis
    • I will talk about this ..., this essay is about ... (don't!)
  • Dont't write a fact
    • should be arguable
  • Don't write a popular opinion
    • if most of people agree with the opinion already, why argue about it?
  • Don't use pronouns, be specific
    • Don't assume readers knows what you're talking about
  • Don't forget the two parts
    • topic + controlling idea

Sample Thesis Statements

  • Iceland is a beautiful country to visit to learn about a new culture.

    • Topic: Iceland
  • Eating a vegetarian diet imporves health and extends life.

    • Topic: Eating a vegetarian diet
  • The American government should provide health care to all of its citizens.

  • It's important to change it because it will protect the envrionment. (x, pronouns)

  • I will give four reasons why Germany won the World Cup. (x, announcement)

  • People should stop smoking because it is dangerous for health and is a dirty habit. (x, obvious opinion)

  • Saving money is important. (x, missing controlling idea, too vague)


  • Hooks
    • Surprising statement, anecdote, statistic, question, quotation
  • Funnel
    • get more specific as you go
  • Thesis Statement
    • topic and controlling idea

Body Paragraphs

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how many body paragraphs an academic essay needs
  • Identify the parts of a body paragraph
  • Describe the characteristics body paragraph in academic essays
  • Determine how many supporting ideas and details a body paragraph needs in an academic essay

Academic Essay Types

  • Illustration
  • Argument
  • Classification
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Cause/Effect

All types require body paragraphs.

Structure of a body paragraph

  • Topic Sentenece

    • Supporting idea #1
      • details and examples
    • Supporting idea #2
      • details and examples
    • Supporting idea #3
      • details and examples
  • Conclusion or Sentence Transition

  • Purpose of supporting idea: to show what you mean by the topic sentence

  • Purpose of the details: to show what you mean by the supports

Topic Sentences

  • Two parts: Topic and controlling idea
  • Must support the thesis statement
  • Must have keywords and/or a transition (keywords are from thesis)
  • Avoids pronouns
  • Body paragraphs must start with a topic sentence

Topic sentences support the thesis statement

  • Every citizen should learn to speak a second language. (Thesis)
  • First, speaking another language broadens a person's view of the world. (Topic Sentence #1)
  • Another reason is that learning a second language opens job opportunities. (Topic Sentence #2)
  • Finally, learning a new language imporves mental function. (Topic Sentnce #3)

Supporting Ideas

  • First, speaking another language broadens a person's view of the world. (Topic Sentence)
    • They become aware of different cultures. (Support #1)
    • They think about subjects they've never thought about. (Support #2)
    • They learn about different countries. (Support #3)

Details and Examples

  • They become aware of different cultures. (Support #1)
    • Many people never leave their hometowns. (Detail)
    • Some people don't even have friends from different cultures. (Detail)
  • They think about subjects they've never thought about. (Support #2)
    • New vocabulary gives insight into the country that speaks that language. (Detail)
    • A language spoken only in hot climates may not even have a word for snow. (Example)
    • The vocabulary also teaches the learner about new foods of the related culture. (Example)


  • Smoothness between sentences and paragraphs
  • Makes your writing logical
  • Do this with transition words and phrases

e.g. First, ..., Another reason is ..., Finally, ...


  • Body paragraphs support thesis
  • Usually have 3 or more body paragraphs
  • Topic sentence
  • 2 - 4 supporting ideas
  • 1 - 3 details or examples
  • Conclusion sentence
  • Transitions for coherence

Paragraph Basics

Learning Objectives

  • identify several different types of paragraph
  • identify the parts of a paragraph
  • identify and write effective topic sentences for an academic paragraph

Body paragraph types

  • Illustration/Exemplification
  • Argument/Persuasive
  • Compare and Contrast
  • Cause and Effect
  • Classification
  • Description
  • Narration
  • Process

Paragraph Structure

  • Topic Sentence
    • Supporting Idea #1
      • Details and Examples
    • Supporting Idea #2
      • Details and Examples
    • Supporting Idea #3
      • Details and Examples
  • Conclusion Sentence

Topic Sentences

  • Tell what the paragraph will be about

  • Must have a topic and controlling idea

  • Indicates the type of paragraph

  • Rabbits make good pets.

    • reasons or examples -> Argument or illustrative paragraph
  • Smith University has a better MBA program than Johnson University.

    • better than -> contrast paragraph
  • Minimum-wage workers are demanding a higher salary.

    • reasons or causes -> Cause paragraph

Supporting Ideas

Smith University has a better MBA program than Johnson University.

  • A one-year internship is required for graduation at Smith but not at Johnson.
  • Smith has more former Wall Street executives working as professors than Johnson.
  • More Smith graduates go to work for Fortune 500 companies than Johnson graduates.

All supporting ideas are more specific than topic sentence. These idea rquire more details and examples.

Details and Examples

Smith has more former Wall Street executives working as professors than Johnson.

  • Wall Street executives make up 53% of professors at Smith but only 29% at Johnson.
  • Wall Street executives have unique insight into the concepts and strategies MBA studients need.
  • Also, the first hand experience these professionals provide give students and advantage when starting their careers.

These details are most specific sentences in the paragraphs.

Conclusion Sentence

  • Smith University has a better MBA program than Johnson University. (Topic)

  • All of these factors make the MBA program at Smith preferable to the one at Johnson. (Conclusion)

  • Conclusion reflect the topic sentence

  • Saying same thing but with different words and grammar


  • Check all supporting sentences support topic sentence.
  • Make sure all details and examples are related to the topic.

Cohesion / Coherence

  • Transition words on Supporting idea, detail, and example
  • Repeat keywords throughout paragraphs
    • Don't be too repetitive
    • Use synonyms or other form of grammar


  • Topic Sentence, Topic and controlling idea
    • Shows what paragraph gonna be
  • Supporting Ideas
  • Details and Examples
    • Be specific
  • Conclusion Sentence
    • Repeat the idea in the topic
    • Use different words and grammar
  • Unity and Cohesion
    • Related to topic
    • Flow smoothly


Topic Sentence

Conclusion Paragraphs

Lecture Objectives

  • List several functions of a conclusion paragraph
  • Distinguish a conclusion paragraph from other types of paragraph

How to end the essay

  • Summarize major points
    • Keep conclusion paragraph pretty short
  • Restate the thesis
    • Use different vocabulary and grammar, but saying same thing
  • Leave a final thought
  • Don't state new information
    • go back to the body and put the information at appropriated location.

Remember your Thesis and Topic Sentences

  • With a more international world, every citizen should learn to speak a second language.
  • First, speaking another language broadens a person's view of the world.
  • Another reason is that learning a second language opens job opportunities.
  • Finally, learning a new language improves mental function.

Sample Conclusion

In conclusion, learning a new language as an adult may be difficult, but the benefits are worth it. Everyone can appreciate a broader perspective on the world, better job opportunities, and improved mental function.

It summarizes the thesis and topic sentences.

Other ways to end an essays

  • Predict an outcome
    • More people will buy electric cars when the price becomes affordable.
  • Make a suggestion
    • Electric cars should be made more affordable so that people can buy them.
  • Call for action
    • People should tell their lawmakers that they want electric cars to be more easily available.

Also, you can uses combination of these methods.


  • Keep it brief
  • Summarize major points
  • Restate your thesis
  • Make a prediction, suggestion, or call to action
  • Make the essay feel finished
  • Don't introduce new ideas


  • Thesis: Because playing violent video games is dangerous for young minds, parents should not let their children play them.
  • Topic sentence #1: Children's minds are still developing, so they cannot judge right from wrong.
  • Topic sentence #2: Children who bully other children often spend a lot of time playing violent games.
  • Topic sentence #3: Many violent criminals have a history of playing violent video games.


Parents have a responsibility to protect their children. If they do not stop their children from playing violent games, they risk having their children become violent. This could lead to bullying or even worse crimes as an adult.

Writing Process


  • Clustering: jot ideas down on a piece of paper. Quick.
  • Outline: Organize ideas as an outline.
    • Easy to check what needed


  • Rough Draft: Don't think too much about writing. Write quickly. Flexible.


  • Revise: Read rough draft and check.
    • Will this idea work?
    • Will this idea need more develop?
  • Add new idea, take out unnecessary things

Revise, Write, Revise, Write, ... Repeat!


Looking for mistakes.

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar

Wait till end for this.

Final Draft

  • Follow the instruction for the format.
  • Should not have any correction on the paper.

Good writers follow some kind of a process.