Max Hailperin's FT01 Writers' Workshop for Essay 1 (Fall 1998)

September 18, 1998

You are to read your partner's essay and use this sheet to provide them with feedback. The "comments" section at the end of each category can be used to amplify on your answers to the yes-or-no questions. For example, if you say "no" the transitions aren't smooth, point out one or more specific ones that weren't. You can also write feedback directly on the essay (such as marking the rough transition), but avoid the temptation to just mark the essay up with proofreading (such as finding spelling errors). If you happen to notice a problem in mechanics, just put a tick mark next to it; the author should be able to spot what the problem is without your taking the time to spell it out. Your focus should be on "big picture" questions such as those asked below. I would much rather hear you say "I'd suggest you make your main case more fully before you start anticipating the arguments against it" than "you have 'too' here when in should be 'two.'" At the end of the period, you'll have a chance to talk your comments over with your partner.

On Monday, I want each of you to turn in three things:

  1. The draft you brought to the workshop today (complete with any marks your partner made on it).
  2. This sheet, with both names on it.
  3. Your rewritten essay.

Essay author's name:

Reviewer's name:

Questions to guide review

  1. Thesis
    1. Does the essay has some specific point it tries to make that you were able to discern after reading the full essay?
    2. Is that point within the parameters specified by the assignment?
    3. Does the essay stick to that single point?
    4. Was it immediately clear to you what point the essay was going to make, as soon as you had read the first few sentences?
    5. Is the language used to state the thesis clear, straightforward, even powerful?

  2. Audience
    1. Is the essay consistent in the assumptions it makes about your background knowledge and vocabulary?
    2. Are those assumptions within the parameters specified by the assignment?
    3. Is the general style, tone, or voice of the essay appropriate to a general academic audience?

  3. Organization
    1. Does the essay have an introduction that let you know what to expect from the essay?
    2. Does the essay have a conclusion that left you with a satisfied feeling that the matter has been neatly wrapped up?
    3. Does the body of the essay (between the introduction and conclusion) have a discernible organizing principle? (In comments: What is it?)
    4. Does each paragraph and each larger organization unit start with a clear statement of topic, except where there is a good reason to do otherwise?
    5. Are there smooth, sensible transitions from each topic to the next?

  4. Supporting evidence
    1. Is each claim backed up by specific supporting evidence?
    2. Are the sources of all the evidence documented, even when that evidence is not directly quoted?
    3. Is each quotation or other piece of evidence worked it into the flow of the essay and commented upon?
    4. Does the essay also provide evidence that could on its face be taken as counter to the thesis, and explain how it fits into the author's understanding of the matter?

  5. Mechanics
    1. Is the grammar, spelling, diction (word choice), and typography all good enough not to have distracted you?
    2. Is the writing clear, crisp and direct?

  6. What are the three most important improvements for the author to make?