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Page history last edited by gerryc 10 years, 6 months ago

Essays {Please note: this page is out of date and will be fixed soon}

Below are links (all valid as at 2/7/09) to some of the skills that are expected of you in this course. Some of them even have useful links - if you are lucky!


Here is the booklet for the first formative essay - just in case you lose it! HA Essay First Topic.doc


Student Outcome: Planning

Given a topic, state the key ideas relevant to the information required, and identify the type of resource that may provide the information.

What this means is that you should be able to brainstorm key points from a particular topic. This requires you to be well read in Biology - something rare amongst Year 12 students.

Your next step would be to ask, "Where can I find information on these key points?". Hopefully a little broader than Google and Wikipedia - they are good starting points only.


Student Outcome: Searching

Identify key search words and phrases for a given topic.

Use an information source (library catalogue, CD-ROM, Internet, etc.) to obtain information about a topic.


Student Outcome: Evaluating

Evaluate for accuracy and suitability the information obtained from a source.

One of the key points that students need to develop in Year 12. You need to review your resources for: authority, validity, reliability, is it up to date etc.

Here is an example of the criteria used to criticise a websites:


    • Audience for the site/ stated purpose/ mission statement
    • Comprehensiveness/ completeness/ does it do what it says it will
    • Adequate amount of material to allow users to see a number of viewpoints and draw their own conclusions?
    • Well written, free of grammatical errors, typos, etc.


    • Who is sponsoring the site/ providing information?
    • Reliable contact information/ snail mail/ phone/ etc.
    • What is the point of view


    • Posting/revision dates
    • Do links work?
    • Do you think the site will still be there in a year?

Value Added Features

    • Index/search/sitemaps
    • Summaries/abstracts
    • Annotated Links

Technical Aspects

    • Accessibility/ text only alternative/ alt tags in images/ plug-ins/ browser compatibility/ ADA compliant
    • Navigation/ knowing where you are in the site/ knowing how to get back, go forward
    • Printability

Aesthetics/Visual Clarity & Appeal

    • Consistent theme
    • Visual cohesiveness/ page layout
    • Readability/ colors/ font sizes/ background images

Overall impression of the site

    • Favorable/unfavorable


Here are some more researching tips.


List the sources of the information in a standard format.

You could use this piece of software to help collect notes and create a bibliography for you:

Get Zotero


Student Outcome: Oral Communication

Talk logically and scientifically.

If you use the outline given in class, your response will be logical. The ideas need to be coherent, simple and concise and should flow from one idea to another.

Student Outcome: Written Communication

Write an essay on a selected topic, based on information from a variety of sources.

Minimum of three different resources.

Use biological terms correctly.

All appropriate terms that we have used this year should be used in your essay.


What should be in the essay.




Statement should be such that it is clear what the point of the essay is.

It should also be obvious why it is important – looking at ways that it has caused controversy, disagreements, different opinions.

Students should be able to name at least 2-3 groups affected in some way by the issue. They should be able to name the groups directly affected and other groups indirectly affected.

Evidence that the area is controversial include policies or rules to guide people, new articles, different spokes people quoted, protests.


Biological concepts


Should aim to introduce the basic biology so that an average reader can understand the key ideas. Since it is so short, they should focus only on material that is relevant.


Key issues


Issues should be balanced in the way they are presented. Usually 2 for and 2 against. Further issues should include other interesting aspects that may be relevant.


Support for Key issues


Each issue above should have three ideas and examples to help explain why they are important. Preferably, they should be from different resources.




Make sure this consists of two parts: Current and Proposed Management of the issue.

Here the focus is on resolving problems that the previous paragraphs have illustrated and so should be strongly connected to Key Issues. It should not be a discussion that has been pulled out of thin air and are included without backup from the rest of the assignment.


They should be able to explain why the ideas will help and how they will resolve the problems they themselves have bought up.


Overall Conclusions


In this section they should briefly go over the main issues, tying them together without repeating themselves, indicate where the problems are and summarising their solutions.


Below is an example illustrating the points made above.



Referencing and Bibliography

Read this document for details on how to reference correctly for every circumstance e.g. websites, videos, texts etc.

 SSABSA Referencing Guide.doc

This site might help show you how to structure your bibliographic entries. It is called NoodleTools.


Writing Tools

Here are some tips about how to write a persuasive essay.

Here is a comprehensive guide on how to do research for any topic: warning 2.1Mb in size -  StudentResearchGuide.pdf

Wow look at this: when you finish writing your essay, use EssayRater to help check spelling, grammar and importantly, plagiarism. It's free!

Also beware: here is another site that I can use to check for Plagiarism. It's called: DOC Cop. Woooo. Scary!

Not sure what plagiarism is? Go to this resource from the University of California, San Diego.


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