(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
A researcher asked people in a retirement home what they regret. He found that older people regret not the things that they did, but rather the things they didn’t do, for example, never learning to salsa dance, never traveling the world or never learning to play a musical instrument.
That paragraph, from Brain Briefs by Markman and Duke, I think illustrates the importance of examples. Imagine what we’d wonder about had they not included those three examples.
I have found a great improvement in the clarity of my students’ writing and in my enjoyment of reading their papers after they’ve practiced using examples and then applied that tool. I’ve often noticed that they seem liberated by this tool. If they are struggling with how to explain something, they can almost always come up with an example to do it.
In this post, I’ll include:
- Samples of places in a paper where an example would be helpful.
- Samples of how students at different writing-skill levels successfully used examples to explain everything from simple ideas to abstract ones.
- Effective and simple ways for teachers to indicate to students where to include them in their papers and to encourage their use.
- Exercises to help students develop this tool that you can use with your students.