About Writing: A Guide
Robin Jeffrey, Klamath Community College
Pub Date: 2016
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
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Overall, the text provides a good introduction to basic academic writing principles and skills. Some sections would benefit from extended examples to model skills for novice writers. For example, "How to: Write a Summary" succinctly presents the... read more
Overall, the text provides a good introduction to basic academic writing principles and skills. Some sections would benefit from extended examples to model skills for novice writers. For example, "How to: Write a Summary" succinctly presents the elements of a summary. An application of these elements to a paragraph summary model would help a student to begin a similar assignment or check existing work. Additional examples in the grammar exercises would also be helpful. For example, many developmental writers will not know if their sentences "contain more than one independent clause." Several examples of the errors in context paired with and possible correct sentences would bring the flow charts to life in terms of application. The examples for "Multicultural Writers and ESL Challenges" are much more robust and instructive than the "Basic Grammar" section.
The section on the Rhetorical Concepts is key for many new college readers and writers! However, the section links the participants of the rhetorical situation (author, text, and audience) with the modes of persuasion (ethos, logos, and pathos), which are not necessarily linked. A writer may persuade with any of these means, but the text implies that the author only is responsible for ethical concerns, the audience is only persuaded by an emotional plea, etc. This section would be clearer if presented in two distinct parts. Additionally, the "MLA Citation Examples" section needs to be updated per MLA 8th Edition standards. The provided Works Cited Entries in this section are incorrect.
The MLA section is currently out of date, but this section could be easily updated and replaced. The remainder of the text is current and relevant.
The text is clearly written in mostly accessible language. The questions for "Active Reading" are particularly helpful for readers being taught to annotate for the first time. The list format and simple syntax are easy to use as a reference for students. The majority of the paragraph-based sections are manageable to digest for lower level readers, which is particularly helpful in the developmental writing classroom. The "Revision" section shifts tones, engages lengthier prose, and utilizes substantially more challenging vocabulary. The values expressed in explaining the importance of evidence analysis are thoughtful, but the use of lofty phrases, such as "a pastiche of strung-together quotations," may discourage or confuse introductory students.
The framework of the "Revising" section is strikingly different from the other list-based and chart-oriented sections. The terminology of the text is generally consistent with that expected of a introductory level composition and rhetoric course.
The text is easily divisible and assignable according to topic and theme. The sections follow the logical flow of the writing process to mimic the natural student progression in a writing course.
The topics of the text are well organized and easy to located according to the table of contents.
The textual interface is clear and focused. All charts and images are easily visible.
The grammar of the text's writing is correct and appropriate per Standard Edited English guidelines.
The text is mostly inclusive and not offensive in any way. The text does employ grammatical terms with which students may not be familiar, depending on their academic background. A glossary of terms at the end of the text or definition of key terms on related pages would make this text more inclusive for those students who have never received formal grammar training.
The book is comprehensive, yes, but where it has breadth, it lacks depth. Indeed, this text could not be used as a stand alone teaching option; it is, primarily, a guide — and rough one at that. The first part of the book, “Composition” is clear,... read more
The book is comprehensive, yes, but where it has breadth, it lacks depth. Indeed, this text could not be used as a stand alone teaching option; it is, primarily, a guide — and rough one at that. The first part of the book, “Composition” is clear, but adequate in introducing the purpose and main components of writing. However, by and large, it only offers definitions, while severely lacking crucial examples.
What the text lacks in depth, it makes up for in accuracy. In my review, I did not encounter any errors or bias.
The text is relevant, as it discusses the “bones” of writing, there is not much to change, except for current stylistic guidelines and examples (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).
The text is clear, but again, it should be because it doesn’t offer much beyond concise definitions as related to writing. That said, I do feel that these definitions could be more clearly formatted; indeed, the use of a bold font type to indicate important, separate concepts would be helpful — especially for beginner/first year college students. Additionally, I would rearrange listed concepts or examples in some of the charts for relevancy. For instance, when listing examples of descriptive writing, the first example is “poetry” followed by “journal/diary writing,” then “descriptions of nature,” then “fictional novels or plays.” I would rearrange this listing to reflect the relevancy to the student reader. As they are assigned fiction in literature courses, perhaps starting there, to then be followed by poetry, plays, journals, etc.
The text is consistent in its clarity and tone.
The text is easily and readily divisible for reorganization or realignment. It is not in the least self-referential. However, if divided into smaller reading sections, the material covered would be scant (again, because of lack of examples), and thus does not lend itself to being read in smaller sections.
The text is mostly presented in a logical, clear fashion. In editing the text, however, I would introduce “Understanding the Assignment” section through the “Checklist: Planning a Document” section BEFORE “Types of Writing Styles” are introduced.
The text’s interface is clear. For future revision, I would ask that the charts, such as “Transitions” on page 13, be larger; additionally, the graphs on page 15 are both rather small and challenging to read. The pie chart on page 14 is rather pixelated, and could be reformatted as well.
The text’s grammar is nearly without error.
The text, happily, is gender neutral. While I’ve stated repeatedly that the text needs more examples, should a revision occur, I would implore the author to include culturally-relevant examples for a diverse student body.
As a whole, the text functions as a skeleton for understanding writing, and it does just that. It stands up; it is clear. But it is, ultimately, a skeleton in need of flesh.
At first glance, the contents do offer instructors a comprehensive list of key writing areas that should be covered in a college writing class. For example, it includes topics like writing styles, active reading, and assessing writing situations... read more
At first glance, the contents do offer instructors a comprehensive list of key writing areas that should be covered in a college writing class. For example, it includes topics like writing styles, active reading, and assessing writing situations to more practical areas like conventions, revision, and checklists. It also includes discussions on common challenges for multilingual and ESL writers from diverse backgrounds. The beginning instructor of writing would find these discussions useful, but the experienced instructor, seeking a more in-depth and detailed coverage of these areas, may find it very basic. Overall, the text is useful as a “guide” for instructors and definitely useful for students looking for basic guidance in college writing.
The guide is fairly accurate but not detailed nor in-depth enough, especially for students. It assumes that students enter college with prior knowledge to understand some of the more abstract concepts. For example, the sections on logical fallacies, rhetorical concepts, and point of view lack detailed discussions and lessons to help students understand these complex concepts. The guide is very basic and practical in style and approach. As a writing instructor, however, I am always looking for strategies to teach writing with a lens of equity and inclusion, and while there is a section on evaluating bias for research materials, the guide definitely does not address these critical areas. The overview in this section is still helpful as an introduction.
The topics are accurate but perhaps incomplete. Updating it is very do-able, as it would require adding more in-depth discussions of what is already in the text and adding more recent pedagogy on issues like inclusion and equity in the teaching of college writing. The section on MLA should be updated.
The information is accessible and clear to instructors but may prove confusing to students who are beginners to college writing and from diverse backgrounds.
The text is consistent but some areas have more details than others. The sections on rhetorical concepts, logicial fallacies, and point of view need more details.
Although the organization of the text might be useful for reference or in planning writing lessons, it would have been helpful if the guide included a brief introduction on how it should be used. I see using it as a checklist.
The organization is fine as a reference, but if using it to inform lesson planning, the current organization - conceptually - might not be so useful.
The interface is simple; not fancy so it is easy to navigate.
No issues with grammar errors found.
Although there is a section on ESL and multilingual writers, the text could still provide more examples that are relevant for writers from diverse backgrounds and an in-depth and genuine discussion on inclusion and equity, especially since the student demographics continue to change in higher education.
A worthy “guide” on the basics of teaching writing, especially as a reference on the fundamentals of writing, research, and revising.
The text offers a comprehensive range of areas and ideas for writing students and teachers. The table of contents is well organized and easy to navigate. read more
The text offers a comprehensive range of areas and ideas for writing students and teachers. The table of contents is well organized and easy to navigate.
The content is accurate. It is a bit prescriptive, though. Some teachers may like this—it seems to read as a kind-of helpful, instructional “how to” for students—and some teachers may not. In a lower level writing class, this could be effective, but it does feel a bit pedantic.
This seems to be one of the text's main strengths. It covers all areas that would likely be taught in a writing class, but its spareness makes it adaptable. Teachers would need to elaborate on many parts of the text with supplements or a specific context, but for that reason I think it would have a broad appeal.
The text is mostly clear and accessible, but some parts might be confusing or dense to a new writing student, especially if the teacher did not cover the material in class. This was especially true for the academic or argumentative sections, which pose rhetorical questions to students to get them to analyze writing.
The book's consistent.
The text is adaptable and could easily be reorganized and realigned. Again, this is one of the text's strengths.
The topics are well organized and easy to navigate.
The text is free of interface issues.
The prose is free of grammatical errors.
The book does not include any cultural or topical information. Again, it just covers key areas that a writing teacher might use in a Comp class. The text would probably need to be supplemented with outside models/examples.
The text is user friendly and offers a cornucopia of quick references whether it be for grammar usage, proper citation rules, revision strategies or getting started. read more
The text is user friendly and offers a cornucopia of quick references whether it be for grammar usage, proper citation rules, revision strategies or getting started.
The book appears accurate and provides easy access to students with questions about areas ranging from brainstorming ideas to revision.
The book reflects basic tenets & terminology that fellow colleagues at my institution use in the classroom and professional developments areas. The text is both relevant and timeless.
The content is clear and aided by visually friendly, uncluttered page layouts. The student is able to focus on key points without being overwhelmed by dense paragraphs.
There are no surprises or inconsistencies in this book. There is a logical progression of ideas, concepts, and simple instructions from start to finish.
The text and layout are no frills - perhaps a bit lacking in variety.
Well-organized, user-friendly and informative. An ideal manual for first year freshmen and ESL students who may have questions that they are too shy to ask their instructors about in class.
This book is well-organized, informative and easy-to-use.
The grammar points are comprehensive and easy to digest for the reader. It serves as a ready reference point for native and non-native writers alike.
There is a cultural neutrality to the text. It is neither biased nor nebulous. It welcomes the reader with an overview about types of Writing styles and builds sequentially from there.
I feel the layout could be enhanced by adding color variants, images or graphic elements that could serve to highlight key points in grammar usage for ESL students.
Writing is a large topic and I like how the guide breaks this subject matter down into sections highlighting composition, academic writing, researching and even grammar and editing in general. This guide focuses on the broadness of different... read more
Writing is a large topic and I like how the guide breaks this subject matter down into sections highlighting composition, academic writing, researching and even grammar and editing in general. This guide focuses on the broadness of different writing styles but allows opportunity for some overlap between styles when discussing grammar and sentence structure.
Based on what reviewed the information appears to be accurate. The writing in this guide speaks to a general audience and also includes some basic information on grammar as a review for the unseasoned writer.
The information seems relevant and could easily be updated in the future to accommodate any changes which need to be made if warranted.
The information provided seems fairly clear and is presented in a clear fashion. There is text and visuals that helps to explain the material; the information presented in different ways helps to gain understanding on the subject matter of writing.
The information seems consistent throughout, though could be presented in a different order. Some of the material presented later, may have been more helpful presented earlier. However, the table of contents helps to guide the reader and the reader can use the information they need at varying times.
I like that it is organized to help the reader meet their most pressing needs. However, I would have liked to have seen a brief introduction on how best to use the book. This guide does not need to be read in sequential order and though that is implied it would help the reader if introduced that way in the beginning.
Some parts could be adjusted so the guide would flow to assist the reader. There were parts that felt out of sequence. There is a discussion about plagiarism and then later different citation methods are presented. Some information feels disjointed.
It flows well and visuals are easy to read on a tablet or phone.
I did not note any errors.
There is a photo that represents a cultural diverse audience and there is a section that focuses on multilingual writers and ESL challenges which provides information that would be helpful for any reader or individual who wants to improve their writing.
I like the visuals and easy to read charts. I appreciate the flow charts in the grammatical sentences section. This could be a guide to be used across disciplines to continue to enhance writing practices.
Basic in both form and format, this book takes a simplistic approach to college-level writing that is relatively straightforward in its attention to the composing process. The book is definitely accessible and user-friendly for students and... read more
Basic in both form and format, this book takes a simplistic approach to college-level writing that is relatively straightforward in its attention to the composing process. The book is definitely accessible and user-friendly for students and instructors; however, it lacks detailed guidance to support student learning.
The content is accurate but incomplete; it presumes that students come to the academy with prior knowledge about writing in general. This is often not the case. For example, under the “Test Your Thesis” section, Jeffrey takes for granted that students know how to approach writing a thesis statement and provides no instruction. In the section on “Active Reading” Jeffrey tells students, “Every author has a purpose; find it”, but students are given no direction for how to even begin this discovery process.
The content is relevant and will likely remain so, since the writing process is a consistent practice. As research supports it, new methods for teaching this process should be included in future updates of the book.
While the content included in the book is appropriate, other content is completely missing. For example, the book assumes students have a working knowledge of grammar. In the section on verb tense, students are led through a series of question to determine when to use an -s or -es. One of the questions asks if the subject is a “singular indefinite pronoun”. This type of grammar review is challenging for many students at this level, yet there is no guidance for understanding these terms or determining answers to questions like these. The grammar section is written like an equation that can simply be solved.
While the book is accessible, it presumes students’ familiarity with writing discourse. Jeffrey defines some of the more challenging rhetorical concepts (e.g., ethos, pathos) but assumes students understand what to do when they are asked to do things like summarize or analyze.
The book is broken into small sections, which makes it less intimidating; however, some of the sections could be combined for better continuity. This book needs a companion reader or a broad selection of supplemental readings to provide context for students and to support instruction.
The book is well organized from composing to revising; however, the section on grammar is the largest and most comprehensive section.
The text is clear and precise in its simplicity with headings, graphics, and bullet points to guide the reader and highlight information.
The text has no grammatical errors and is written in clear, concise language.
The book is culturally neutral. In future updates, Jeffery should provide examples that are culturally diverse to ensure representation and applicability across student populations.
The lack of detailed directions throughout the text eliminates the scaffolding needed for students to successfully learn, retain, and transfer knowledge.
The text seems very comprehensive and I liked how it was organized. This organization was reflected in the table of contents. The fact that various subjects related to writing have been compartmentalized will help students find what they're... read more
The text seems very comprehensive and I liked how it was organized. This organization was reflected in the table of contents. The fact that various subjects related to writing have been compartmentalized will help students find what they're looking for and avoid what does not apply to them. The book has no glossary, which seems like a drawback.
Yes, the content feels accurate and unbiased. I noticed no errors.
I would say that 85% of the book is up-to-date will remain relevant for a long period of time. The rules of grammar, strategies for writing, and details regarding how to conduct solid research are unlikely to change in the immediate future. Other details, however, change rapidly, such as the rules of MLA documentation. I noticed that the MLA section of this textbook is already out of date.
Most certainly, the text uses diction and syntax that undergraduate students can easily understand. Any jargon that was used was explained fully. I also appreciated that the text's information was commonly presented in the form of bullet points and visuals. I find that students find this type of presentation more accessible and digestible than the classic "wall of prose" hat many textbooks commonly utilize.
I may have already answered this above, but the book felt very consistent in terms of tone, diction, and vocabulary.
Yes, this was one of the immediately outstanding positive features of the book: how the various subjects are compartmentalized into succinct and focused chapters. In the past, I've used textbooks that are arranged by type of assignment instead of subject matter. The approach offered by About Writing: A Guide strikes me as much more logical and natural!
Yes, the organization is very effective. I liked how the book started with composing and research before discussing documentation and grammar, two subjects that are guaranteed to frustrate and overwhelm students as they become acquainted with academic writing process.
The charts and visuals in chapter one are slightly grainy and sometimes hard to read. I did not experience any other interface issues.
I found no grammatical errors, which is a good thing, considering that the grammar is one of the text's chief subjects.
None of the examples that the book includes read as cultural insensitive or offensive to me. One idea to note is that there is a chapter entitled "Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges." Much of the info covered in this chapter is relevant also to native speakers.
This book provides a very robust discussion of the main components of writing while not being too detailed and lengthy. Adequate coverage of the concepts listed within the table of contents. A few more examples could be included with the questions... read more
This book provides a very robust discussion of the main components of writing while not being too detailed and lengthy. Adequate coverage of the concepts listed within the table of contents. A few more examples could be included with the questions and guides throughout the book. Additionally, concepts such as writing for different types of media or an introduction to white papers would be helpful.
The question-based nature of presenting core concepts via student reflections avoids any bias and promotes self discovery. The grammatical flow charts are a good tool and appear accurate.
The organization of and sectioning/sub-sectioning of core concepts makes the ability to update this document quite simple. The question-based format of some of the sections help to ensure the content does not become outdated.
The book contains clear definitions and explanations throughout, using bolded font or colored boxes to highlight key points. While I am not sure of the reading level for this book, continuing education students, adult learners, and students with English as a second language may not find all the words easily understood. For example, words like "segment" are used instead of simply saying "part" to describe the concept. Visuals that sum up each section would also be helpful for those who are visual learners.
No issues with consistency in formatting, terminology, or level of detail presented were identified.
Overall, the book was well-laid out and provided for easy navigation. The section on revising could be improved to include more sub-headings or colored examples to given the amount of text contained within that component.
The checklists were very helpful and could benefit from having actual check-boxes instead of bullets. Students would then be able to print these down and use them for assignments. This could particularly be useful for the peer-review section.
Some of the graphs and charts in this text are rather small. While the content doesn't matter entirely to the formatting and the writing associated with the graphs, students may find this frustrating.
No grammatical errors were identified.
There were no insensitive cultural references noted in this text. The only cultural issue might be the applicability of this book for those with limited English proficiency.
This was a really great textbook that had an appropriate amount of length associated with it. It is unlikely that students are to be overwhelmed given its relatively small page limit. An accompanying practice workbook for self-reflections and exercises might be a nice addition.
Jeffrey's text is quite comprehensive, covering all the basics of writing, including composing, revising, researching and grammar. However, the text does fall short in a few areas. First, it doesn't offer a lot of information/advice on... read more
Jeffrey's text is quite comprehensive, covering all the basics of writing, including composing, revising, researching and grammar. However, the text does fall short in a few areas. First, it doesn't offer a lot of information/advice on brainstorming/freewriting. A page on "generating ideas" would be a great addition to a future edition. I also didn't see any sample student essays or even very many short passages from texts, so any instructor using this should have his or her own samples ready. Lastly, while his text is quite comprehensive, it sticks to the basics. Some more advanced elements of style or some of the finer elements of argument are not covered/discussed.
Jeffrey's text is highly accurate. However, since this isn't a history or scientific textbook, what I mean by "accurate" is that is that the information in this text is very similar to what you'd find in other texts. This is not a criticism, but a compliment. It's nice to know that you can learn from this free text what you'd get from texts that cost $50+
I believe that the information in Jeffrey's text will remain relevant for a long time--certainly for as long as students are required to write college essays. As I wrote above, the information in this text is the kind writing instructors have been teaching for years, and what makes for good grammar and writing does not change very much, so I would expect that this text can be used for years to come.
Clarity is this text's greatest strength. My chief criticism of many writing books is that their prose is far too complex or verbose. On the other hand, I can confidently say that any student will find Jeffrey's text easy to read. Additionally, his writing is relatively free of jargon. Any technical terms that are used are clearly defined. Most importantly, the author often uses the second person to address the reader, which I think will help students make a connection with the text. The author also asks the reader to imagine themselves in specific writing situations. As a result, not only is the writing accessible, it's also relatable.
This text is quite consistent in its presentation, style and tone. For instance, section and subsection headings look the same throughout the text.
I would absolutely agree that the text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. First, the text is divided into large chapters/sections that deal with the different parts of the writing process, i.e. composing, researching, MLA Formatting, etc. Second, each page can be assigned/read on it's own. For example, the text's information about planning a document is all on one page, while its advice about using visuals in a text is on its own, separate page. Therefore, it would be incredibly easy for an instructor to pick and choose what he or she wants to use.
I found this text to be extremely well-organized. As I mentioned above, the text is organized around different aspects of and steps in writing. This makes it easy to find what you're looking for. Additionally, the table of contents is easy to navigate and just one click on a section or subsection title takes the reader to the appropriate page.
This text has a great interface. The presentation is simple and clear, and each page is uncluttered. As I said above, navigating through the pages or through the table of contents is quite easy.
I did not see any grammar issues/problems in this text.
I did not see anything in this text that I think would be considered culturally insensitive or offensive.
All in all, a great little text that provides excellent insights and lessons on the fundamentals of writing, revising and researching.
This book is an effective primer in grammar for students who are in need of a review, or those who have not had a sound foundation in grammar. It is not comprehensive, in that it is not intended as a course in English grammar; rather, it addresses... read more
This book is an effective primer in grammar for students who are in need of a review, or those who have not had a sound foundation in grammar. It is not comprehensive, in that it is not intended as a course in English grammar; rather, it addresses the grammar problems that tend to be common to many first-year composition students. It is also a good basic introduction to the writing process, including sections on drafting, revising, avoiding plagiarism. The book also offers guidance in critical reading, such as analyzing texts, rhetorical concepts, and active reading.
This book presents succinct and accurate lessons in basic grammar in an accessible and uncomplicated format.
As the rules of English grammar tend to change very little, this book is likely to remain relevant. Its clear and accessible format will make it appealing to instructors who want a grammar handbook that speaks specifically to the difficulties common to most college composition students.
Prof. Jeffrey's book is very clear and succinct. Grammar is explained and demonstrated by examples. Checklists at the end of each chapter reinforce lessons and provide students with a handy way to test themselves. Literary terminology is explained and illustrated by examples.
The book follows a consistent format in each chapter, offering clear explanations, examples, and checklists. Prof. Jeffrey walks students through the various necessary steps of the writing process, not just telling them what to do, but showing them how to do it.
This book can be easily adapted to classroom teaching. The chapters needn't be taught in strict order, but can be assigned by instructors as needed, depending on the day's lesson and the needs of the class. This flexibility is particularly useful.
The structure of this book is logical and practical, beginning with the more basic concepts (grammar, usage) and progressing to the more complex (writing an essay, revising, and so on). The book clearly addresses the various stages of the writing process without being overwhelming or unnecessarily complicated.
I found no interface issues in this book.
The book's grammar is sound--as it must be in a book about grammar/writing!
As this book focuses on the nuts and bolts of writing rather than the substance, it does not have much opportunity to be culturally relevant.' However, where possible, the author uses inclusive and diverse images or examples.
This book is fairly simplistic in language and presentation. However, such an approach is helpful to composition instructors, who are often working with students who have a shaky grasp of English grammar and little experience of composing essays. Mainstream composition textbooks tend to be very long and unnecessarily complex; students often find them intimidating. As an instructor, I find them to be weighed down with extra material that I am unlikely to use. They are also, of course, absurdly expensive. Prof. Jeffrey has written a textbook that demonstrates her knowledge of what first-year compositions students struggle with and how best to address these struggles. Her book reflects the reality of teaching composition and an understanding of what sort of text students will read and learn from.
A reasonable comprehensiveness for introductory college-level composition courses (WR121) is a strength of About Writing: A Guide. Many of the basic boilerplate concepts in a Composition I (freshman level) course are included and credibly,... read more
A reasonable comprehensiveness for introductory college-level composition courses (WR121) is a strength of About Writing: A Guide. Many of the basic boilerplate concepts in a Composition I (freshman level) course are included and credibly, coherently explained. The Table of Contents (TOC) is acceptably (but arbitrarily) organized and delineated. There are fifty small chapters arrayed in short, easy-to-consume ‘learning chunks’) clustered under eight high-level parts: Composing, Academic Writing, Researching, MLA/APA/CPS, Basic Grammar, Grammatical Sentences, Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges, and Revising. Easy Call: Part V: Basic Grammar is an unnecessary structure; the only chapter in the unit (i.e., about subordinate clauses) could logically and effectively be included within the core grammar unit—Part VI. Virtually any text could use some customized reorganization—but that is arguably a subjective/personalized perspective more related to the way each individual teacher approaches writing instruction (in my case across both basic composition (English Composition I—WR121) and intermediate composition (more expository, research-based for English Composition II—WR122) at Rogue Community College.
See my comments in other sections that impact this issue. Overall, Jeffrey’s text appears, “accurate, error-free and unbiased.”—but there are, in fact, some glaring errors in the chapters covering APA style. These errors (some of which are identified elsewhere in my OER review) should be easy to rectify in a subsequent (and needed) revision.
Most of the text describes research-writing strategies that are fairly well-established if not generic to the beginning undergraduate English composition content area; thus, the overall longevity of the existing text is good and will be better once issues like the APA style errors and poor visual display/contrast errors I note have been corrected. I have made a few suggestions about such an update and offer to assist Robin Jeffrey (gratis and pro bono) in correcting and improving the APA material and example contrast/readability concerns should my collaboration be desired. For that matter, most OERs might go the more open ‘peer review’ route and assemble a set of active teachers, instructors, and adjunct professors (such as me) who are on the ‘frontlines’ of current praxis for research-based, critical thinking, problem-oriented writing courses across the 11th-12th grade and through the undergraduate and workforce education community.
The text is written is a clear, credible, and cogent prose throughout. On occasion, the clarity for students might be improved by additional ‘real-world examples’—more ‘showing rather than mere abstract telling/listing of concepts (e.g., in chapters Assessing the Writing Situation, Testing your Thesis, Analyzing a Text, etc.) explicating numerous rules—but a similar constructive criticism could easily be made of nearly all similar OERs. Example: Merely reminding a student to, “check that your subject is not too broad – narrow it down if necessary” is insufficient to convey the narrowing process (drilling-down to a specific, researchable question). Try illustrating the ‘topic selection’ task by a series of increasingly granular topics such as: (1) Climate Change —> (2) anthropogenic global warming —> (3) need for preserving biosphere species diversity —> (4) overpopulation, habitat depletion due to human encroachment, agriculture, ranching, and species endangerment/extinction —> the consequences and implications for the destruction of the Great Barrier reef of Australia (as a case study). ‘Showing’ is often much better instructionally than merely ‘telling.’
The text wording, terminology, framework and process emphasis are generally consistent although there are too many fonts, text highlighting effects that reduce readability, etc. that I have reported elsewhere in my OER review.
The chapters and exercises are highly modular—which supports the customized reorganization of assigned readings, examples, and exercises I apply in my own courses as noted in my other comments. The text, however, is clearly not, “overly self-referential,” and each chapter can easily be, “reorganized and realigned with various subunits” of an individual teacher’s course design without presenting much ‘disruption to the reader.’
The text does begin at a good foundational overview level; Parts I, II, and III particularly appear in a cogent and coherent sequence/order for beginning/entering students in expository, research-based essay courses. The fact remains About Writing: A Guide is quite similar to many other OERs (e.g., Krause, 2007) in its idiosyncratic, arbitrary unit, chapter, and overall organizational scheme. This is not a unique criticism. One of the principal weaknesses of any textbook’s set of chapters is that the given ‘table of contents’ structure is arbitrarily organized and therefore somewhat conceptually disjointed—at least insofar as my research writing courses are designed. Therefore, to provide a more coherent, logical sequence congruent to the course organization of my Writing 122 (this is an intermediate/advanced-level English Composition II)—I would freely assign a different/customized) order of high-level chapters/pages for weekly course reading assignments.
The text is not fancy; standard black and white (high-contrast) font used throughout. For emphasis of key points, Jeffrey does use gray background, rounded ‘highlight boxes.’ The text font should either be a larger and/or bolder, easier-to-read against the gray background highlight; the gray level could be lowered (in the next update) for improved contrast. The other obvious ‘visual perception’ design error is found in the ‘Examples’ boxes and text. These rounded boxes are duo-tone: the top component contains the high-contrast white-on-violet moniker, ‘Examples’ (fine)—but again, the accompanying prose examples (on the lower component) are a thin, unbolded, too-light, and uneasy to read font on a lowered-violet background. There are other related contrast problems: the use of maroon text on a light-maroon highlight in example text in Chapters 48-50. These types of ‘unforced errors’ (the grayed-back and violet-back text boxes, the maroon on light maroon highlights) reduce readability and thus usability and display incorrect visual contrast (particularly difficult for vision-challenged readers) that unfortunately runs counter to sound information visualization research (e.g., See Information Visualization: Perception for Design [2nd ed.] by Colin Ware, 2004, particularly Chapter 3: Lightness, Brightness, Contrast, and Constancy). in addition, there are a number of truly poor graphics and graphic organizer figures (e.g., the flowcharts in Chapter 32’s ‘Should you use -S (or -es) for a Present-tense Verb?’; Chapter 33’s ‘Is your Sentence a Fragment?’; Chapter 34’s ‘Is your Sentence a Run-on?’; and Chapter 35’s ‘Does your Sentence have a Dangling Modifier’ are simply awful and unacceptable). The good news is that these visual display errors should be easy to correct in subsequent editions of About Writing. Otherwise, most of the book’s interface presentation supports an adequate user (student) experience, printability, and accessibility per ADA and general disability (e.g., visually impaired learners) protocols—but requires solid improvement in the update to better exemplify the best practices and research-grounded principles of universal information design.
There are no significant grammatical errors in the text. I am not a ‘grammar snob’ (nor a pure grammar expert) in any case; Jeffrey’s prose seems clear, cogent, thoughtful, well-written; it generally uses solid grammar, mechanics, and punctuation.
I do not see significant, relevant, or glaring faux pas pertaining to any biased disrespect for multiculturalism. All persons (e.g., races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and different cultural backgrounds) are equally respected and appreciated. The content area (English composition) is very amenable to a relatively generic, culture-free perspective—and Jeffrey’s examples and prose is well-within any applicable standards of post-modern, scholarly, formal non-fiction in written Standard English. Part VII is formally titled ‘Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges,’ but again, while these 12 chapters would certainly be appropriate remediation for non-native English (ESL) writers—this same material would also be very helpful remediation to many native English speakers/writers on the college freshman level., so the labeling of the unit seems more ‘politically correct’ than functionally compelling (i.e., only targeting ESL multilingual students) from my perspective.
 About Writing: A Guide (Revised ed.) was published to Creative Commons in 2016. There are many insightful, practical, and straightforward approaches to the basic academic research writing process; in this regard— About Writing is appropriate for late high-school and beginning college (undergraduate) research essay courses in English composition. Even though some of the technical components (e.g., APA style, text/visual presentation of highlighted examples) require updating/revision—Jeffrey’s condensed, simplified chapters can effectively augment (and remediate!) the core knowledge and skills of entry-level college writers. The modular Jeffrey OER (like the Krause and Guptill text) is ‘learner-centered’ (as opposed to ‘content centered’), problem-oriented and performance-oriented as well—providing opportunities for creative, resourceful teachers to adapt/adopt the OER to course assignments.  Like Guptill (but unlike Krause)—About Writing is a single, convenient standalone PDF. I would not change that! The Krause (2007) OER should also be made into a single PDF as I observed in my review of The Process of Research Writing.  GOOD in About Writing: While there are some very poor visuals in the book (e.g., the flowcharts noted in other parts of my review)—thankfully, Chapter 8: Visuals that help you Communicate (pp. 14-22; the material on the use of visuals and figures, charts, infographics, etc.) is actually quite good! That is a pleasant observation and makes that specific chapter particularly useful in expository, research-based essay writing on the college level. Why this chapter’s infographics were decent and the flowcharts in chapters 32-35 so poor I have no idea.  There are obvious organizational foibles such as needlessly separating Chapter 30 on Subordinate Clauses into a standalone unit on ‘Basic Grammar.’ This makes no sense whatsoever; Chapters 30-35 should clearly be subsumed under a general ‘Grammar’ division. Chapter 29 (CMS Signal Phrases) only contains a basic list of active verbs to use in any/all signal phrasing regardless of manuscript publication style (MLA, APA, or Chicago). Numerous similar publication discrepancies can be found throughout the book—so a new revision is recommended to eliminate as many of these issues. Also, there is no important reason to essentially duplicate the list of verbs (with arbitrary grammatical differences like ‘admits’ (for MLA) versus ‘admitted’ (for APA).  The chapters support good modularity overall. Nevertheless, integrating any textbooks (printed or digital OERs) always has tradeoffs—plusses and minuses, positives and negatives. The obvious ‘instructor’s imperative,’ therefore, is taking the liberty of using any source as a supporting scaffold or buttress to the particular course design concepts—rather than the core foundation around which a course can be quickly and effectively designed.  One minor (perhaps picayune) weakness for research-based prose instruction is Jeffrey’s acceptance of passive, sophomoric signal phrasing (i.e., According to McGuffin and Cross,)—as opposed to always strongly advocating the nonpareil authority of active voice signal phrasing such as ‘’ McGuffin and Cross found…’; and This is not meant as a harsh criticism—merely an observation that readability could be improved with a newer version that eliminates most quotation marks (Note: In APA style—these punctuation symbols are only used for verbatim quotes. This makes for a cleaner, clearer manuscript).  It appears that like many academics—Jeffrey is more familiar and comfortable with the Modern Language Association’s MLA style/formatting. No problem there—I was simply trained on APA beginning in 1984 so it is native to me; I also use the latest version of APA style in all of my writing (college composition) courses. Thus—it should come as no surprise there are a number of obvious APA-associated inaccuracies including: ‘In “Fighting Anti-Trans Violence”’ [incorrect use of quotations around any source title] and assigning the MLA ‘Works Cited’ moniker for the APA end references section instead of the correct ‘References,’ etc.). This makes that specific APA style chapter virtually useless in my WR122 (English Composition II) course. A thorough, meticulous updating of this OER source would probably take care of many of these APA-error issues. I’d be happy to work with Robin on this update at any time.  I have been using Amy Guptill’s Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence (2016) for my English Composition I course that emphasizes general essay writing and a simple research-supported argumentative essay. I teach WR121 using the following assigned readings: Week One: Chapter 1 (Really? Writing? Again?), pp. 1-7, and Chapter 2 (What Does the Professor Want? Understanding the Assignment), pp. 9-18; Week Two: Chapter 6 (Back to Basics: The Perfect Paragraph), pp. 48-56; Chapter 7 (Intros and Outros), pp. 57-64; Week Four: Chapter 9 (Getting the Mechanics Right), pp. 75-85; Week Five: Chapter 8 (Clarity and Concision), pp. 65-73; Week Six: Chapter 3 (Constructing the Thesis and Argument—From the Ground Up), pp. 19-27; Week Seven: Chapter 4 (Secondary Sources in Their Natural Habitats), pp. 28-37; Week Eight: Chapter 5 (Listening to Sources, Talking to Sources), pp. 38-47. I have also included Creative Common’s The Process of Research Writing by Steve Krause (2007) as a secondary source in WR121. See my online review of Krause’s OER book for in-depth detail about how I changed the chapter order assignments to improve the logical progression for intermediate/advanced composition students. It makes sense to keep Krause’s OER as a more advanced, secondary source in WR121—while adding Jeffrey’s About Writing as a supplemental tutorial/remedial source in both WR121 and WR122.  OER Deployment in English Composition courses. I contend the three OERs (one each by Jeffrey, Krause, and Guptill, respectively) are best used in conjunction with other freely available online resources such as websites, YouTube videos, tutorial/practice sites from innumerable libraries, blogs (e.g., the APA Blog is particularly helpful)—as well as original/customized sources created by individual instructors for their own courses. Jeffrey’s Guide will offer an excellent summary of basic grammar, editing/revision, and beginning research essays for first-year college students. This OER will be particularly helpful for late-returning, non-traditional adult students who need English skill remediation or a simplified, uncluttered, unimposing refresher to more intermediate/advanced courses such as English Composition II (WR122).  Adopting About Writing: A Guide as my Secondary OER in WR121. I currently use (and plan to keep) Krause as my primary OER in WR122—along with a myriad of original, customized additional/supplemental mini-OERs I create and produce myself for both WR121/122. Rogue Community College, Writing 122 emphasizes intermediate essay writing and analytical, more rigorous and original research-based essays involving critical thinking. For English Composition I (WR121) only, however, I now plan to replace The Process of Research Writing with About Writing: A Guide text (Jeffrey, 2016). The Jeffrey Guide offers a good, solid baseline for developing expository writing competencies particularly appropriate for the first year of college (WR121), but also helpful as a supplemental/remedial source for WR122. Freshman-level students will benefit also from the grammar tutorials in About Writing that nicely complement the rich array of information presented Writing in College (Guptill, 2016). Conversely—the Jeffrey Guide can be a tertiary (third or second supplement) background source in the more advanced WR122 course for any students in need of additional remediation (e.g., late-returning students separated from their past WR115 and/or WR121 course prerequisites; ESL
At first glance I thought the text was not comprehensive because of how short each section was. However, the more time I spent with the text, the more I feel that for the most part it strikes the right balance between conciseness and... read more
At first glance I thought the text was not comprehensive because of how short each section was. However, the more time I spent with the text, the more I feel that for the most part it strikes the right balance between conciseness and comprehensiveness, especially in terms of information on composing, academic writing and researching. It covers the gamut of what I cover in my writing classes without overwhelming the reader. The only section where I really would have liked to see more, ironically, was in Ch. 14 "How To: Write a Summary." It is definitely a summary of writing a summary as it is simply 5 sentences with valuable information, but with little guidance as to how to structure a summary beyond the beginning. I am an ESL instructor and I teach an ESL bridge class for students transitioning into college and are taking a college course along with my course. For this purpose, the book is a perfect companion to the handouts and activities that I have created over the years to practice writing thesis statements, outlining, grammar, etc. It offers a jumping off point to more practice. However, if you are looking for a text that will give students detailed grammar lessons, this book will disappoint. It provides extremely brief explanations and the ESL instructor in particular will need to provide practice exercises and other materials to supplement these explanations. With that said, I think the explanations are a sufficient jumping off point to more detailed instruction. The text does not contain an index or glossary; however, the Table of Contents is very complete and the chapters are short so it is easy to find information.
I appreciate that the grammar for multilingual learners that is included in text is based on the high-frequency errors that tend to trip up the multilingual learner. Again, I want to emphasize that there are no exercises for these points, just an extremely brief explanation or list of words. I also appreciated the inclusion of rhetorical styles and the simple, clear, unbiased explanations.
The text is up-to-date and general enough to withstand the test of time for a number of years. It is not written or arranged in any way that updates would likely even be necessary. I can foresee that there could be additions or easy revisions to the text as there are periodic updates to MLA or APA.
This is the strongest part of this text. If I could give a plus rating here, I would. The text offers just enough explanation to be clear without extraneous items that might confuse the student. It is very clearly written in such a way that beginning college students, including multilingual learners transitioning into college will find accessible.
The book has a consistent framework and terminology. The most consistent part of each chapter is that everything is concisely stated and just enough information is given to give an overview. I feel that no word is wasted in any part of the text, and this is consistent throughout.
This text has great modularity. It has easy, bite-sized chapters that can fit into a variety of courses and teaching situations. I feel that this is a great strength to the book. It would be ideal for an online or hybrid course where some material is more deeply explored online depending upon the needs of students.
The text is very clearly organized. It begins with a global look at writing itself, moving from general information about writing into more specific content pertaining to academic reading and writing. From there it logically progresses to information about researching and citing sources. Finally, it focuses on the details of writing at the sentence level with a specific section for multilingual learners. The text concludes with the revision process. The beauty of the organization of this text is that it can be used as a whole or divided into parts as needed.
The links in the Table of contents were easy to navigate in the e-Version of the text (using iBooks). The text on both my computer and iPhone were clear and not distorted. On my iPhone, there were some blank pages occasionally between chapters that could be confusing to readers who might thing that there is missing content. Because I had the PDF version too, I could see that there was nothing missing.
There are a few minor grammatical issues/typos. I did catch one typo in Chapter 14. The sentence incorrectly reads, "...try to put as most of the summary as you can in your own words" instead of "...as much of the summary..." and in Chapter 21 there is a backward quotation mark at the beginning of "About This Site." The end quote is correctly positioned. If it wasn't a writing text, these wouldn't be so distracting.
This text contains more explanations than examples, but the examples and images are somewhat diverse. I didn't find any part of the text offensive. The content is fairly neutral.
I think this is an ideal textbook for an experienced writing teacher. I think that a beginning teacher who did not have a strong sense of how to structure a writing class and who did not have writing prompts and other materials to expand the content as needed might struggle with this text. This text does not include sample essays or writing exercises. It is perfect for my teaching situation where I am helping support students in their credit-bearing classes and would be ideal in a writing center or in a tutoring situation where an instructor was supporting a student in their academic coursework.
The book lacks comprehensiveness. For instance, the author fails to discuss the eight parts of speech in any detail. The pronoun is missing, and the discussion of conjunctions is limited to subordinating conjunctions. The coordinating conjunction... read more
The book lacks comprehensiveness. For instance, the author fails to discuss the eight parts of speech in any detail. The pronoun is missing, and the discussion of conjunctions is limited to subordinating conjunctions. The coordinating conjunction is not mentioned. The omission of pronouns is particularly egregious, especially since most students have difficulty lining up the pronoun with the antecedent . It appears that the author, Robin Jeffrey, also has trouble with the pronoun and antecedent agreement in sentences In Chapter 1, Persuasive Writing, the author consistently uses the incorrect pronoun: Examples, p. 5; ""When an author writes in a persuasive style, they are trying to convince the audience of a position or belief."".
For the most part, the book is accurate. However, inaccuracies exist in subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement. It is not clear what the questions marks are for in Chapter 6.
The book has little relevance because it is not useful. It is not an adequate text, and it can not be used as a good reference work. An index could improve finding the information. There are blank pages throughout the book, and the reason for this is not explained.
The book is not clear. More explanation must be given for an adequate understanding of the components of the writing process. For example, In Chapter 23 "Avoiding Plagiarism, "the explanation for the MLA citation is different from the example given. The explanation states: "Put quotation around the excerpt, use a signal phrase, and include a parenthetical citation witth he page number. The example shows the signal phrase first, the excerpt, and then the page number, as in the following example: McGruffin and Cross have said, "No one should ever eat the cake without frosting" (22). In Chapter 39, there should be a definition of modules. Instead, examples are given without the reader knowing what a module is.
The book is consistent in that it lacks consistency. For example, in Chapter 22, the author uses MLA format. However, she indicates that the city is needed in the MLA citation when the 8th edition of MLA does not require the city. The author consistently omits examples. Students need to see examples of the thesis statement and the parts that construct the thesis.
The text's modularity can be improved upon. It is true that the various parts can be moved around. However, so much is missing to the extent that one can be misled. In the discussion of the writing process, the author starts with subordinate conjunctions. The start should be with a discussion of what constitutes a sentence and then with an explanation of how the subordinate conjunction constructs the complex sentence.
The organization needs work. The flow can be improved on. For example, discussions of grammar and revising should precede the chapter on Researching and Evaluating Web Sources. Moreover, the structure within the chapters is choppy. For example, in chapter 38, more explanation is needed for passive voice. The explanation given tells when the passive voice is used as opposed to what the passive voice is. In Part VI, Grammatical Sentences, there is nothing here.
The words on the charts are difficult to see. In Chapter 6, question marks are placed before each statement. Blank pages exist throughout the book
Grammar is not perfect. For example, pages 5, 6 and 76, the author consistently fails to have the pronoun agree with the antecedent.. On page 105, and is misused. For example, the sentence reads, "If the noun represents and unspecified amount and that amount is more than one but not all.
Culture relevance or cultural diversity was not exhibited. This is so perhaps because few examples of any kind were included in the text.
I would not require or recommend this book for classroom use for three specific reasons: it lacks relevant examples and definitions, its needs cohesiveness, and it does not exhibit good writing.
About Writing: A Guide introduces the basic concepts that one would expect in a first year college writing class. It delineates four types of writing styles, giving concise explanations of each. The components of academic writing discussed include... read more
About Writing: A Guide introduces the basic concepts that one would expect in a first year college writing class. It delineates four types of writing styles, giving concise explanations of each. The components of academic writing discussed include key competencies: analyzing a text, writing a summary, evaluating sources, researching, composing, and revising. The sections on Researching (Part III) and on MLA, APA, CSA (Part IV) are particularly thorough, offering clear explanations and relevant examples. The text’s sections on grammar serve as a helpful primer or review. The text’s weakness is its underdevelopment of some topics and the overall lack of examples. In fact, for many sections no examples are offered. This might work well for instructors who want to heavily supplement the text by providing sample articles from other sources, or who want to use an additional text such as a collection of readings. The addition of an index would enhance the text.
I found all sections to be accurate and unbiased. I did not notice any errors.
All the content is up-to-date with the exception of Part IV. The release of the 8th edition of MLA Style Guide makes that section of the text outdated. The chapters on the various style guides will become outdated with each MLA, APA, or CMS revision, but the relevant sections can be easily updated.
This clear and concise manner in which this text is written will make it readable to entry level college students.
The author is consistent in the terminology used. The text adheres to a pattern of organization within the chapters. The text’s inconsistency lies in the amount of detail given to topics. Some topics include detailed explanations while others barely skim the surface. This is especially true of several chapters that consist of only half a page. For example, Chapter Seven, “Transitions,” offers a chart showing sample transition words and phrases, with no explanation or demonstration of how these terms are used in expository writing. The cursory explanations of the topics in Chapter 4 (Check your thesis) and in Chapters 12, 13, and 14 (Verb tense, Point of view, and Writing a summary) are not adequately developed for the intended audience.
The text can be easily be re-organized or divided into smaller reading sections that can be assigned to match an instructor’s syllabus. Several sections can be used independently of the entire text to assist a student or a group of students in need of more explanation or practice in a particular area. Sections V - VII on grammar and the special considerations of multilingual writers are particularly well suited for this purpose. The latter part focuses on the key challenges of second language students, such as verb tenses, modals, and articles. This text could be useful in a tutoring center.
Overall the topics are presented in a logical order. The last section, “Revising” (Part VIII) would more logically follow the earlier sections on writing. Parts V, VI, and VII, which address grammar, grammatical sentences, and special considerations for multilingual and ESOL writers, interrupt the flow. Ideally those three chapters would appear last.
Overall the interface is fine. The presentation of nearly identical charts of “signal phrases” three times – once in each style guide section, is confusing.
The book is free of grammatical errors if one accepts the less formal usage of the pronoun “they” in reference to “an author.”
Cultural sensitivity is difficult to evaluate in a textbook that contains no images of people and few writing samples. There is nothing culturally offensive or insensitive in the text.
The book asks writers questions for self-reflection but does not explain and delve deeply into explanation or give examples. read more
The book asks writers questions for self-reflection but does not explain and delve deeply into explanation or give examples.
What is there is accurate, but much explanation is missing.
Content is up-to-date with the exception of the citation section. Since MLA updated to the 8th edition, that section could become obsolete as updates are made. The rest of the book is current and will not become obsolete.
What is there is very clear and lucid, but there is a lot of information lacking. More explanation on all topics is needed.
It remains consistent throughout
The text could easily be divisible into small sections.
The organization makes sense but it is missing a pre-write/brainstorming component. The flow is good but there is not much content.
No interface issues detected
No notable errors
It is not culturally insensitive or offensive but there are no examples given.
I teach a DE writing course and looked at this as a possible guide for my students. It is easy to read and very clear, but sadly, underdeveloped. It covers questions to ask while writing but does not go into explanation about concepts and give concrete examples which would be very useful to students. The section on thesis statements asks good questions but does not go into detail about thesis construction. There is not much help for how to support a thesis except for answering questions posed. DE students and beginning writers need much more explanation than this. There is a section on grammar, but it too is lacking. It uses grammatical terms which most students, except possibly ESL students, will be unfamiliar with and doesn’t include enough clarification for students unacquainted with grammar. It does do a nice job explaining to ESL students about cases when to use ‘the’ and when not to. Having taught classes with ESL students, article use is very confusing for non-native speakers. The biggest pro for me was the section on understanding the assignment. Since I teach beginning college students, I explain the assignment to them but have unintentionally neglected teaching them how to figure this out for themselves when they move on to higher writing classes. The guide does a good job showing students what to look for and what questions to ask, but I do wish it was more in-depth. For my classes, I would use such a small amount of this guide because it is not substantive enough. It reminds me of an essay that is skeletal: it has good bones and organization, but not enough development and support.
About Writing :A Guide: is a text that could really be utilized with a group of Adult Basic Skills Students. The book is a basic that can be used accordingly with students who are at different academic levels within the same setting. The text... read more
About Writing :A Guide: is a text that could really be utilized with a group of Adult Basic Skills Students. The book is a basic that can be used accordingly with students who are at different academic levels within the same setting. The text provides an effective teaching resource which basically includes everything I would cover in any one term. There are a few things I would add. It would make a perfect workbook supplement; as well. I would create more grammar exercises to help the lower performing students. The check lists were very appropriate in asking questions that will help students in developing research, in composing and revising. In my class, developing a thesis has been a hard concept. If using this as a text in class, I would need the section on how to formulate a thesis to be included rather than just testing a thesis. If this book is to be truly considered comprehensive more emphasis should be placed on descriptive, expository and narrative writing rather than so much on persuasive.writing. I like how the purpose is included. I think accompanying writing prompts should be added. It seems somewhat vague and sketchy. There are a lack of examples t A strong point is that it covers writing conventions, strategies for understanding and includes some writing assignments. I would use this as a supplement. In my low level skills class I also teach students about misplaced modifiers, pronoun usage, conjunctions and adverbs. We need grammar exercises as well ;.hrough out the entirety of the text.
The content is accurate, error free and unbiased. The MLA section is outdated due to the recent changes in publication. I feel that "Types of Writing Styles" is inclusive of writing purposes rather than styles. Style implies how a message is delivered. It would be stronger with an introduction. I think it would resonate more validity if there was a direct voice coming from the author. The way the modules are placed gives more of priority to mechanics of style rather than critical thinking and expression. This may be a strength to beginning students.
No references to soft ware or other visuals outdates this book. " About Writing does not reflect the changes in MLA in 2016 in citation Conventions. I do not teach this skill to my lower level students.
I love the simplicity in the Writing Style in this book. It can be easily understood by new or beginning college writers. It is very clear and straight forward. Charts and visuals could use more explanations and context. The modules on Citations, Transitions, and Analyzing a Text are well done. The framework and terminology are very consistent. The book promotes questions provoking critical thinking, but maybe more context and explanation for faculty would be helpful. In order to make the book more understandable to students I would make a distinction between summarizing and paraphrasing to help students more thoroughly understand concepts. I would also add more examples of inductive reasoning and common forms of evidence.
I find this text not really consistent in the presentation of the four types of Writing. Persuasive Writing overshadows Narrative, Descriptive and Expository which I feel are equally important. However i feel the writer is overall very consistent in the explanation of all terms and concepts throughout the framework. there is a nice patterned organization which creates a harmonious flow. To even add to this more one could add stylistically to the writing areas and give it more consistency.
Looking at my class I find that the author has used perfect modularity. As an instructor it would be easy to assign brief sections of this book to fit with various topics of discussion. it is broken down into manageable pieces. It can be divided into smaller sections. It allows flexibility in designing units. It is particularly nice for my Integrated Reading and Writing Class as it incorporates the context of both subjects.
About Writing has a wonderful structure, transitions and a flow throughout the text. It would be helpful to move the revising section so it came before editing. Both chapters should be placed before grammar it also makes sense to have the research section before academic writing. I would include more examples for each topic which may change the organization.
I find the formatting of this book might not excite my low level readers and writers if they were reading it online. My students as a whole would not like so much white space and would require more visuals . They might have some online navigation problems. Page numbers should be added to every page.
It seems maybe flawless! An addition might be to have a module on punctuation and common misuses of words. These are common errors for students . Also please enlarge grammar flow charts.
It is very generic and sterile without pictures. The text is not condescending to any particular group. It focuses on generalized concepts. There are few examples. There are also no readings. About Writing needs to be supplemented with more student and professional examples. This book is helped culturally with Chapter 7 which is inclusive of multilingual-non English speakers.
Very good foundation for my lower level students; would be a good basic text which would need supplements. Would love to see it more contextualized with an introduction, introduction to each chapter and a conclusion which would give the writer more of a voice they could identify with which would
Comprehensiveness is one of the weaker aspects of this text. While there are sections for much of what I teach in this book, they are not particularly comprehensive. Often they are a bullet list of questions or points for the students to "check."... read more
Comprehensiveness is one of the weaker aspects of this text. While there are sections for much of what I teach in this book, they are not particularly comprehensive. Often they are a bullet list of questions or points for the students to "check." Without further in-class instruction, some of the chapters leave holes in knowledge or would be hard for a student to follow. For example, the chapter on outlining tells students what to do, but not why or how to use it, giving examples. Similarly, the textbook mentions audience and that the writer should write to a chosen audience, but not why or how. Additionally, the section on evaluating sources, while accurate, could be more comprehensive in responding to today's "fake news" crisis, steering students towards further ways to evaluate news in the age of social media.
The text was unbiased and error-free. It appears to be accurate in all aspects except the now-dated MLA section. Because this uses the old MLA, I would have to bring in other materials to supplement.
Other than the MLA section, this textbook has longevity. I don't see any of the material here "dating" quickly. However, this is not necessarily a good thing - sections on social media, blogs, email, internet news, and other aspects of modern written production and consumption would make this a more relevant text for students and help them see how writing is important in their lives outside of college.
While the book is written in very accessible prose, some concepts need to be better explained, or students may not understand them. For example, while the chapter on academic writing talks about the use of 3rd person, the differences between 1st and 3rd person are not clearly explained. Some students may know these concepts, but others may not. The chapter on avoiding plagiarism was very clearly written - it is a great, quick guide and will help students to understand the necessity of citation.
This textbook is absolutely consistent. All of the chapter seem to have been written by the same person (with the exception of the clearly labeled revision section - one of the book's strongest). The terminology and way the book is structured flows very nicely.
The book is well organized with good "sections" and chapter headings. There are little/no enormous blocks of text. While the length of the chapters is manageable, some should be more complex and go into more detail, including examples, and "why" students should work to master certain skills. For example, while the text has a nice section on citation, it doesn't talk much about why we cite, which is important in getting students to take the task seriously.
The organization of this text is one of its strengths. Any student could pick this up and understand how to use it. All of the information is presented clearly.
I used the PDF version, which was a little wonky at times. Sometimes bullet points became question marks and things got dropped onto the next page randomly. The web version appeared much nicer to use, but a bit harder to navigate on the right hand drop down column. However, if students know which section the material is in, the drop down column works nicely and is nicer to navigate than the PDF version.
I did not see any significant grammatical errors or issues. Any that are there are minor and not invasive or confusing.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in that it does not consider much about the "outside world." As stated earlier, bringing in culturally relevant information would make the text more fun and engaging. Items or examples regarding current events would be a wonderful addition.
Overall, a decent textbook. It is very easy to use and has a nice grounding on basic concepts. I would use this as a supplement only, however, as the topics don't have the depth my students need. I would love to see an updated MLA section to make this a bit more "plug and play."
The text feels more like an outline or a powerpoint presentation than a comprehensive guide to writing. This text might work as a general overview, but it lacks specific examples to help guide the writer. At times, the text provides examples but... read more
The text feels more like an outline or a powerpoint presentation than a comprehensive guide to writing. This text might work as a general overview, but it lacks specific examples to help guide the writer. At times, the text provides examples but doesn't explain the concepts beforehand. For example, when the text discusses signal phrases, it never fully explains to the reader what a signal phrase is and why it's important to use one. Some chapters are just a paragraph long, so the "meat" of the text isn't there. There's a lot of telling but very little showing.
Because this book acts as a guide to writing, it does not present facts. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether the text is accurate of not. It does present some useful information for the beginning writer.
The book is fairly general, so it will remain relevant to students who wish to write high school and college essays. Updates to the book should be fairly easy to make. However, these updates would require that the author develop a more comprehensive guide to writing. This book needs more specific content to make it more relevant and more interesting to read. Also, when the book uses specific examples, which are not as plentiful as they could be, the examples are a bit dated (ie. No Child Left Behind).
The prose in the text is simple and accessible to basic readers. It should provide more explanation, especially in the grammar sections. For example, in the book's explanation of subject-verb agreement, it doesn't give clear examples of problematic sentences. In fact, the examples use two sentences that don't seem to belong together, which is confusing to the reader. It also does not introduce the concept of subject-verb agreement and related problems associated with incorrect subject-verb agreement, so a writer struggling with this problem would not find this chapter helpful.
The book is consistent in the way it presents information. Albeit, that information is VERY general.
Because the book is presented as an informal outline, it would be difficult to use the short chapters to help guide a class. For example, the chapter on active reading gives the reader a string of questions to consider when reading another text. It does not, however, introduce the idea or explain why active reading is important. Also, it does not provide exercises so that the class could work alone or together on active reading strategies.
The book's organization is somewhat logical, though it could be rearranged for clarity. Part I and Part II are almost interchangeable. I would think that active reading should come earlier in the text, perhaps closer the the beginning. The section on thesis statements, one of the most important elements of argumentative essay writing (or any high school or college essay writing) is only one paragraph long, so there seems to be a problem with overall balance. The bulk of the chapters are located in the ESL section, which makes me wonder if this is a text meant for ESL writers. If so, this fact needs to be made clearer up front. If not, the text's "balance" should be reconsidered.
In the PDF version of the text, there are significant problems with spacing. Some text begins in the middle of a page. Highlighted areas are sometimes broken up. Some of the headings run off the page, and some of the images are disproportionate.
The grammar is fine.
The text does not appear to be insensitive or offensive. Because there are very few examples, it is neither inclusive or exclusive.
I was attracted to About Writing at first because the preview said that the book "covers everything the beginning writing student needs." Unfortunately, About Writing doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. I teach English Composition and... read more
I was attracted to About Writing at first because the preview said that the book "covers everything the beginning writing student needs." Unfortunately, About Writing doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. I teach English Composition and Expository (Basic) Writing at community college. I think of Expository Writing students as "beginning," although there are two lower, remedial courses offered also. I teach Expository Writing as a lead-in to Freshman Composition. But About Writing seems more suited to English Composition class, and in some sections, such as the section on Rhetorical Concepts, more appropriate for the Advanced Writing course. The section on citation seems too comprehensive--I've never known freshmen or sophomore classes to require Chicago style, but in Jeffrey's defense, some other handbooks include it. Certainly the section on MLA (which should be updated now) and APA are relevant to Freshman Comp classes, but despite the detailed explanations, there is no Works Cited sample page. I did appreciate her discussion of signal phrases; I emphasize the use of the signal phrase, even in the lower level course. At the other end of the spectrum, however, the section for ESOL students seemed much too basic and simplistic. Then I looked into the Pocket Style Manual for that author's coverage of grammar and sentence problems for Bilingual writers, and found it very similar. I haven't found that most English Comp students need this much review of grammar basics. Finally, I would have to say that some sections are very comprehensive, while others are too skimpy. I like the first section on Types of Writing Styles, which was brief, clear, and easy to read, but it seemed to jump onto the page from nowhere. I wished for a little introduction at the very beginning, to introduce the author's background, interests, and purpose. I also liked Understanding the Assignment and the definition of the thesis, but everywhere I wanted some examples. Students need real examples to read, and they also need chances to practice writing examples of the thesis. The book also lacked an index and a glossary, and I really like glossaries! They are really helpful for students, who think that a dictionary is something online.
I think the content is accurate and correct.
Content is up to date, except for the easy to fix update of MLA. I didn't like the grammar flow sheets, which looked to me like the dreaded "power point," and would be sure to confuse students or put them to sleep immediately. Anything "power pointy" seems destined to become obsolete soon.
Generally I found the prose easy to understand and clear. Unfortunately, some sections include many details, while other sections, such as How to Write a Summary and How to Write a Document are too thin. Inexperienced writers need more explanation, and, as before, examples.
The inconsistency seems to be reflected in how some sections are superficially dealt with, while some are very detailed. The audience for the book (Basic Writers, Freshman Composition students, Advanced writers?) is also confusing to me.
Certainly the book can be used in pieces, according to the needs of the instructor. I liked that, but I felt confused by the reading section coming after the writing and the research section. Generally in class we talk about analyzing materials we have read before we discuss writing about those materials.
This is a difficulty that I have already discussed. I am concerned that reading should come before writing---because generally in class we read materials, then analyze and discuss those materials, then write about them. I also didn't really like the section on the Outline--I ask students whether they use an outline or other methods to start writing, and few use the outline. It's fine for those who do use the outline, but I would have liked to see something about other invention methods, such as free writing or clustering.
I thought the section on visual materials for students was fine, but the grammar flow charts were confusing.
Despite contemporary needs to respond to p.c. issues, I don't feel comfortable with "the author....they." Grammatically it is incorrect. I feel better about "the author...he or she." No slash, please! I realize that some grammar texts are now suggesting that we can accept "the author....they," but my brain bumps up against it. I try to explain to students that, because of the way English is constructed, we are rather stuck with this difficult problem. I explain the different views about how this can be fixed, with respect to both grammar and gender concerns.
The text is not culturally insensitive. It uses few examples, but examples might help demonstrate this issue to students.
There are some very good, clear sections about this book. The writing is clear and accessible to undergraduates. Some sections just need more development, and some sections (grammar) take up too much space. Some extra explanation and examples could make this book much better.
The book covers a wide range of topics relevant for students who are beginning to learn the conventions of academic writing. But, the engagement with these topics is at a superficial level. There are quite a few chapters in the book where the... read more
The book covers a wide range of topics relevant for students who are beginning to learn the conventions of academic writing. But, the engagement with these topics is at a superficial level. There are quite a few chapters in the book where the topics are only listed in bullet points without any thorough discussion of them. For example, in chapter 4, which is about testing a thesis, the author has listed five questions that the students are to use in order to check if their thesis statements are strong. However, the chapter provides no concrete examples that walk the students though the process of testing their theses. Therefore, the book would greatly benefit from the inclusion of relevant examples. The text also lacks an index and a glossary of key terms.
The content of the book is fairly accurate.
The topics listed in the book are quite relevant for students of academic writing. However, an inclusion of more up-to-date information would be useful. For example, the chapter on plagiarism does not provide any discussion of the complex world of modern-day plagiarism that writing instructors encounter every day, such as students seeking help from online essay writing services, putting their papers out on the web for others to use, among many others forms of contemporary plagiarism.
The text is clear and accessible for students. The author has provided explanations for technical terminology that has been used.
The text is consistent throughout.
The book has very effectively divided the topics of academic writing into different modules. The sections on academic writing, researching, grammar etc. make the book more accessible to the students and help them navigate through it very easily .
The book has good organization, clarity, and structure.
There are no interface issues in the book.
The text does not contain any grammatical errors.
The book is very generic, with barely any relevant examples or illustrations of the topics listed. The book would benefit from the inclusion of a wide range of examples.
While the text covers a wide range of topics, it would be greatly useful to have more concrete examples and discussions illustrating those topics, which would make it much more relevant for students for academic writing.
Although the book seems to be touching on the most problematic areas of academic writing for undergraduate students, it could not necessarily be considered a comprehensive text, covering all areas of academic writing. Many of the “chapters” are... read more
Although the book seems to be touching on the most problematic areas of academic writing for undergraduate students, it could not necessarily be considered a comprehensive text, covering all areas of academic writing. Many of the “chapters” are half a page, and topics that seem to be of the utmost importance for undergraduate students, have only briefly been explained, often without examples. For instance, thesis statements have only briefly been mentioned, in a checklist format. Perhaps focusing on how to construct a thesis statement first, and then checking the criteria would be more beneficial to students. Topics such as writing an outline, summarizing, etc. have only briefly been touched upon, without any examples. There is a Table of Contents (TOC) in the beginning, but there seems to be no connection between the little chapters in the book. Although there is useful information in these chapters, there is a lack of coherence throughout.
The book is presented in an unbiased way, but it does have errors. There are some pronoun issues throughout, and since this is an academic writing book, the contents and writing need to be as accurate as possible.
Although the book touches on some of the most important concepts, it lacks some of the most recent pedagogy in teaching academic writing, and therefore, is lacking some very necessary information. Due to its lack of necessary information and important concepts, it is not up-to-date. In addition, the text needs to be updated to follow the 2016 MLA changes.
The book may seem clear enough for writing instructors, but it will come across as confusing for students due to its lack of organization and sufficient explanation of concepts and terminology.
The text is consistent with the terminology, but the framework lacks consistency. The type of information in each section is not consistent throughout and varies throughout the parts.
The text is a collection of different sections, not necessarily related to one another and not presented in a logical order, so assigning different points of the book throughout the semester wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, I recommend if you were to use this book, that you assign the sections in a different order, or as a supplement to the material you have covered in class.
The topics in the text could have been presented in a more organized fashion. The book would work better as a collection of handouts, which could be assigned at various points of the semester, therefore strengthening the text’s modularity. The grammar topics for example, have been inserted at various points of the book, without its logic being clear to the reader. Having a separate grammar section, or an explanation on why a particular grammar point has been mentioned in a particular place would help with the text’s clarity.
The display of information is clear. “Chapters” look pretty short (some being half a page), so at first glance, the short “chapters” come across as unusual. Perhaps re-naming “chapters” to “lessons” would help.
A few minor grammar issues (pronoun reference) exist throughout, but nothing that interferes with meaning.
The book is not culturally insensitive as there is not much about culture. The text would work better with more examples related to culture, race, ethnicity and background. This seems to be a big gap in the book.
The book would serve better as a supplement to a class textbook, or as an instructor resource, but not as a textbook itself. In general, some of the concepts have only been touched upon, and lack any significant explanation, which would make it confusing for students.
This guide, though not a handbook, covers all of the essentials of college writing and the writing process. It is easy to navigate, with a drop down menu and links to the various sections. However, within the sections, much that I would like to... read more
This guide, though not a handbook, covers all of the essentials of college writing and the writing process. It is easy to navigate, with a drop down menu and links to the various sections. However, within the sections, much that I would like to see, such as a more thorough discussion of grammar and syntax, is missing in this edition.
The content is accurate and provides a clear overview of writing essentials. It is not prescriptive, but instead gives students a good understanding of different writing situations, modalities, and conventions.
While content is relative and up to date, the text lacks examples. Thus, the guide would work better as a companion to in class lectures and activities than as a stand-alone resource.
While most handbooks can err on the side of too much information, this text is clear and concise. Each section is fairly short and easy to follow, with simple, straightforward language and sentences.
This text is consistent throughout.
The drop down menu and links make this text easy to uses, and the different sections are written in short, concise sentences and paragraphs. It would be easy for instructors to assign readings and use the text in the classroom.
The text is clearly and logically organized around the elements of the research/writing process. Topics are easily accessible from the drop down menu.
The text looks great. I saw no format issues and had no trouble navigating the menu. I found nothing confusing or inconsistent.
As one would expect from a writing text, it contains no grammatical or syntactical errors.
This text contains no culturally insensitive commentary.
I like the simplicity of this text but find its usefulness limited. It would make a great companion to lectures and in-class activities, and it would be most useful to students with a good understanding of writing. It would not make a good stand-alone text. I would like to see a more thorough discussion of syntax and grammar, as well as more illustrative examples.
In important places where students often need practice and further guidance, such as with Point of View, tense, etc., the selections aren't terribly comprehensive. There are some brief explanations of what the terms/concepts are, but I would fine... read more
In important places where students often need practice and further guidance, such as with Point of View, tense, etc., the selections aren't terribly comprehensive. There are some brief explanations of what the terms/concepts are, but I would fine examples and exercises that the students could complete to be more effective. So, it's comprehensive in that it hits everything an entry level text should but not in great detail or with mechanisms for students to practice the skills. Then there are the sections on types of writing: descriptive, persuasive, etc., in which the entire chapter consists of a paragraph and a list.
Accuracy is very good.
Content is up to date and relevant--especially the section on visual communications, which is actually one of the most comprehensive in the text. Regarding cultural relevance, to a degree, the lack of comprehensiveness mentioned above works in the book's favor in this area-because there are few specific exercises and examples, the content stays "current"
I think the prose is clear and definitely accessible to the grade level.
Yes, but, although this probably goes under "modality " the "part" and "chapter" divisions aren't terribly useful. Actually terminology is appropriate but there are so many chapters that consist of a paragraph or two, it doesn't invite comprehensive reading or careful attention from the student.
I would say yes, but, the modules are too small and not comprehensive enough--a lot of lists really. See above.
The actual order is mostly logical and effective.
The interface is fine--better key word searchable capacities would be great.
Grammar is appropriate.
Yes, the examples are culturally relevant, for example, on issues of police violence and sexual identity. Good job.
My biggest issue is the lack of comprehensive materials--I understand that the nature of the open- source online resource means less anthologized sources, readings, etc., but I'd like to be able to assign practice examples right from the text, instead of having the students refer to the text for a basic rule and a list then moving into other sources to practice say, verb agreement or point of view. The chapters confuse me--lots of them with little in them and the sections on rhetoric--logos, etc., seem pasted in without sufficient scaffolding.
This online resource covers many of the mainstream writing class needs, such as having writing styles (MLA, APA, and CMS), research writing, academic writing and basic composition writing. However, this resource has no glossary; students taking... read more
This online resource covers many of the mainstream writing class needs, such as having writing styles (MLA, APA, and CMS), research writing, academic writing and basic composition writing. However, this resource has no glossary; students taking basic composition will likely be learning the collegiate lingo and a glossary would help with terms, with which basic writers may struggle. I also noticed a lack of reasoning within certain sections, such as within the “Transitions” and “Counter Arguments” sections –why we do these things is important, otherwise students will chalk it up to “busy work” and skimp on that when the assignments come due. Some parts of this resource are longer than others; for example the “Researching” sections is quite long and detailed, while the section that deals with rhetorical concept is very brief. There is no mention of audience throughout, which is imperative to writing –the student writer needs to know who they are addressing, and how to write accordingly. Some sections are missing key details, such as within the “Summary” section having nothing about not using quotes within summaries. I also do not see any mention about second-person use when writing collegiate essays; students seem to want to use “you” statements and imperative language within their writing frequently, which is problematic. The MLA section needs updating to the eighth edition.
As mentioned above, the MLA section needs updating (not sure about APA/CMS, as those are not my styles). This resource does contain some errors. On page 32, the part that says, “…put as most of the summary…” should say: “…put as much of the summary…” (emphasis mine). Page 49 has the most errors; the “Quotations” section has numbered (what seems like) rules (vague headings there). The first one says, “…enclosed in quotations marks…” (my underlining for emphasis). Page 49’s number two says, “…marks should indicated where…” (tense problem). As well as technical inaccuracy, there are plenty of areas that are vague or just not correct. On page 49 still, number three states, “…tell [readers] why the summary is included in your paper.” I have never allowed my student to use self-reflecting language in their papers; writing about why they are including something directly addresses audience. In chapter 16, page 35, the “three simple questions” on evidence, I felt myself asking, “What writing genres do these belong to?” –especially when I read one question: “Does the evidence reflect the characteristics of all the individuals involved?” I felt that students would take this to mean that they need to be speaking about description of people, and what if they aren’t writing about people? It’s just easy to get a little lost there as a first year comp student. On page 45, the “Relevance” section only speaks to currency, not source content relation to essay topic or significance. Back to page 49, the section heading bothers me; it says, “Summaries (Paraphrasing),” as if summary and paraphrasing both are the same thing –clearly, they are not. That particular section (“Summaries”) has no example/discussion about patchwork plagiarism. I find it most effective, when discussing this area of source use, to have an author’s writing sample, then a patchwork plagiarized sample, and then a properly paraphrased sample; also, all that should be apart from a summary sample of (and including) an author’s writing sample (also missing). One last thing I noticed that might be problematic is within the section on verbs in signal phrases (page 55); one word used there is “thinks” –I am troubled by this, as I teach my students not to assume what the article’s author is “thinking.”
This book is definitely relevant to the field of teaching basic composition; although, I would use it as supplementary or part of other pieces for teaching comp. The field of composition changes so little, that everything in this book will be relevant for likely ever, save the styles of writing (MLA now being in its 8th edition).
I would have to say that this resource is very brief and quite simplified. Some sections have very clear examples, but other sections aren’t quite clear; some sections provide a clear reasoning for the writing rules, while others do not (see Accuracy section of this review). Visually, it is clear. The table of contents is clear and accessible on both the pdf and the online versions.
This online resource is not always consistent, from chapter to chapter. As mentioned above, not all sections have reasoning or examples. All of this resource’s writing style and formatting is consistent. The formatting is different from pdf to the online version, but still similar.
In reading through this online resource, I am confident that I could rearrange it as needed for my own scheduling without interruption of purpose. There is so little written in post chapters, though, that I will need supplements to this, such as readings that show examples of genre writing, or samples for some of the chapters that are missing writing samples. For example, the “Types of Writing Styles” section contain zero examples of (for specific example) narrative writing vs persuasive writing, for a clear distinction. When students read sample writings of each, they get a much more clear view of the differences. So I could use this book for the lessons learned about writing, but will have to find samples and scholarly writing for students to emulate.
These very brief chapters give an almost oversimplified structure. When reading chapters, I often found myself going back, thinking, “Did I miss something; was that it?” Its organization is fine, but the missing parts (reasoning and writing samples) make this difficult, as I have to look elsewhere to supplement that. Otherwise, the interface problems (below) interrupt reading flow.
On the pdf version of this resource, chapter 32’s charts are tiny, along with the font. So, as a reader, I have to stop here, adjust the magnification, then read on, and then readjust the magnification when done (awkward). The online version of this section is just fine, very large print. On the pdf version, the grammar charts (such as in chapter 30) are a bit awkward, in that there are no vertical lines for separation of sections; I needed to stop and see what was going on, and then figure out how they read. Online, that same area uses text boxes that are tiny and crowd the words (still awkward). On the pdf version, the section headings that are longer run right off the page (formatting), while the online version is fine.
This resource does have typos throughout, although not many. I do find though, that students lose faith in their books and their teacher when teachers use resources that have errors; often, are quick to point them out, which can be a distraction in the classroom. Pages 32 and 49 seemed to be the most problematic areas (see Accuracy section of this review for more details).
This online resource is not culturally insensitive or offensive; it is, rather, quite inclusive. This resource has an entire section dedicated to English language learners, titled “Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges,” containing many common issues, such as article use issues. This resource also contains sections for developmental writers, which go over topics such as nouns and verbs. The samples/examples of writing/lessons often use international examples. For example, the section titled “Geography and ‘The’” (dealing with article use) use locations from around the world, not just places within the US (I often find American-centric writing in anthologies).
Pros: This online resource is simple and direct. It is easy to use (for the most part) and easy to read (without big complicated language). I like its non-complicated readability, for often first year college writing students (especially developmental writers) struggle with these words, and often skip over them, losing part of the lesson. It is a free online resource (great for students’ pocketbooks). Cons: Without any genre readings (along with the often-missing writing samples and reasoning), I feel students would struggle; thereby, I would need to find supplemental material for a successful first-year college composition course. The MLA section here will confuse students, as it is not the 8th edition, so it is useless, but updatable. Overall, I’m about 50/50 in my opinion of this resource. I do like some, but not other parts, so I would look for something else to use.
About Writing: A Guide covers all of the basic areas of writing including composing, revising, academic writing, research, citation styles, basic grarmmar, and common challenges for ESL students. The table of contents is easy to use with links to... read more
About Writing: A Guide covers all of the basic areas of writing including composing, revising, academic writing, research, citation styles, basic grarmmar, and common challenges for ESL students. The table of contents is easy to use with links to all of the chapters and different subjects in each chapter.The book does not contain an index or glossary, but the table of contents is a sufficient tool for navigating the content.
The content is accurate and error-free. The MLA works cited entry examples are not from the most current edition of the MLA handbook.
The content on composing, research, and grammar is all up to date and will not be obsolete at any time in the future. The chapter on citation styles of MLA, APA, and Chicago style can easily be updated without affecting any other content in the book.
The writing in the book is clear and easy to understand. No jargon or technical terminology is used.
The terminology of the book and the chapter framework is consistent and logical.
The chapters in the textbook could be assigned at different points to meet different writing assignments. Each chapter makes sense on its own and does not rely on or reference information from other chapters.
The book is organized around the writing process from composing to research, editing, and revision. The organization is clear and logical.
There are no interface issues or problems navigating the book.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text is not offensive in any way. The examples include a variety of races and ethnicities.
The text reflects the title: it is a guide about writing. Used that way, it provides basic information, if a bit brief in several places, for anyone looking for a reference guide or a place to start lesson planning. There are also several useful... read more
The text reflects the title: it is a guide about writing. Used that way, it provides basic information, if a bit brief in several places, for anyone looking for a reference guide or a place to start lesson planning. There are also several useful charts and visuals.That said, teachers in disciplines other than writing will appreciate this as a quick, go-to source for helping students. The guide covers the most common areas of concern, if not every aspect of them, so that as a simple reference tool it will suffice. It also covers several basic areas of challenge for ESL learners, which is a plus. Writing instructors will find themselves needing to expand most sections, however, with additional explanations, examples, and exercises. Many sections are checklists where some items need further explanation and nearly all need examples or more examples. The style guides section seems the most comprehensive, and the section on revision seems well-covered with sufficient examples. Another notable and good exception is the section on plagiarism which does include specific examples. Regarding a few smaller details, an instructor would also appreciate adding a section on when and how to avoid "passive voice" which is an often-referenced topic in college writing, and the inclusion of deductive reasoning to add to the inductive reasoning, featured. Also helpful would be the inclusion of an index and a glossary of writing terms (existing terms and those that might be added, for an example, terms to expand the section on descriptive writing: simile, figurative language, personification, etc.). And a page for citation samples for the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) would finish out the Style Guides section.
The text does not appear biased. The reviewer notes an edit needed in the section on sentence fragments: example #2 is not a fragment. Missy is the subject. One other concern one would have, but easily addressed, is to revise the Style Guides section for latest editions.
As noted prior, the only concern would be a easy one to address regarding staying current with changes in the Style Guides.
The text is accessible, if very brief (as noted prior, too brief in places for a comprehensive writing course, but likely appreciated by instructors who use this, as its title indicates, as a guide). In one or two places, the clarity could be enhanced by combining related subject matter, for example, How to "read" graphics (pie charts, graphs, etc.) is covered in three different places: The Visuals section, and the following 2 sections on Active Reading and Analyzing Texts.
The book is consistent as a guide, with inconsistencies noted only in the manner in which each topic is treated. Most topics are formatted as checklists, very brief, and, with a few exceptions noted prior, seem to cover the salient points. Other sections, the Style Guides section and the Revision section are much more comprehensive.
The text is very modular and it is easy to access the topics desired.
The topics in this guide are presented logically and clear with the exception, as noted prior, that in several places they are very brief, too brief as noted, specifically, for a writing instructor. Although instructors in other disciplines will appreciate the brevity, they, too, would benefit with the inclusion of more items such as an index, a glossary of terms, and the expansion of certain sections as previously noted.
Pressbooks has this down. Good interface.
The grammar is good.
No cultural insensitivity or offense noted in the examples.
As a quick, go-to guide for instructors in disciplines other than writing, this suffices for most needs with some deficits, noted above. Writing instructors might direct students to a few of the charts and checklists, to the revision section, and to the information on plagiarism, but the text as a whole would likely be used as a supplemental resource.
The text provides a broad overview but does not go into great depth on many of the issues it covers. Consequently, it lacks the level of substantive detail to be deeply comprehensive but could be a nice accompanying text to give students an... read more
The text provides a broad overview but does not go into great depth on many of the issues it covers. Consequently, it lacks the level of substantive detail to be deeply comprehensive but could be a nice accompanying text to give students an introduction to writing basics.
Content is generally accurate and error-free.
The text is fairly broad and general in its scope so the information it presents will continue to be relevant for a long time.
The author's prose is generally clear and concise. Some sections of the book require more context to set up topics/issues.
The text is consistent in its use of terminology to engage with writing topics.
The text is handily broken up into short reading sections. However, some sections overuse long, bulleted lists.
The text is not as effectively organized as it could be. Sections do not flow in a natural order or progression and sometimes seem to be randomly placed. Transitions could be better used between sections as well.
The text is relatively free of visual interface problems. Some parts of the text would actually benefit from incorporating more visual images to illustrate ideas and alleviate too much text heavy content on the page.
The text does not appear to contain any major grammatical errors.
The text makes some effort to be inclusive with its examples but more could be done on this front.
The visual diagrams for certain grammar issues (i.e. dangling modifiers) are some of the most useful elements in the book.
The book covers the relevant aspects of college writing. The major sections of the book - Composing, Academic Writing, Researching, MLA/APA./CMS, Basic Grammar, Grammatical Sentences, Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges, and Revising -... read more
The book covers the relevant aspects of college writing. The major sections of the book - Composing, Academic Writing, Researching, MLA/APA./CMS, Basic Grammar, Grammatical Sentences, Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges, and Revising - address the important topics. Most of the chapters are extremely brief, with some consisting only of a paragraph or two of text or just a list of bullet points or questions. For example, Chapter 14 ("How To: Write a Summary) is only a paragraph long. The information in it is solid, but it doesn't include any examples, exercises, strategies, etc. Likewise, the chapter on rhetorical concepts is less than three pages long. It is good information, but extremely basic and stripped down. There is no glossary or index.
Content is accurate except the MLA section is now out of date.
The MLA section is out of date, which would be easily fixable. The rest of the information, however, is packaged in such a way that it should remain useful and accurate for quite a while.
The text is written clearly and explains concepts in a basic manner. The text should be comprehensible to all readers. The book is easy to read and follow.
The book is internally well organized and breaks down information into easy to read sections of information. The terminology is consistent, as is the framework.
The text is definitely modular and it would be easy to assign brief sections or chapters to students. There are no enormous blocks of text.
The chapters are clearly presented and logically ordered, except for the section on revision, which should come before the grammar material. Students should always revise before they edit, so this section seems a bit out of order. Otherwise, the book progresses through the ideas logically and clearly.
In Chapter 8, "Visuals Help You Communicate," some of the images and graphs are a bit hard to read due to their small size. Otherwise, no navigation or other interface issues.
I noticed no grammar errors.
I noticed no culturally insensitive materials or examples in the book.
The grammatical concepts are clear and comprehensive. I could see having this textbook as a reference for students who struggle with grammar. The other chapters are so brief, the instructor would have to supplement with other readings, materials, examples, etc.
While the book covers many fantastic topics, some topics would benefit from fuller attention. While the inclusion of questions to guide students is helpful, at times more explanation would make the book more effective. The index is helpful, yet a... read more
While the book covers many fantastic topics, some topics would benefit from fuller attention. While the inclusion of questions to guide students is helpful, at times more explanation would make the book more effective. The index is helpful, yet a glossary would be a welcome addition.
No errors appear in the text, information included is accurate, and the work is unbiased. The material present in the text is accurate, but does seem incomplete at times.
The content is up-to-date especially in regards to current MLA, APA, and CMS standards. The text is arranged in such a way that updates would be easy and possible and not hinder implementation in the classroom.
Much of the text is lucid and employs accessible prose. Some sections would benefit from additional direction or clarity especially with the non-traditional student in mind. i.e. Chapter 7 - consider adding a brief explanation of transitions before simply providing the chart Chapter 25 - consider offering a clearer explanation of what a signal phrase is and what its purpose is
The consistency of the text is quite solid. The framework is easy to follow and remains fluid throughout the text. Terminology, when possible and necessary, is consistent.
The text is easy to assign in small units. Chapters are short and easy to align with curriculum and course objectives. Chapters are not overly long or dense, making the book easily digestible to the average student.
The topics are well divided into larger sections and short chapters. The information is provided in a logical flow that easily aligns with most freshman composition courses. The large text and bold use of color to highlight important information is helpful. The only item that does interfere with flow is the several "blank" pages that seem to appear between sections (not sure if this is an interface issue).
While navigation is possible with the page up and page down option in Adobe, this was not the easiest to truly navigate especially since there were a number of blank spaces / blank pages in some areas that were confusing. At times, I was unsure if the textbook had correctly loaded because of the blank spaces. Also, two of the lists appeared with question marks instead of dots, as the other lists (see Chapter 6 and Chapter 49) which were distracting. Images and charts were of a nice size and easy to read and view.
The textbook contains no grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. The examples used are well thought out and inclusive.
Overall, this is a usable freshman composition textbook that could easily be employed in the classroom and allows the instructor the ability to bring in outside material to easily flow with the text. While there were a few areas that I would like to see more developed, this is a well thought out text that I would like to implement in my own classroom. I have been looking for a textbook of this nature for the past nine years, and I am happy to have found this one!
The text basically covers most of the information needed about the writing process. Part One on Composition is lacking in some areas though. Brainstorming techniques for those who are struggling to come up with a writing topic should be covered,... read more
The text basically covers most of the information needed about the writing process. Part One on Composition is lacking in some areas though. Brainstorming techniques for those who are struggling to come up with a writing topic should be covered, and the section on Transitions needs a fuller explanation of what transitions are. It would help if more information were given on creating strong thesis statements. There are also some grammar issues that are not addressed in the text. Although dangling modifiers are covered, misplaced modifiers are not. Pronoun usage, conjunctions and adverbs are also not mentioned.
Overall the content is accurate, error-free and unbiased. However, the section on MLA formatting and documentation needs to be updated with the latest 8th edition MLA Handbook information.
The majority of the content is up-to-date, except for the MLA documentation section, so the textbook would not be obsolete any time soon. The text is composed and organized so that most entry-level college students could comprehend and use the information accordingly.
The text is clear, and the language used is appropriate for the genre.
Some parts of the text appear to be better explained and more fully developed than others.
The different sections of the text are easy to follow and classified appropriately.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion, but smoother transitions between the different parts would help.
The design of the interface is simple and easy to follow, and the included charts are clear.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way although the section entitled “Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges” really covers common grammar issues and not just ESL challenges.
There is a table of contents, but no index or glossary. It contains brushstrokes covering major concepts and gets more nuanced with some topics-- specifically analyzing texts and revision--a bit inexplicably—why these and not others? Audience is... read more
There is a table of contents, but no index or glossary. It contains brushstrokes covering major concepts and gets more nuanced with some topics-- specifically analyzing texts and revision--a bit inexplicably—why these and not others? Audience is a critical aspect of the writing process yet is not covered in this text.
Overall, the concepts are consistent with those covered in other composition textbooks. The text uses the old version of MLA, however (not the 2016 update). There are also grammatical errors in the grammar section. They include: • From the Subject/Verb Agreement chapter: “A parent wants the best for THEIR child” (78, emphasis mine). This is a pronoun/antecedent agreement issue. • From the fragment sentences chapter, an example of a sentence that the author indicates is a fragment without a subject: “For not doing her own homework, Missy was expelled” (80). This sentence is awkward and should be rephrased, but it’s not a fragment. • From the same chapter, the author claims that the following is a fragment: “Because the band didn’t know the street address, the party was impossible to find” (80). Again, not a fragment. • On page 90, there is a misuse of a word in an example dealing with Verb Tenses: “Josie is meeting the principle.”
Again, there is the old version of MLA. It could be easily updated, though. The rest of the content is as old as the hills: not much changes with the basic concepts of writing, and this book is dealing with basic concepts.
It’s accessible in terms of the language used and borders on TOO simple, including brief explanations and lists, until we get to the final chapter on revision when the prose suddenly becomes quite academic with longer paragraphs and scholarly examples the likes of which I would only see the top students in my classes being able to easily digest.
In general, the chapters are quite short (often a single page or two), including some brief explanation followed by examples and/or lists of points for consideration or questions writers can ask themselves.
The only way I could use this text is by assigning specific parts of it, which could be easily done. I would need to supplement it with plenty of my own information, though. The “chapter” on creating an outline, for example, is less than a page and merely gives some tips in an outline format. This is marginally useful. The chapter on “Test a Thesis” would only work after a full class period’s worth of explanation and practice.
The short chapters create a sense of disorientation. I would never ask students to read chunks of this on their own; it is much more a supplement to other readings and materials I would need to provide. The information would useful but only after I’d created context for it.
With the exception of the grammar issue flowcharts, which are small, it’s easy to read the text.
Besides the errors in the grammar sections themselves, I saw at least three typos in the prose.
The examples often made multicultural references and used a variety of names.
PROS: Parts of this text would be great supplements to my existing course materials. The section on revision would help push students’ ideas about what it means to take a serious look at their work. CONS: Could only be used as supplemental material. Grammar errors are problematic. Old MLA renders that section essentially unusable.
The text is divided into 8 parts, each a broad area within the field of student writing. Parts range from “Composing” and “Researching” to citation, grammar, and revising. The first part opens with “types of writing styles,” which works well... read more
The text is divided into 8 parts, each a broad area within the field of student writing. Parts range from “Composing” and “Researching” to citation, grammar, and revising. The first part opens with “types of writing styles,” which works well with classes designed around a genre approach to the college essay, and continues with concepts like close reading, using outlines, and effective thesis statements. There is a section about the unique qualities of academic writing and another section on the unique challenges of the ESL writer. And the revision section contains valuable information about the revision process and how to be an effective peer reviewer, something that not all writing texts cover. A writing teacher could find enough material for the major issues that might come up in a college composition class. The table of contents provides ready reference to what is present in the text.
Explanations of writing concepts in each section are succinct and accurate. MLA style and citation information has been updated for the most recent version from March 2016. APA and CMS are also updated. Examples given of concepts like writing prompts and thesis statements are unbiased and broadly applicable to a wide range of students and disciplines.
First year composition, despite the several schools that have arisen and diminished in the last fifty years, has remained largely the same. As long as the essay remains the key genre of FYC and most college classes, basic concepts like thesis, argument, evidence, and revision will be taught. This text includes what is needed for students to understand, evaluate, and create essays. And these basic ideas can be applied to shorter projects like response papers or journals. It would be helpful for the text to have sections on report writing (for business and science students) and on information literacy (which is becoming a measured outcome in many college classes). As long as there is a writing requirement to a college degree, this text will remain relevant and can continue to be updated.
This text is accessible to students of many different reading levels. Its content and style are appropriate for the target audiences: first year composition students who need to learn about the college essay, the composition process, research and citation, revision, and basic grammar.
The text uses common terms like “composing” and “revision” that would be understandable to a user. Each part is divided into several chapters which are easily accessible.
The text is very modular. A composition teacher could begin a course with the first several parts sequentially, adding in citation and grammar as needed. If a teacher has few to no ESL students, that part need not be included, although basic or DE writing students might find it helpful for review. A teacher could also pair material from the text with supplemental material from a publisher, a Web site, a book, or some other source.
Sequencing is logical in this text, beginning with the composition process so that all students have an understanding of what they will be doing in a writing class. Next comes reading and approaching a text and how it might be used in a student’s own writing, which is logically followed by research and citation. The next two parts concern grammar and sentences, followed by the ESL issues. The text ends with aa helpful section on revision, although it might be more effective to place it earlier in the book.
The “Online” version (Pressbooks) is the easiest to use. Accessed via Web browser, it can be used by any student with an Internet-enabled device. The Table of Contents provides easy access to each part. With the eBook versions, the interface is less elegant and requires a user to download the document. Once done, it is also readily used. The PDF version, while containing all the content, is less elegant in appearance and use. Students should best be directed to the “Online” version.
Errors in the standard written English of this textbook are not present.
Instructional material and examples are pretty basic; no incidents of offensiveness or insensitivity are noticed. A teacher could easily customize with further culturally relevant explanations and examples if desired.
A great resource for the first year composition classroom such as ENG101 or WR121. I will definitely pursue using it in my own classroom.
This review examines Open Oregon Educational Resources’ “About Writing: A Guide,” by Robin Jeffrey (2016), of Klamath Community College. Its nature as a guide stays true to that; it is about 132 pages in length, with 50 chapters arranged into... read more
This review examines Open Oregon Educational Resources’ “About Writing: A Guide,” by Robin Jeffrey (2016), of Klamath Community College. Its nature as a guide stays true to that; it is about 132 pages in length, with 50 chapters arranged into eight sections, ranging from 4-30 pages in each section. The largest section is dedicated to “Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges,” which this reviewer has never before experienced in a writing handbook, and was pleased to see. The guide is not a workbook, and does not offer exercises. It follows MLA formatting. Though a clear Table of Contents is included, an Index is omitted. In addition to addressing drafting and crafting an essay, sentence structure and grammar are also included. The only pre-writing strategy mentioned is “Outlining.” The final sections are “Revising” and “Peer Review.” In a word, the guide is “efficient,” which this reviewer appreciates. Chapter 18 is partially titled, “Do it Better,” which could apply to each concept!
The guide targets academic writers, and specifically addresses college-level learning. It employs sophisticated word choice (See “Countering Opposing Arguments”) and critical thinking, including analysis and evaluation. While it could be used as a supplement by any higher education instructor, the best audience is that in beginning Composition courses, and/or classes with a high population of intermediate to advanced ESL students. It could also be used in ESL courses. In addition, the section on “Visual Aides” could be used in Speech/Communication courses. The tone is formal, but also addresses the writer as “you,” connecting the writer and her composition. Importantly, the guide does contain a “Thesis” page, which is short and clear, with five direct questions. This reviewer will use this page to supplement the teaching of constructing a thesis. However, the instructor must add the process of doing so, as well developing/supporting thesis. The chart on “Transitions” has been broken down to explain the purpose of each word or phrase, which adds to its usefulness. The “Rhetorical Concepts” chapter is another that has been streamlined to concise, paragraphical definitions, purpose, and questions. “Academic Writing: Verb Tense” could include APA formatting of using the past and present perfect tenses. “How to: Write a Summary” requires the instructor’s additional explanation on citing direct quotes. “The Most Common Evidence Used by Authors” is a user-friendly list of suggestions for concrete examples, broken down by subject area, and helpful for composition across all disciplines. As far as analyzing readings, “About Writing: A Guide” contains only one page of content on “Analyzing a Text,” and could use more.
Content is progressive, but for recent MLA updates.
The clear, straightforward prose of this guide is commendable!
Terms and terminology remain consistent throughout.
Text is sparse, and segments and chapters could be easily used individually, or combined.
Much of the guide lists questions of the writer, asking for self-analysis in a clear, logical manner.
Interface is not distracting.
While a few typos (such as question marks in lieu of bullet points, and other punctuation errors) are sprinkled throughout the guide, and not all pages are paginated, readability is not impeded.
Cultural relevance is not applicable, but could include diversity through examples.
The final page of “About Writing: A Guide” touches on “coaching the writer,” which this open textbook does. Ultimately, the question is whether this guide could be used as a resource for teaching college-level Composition. I would agree that yes, it definitely can, by instructors versed in teaching composition, and with supplemental readings/essays added as examples.
_About Writing: A Guide_ appears to be intended as a tool which can take the place of needing a handbook AND a rhetoric or reader in classes such as a basic entry-level college writing class. The scope of the work is appropriate for novice... read more
_About Writing: A Guide_ appears to be intended as a tool which can take the place of needing a handbook AND a rhetoric or reader in classes such as a basic entry-level college writing class. The scope of the work is appropriate for novice writers, but the development of concepts and execution of the work leaves me a bit confused. This work is a great starting point, but the way the text launches in to the subject matter and provides only bare-bones explanations of key writing components may leave students--especially community college students who often come in lacking confidence--a bit uncertain. The main parts of the book (composing; academic writing; research; MLA/APA/CMS; basic grammar; grammatical sentences; multilingual and ESL writers; and revising) are appropriate for a basic college writing text, though some sections provide more helpful information than others. The ordering of parts isn't necessarily ideal (but that's easy to work around), but a bigger issue to me is the lack of information in each chapter. Several chapters are only a page long and rarely are examples provided. If an instructor decided to use the information in _About Writing_ to help inform class activities and homework, I think they'd find it helpful. As for students reading it and being able to understand concepts, more careful and systematic development of the key areas are needed (for instance, right away readers are told how to check a thesis--but haven't really been told what they do or how to make them).
Due to the 2016 MLA updates the MLA section needs to be updated. APA seems to reflect current standards. Aside from the MLA issue, text is error-free and unbiased.
Updating _About Writing: A Guide_ should be fairly straightforward, as should expanding it. The writing principles and the grammar instruction covered in _About Writing: A Guide_ are solid and consistently taught in college writing courses.
The book is written directly, which is nice, but it lacks needed development. The lack of explaining the how, when, where, and why of writing principles is what diminishes the clarity of the piece. For instance, if I wanted to use this text with my college writing students I would have to augment each chapter with explanations for HOW and WHY we do certain things plus offer examples for practice. With the topics only modestly fleshed out my beginning writers would struggle to make meaning (and soon give up).
Overall _About Writing: A Guide_ is consistent in its terminology and framework. The final section on revision, however, seems uncharacteristically detailed ( I actually wish the whole text was more like this).
It would be easy to assign students specific portions of _About Writing: A Guide_. The text is broken into key areas and then chapters within each key area. I find that for my own use, the order of the sections isn't quite what I need, but reorganizing them or directing students to specific parts at specific times is be easily done.
Although the order is fine (as mentioned elsewhere, instructors don't need to assign things in order), it strikes me that a revision of parts might lead to a better overall piece. The author currently has eight key areas, some concerning principles of writing, some with grammar, and then back again to writing principles. Based on how the concepts naturally group themselves, three larger groups might be more effective. 1: BASIC STEPS--Conventions and expectations of academic writing; the when-how-where of research; revising one's work. 2: GRAMMAR AND MECHANICS--Grammar and grammatical sentences. 3: APPENDICES--documentation principles and citation forms; basic paper formatting.
The book had a great deal of white space and frequent blank pages (making me wonder if my PDF file had downloaded fully). A bit of work to improve the design and make the book more visually interesting (colors, less wasted space, etc), certainly wouldn't hurt.
Although the grammatical errors aren't abundant, they do, however, detract from the book. Frequent shifts in number, along with occasional confusion with less/fewer, faulty parallelism, unneeded "to be" verbs, and possessive errors, reduce the book's authority.
The book uses a wide frame of reference and uses examples that show inclusion (race, gender, sexual orientation).
The concept of this book is great. I'm just sorry that the sections were so underdeveloped. It's a good text for a beginning instructor to use as a springboard for planning lessons, but I don't think it provides enough depth to be used as a class text.
Comprehensiveness The text covers a great deal of materials without overwhelming the writing and grammar adverse students. A student can easily find the section/chapter that they need to work on and start there. Each part is comprehensive enough... read more
Comprehensiveness The text covers a great deal of materials without overwhelming the writing and grammar adverse students. A student can easily find the section/chapter that they need to work on and start there. Each part is comprehensive enough to stand on its own. I am recommending this free text to my students from now on.
Accuracy The information about citing is what I expected it to be and the examples are excellent and easy for students to understand. The text keeps it simple, but the grammar is correct.
Relevance/Longevity I require 10 written assignments in my course on human sexuality. It is important that students analysis the information and determine the relevancy to their lives. While the assignments are one page, they must be professionally written and focus on issues identified in the text; in an assigned newspaper article, class discussion and a blog. I am frequently editing fragmented and run on sentences; miss use of to, too; verb and pronoun distress and it's and it mix ups. Text speak and conversational writing is not professional writing and my students struggle with the shift especially when writing about personal experiences and/or opinions. However it is important that students are challenged to analysis information; defend their point of view; and create an personal opinion from materials discussed in class. They need multiple practice writing assignments to improve their skills.
Clarity Each section is clearly titled in the table of contents and when you go to the content it is what is expected. For example, I spend a great deal of time talking to my class about the difference between a primary and secondary source; how to identify a primary source; and why it is important to read the primary source. This is especially important in the current trend of fake news. In Part III: Researching it is all there clearly outline: scholarly sources, evaluating sources and web sites, citing and how to avoid plagiarism
Consistency The author consistently keeps it simple and easy for the student to follow.
Modularity/Easy to use There is lots of white space and easy to read outlines and titles. The student struggling with writing and the nuance of English will not be overwhelmed when approaching this text. It is great for students raised in bilingual homes.
Structure/Flow The author starts with the easier topics and leaves the grammar to the end. The beginning is engaging and not overwhelming so the student might be interested in moving on to other chapters.
Interface/Navigation The table of contents outlines the text using descriptive titles so that a student can easily identify the content
Grammar The sections on fragmented and run on sentences are beautifully described. Can I make a copy of the page and attach it to a students paper to demonstrate the correct way to write the sentence? It would be a time saver for me and the student will have it for his/her guide. ALSO the section on combining verbs and prepositions was another one pager that I would love to copy and give to my students.
Cultural Relevance The conjugating of verbs in the grammar section makes sense to a student who also speaks another language. Everything is followed up with simple examples that clarify the grammar rule for the student. Part VII is specific to multilingual writers and address the issues that I frequently edit in my students' written assignments.
Terrific resource for my students. I am going to recommended it to them every semester.
In the range of material covered, this text is comprehensive for an introductory-level college composition course, but it is extremely superficial, and thus not truly comprehensive. Many important concepts or aspects of writing are not explained... read more
In the range of material covered, this text is comprehensive for an introductory-level college composition course, but it is extremely superficial, and thus not truly comprehensive. Many important concepts or aspects of writing are not explained or explained fully. For example, although early sections discuss assessing audience (as both a writer and reader), this crucial concept requires greater attention. Likewise, the section on how to write a summary does not explain what a summary is. In my experience, most undergraduates do not have a grasp of concepts like audience, purpose, and thesis or of techniques like summary. The lack of examples lends further to the sketchiness of the text; the discussions of thesis statement and summary, for instance, would be greatly enhanced by examples. There is also no discussion in the sections on such matters as subordination, signal phrases, and plagiarism. The section on revision helpfully points out to students that, after the first draft, they may find a true thesis in the conclusion of that draft. There is much more discussion in this section than elsewhere (for instance, than in those related to purpose and audience), but there is still no sample essay, and this makes the section a bit too abstract. The portion of this section that instructs the students to divide their drafts into sections seems counterproductive to teaching argumentation, which typically emphasizes development of the primary idea (thesis). As with the sections on subordination and integration of quotations, the author does not address the development and prioritization of ideas in a complete argument, so that, on the whole, critical thinking receives no real attention in On Writing. Sections on keyword searches and identification of scholarly sources as well as some of the lists (verbs in signal phrases, subordinating conjunctions, etc.) are helpful and in some cases quite thorough.
The book is generally accurate, with the caveats that 1) it is too superficial in its explanations of both rhetorical situation and sentence-level writing, and 2) it does contain some errors (see "grammar," this review). Additionally, the section on citation style includes, in one of the examples, an article title that must have been pasted in from a database, because the capitalized prepositions (a feature of some database citations) have not been corrected.
Since this is a writing text, it is not likely to become out-of-date quickly. However, in some respects, the approach to writing is already somewhat dated, because it is not holistic.
The text is generally quite clear, although the section on revising, which contains much more discussion than other portions of the text, almost seems a little too sophisticated for underclassmen--especially since it does not relate the ideas to a sample essay.
The book is consistent, with the exception that the revision section contains detailed discussion, whereas the rest of the text does not.
The text is highly modularized, and the modules are readily accessible in the online interface.
Some features of the organization are puzzling, although perhaps less glaring in the online version of the text than in the PDF. The first chapter is “Types of Writing Styles,” or what used to be called the four modes of writing. A text that prioritizes the rhetorical situation, then embeds this explanation of narrative, description, and so on into that context, would encourage students to think about audience and purpose and to realize that writing is about something other than an assignment for a teacher. Similarly, placing the revision section at the end of the book while putting discussion of documentation styles in the research section gives priority to the mechanics of style over critical thinking and its expression.
The quality of the interface for the online version of the text is generally high. The text is presented in a user-friendly font size and color, appropriately positioned on the screen, and headings and content font and color contrast in a helpful but not distracting manner. The TOC link is readily visible on the right-hand side of the screen and opens to main headings, then to drop-down menus of subsections. The flow charts for checking for fragments and run-ons are very clear. The one area that needs improvement is (ironically) the presentation of graphs, charts, and the like under “Visuals Can Help You Communicate.” Some of these graphics lack clear definition around the images and include type that is too small to read on a good-size laptop. Unlike the online text, the PDF version is of relatively poor quality. The charts and other visuals are too small and somewhat blurry. What appears as helpful subsections in the online version print out as numerous “chapters,” some of them about 100 words long. The checklists and other lists are not adequately spaced on the printed page but crammed together in the middle, with a lot of white space at the top and bottom.
Since this is a writing text, the grammar should be perfect. There are not a lot of errors, but there are some: several pronoun-antecedent agreement errors on pages 4 and 5 (“the author . . . they”) as well as errors further on. Although the text gives few examples, some of the rewritten sentences are unfortunately rather repetitive.
The text does not include many examples, but to the extent that it does, the book reflects cultural sensitivity.
The inclusion of grammar exercises would enhance the text and likely make it more attractive to those of us who teach freshman composition.
Content areas are brief, but thorough, leaving more time for students to gain greater insight by actually attempting concepts as opposed to just reading about them. read more
Content areas are brief, but thorough, leaving more time for students to gain greater insight by actually attempting concepts as opposed to just reading about them.
Content is free of major errors and is also free of bias towards a particular style.
The content of the textbook is broad enough in its rhetorical approach that it will not become obsolete any time soon. While a change in delivery may be needed (With so many great critical thinking and guiding questions, why not make the textbook more interactive?) the content is strong enough in its current state to make it useful for years to come. The fundamentals never change!
While I appreciate the guiding questions to spark critical thinking, it may be handy to have a little more context and explanation for faculty teaching for the first time or students that may have less of a fundamental background in writing. Example: The questions for assessing a writing situation are great, but some students may need some explanation as WHY they should be doing this beyond simply completing an assignment.
Text is consistent with terminology--however stylistically I would build some areas with more explanatory writing to match those that have both explanation and questions to guide writers. (See note for #4)
Text is logically divided into relevant content areas. I'm the kind of teacher that likes to "bounce around" in a textbook to keep students on their toes and to facilitate a less linear and more "Choose Your Own Adventure" format. This textbook is ideal for this given its current layout. Some sections must clearly follow each other, but others can be read individually for quick reference.
See note on #6. The organization works perfectly with my teaching style. It's logical, but not so neat and rigid that there isn't room for creativity.
No navigational problems or viewing issues. That being said, please see note for #3--I think this would make a great interactive textbook that could be so much more than it already is! I see it almost being a candidate for a "workbook" where students could answers questions and prompts as they go through the readings as they pertain to a specific writing assignment and collect all of their material at the end as notes for writing their full essay.
No grammatical errors found.
The broad nature of the textbook leaves little room for cultural insensitivity or offensiveness. It's relevancy stems from how broad it is in its framework.
I truly hope consideration will be given (if it hasn't been discussed already) to the idea I've made in two sections regarding turning this into an interactive workbook. There is a great deal of need for such a text for online classes and I think this text would be a great candidate for that type of interface for students!
The text exhaustively covers a wide range of different materials and strives to, and indeed succeeds, to do so effectively. Unfortunately there are no index or glossary: they would have been extremely useful tools for readers. read more
The text exhaustively covers a wide range of different materials and strives to, and indeed succeeds, to do so effectively. Unfortunately there are no index or glossary: they would have been extremely useful tools for readers.
I found that the content was accurate and free of errors or biases. However, readers might perceive the lack of an introduction as a missed opportunity for the author to explain his own subjective choices in content selection and organization.
The content is generally up to date. In some sections, however, a more current overview of the state of the field might have been useful. In chapter 8, for example, "Visuals help you communicate," a more detailed discussion of available tools is lacking. At the same time, however, it is true that including a reference to softwares or else (perhaps free on the Internet to e.g. design maps or graphs) might run the risk of making the text obsolete within a short period of time.
The book is written in a clear, accessible way, that makes it suitable for undergraduates students.
The text is internally consistent.
The books is indeed easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections. Each section corresponds to a different stage in the writing process, hence it can be assigned and covered independently from other sections.
In terms of organization, the "researching" section might have been placed before the "academic writing" section. The section "multilingual writers and Esl challenges" is a particularly valuable one, highlighting the specific challenges of non-English speakers. However, in this case as well as in the case of other chapters, a brief introduction might have eased in the reader and prepared the context for the more specific contents that are covered.
The text is mainly free of problematic interface issues. However, the fact that each first page of each chapter misses the page number might be a nuisance. Especially when there are clusters of one-page-long chapters, the readers might have to scroll a lot before actually finding a page number.
No grammatical errors came to my attention.
The section especially devoted to non-English speakers can be once again highlighted here. It is especially cogent and necessary given the significant numbers of non-native English speakers in colleges throughout the Anglophone world.
This book works fine in terms of sheer technical content, but the reader might wish, sometimes, to actually hear the author's voice. An introduction, a conclusion, and small introductions to each chapter might help contextualize the work and ease the reading process.
Overall, the text does a nice job addressing many aspects of writing, with a specific focus on academic writing. In particular, I found that the grammar sections were helpful in breaking down grammatical concepts that often confuse and frustrate... read more
Overall, the text does a nice job addressing many aspects of writing, with a specific focus on academic writing. In particular, I found that the grammar sections were helpful in breaking down grammatical concepts that often confuse and frustrate students. The checklists often asked effective questions which would help students as they compose, research, and revise, as well. However, there are some sections of the text which are a bit slim, such as the thesis section, which provides guidelines for testing a thesis, but not building one. Additionally, while the text introduces and describes four different types of writing (expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative), the majority of the text focuses on persuasive writing, rather than narrative, descriptive, or expository. Also, given the changes to MLA Style, that section of the text is outdated. Additionally, the text does not include an index or glossary, though the online version is interactive, and allows one to go directly to sections of the text listed on the table of contents.
As mentioned above, the MLA section is outdated due to the recent changes and publication of the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. Otherwise, I did not notice any errors, and the text appears to written without bias.
As previously mentioned, the MLA section is out of date. As with all writing textbooks which include sections on citation styles, there is a risk that some sections of the text could be out of date; however, with the way the book is written, updates could be added with relative ease. I found that the addition of CMS makes the text more relevant, as it seems to be an increasingly popular style within the academy.
Overall, the text is written in accessible prose, and I believe it would be very easily understood by new or beginning college writers. There are, however, some sections of the text which include only charts and which could use a bit of context to help explain what the charts are, and how they might be useful to the readers.
The discussion of different forms of writing at the beginning of the text seems to imply that the text will cover all four, but that is the only consistency concern I identified.
The text does an excellent job with modularity. It would be easy to assign brief sections of the text to fit with various topics of discussion throughout a semester.
The overall organizational flow is easy to follow. The one thing I would suggest is that the "Revising" section go before the various grammar sections, as generally, revision is a higher order concern when compared to editing/grammar.
There were no interface issues that I could see.
I did not notice any grammatical errors.
Since this book does not offer a lot of "real world" examples, and focuses mostly on generalized concepts and strategies for writing, there is not a great deal which makes it either culturally relevant or culturally insensitive, which would enable the book to have a longer longevity, in my opinion.
While there are some sections which need to be updated or could use more explanation/context, overall, I think the book would serve as a useful aid for students in college writing courses.
The text has good coverage of many aspects of writing. The divisions and discussion of types of writing are useful for beginning students who are trying to get a grasp on purpose. Maybe that preliminary section could finish off with a brief... read more
The text has good coverage of many aspects of writing. The divisions and discussion of types of writing are useful for beginning students who are trying to get a grasp on purpose. Maybe that preliminary section could finish off with a brief discussion of how these rhetorical modes are rarely used individually but more frequently occur in combination? An example or two from the sorts of writing tasks they might encounter in other disciplines and how to conceptualize those using exposition, narration, description and argumentation might be useful in helping students see beyond just writing as a single class, and help them recognize that writing is something they’ll be doing in most of their college classes and throughout their lives. I love the section on understanding an assignment, and it uses helpful examples. I’d like to see that section expanded, as it is brief, but often students end up on the wrong track when completing a writing assignment because they don’t take a careful look at the instructions or cannot fully grasp what is being asked of them. A few more examples of real writing prompts/assignments from within Humanities and from other disciplines would augment the useful examples already contained here. “Determining the Purpose” could also include a few other types of common writing assignments; increasingly, I am seeing assignments that ask students to summarize or clarify a theory and then apply it to their own lives/experiences, or contrast several opposing views. “Recognizing Disciplinary Expectations” was quite brief and needed a few specific examples to help students understand that concept. There is a big gap between “Assessing the Writing Situation” and “Testing Your Thesis” where some information, examples, or maybe even an exercise on thesis should appear. “Constructing an Outline,” also, would be better served by examples and a few sample topics/organizations to show students what options are available for setting out a plan. In a nutshell, it's a great start but many sections are quite brief and underdeveloped.
Moderate tone, accurate content, unbiased application of ideas.
There are no readings and examples tend to be from past history rather than current events, so I would imagine this text would be relevant until the next update of MLA, APA, or CMS forces revision of the section on documentation.
The overall instruction is quite clear and straightforward, though at times it feels a bit basic. The citation chapters are very thorough and contain useful and easy-to-understand instructions and examples for what has to be cited, how to use in-text citation, and how to create a list of works cited (in three main citation styles). I appreciated the information on signal phrases and how these differ by discipline (a concept that is often hard for students to grasp). I’d love to see the “Transitions” section include the difference between transitions within paragraphs and between paragraphs, as well as a few examples of paragraphs that flow well. Other methods to transition, like subordination, punctuation choices, or the known-new approach, would be great ways to show students that having a smooth flow can depend on more than just adding transition words, which often create a feeling of artificiality not found outside of beginning-level work. The “Analyzing a Text” section asks some great questions and is quite comprehensive in its approach to breaking down not only written arguments but also visual ones. However, there is no application – I’d love to see some of these concepts put into action with some sample passages and visuals. The section on person use is good but also brief – I would love to see more of an explanation of the three points of view, including second person and why most academic writing avoids it. More examples throughout, particularly in the sections on writing a summary, inductive reasoning, common forms of evidence, etc. and a distinction between summary and paraphrase, would be useful to help students understand those concepts.
Terms and concepts are explained clearly and used consistently throughout.
Easy to use and broken down into manageable pieces. I think this text would be particularly good for online tutoring or online writing courses, where portions could be embedded. Each section makes sense on its own and functions as an independent unit.
The writing process is covered well from start to finish, with a few exceptions, such as thesis, which is referenced but never explained. It also might make more sense to put the information on revision before the information on grammar/editing, as usually revision comes before editing in the writing process.
From a graphic design standpoint, the formatting is a bit problematic and there is a ton of empty white space. The section on visuals features very small visuals that need to be better incorporated into the written accompaniment, perhaps even through something very simple like text-wrapping. In PDF form, many pages have only a few words on them, which may make readers impatient. I think this whole text could get condensed down to about 2/3 its current length if space were used more wisely. However, this is just true of the PDF version. The web version is much better and doesn't have some of the same issues.
The author's grammar is of course impeccable! As far as grammar instruction, sections have good advice on how to correct errors but could include more information on why – e.g. why would we use a subordinating clause? What are relative pronouns used for? The section on subject-verb agreement focused mostly on tense and I would have loved to see more on difficult situations like when there are many prepositional phrases that separate subject from verb, or when the subject is compound, or when the subject is an indefinite pronoun. The grammar flow charts were useful but tiny and hard to read. There is heavy emphasis on parts of speech but my students have fewer problems with these kinds of rudimentary errors and more issues with errors not included here, like commonly confused words and punctuation (neither of which are addressed).
There are few examples and no readings, so this is difficult to address. A few of the examples do address past presidents, so perhaps including President Obama, or leaders of other nations, would be a good addition.
If used in a classroom, it would definitely need to be supplemented with more student and professional examples, but it is a good starter text for composition students who need to work on the basics.
Determining if a book about writing is comprehensive, saying that all areas and ideas of the subject are covered, is not possible without first defining the context for such a determination. I have chosen to assess About Writing: A Guide by Robin... read more
Determining if a book about writing is comprehensive, saying that all areas and ideas of the subject are covered, is not possible without first defining the context for such a determination. I have chosen to assess About Writing: A Guide by Robin Jeffrey from the perspective of an instructor of college composition, following principles of rhetoric first defined by Aristotle. To align with an Aristotelian definition of rhetoric, writing textbooks should treat the five elements of the rhetorical canon: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. About Writing: A Guide is comprehensive in that it covers each of the five elements of Aristotle’s canon to a significant degree; however, this book is not satisfactorily comprehensive as a stand alone text for a semester of college composition. With regard to (1) invention, in which students explore methods of gathering information and producing texts, About Writing explores strategies for understanding writing assignments and exploring sources; however, specific strategies for prewriting are wanting. Regarding (2) arrangement, in which students consider organizational schemes controlled by genre and audience expectations, About Writing is smart to include sections on outlining and document planning; however, covering how organizational schemes might vary according to diverse rhetorical situations and genres would require supplementation of additional materials. (3) Style, in which students consider revision and grammatical choices, is most comprehensively explored by About Writing; indeed, chapters on revision strategies for academic diction and grammar choices abound. Chapters treating (4) memory and (5) delivery, are wanting in About Writing. Strategies, which explore how student writing might be more (4) memorable, such as adapting messages for a variety of technologies and modalities, are briefly explored in a section on visual communication; methods for (5) delivery, in which the optimal media is chosen to communicate the message, are limited to documentation conventions. About Writing does not have an index but does include an interactive glossary in the form of text-embedded links.
The content of About Writing is accurate with one exception of disciplinary semantics, which may vary across discourse communities. Nevertheless, chapter one is entitled “Types of Writing Styles;” however, the chapter covers what I would call purposes for writing, not styles. For example, the distinctions of expository and persuasive writing are explored in this chapter, which are important features of a text about writing; however, these are purposes, to inform or persuade, not styles. Style, rather, is how a message is delivered. Excepting this issue of terminology, the content of chapter one is useful to basic writing classes even if the semantics of style might confuse students who are taught an Aristotelian definition of the term.
The content of About Writing is up-to-date with one major exception. This year, 2016, MLA updated a number of citation conventions. About Writing does not reflect these changes. For example, how scholarly articles are now identified with, for instance, “vol. 43, no. 1” rather than “43.1.” However, the text is arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement.
The text is written in clear, level-appropriate prose and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used via the text’s interactive glossary.
The text is certainly consistent in terms of terminology and framework. Each chapter follows a patterned organization which makes for a navigable reading experience from one chapter to the next.
The text can be easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course. Among About Writing’s most user-friendly features is its modularity; nowhere are blocks of text found without appropriate subheadings. Therefore, the text could easily be reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion. Part one begins with composing concepts and strategies, followed by parts two and three, which explore academic writing and research. Logically, part four follows with discussion on citation conventions, and the book closes with sections five through eight, exploring the conventions of grammar and revision strategies.
The interface of the text is seamless. Nowhere does the reader experience navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, or any other display problems.
With one exception regarding the commonly confused relative pronouns, who vs. whom, found on page 45, no grammatical errors were found in the text.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. In fact, another of the highlights of About Writing is found in part seven, a section devoted to the common grammar challenges of multilingual writers.
Overall, this is a very good foundational text, which I plan to use in my future writing classes with some additional supplementation of materials to ensure sufficient scope and diversity of course content.
Table of Contents
About the Author
- Types of Writing Styles
- Understanding the Assignment
- Assessing the Writing Situation
- Test Your Thesis
- Constructing an Outline
- Checklist: Planning a Document
- Visuals Help You Communicate
- Active Reading
- Analyzing a Text
- Rhetorical Concepts
- Academic Writing: Point of View
- Academic Writing: Verb Tense
- How to: Write a Summary
- Countering Opposing Arguments
- Putting Inductive Reasoning to the Test
- Most Common Evidence Used by Authors
- Keyword Searching: Do it Better!
- Is this source scholarly?
- Evaluating Sources
- Evaluating Web Sources
- What Do You Need for a Citation?
- Avoiding Plagiarism
- What is MLA, APA, and CMS?
- MLA Signal Phrases
- MLA Citation Examples
- APA Signal Phrases
- APA Citation Examples
- CMS Signal Phrases
- Introducing... Subordinate Clauses!
- Subject-Verb Agreement
- Should You Use –s (or –es) for a Present-Tense Verb?
- Is Your Sentence a Fragment?
- Is Your Sentence a Run-On?
- Does Your Sentence Have a Dangling Modifier?
Multilingual Writers and ESL Challenges
- Verb Forms: The Basics
- Verb Tenses: Active Voice
- Verb Tenses: Passive Voice
- The Meaning of Modals
- Articles for Common Nouns
- Non-count Nouns
- Geography and ‘The'
- How to Order Cumulative Adjectives
- Three Magic Words: At, On, and In
- Combo Time! – Adjectives & Prepositions
- Combo Time! – Verbs & Prepositions
- A strategy for analyzing and revising a first draft
- Checklist: Revision
- How to: Be a Constructive Peer Reviewer
About the Book
This writer's reference condenses and covers everything a beginning writing student should need to successfully compose college-level work. The book covers the basics of composition and revising, including how to build a strong thesis, how to peer review a fellow student's work, and a handy checklist for revision, before moving on to a broad overview of academic writing. Included for those students who need writing help at the most basic level are comprehensive sections on sentence style and grammar, verbs, nouns and other tenets of basic grammar. Finally, the sections on research and citation should help any student find solid evidence for their school work and cite it correctly, as well as encouraging an understanding of why citation is so important in the first place. This is a guide that is useful to writing students of all levels, either as a direct teaching tool or a simple reference.
About the Contributors
This guide was created by Robin Jeffrey, LRC Director at Klamath Community College, in Spring of 2015. The Revised Edition was created by Robin Jeffrey, LRC Director at Klamath Community College, in Summer of 2016.