An education essay requires a lucid grasp of the stated question or essay prompt, in order that a perceptive thesis contention may be formulated, articulated, substantiated and defended. The thesis statement must be in the form of an explicitly stated contention or assertion that responds to the specific sub-field of education the essay question is addressing. The formulation of the thesis statement for an education essay must demonstrate an awareness of both the historic and current intellectual trends pertaining to the relevant area within education to be explored and evaluated. Additionally, the education essay must explicitly engage with course aims, as the essay set is usually designed to test knowledge of the specific question, topic and course parameters.
For example, if the education essay requires the treatment of recent educational psychology paradigms used to improve pupil learning performance, then the well informed thesis contention will show an awareness of controversy and debate surrounding this sub field within education. The historical approach will note how learning support models have changed as psychological thinking has developed. It may be something similar to “Cognitive behaviour therapy programmes have been effectively adapted to learning psychology in secondary school educational settings in the last decade.” If this was indeed the topic and thesis statement, the structure of the education essay would next be given due consideration, perhaps divided into a section on fashionable psychological models aimed to enhance learning in the 1990’s; followed by a section defining cognitive behaviour therapies and case studies illustrating their application to real school settings. The final section could be a comparative analysis of the realised benefits of this CBT approach to enhancing student learning, identifying issues pertaining to relative measurement of performance, and accounting for when CBT works effectively and when other approaches may be preferable.
Sources to Include
Pertinent educational journals must be consulted when planning and constructing an education essay, as well as demonstrating that one is aware of who the key stakeholders are in the educational debate, and what their current positions are on education policy, initiatives being undertaken and future prospects. The evidence drawn upon by the essay writer can include not only case study findings, but also research findings, government policy statements, statements by school authorities, educational academics and relevant community interest groups, who either monitor education or are influenced by it. A balance of different types of sources will aid the process of providing a more balanced treatment of the set topic and the subsection of education being addressed.
If the education essay is exclusively focused upon the British educational system, it may require a critical review of policy formulation and implementation, or, alternatively, it may require an international comparative approach.
The effective education essay requires an awareness of the interconnectedness of key educational stakeholders, the contributions each makes to the educational process and the philosophical underpinnings of each stakeholder organisation. An issue such as bilingualism in education is a complex example, where minority cultural groups may have a vested interest in their prime language becoming an alternate mode of educational delivery to children, yet government educational policy may be philosophically opposed to supporting bilingual education in schools, generating a debate about the economic scarcity of educational resources, and the educational impulse to empower individuals and communities by effectively imparting skills, knowledge and values. As the overarching force of globalisation impinges upon educational debate, the case in favour of bilingual education may mount. The additional issue of cultural integration and cultural integrity in education may further complicate this debate, illustrating the need for a broad reading of salient educational research, when preparing and executing any educational essay.
How to Structure
In essence, the process of writing a quality education essay is a generic one, following the logical steps used to write an academic essay. These consist of question analysis and deconstruction; reading list or source identification; familiarisation with issues, concepts and current debates; thesis formulation and essay drafting, finishing with essay editing and polishing. It is essential that appropriate periods of time are apportioned to the thorough completion of each phase, as the earlier phases of essay construction are foundational for the latter steps outlined above. When questions are interpreted superficially or incompletely, even the most cogent argument, will at best, only address a portion of the question. It is important to realise that questions set by academic institutions usually demand an awareness of an intellectual debate, currently raging in academic circles.
With respect to the education essay, the terminology of the educational debate should be understood and effectively incorporated within the body of your essay, so that you enter into the discourse of the subject matter and its associated intellectual debate. Glossaries of educational terms are easy to locate online, and using these as a reference can make the language register used in the essay more professional and formal.
The construction of paragraphing serves a vital function in an education essay, as the strength of the argument is linked to the conciseness of the assertions advanced and the calibre of the evidence used to substantiate them. The skill of paragraphing needs to be well understood to avoid confusion. If the opening sentence of each paragraph in the body of the essay makes a clear, defensible assertion, which directly illuminates the essay question, the explanation to follow in one or two sentences, can remain relevant and aid the essay’s momentum. After the explanation, the two to three sentences of illustration and evidence, need to be carefully selected, ensuring it supplements and complements the argument being constructed, rather than acting as a substitute for original argumentation. In the instance of an education essay, such evidence can include citing the appropriate educational sources directly, or paraphrasing key points in an educational journal article, as an example. The concluding sentence in each paragraph should show some level of synthesis, keeping the discussion on point and preparing the ground for the next paragraph.
Devoting due attention to these steps and principles will allow the new education essay writer to develop and refine the skills needed to write effective education essays, which inform, persuade and illuminate readers and examiners alike.
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