Are you Actually Answering the Question ?

Summary

How does your writing rate on the "Crap-O-Meter" ?

As you know, we often take the path of least resistance. In nature electricity and heat follow the materials of least resistance. Spilt water follows the easiest way to get to the lowest point. This is all to do with using the least energy.

People often follow the path that is the least work and causes the least stress. We can easily make this mistake when writing an essay or report. When writing we can get on to a line of thought then follow it because it feels comfortable. We can write lots of words very quickly because it feels right and it feels easy. We feel less stressed when we do this.

However, have we actually answered the right question? What about the right sub-questions? Where does our writing rate on the Crap-O-Meter? What percentage is rubbish?

What really is stressful is when a student finishes their essay and then find that they have not actually answered what their teacher is after. Man, I did this a lot as a student!

This is the point of developing the structure of the report or essay as the first step.

The foundation of a house needs to be strong and well made. Otherwise the house will have problems.

If the structure of a report or essay is flawed, then it will have problems.

So, even though just sitting down and writing feels less stressful and the easiest thing to do, there is a good chance that it will lead to the students essay having problems, as they have not set up a good structure.

So, I recommend that when a student first sits down, they should lay out the structure.

The Crap Test.

I also recommend that after the student has written 10% of the essay or report they stop and go back to check if the structure is right and that they are actually answering the question. I like to call this technique a “Crap Test.” Students may wish to do this at regular intervals throughout the writing process.

They need to check to make sure that what they have written so far is not simply a "pile of crap." ;-)

Summary.