TO STRUCTURE OR NOT TO STRUCTURE: THE EFFICACY OF AN INTERACTIVE EXERCISE FOR UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF STRUCTURE
International Journal of Teaching and Education
Essay writing is often a fundamental component of assessment in higher education, therefore we need to find effective ways of encouraging students to develop strong writing skills. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an interactive exercise designed to demonstrate the importance of essay structure and organisation. During an essay-writing seminar over four academic years, 3rd year undergraduate students (N=510) were given 5 minutes to assign a grade category (1st, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd) to an
... ssay. Half the students marked a well-structured essay, and half marked a poorly-structured version that contained slightly more content, but students were blind to this manipulation. The grades awarded by the students to each type of essay were then disseminated. We hypothesised that students would award higher marks to the well-structured essay, and that this exercise would increase awareness of the importance of structuring essays. Results revealed that the well-structured essays were significantly associated with high marks (1st/ 2:1s) and poorly-structured essays significantly associated with low marks (2:2/ 3rd) and this pattern was consistent across four cohorts. Significantly more students reported that structure was the most important element in essay writing after this exercise than before, indicating it was effective in highlighting the importance of structure, and 91% of students reported that the session had increased their awareness of the importance of structure. The results support the use of this exercise to increase student awareness of the importance of essay structure and indicates that actively involving students in the assessment process may improve students' understanding of expectations We hope the exercise assessed in the current study will be used in other educational programmes where essay writing is a core part of assessment. (2017). To structure or not to structure: the efficacy of an interactive exercise for understanding the importance of structure. In conclusion, CC provides a good model for how specific phobias can be acquired and treated, however, it does not provide an entire explanation. Other factors such as operant conditioning, cognitive biases and social learning are also key in the maintenance and acquisition of human phobias.