Tutor profile: Jason B.
What makes an effective essay?
Thankfully, reading and writing are two sides of the same coin. If you can write well, you often can read better, and vice versa. A good writer will first gather all the evidence and then decide on an argument. The argument should be stated clearly and often so the reader has no mystery as to what the point of the paper is. Evidence should be included to back up the author's claims. Topic sentences and concluding sentences in each paragraph can be helpful in guiding the reader through the essay, as well as incorporating transitions so the essay flows as a single document. The original argument should be referenced frequently with each point of evidence, to continue reminding the reader what the point of the essay is. This very basic advice is helpful for both test essays (GRE, SAT) and also for academic papers. Of course, the threshold for what makes a good paper is much higher for an academic paper since there's more time to craft it. There's a lot more to writing that benefits from one-on-one review of an essay, but some general rules can be helpful.
What is the most effective way to read an article or passage? (not a creative writing passage)
Good authors typically employ helpful structures in their writings that can guide how you read. For example, a good writer will often state their thesis or argument early in their writing, but not always--looking for the thesis is usually the most important part of reading, as this guides how you will understand the passage or article. Next, you will want, at a minimum, to read the first and last paragraphs and the first and last sentence of every paragraph. This will allow you to identify which paragraphs are important, what information they contain, and what evidence the author uses to further their argument.
How do you design an effective survey?
There are a number of important things to consider when designing a survey. First, what do you want to know? In sociology, we often want to know what people think (i.e. public opinion) or their status in life (e.g. employment, health, education). Second, who is your population of interest? In many cases, sociologists want to study the population of the United States as a whole, but sometimes we're interested in smaller populations, such as all the students at one university. Third, how will you sample from this population? You can't survey everyone in the US or even everyone at a university, so a sampling design is needed to gather a group of respondents who can accurately represent the larger population. Once you have established how you will address these considerations, you can turn your attention to actually designing your survey. This will involve writing questions and then testing them out on a few trial respondents to get feedback (i.e. cognitive interviews). Once you have designed your survey, it is ready to be fielded and you can start collecting responses. Once you have your survey responses, you can begin analyzing your data, for example by looking descriptive statistics or performing more advanced techniques, such as regression or factor analysis.
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