Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
The text is comprehensive in that it addresses all major elements of
writing and the writing process. In particular, there is an extensive section
on grammar and sentence/paragraph construction.
The section describing and exploring types of essays is likely the most useful and includes process, comparison/contrast, persuasive, research, etc. Section 11.4 on finding and using types of sources in research is particularly useful and clear.
The text appears to take two different foci, however, which are incongruous:
the first section is quite elementary whereas the second section is quite academic.
I would prefer the second for use in my undergraduate classroom and would
therefore recommend that the first section on written construction and types of
writing to be situated within more of an academic and professional context. i.e.
the grammatical constructions could be illustrated as part of the academic writing
process and structure. Rather than topics such as 'vegetables', perhaps use business, sociological, or literary topics. Use written samples that are from a research paper rather than what appears to be more of a highschool composition.
The author enhances each section with 'takeaways', 'writing at work', 'tips' and
exercises. A variety of examples are provided to illustrate each component discussed.
The table of contents is not available in the pdf version, though it is
referred to in the first chapter more generally. Being able to link to chapters
as they are referenced within the text would be a useful feature.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
Excellent, I found no errors.
Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
Updates will be necessary i.e. databases, examples and are interwoven within a
section. However, I believe the main updates will occur in the one section on research papers.
Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The text is fluid and logical. It is quite accessible, though I recommend that
the author elevate the level of prose and examples in early sections to better align
with the more challenging and academically situated later sections.
Terminology is well explained and highlighted throughout the text. Again, a table of contents
that is accessible throughout the text, clear headings, highlighted and linked
concepts/terms throughout would be particularly useful for an online text making
concepts even more accessible to the student.
Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
It may make more sense for the student to learn about parallelism within the context of essay
writing as opposed to beforehand, for instance. The first sections appear too
much like a secondary school grammar text and I believe that the author loses out
on the innovative style and approach he brings to the text overall by following suit.
I recommend that he adopt the style he uses in the later sections earlier. Perhaps
beginning with essay writing and then linking or embedding various structural and grammatical
elements into these broader topics would make the content more relevant and
accessible to the learners. Examples would interweave more integratively as well.
The text would illustrate more completely the when and where of each structural and grammatical
element if these were integrated into the larger purpose for writing. Perhaps
the whole text could be framed by the various types of writing, which is truly the
main concern of a typical student. From there, grammar and construction can be
illustrated and taught. i.e. rhetoric within the persuasive essay structure, parallelism when discussing supporting sentences, emphasis and style when discussing the construction of a thesis statement...
Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
The text is well organized and separated into 'chunks'. I would like to see the
sections made more meangingful at times. i.e. Tips - I imagine a student combing
through this text for the 'tips' sections as a way to track their key learnings. I think the 'tips' could be made more useful, like cheat sheets of formulas, frameworks, eg's.
When I imagine my own students using this text, I would imagine the paragraph structure
outline being something that they would want to refer back to often. It would be
useful to create a more visually memorable framework for them that incorporates
a memnonic device i.e. Highlight the first letter of each part or create more creative
and varied visual charts rather than only the heirarchical charts used for the most part throughout
Writing at work could be leveraged more meaningfully as well - provide an actual example of where this topic or concept might be relevant at work.
The exercises could also be more interactive - most are individual. If I were to
use this text in a class, I would partner, trio, or team up the students. It would be useful to hhave exercises to which I could point the group or duo. The exercises tend to be fairly static. More of an applied approach would be welcome.
The sample paper p. 480 is quite useful to students. This is sn approach you may wish to use throughout the text. Perhaps you could appendicize several more papers?
Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
See earlier comments on integration of topics. The section on research is an excellen tmodel of how an overarching concept can provide fertile ground for teaching related concepts
in a more integrated manner.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
If anything, I think the text would benefit from more images and charts or more
creative visuals to illustrate the various styles and purposes of writing.
Interface Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
The text is grammatically strong.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
The text appears to reflect a diverse perspective on topics and issues. Examples are
also representative of a wide range of ethnicities and worldviews. I was not struck
by any form of insensitivity.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
The final section on research is comprehensive and detailed. I value the way that
the author has structured this section and would recommend that the whole text be
modelled after it. The author teases out issues and concepts from within the larger
framework (sourcing, structuring, editing, organizing, preparing etc...) I believe that
the other writing structures i.e. persuasion could be leveraged in the same way.
Teaching adjectives may not be necessary at all for instance i.e. Frederick ________ choked on the piece of chicken when he saw Margaret walk through the door. Why not instead focus on the
issues that we most see in our students' writing and that are most relevant to
the work they will be required to do. Comma usage, emphasis, logic, rhetorical
strategies, spelling, more complex punctuation, the use of prepositional phrases....
and teach them these concepts/structures within a context that is relevant to their
Another section that may be relevant is the 'translation' of technical language into more
popular or layman terms or making their own writing accessible to the public.
Your section on critical thinking and evaluating is quite relevant and innovative. More on this would be welcome with creative exercises that challenge the student to reflect and question their perceptions and the content to which they are exposed.
All in all, this text is clear, well written, well structured and conceived. I encourage the author to stretch their creativity and challenge assumptions about how to structure a text on writing. I also challenge the author to reflect on the actual needs of the undergraduate student - what are the patterns of error that you see in their writing? what comments do you make continually? Rather than a section on 'adjectives', what about 'subject - verb agreement'? Grammar will make more sense if embedded in a relevant context.