Education is a very broad academic field, including a number of smaller disciplines that deal with completely different and often unrelated aspects of education, such as educational psychology, methodology of education, philosophy of education, educational sociology, educational technology and so on. All of them, in the long run, have the same purpose but require vastly different competencies from a student. That is why when writing an education essay one has to be very careful when defining the subject matter of one’s work so as to clearly delineate it from all the aspects of educational science that are not relevant in this particular case.
In this education essay writing guide, we will cover everything you need to know to start writing quality education essays without having to redo them from scratch multiple times.
Step #1: Choose a Topic that Our Writers Suggest
As can be clearly seen from mere enumeration of education-related disciplines, the choice of topics to cover is immense. However, it can be somewhat limited if your teacher or professor tells you to write about a particular subdiscipline. Anyway, it is the underlying principle that is important, so here are some suggestions to help you select a topic that will work in your favor:
- Try finding an original topic. When we start talking about education, a few topics immediately jump to mind. Usefulness of school uniforms, the viability of testing as an evaluation method, efficiency of the traditional grading system, the usual stuff. Unless you have a really interesting and unusual take on one of them (and you probably don’t), avoid choosing them, because more than a half of your class is bound to write something along these lines, and your teacher/professor is already sick and tired of reading about these things. Try choosing something more original, and your teacher will give you a higher grade out of sheer gratitude;
- Try writing about a controversial issue. Things like bullying, armed security in educational institutions, payment to college athletes, use of metal detectors at schools and other similar subjects unfailingly cause violent discussions between people with diametrically opposite views and are usually interesting to read about;
- Follow the guidelines given by your tutor. Not all topics are appropriate in all situations, and your teacher may specifically require you to either avoid certain subjects or, on the contrary, to choose your topic from among a number of predefined areas;
- Stay away from both too narrow and too broad topics. An overly broad topic (e.g., “History of College Education in the USA”) won’t allow you to achieve any depth in your research, especially when limited by such a small assignment as an essay. Too narrow a topic will be boring to write and read and extremely difficult to research to boot – you simply won’t find enough sources;
- Check if you have access to the necessary resources. It is a much better decision to look for information sources before you’ve committed to a topic than to find out there isn’t enough material after you’ve started writing.
Here are some examples so that you can better see what you should be after:
Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
- Male and Female Bullies: How They Act and How School Staff Treats Them?
- Homework in Elementary Schools: Is It a Viable Teaching Method?
- Cursive Writing: A Relic of the Past or a Necessary Skill to Be Taught in Schools?
- Why English-Speaking Students Should Learn a Second Language;
- Traditional and Online Education: Strong and Weak Points;
- Armed Security in Schools: A Necessary Measure or Inappropriate Militarization of Learning Environment?
Step #2: Gather Information
You should carry out the preliminary steps in this direction even before you commit to a topic – this will prevent you from landing yourself with a subject that doesn’t have enough sources to draw upon. However, this isn’t usually a problem when you write an essay, because it is a relatively small assignment that doesn’t need a lot of sources to be credible. On average, you will need one source per page but no less than 3 to 5 (in case your essay has a small number of pages).
The first thing you should look for in a source is its credibility – you cannot just take a random blog post ranting about the state of modern education and call it a reliable source of information on the subject. The hierarchy of credibility is complex and difficult to grasp at a glance. For now, it would be enough to remember the articles and essays in peer-reviewed journals and magazines are the best, books follow them in reliability (although you have to look out for authors’ agendas), and the rest (websites, mass media, video) should be used with caution. Here are some suggestions on how you can locate high-quality sources without digging through your entire college library:
- Use specialized databases and search engines. The Internet offers numerous databases and research-focused search engines that make finding useful information much easier than if you do a general-purpose search like Google. Some deal with research in general (EBSCO, OAIster, Refseek), others are topic-oriented (for education you may use iSeek and US Census Bureau – the latter has all kinds of useful statistical information on education, arranged topically). Don’t forget that some of such databases are subscription-based – you may want to check which of them your college subscribes to before beginning your search;
- Ask those in the know. Teachers, librarians, digital media specialists – all these people can direct you to good sources, and it is their job. Don’t be afraid to ask – the fact that you are doing your own research doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to look for assistance. If your school/college is large enough, you may even have a subject area librarian specializing in your particular type of research, which is even more useful. However, when asking for help, remember to be polite, tactful and don’t ask for too much – although tutors and librarians are here to help, they won’t do your work for you;
- The majority of your sources should be academic journals. You can locate the one pertaining to your topic through the aforementioned databases (EBSCO Host, JSTOR, Google Scholar). One useful feature these databases have is that they usually display how many times this or that source had been cited in other peer-reviewed sources, which can serve as a rough indication of how valuable and influential the source is. Of course, recent articles usually don’t have enough time to accumulate many citations, that’s why use this indicator with caution.
- Books can be another excellent source of information, as they often contain detailed and in-depth research on the subject. You can easily find them using your library search function (if you have trouble locating the necessary books, ask a librarian for help) or, for more digitally-oriented, via Google Books. With the help of this service, you can quickly find books related to your subject, read their previews and excerpts from them and get information on how to purchase it or to obtain it from a library.
- Websites can be used, but treat them with caution. Although the Internet is a treasure trove of high-quality info by specialists in their fields, there is much more unreliable data published by random people. It is extremely difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is why it is better not to rely on online sources too much. You tutor won’t treat these sources as particularly valuable as well.
Step #3: Prepare a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is, in short, the basic idea of your essay: how you intend to interpret the subject matter, what your take on the topic is, what you plan to prove, what claims you make. It is usually presented in the form of a single sentence at the beginning of your essay, most commonly at the end of the introduction. It is different from the topic: the topic shows the general area of your research (e.g., ‘Influence of Divorce on Learning Capabilities in Children of Ages 8 to 12’), while the thesis statement shows your point of view (e.g., ‘In this paper I will prove that learning capabilities of children of ages 8 to 12 are most often negatively affected by the divorce of their parents’).
When writing it, follow these general principles:
- Keep it short. If you cannot bring the main idea of your paper to a single and relatively short sentence, it means that your topic isn’t focused enough. This is why it is best to prepare a thesis statement before you commit to a topic;
- Keep it precise. Don’t use vague expressions or flowery language. Make sure the reader understands you at the first attempt;
- Make sure it corresponds to what you are about to write. If you wander off the topic, you will certainly lose some credits;
- Ask yourself: ‘Is anybody likely to challenge my standpoint?’ If you promote a view that nobody in their right minds is going to oppose, chances are you merely summarize the topic instead of making a thesis statement.
Step #4: Write Body Paragraphs
It would immensely help you if you follow a plan when working on body paragraphs: therefore, you should make notes of which points you want to make, in what order and how you intend to support them. Another helpful practice is to use the same structure for all your paragraphs, something along these lines:
- Introductory statement;
- Evidence backing up your point;
- Your additional comments on the subject of the paragraph;
- Connection to the following paragraph.
This way you can ensure the structure of your essays stays consistent and logical throughout its length.
Some additional education essay tips you may find useful when writing body paragraphs of your education essay:
- Always backup your ideas with sufficient evidence. Holes in logic and reasoning is the first thing your tutor and peers will point out when the essay is reviewed;
- Maintain the rule of ‘One paragraph – one idea’. Don’t introduce more than one idea per paragraph and don’t repeat the same idea in multiple places – it doesn’t make the argument stronger, it simply creates redundancy;
- Refer to your thesis regularly to ensure you don’t lose your train of thought and to maintain consistency;
- Don’t just summarize the information from your sources, analyze it.
Step #5: Write Introduction and Conclusion
Introduction should be among the last things you write in your essay because it is heavily interconnected with the conclusion: basically, they repeat the same things, only in the introduction you describe the topic of your essay and what you intend to prove, and in conclusion you describe the topic of your essay and what you’ve managed to prove. Just keep them similar enough, and everything will be alright. Don’t try to write essay parts in the order they follow each other – chances are, you will have to rewrite your introduction written this way.
Step #6: Proofreading
The best practice is to set your essay aside for a few days before trying to revise it. This allows your brain to take a rest from work on this particular task, and you will view it with new eyes when the time comes, noticing more mistakes and being more critical about sentence structures and suchlike.
- Read the essay backwards, starting at the end, one sentence at a time. When you read your essay in its supposed order, you tend to skip over mistakes because you know how things are supposed to be;
- Read the work out loud. This slows you down and forces you to pay attention to each word, making you more likely to notice a mistake or a typo;
- Print out your work, preferably changing the font size or some other characteristics of your paper. By changing the way your essay looks you increase the chances of noticing mistakes;
- Ask somebody else to read your essay. For example, find a classmate with whom you will exchange your essays for proofreading purposes. Another person is always more likely to notice mistakes than you are in your own text. Just make sure you trust their judgment!
Step #7: Formatting Compliance
In most cases, education papers use APA formatting style, but you still should make sure and ask your tutor or supervisor what the guidelines of your particular college are. Bringing your essay in compliance with formatting requirements may be a long and tiresome job, but it is not nearly as frightening as it is sometimes portrayed. With the help of automatic citation generators, easily available style guides and assistance from your tutors and supervisors you can easily deal with it – just be attentive and patient.
Writing a proper education essay may be difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is procrastination. If you put off writing until the last possible moment, you are likely to find yourself frantically trying to catch up and not having enough time for any of the aforementioned steps. It is much more efficient to spread the process of writing over long stretches of time, without having to be in a hurry at any stage of the process.