Monday, March 3, 2014

Introducing the Introduction

An essay introduction is just like a personal introduction . . . and yes, it is an art.  They are both a first impression and quickly determine whether you want to read a paper or engage with a person.

Let's look at seven standard types of introductions that you can use in ANY essay.  Since I have found examples to be the best teachers, let's look at seven introductory paragraphs for a single thesis statement:
Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.
A Personal or Fictional Anecdote
As I walked into my first college class, I wondered who would be sitting to my right or left. I remember fearing that everyone would stare at me because I was an "older" student. I soon realized that while many teens were in the class, I was not the only student who had waited a number of years before seeking a college education.  Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Cite A Quotation
World War I ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, once said: "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." If fear is necessary for courage, than many students entering the college classroom for the first time are courageous.  These students, no matter what their ages, are often fearful about the demands of college life, but they have taken the first step to overcome their anxieties by walking through the classroom door.  Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Raise a Question
Do you remember what it was like the first day of your first college class?  Can you remember feeling as if every student in the class were staring at you as you made your way to your desk? Were you surprised to find in your class so many different types of students - students of various ages and backgrounds? Many of today's college classrooms feature an inter-generational student population.  Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Provide Relevant Statistics
According to a recent college admissions booklet, the average age of a student at Hope Junior College is 28.3 years. The statistic shows that many students in Hope Junior College's classrooms are over the age of 30. These mature students have discovered that they need to upgrade their job skills or learn new ones if they are to complete in an increasingly technological society, so they find themselves in the the classrooms sitting next to students in their late teens and twenties.  Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Give Background Information About the Topic
The job market, both nationally and internationally, is becoming increasingly competitive and technologically advanced in the twenty-first century. Many workers are finding themselves educationally under-prepared for the challenges of their jobs and are seeking to retool themselves to meet these challenges. These experienced workers are returning to the college classroom for retraining and joining those young people preparing to enter the job market for the first time. Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Create an Analogy
College students walking into a classroom for the first time are like aliens leaving a spaceship and stepping forth in an unknown world. Neither the college students nor the aliens know what lies ahead. College students, no matter what their ages, are often fearful about the demands of  college life, but they have taken the first step to overcome their anxieties just by walking through the classroom door. Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

Challenge a Common Perception
Many people, when they think of a freshman classroom, envision row after row of eighteen-year-olds eager to begin their college experiences. These people would be surprised to discover that the average age of a college freshman at most colleges and university is well above eighteen. Men and women are coming back to the classroom after an absence of many years. Some want to to learn a new skill; others want to pursue a particular interest such as history.  Two types of students who attend college are the eighteen-year-old who just graduated from high school and the returning student who seeks a new career.

One thing to keep in mind: citations.  If you choose to use the introductions that feature a quotation, relevant statistics, or background information you may need to cite that material (thank you Diablo Valley College Learning Center for the handout this post is based on).

Which type of introduction do you routinely use?  I know for me it is the anecdote.  Pretend you are asked to write an introduction you have never used before, which would you like to try?  Why?

18 comments:

  1. This is actually new information for me. In high school all these types of styles were never emphasized. I feel as if I repeatedly use background information in my introductions; however, sometimes I will get stuck because there is only so much background I can give with out getting to into detail with the topic and disclosing to much on the issue. Now that I know that these styles are acceptable in an essay I will challenge myself to try and use a different style every time I write. I feel like I would enjoy using an anecdote because it's easy to tell or even make up a personal story that some how wraps around the topic.

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  2. These are the different styles that most of my teachers tell us to use. Introductions are the most important part of an essay. The introduction can even make the reader interested or uninterested in reading the rest of the essay. Introduction paragraphs should always hook the reader. Whenever I write an introduction, that ends up being the strongest paragraph in my essay. Teachers always recommend students to start with a question. That question or first couple sentences have to hook the reader in. My goal is try to add an interesting couple sentences. Also a creative title can reel in the reader. maybe I can do what the comment above does and write an introduction with an anecdote, just to try something different.

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  3. cynia sappMarch 4, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    These are the different styles that most of my teachers tell us to use. Introductions are the most important part of an essay. The introduction can even make the reader interested or uninterested in reading the rest of the essay. Introduction paragraphs should always hook the reader. Whenever I write an introduction, that ends up being the strongest paragraph in my essay. Teachers always recommend students to start with a question. That question or first couple sentences have to hook the reader in. My goal is try to add an interesting couple sentences. Also a creative title can reel in the reader. maybe I can do what the comment above does and write an introduction with an anecdote, just to try something different.

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  4. An introduction is truly one of the most important parts of an essay. It can also be one of the hardest to come up with. I usually begin most of my essays with a quotation. I find that using a quote helps me write a good and long introduction. Finding a good quote that relates to the topic makes it a good place to start when I am having trouble. This way I use someone else's words and explain what they are saying to include in my essay. I have to admit that after using this same style over and over again, it can get really boring. A style that I would like to try next is the anecdote. I think that using an anecdote will be a good way to attract the reader's attention and it can also personalize your essay.

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  5. The introduction is what grabs the reader and makes them want to read the rest of your paper. If you don't have a interesting introduction than the reader will be bored of your essay before they even get to your actual essay. When starting a essay I like to use a question or a quote that is not only interesting to the reader but will make them think before they start seeing my point of view. I want to pull them into my topic and then deepen their knowledge of the topic. If my introduction doesn't grab them then they will have a hard time reading the rest of my essay.

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  6. I always seem to use an anecdote every time it comes to writing an introduction. I'm not sure if it's just the easiest thing for me or a way to connect myself to the paper more. I know that if I read the introduction and don't enjoy it then it's going to turn out to be a boring essay for anyone else.I think if I had to use another form of introduction I would like to try challenging a common perspective. I feel that this may draw the reader in as it causes them to think about their own views on the subject you have brought to their attention.

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  7. This is a very applicable article. As college students we will be meeting a lot of people who will be very influential on our future. (teachers, future bosses, coworkers etc...) It is vital that you make a good first impression. Within the first 15 seconds of meeting somebody, you have already sized them up and created your own opinions of them. Whether you realize it or not, you already judge people before you get a chance to know them. That is why introductions are so important, especially in a professional environment. You want to appear smart, well spoken and experienced when meeting people in a professional setting. If you find yourself not knowing what to say in these situations. Practice some of the things you see in this article. that way when the time comes..... you'll be ready to act in a professional manor and seem like a genius whether you are one or not.

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  8. There are so many ways to write an introduction paragraph. This article shows that by giving examples of the same thesis in a few different styles. The introduction must be clever and catch the readers attention, or you may not have a reader at all. The introduction style that I use varies, depending on my topic. For the most part, I use the anecdote, quotes, or questions. If I had to use one that I have never used before, it would probably be an analogy or a statistic. I choose these because an analogy would allow me to be extra creative and use more of my imagination with my introduction, and a statistic would be cool because I can possibly find out a shocking fact on my topic.

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  9. I usually use "Cite a Quotation" for my hook in the introduction because it attract the readers that some famous person say something important in an area. If I try another hook, I would use "Raise A Question." If the readers have had similar experience or similar thought, they would keep on reading because they are attracted by the question and think that they can find some interesting points in the essay.

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  10. Introductions are a quick way to feel out if an essay is going to be any good. They are the first impression of your paper so you want to get it right. Luckily there are 7 standard types of intros you can use to ramp up your writing. First, the personal anecdote is easy because it is one of your own experiences. Secondly you can cite a quotation. The only problem is those can feel cliché and forced. Tres, you can raise a question relevant to your paper that gets the reading engaged with your topic. Shi, you can provide statistics, but unless shocking, these can be boring. 5/7, you can provide background or summary information of your topic. Twice of 3 is my favorite. When you create an analogy, you can make up anything that can somehow provide a comparison for your topic. Lastly, you can challenge a common perception.
    The introduction I most commonly use is the analogy. Close in second would be the personal anecdote. I think both are very easy and effective. Like a grilled cheese sandwich, super easy to make, and massively satisfying.

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  11. I always have trouble in creating an introduction because my weak grammar, vague thesis, and too simple language are pointed out whenever I write an essay. I usually focus on putting good citation and statistic data. Since these introductory resources confirm the essay, I use these to make my essay logical and perfect. Even thought writing an essay without citation and statistics, Nobody would not believe my essay. So, while I practicing my skills about grammar and construction, I will at least have to take the citations and the statistics appropriately.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading this article on introduction paragraphs--seeing as my paragraphs are usually less than sufficient. I was taught growing up that an introduction paragraph should be a very quick and efficient summary of everything you were about to say (basically the conclusion's twin). However, it wasn't until my college career that I was really introduced to the idea of a thesis statement. So naturally, I struggle with introduction paragraphs.
    I usually use anecdotes in my paragraphs because in Introductory English, my professor (Lisa Orta--great woman) taught me that it was okay to make up a story if necessary. I was always a little worried because I felt like the stories I had to tell were dull and had nothing to do with the essays I was writing. Now I always use a made-up or greatly exaggerated story to start my essays out with.
    I'm going to experiment with these other paragraph formats in the future, though!

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  13. I really enjoyed reading this piece of article, before I started writing, I was always confused on how to start the paragraph, although I had all my points writing down, I just felt I didn't actually have an introductory paragraph, I usually struggle with paragraphs. I usually use cite a quote in my introductory English, my professor (Dore Ripley) taught me that it was okay to use this, so that the reader doesn't get confused. Am happy that am able to use this

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  14. Before writing an essay, I would always take time to think of an introduction. I wanted to see if my introduction was interesting and will grab my reader's attention. Writing an introduction for an essay will always be challenging because I feel as if my introduction is not very interesting. After reading this article, I now have different ideas to start an introduction. The introduction I routinely use in my English class is "A Personal or Fictional Anecdote" because I like to provide my personal examples and let the readers know what I had experience. Another introduction I like to use is "Raise a Question" because I feel as if starting off with questions will grab a reader's attention. An introduction I would like to try for my essay is "Citing a Quotation" because finding the right quotes and summarizing the quote to my understanding is challenging. Adding different quotes as examples will make my introduction strong and more interesting. After reading this article, I now have many ideas to make my introduction better and more interesting.

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  15. For me I usually use the personal or fictional anecdote. If I was to chose a type of introduction I have never used before, I think I would chose the “cite a Quotation”. Citing a quotation would be easy for me to expand on the topic. I mean I could add my own experience together with the quotation. I like storytelling type of instructions, so maybe I could incorporate my personal experience to make a better introduction with this kind of style. This would be the type of introduction that I would like to try my hands on, maybe this would lead me to a better path on how to bring in the interest of my audience.

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  16. Before writing an essay, I normally ponder what I was going to write about, this made me a little bit puzzled that I don't really know how to start a paragraph, although I had written all my points down, I felt I didn't have an introductory paragraph, I struggled with paragraphs. I didn't actually know that an introductory paragraph was important. as soon I realized this, I started to make use of citing a quote, it has really helped me a lot. I can boldly say I don't struggle with paragraphs anymore thanks to my Professor who told me to make use of this, so as not to confuse the reader. Am so glad that am able to use this.

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  17. I seem to always introduce my essays with a question. Usually the question is a question I pondered at one point in time or it is a question that I am curious about what other people would have to say about the subject. For my next essay I have been thinking about trying a new approach though because it feels sort of repetitive and boring to use the same introductory style all the time. I will most likely attempt using the "give background information on the topic" introductory strategy. It seems simple enough. I just have to research the topic a little and start my paragraph with true facts about the subject. Preferably information regarding the history of what my essay is about. Another important part of using this type of introductory is to remember to cite the information I am using. It is always a good idea to try different things or change it up a bit. Change leads to fresh ideas and by trying a different approach to writing my essays I can learn another, more appealing style of writing that I wasn't aware I had.

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  18. I usually start my introduction by giving background information about the topic or by challenging the common perception, it is the easiest way for me to start my essay, as I do not have to over-think and fear that the readers do not understand what I am trying to get across.

    If I were asked to write an introduction that I have never used before, I would like to try the "creating an analogy" introduction.

    I feel that an analogy has a certain charm to draw the readers to continue reading the rest of the essay as opposed to providing relevant statistics or providing the background information on the topic, which is very dull and boring for an introduction.

    I have never tried using an analogy for my introduction as I am not sure how to relate two different examples together to make it seem relevant to each other and convince/persuade the readers of my point. It is also difficult to know if I succeed with getting the readers to understand the point I am trying to get across with the analogy that I provided. If my analogy turns out to be weak, then the readers may not continue reading or they may become less accepting of my stand and starts to question my argument.

    An analogy is able to make the readers relate more to the issue that the writer is talking about by introducing something that they are familiar with, and I think it also takes creativity when creating an analogy. But I am not very creative, thus, it is difficult for me to come up with an example which I can link to the issue that I am talking about.

    Although I did try to use analogy in my own drafts, it always turns out weird to me and when it is time to pen the formal draft, I forgo the analogy I have written and rewrite my introduction by starting with the background information on the topic.

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