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A Guide to Writing about Education

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Papers
  3. Discipline-Specific Strategies


Education is a field that bridges anthropology, sociology, psychology, science, and philosophy. When writing about education, you will utilize a myriad of writing styles and formats to address your essay topics.

Types of Papers

As an education student, you may be asked to write:

  1. journals/field-notes: think of field-notes as the clay for your future thoughts, observations, and ideas; these are informal
  2. literature reviews: categorize or conceptualize relevant pieces of literature
  3. analysis papers: analyze outside sources to promote your own interpretation of a particular theory or style
  4. evaluative essays: look at a particular approach to teaching or theory of learning and discuss strengths and weaknesses
  5. narratives present collected data through use of informal methods, imaginary letters to parents, recommendations for school, etc.
  6. case studies: present problem, discuss others' thoughts on the issue, describe and analyze data/evidence, and draw conclusions
  7. research and lab papers: identify research questions, contextualize the question in the research literature; identify hypotheses, methods of data collection and reduction and analysis; discuss findings.

Discipline-Specific Strategies

Here are some suggestions for approaching any education paper:

  1. Write about something that interests you
    Choose topics that will inspire you to delve deeper into research, synthesize new ideas, and spend time writing, revising, and editing. If you have trouble thinking of a topic, review your journal to see what ideas you have already come up with that might be applicable.
  2. Read
    If you're feeling confused about what is expected of you, try reading similar papers. Get together with other students and read each other's papers. Or, ask the professor to suggest some journal articles for you to look at for inspiration.
  3. Talk
    Talk about your paper, your ideas, and your problems. Talk with your professors, your classmates, and your friends. This will allow you to test out new ideas, find a topic you care about, talk through problems, and see where other people stand on your issue.
  4. Write a really bad paper
    It will give you a foundation to build a really great paper. Just be daring and try out radical ideas.
  5. Have ideas
    Make sure that each paper has an argument or an idea that you create. Outside support should be used to support the ideas you develop.
  6. Ground ideas in outside information
    Your ideas should be firmly based in outside literature, field-notes, research, etc. Every idea should have some fact or observation that supports it.
  7. Expect to revise
    Revise once, twice, as many times as needed. Be prepared to rip up a thesis or change your argument if necessary. Revision of grammar, content, and organization is key to an excellent paper. Good writing doesn't happen by magic.
  8. Take risks in ideas and in structure
    If your idea doesn't work out, try something else. Use complex and diverse sentences. Have fun while you're writing!