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Gordon Rule

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Guidelines for Writing in Gordon Rule Classes

These guidelines have been adapted from the Florida Department of Education's Florida Writes! standards and CLAST skills. This information should assist students in writing and instructors in grading writing that falls under the "Gordon Rule."

What is effective writing?

A well-written essay incorporates elements of writing in such a way that a reader can experience the writer's intended meaning, understand the writer's premise, and accept or reject the writer's point of view. Effective writing . . .

  • is focused on the topic and does not contain extraneous or loosely related information;
  • has an organizational pattern that enables the reader to follow the flow of ideas because it contains a beginning, middle, and end
  • uses transitional devices;
  • contains supporting ideas that are developed through the use of details, examples, and conventions of language appropriate to the discipline area which the writer is addressing;
  • follows the conventions of standard written English (i.e., punctuation, grammar, capitalization, and spelling) and has variation in sentence structure;
  • cites all source material according to discipline conventions.

How does a student achieve effective writing?

No essay is "reader-ready" after the first draft. Instead, a writer concerned with effective writing engages in a serious process-approach. This recursive process includes planning, writing, revising, and editing.

What will an instructor be looking for in a student's Gordon Rule writing?

In addition to a clear demonstration of accuracy and logic with respect to the paper's subject matter, a student will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in structuring an essay and conveying his or her thoughts in a technically and grammatically correct manner. Students should revise the essay until it meets the standards outlined below.

In planning and structuring an essay, a student will be expected to Select a subject which lends itself to development.

  • Determine the purpose and the audience for writing.
  • Limit the subject to a topic that can be developed within the requirements of time, purpose, and audience.
  • Formulate a thesis or statement of main idea.
  • Develop the thesis or main idea statement by . . .
    • providing adequate support which reflects the ability to distinguish between generalized and specific evidence.
    • arranging the ideas and supporting details in a logical pattern appropriate to the purpose and the focus.
    • writing unified prose in which all supporting material is relevant to the thesis or main idea statement.
    • writing coherent prose and providing effective transitional devices which clearly reflect the organizational pattern and the relationships of the parts.
    • citing all support from external sources according to discipline conventions.

In editing and proofreading an essay, a student will be expected to

  • Demonstrate effective word choice by . . .
    • using words which convey the denotative and connotative meanings required by context.
    • avoiding inappropriate use of slang, jargon, cliches, and pretentious expressions.
    • avoiding wordiness.
  • Employ conventional sentence structure by . . .
    • placing modifiers correctly.
    • coordinating and subordinating sentence elements according to their relative importance.
    • using parallel expressions for parallel ideas.
    • avoiding fragments, comma splices, and fused sentences.
  • Employ effective sentence structure by . . .
    • using a variety of sentence patterns.
    • avoiding overuse of passive construction.
  • Observe the conventions of standard American English grammar and usage by . . .
    • using standard verb forms.
    • maintaining agreement between subject and verb, pronoun and antecedent.
    • using proper case forms.
    • maintaining a consistent point of view.
    • using adjectives and adverbs correctly.
    • avoiding inappropriate shifts in verb tenses.
    • making logical comparisons.
    • using standard practice for spelling, punctuation, and capitalization.
    • assuring clarity, consistency, and conformity to the conventions of standard American English.



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