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tfukuda3Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, Should university students be required to attend classes?

2012年3月26日

Writing Topic
Some educators and students believe that it should be required for university students to go to classes. Other people think that attending classes should be a choice that students have the right to make for themselves. Which opinion do you share? Explain your opinion using specific reasons.

☆ “Should…?” question with hints
The second view given in the writing topic makes it a point that university students have the right to decide whether they attend classes or not. The thing to remember is that we are talking about a rule at university. Unlike compulsory education, many things are left to each individual’s decision at university, for example, what subjects to study. Also, unlike high school, which is not really compulsory but many things are decided by the school authority, university allows more freedom and promote self-discipline of students. Who has the authority on class attendance at university, the school, the professor, or the student?

The word “should” is also used to promote or prevent some results. We say, “You should study harder,” to raise someone’s test scores or “You shouldn’t eat so much junk food,” trying to stop someone’s weight-gain. For what purposes should university students attend classes? Is attending a class indispensable and essential for acquisition of knowledge and skills?

☆ Hints for points
♦Students should be required to attend classes because …
1. Students cannot decide whether they already know what is taught in class or not. Even if the content of the text is familiar, the professor would say something different and provide you with new information and insight.
2. If there is a course in which class attendance is meaningless, there should not be lesson schedules for the course first of all. As long as lessons exist, students are supposed to attend them.
3. attendance is the first step of the communication between professors and students. People tend to be fond of those whose faces they regularly see.

♦Students should not be required to attend classes because …
1. going to university is not mandatory but a privilege.
2. it is the professor who should decide when they should attend classes. Whether full attendance is necessary or not depends on the subject or the professor’s teaching style or plans.
3. it is waste of time if the content of the class is already familiar. Class contents are set for the average level and those who have higher knowledge but are taking the course because it is the prerequisite for the higher level course will learn little from the class.
4. study works in many ways. Very often, regular attendance, or activities on schedule, is an obstacle of deep thought or creative brain activities. Many people do their real study in their free time and doodle in class.
5. people tend to lose appetite for things they are forced to eat.

☆Paragraph development
A paragraph of the body of an essay often develops its main idea as follows:
Sample paragraph development
【Main Idea】 Class attendance requirement would hamper academic pursuit.
【Explanation】 Some students would have their learning style disrupted by the rigid rule that does not take secret of creativity into consideration.
【Detail / Example】 Many geniuses had irregular lifestyles.
【More Specific Detail / Example】 Bill Gates, for example, never minded getting up the next morning when his friends visited him in his dorm room and stayed there all night for discussion. Descartes, a great thinker and mathematician, needed to sleep 10 hours a day. Within a year after he started giving early-hour lessons, he died.
【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】Some might ask why those who could attend high school classes suddenly cannot do the same at college. The truth is that if high school did not require students to attend classes, students would do better jobs. It is well known that many high school students study at night and sleep in class.
【Conclusion】Each student has his or her own learning style and university should respect it to make the most of the ability of its students.

Note 1) A counterargument is an expected rebuttal. While writing an essay, sometimes you ask yourself, “Well, but what about this case? My point is vulnerable to this case.” Then this “case” is the counterargument. Hitting a counterargument is a chance to grade up your essay because you have found an untied end of a rope (your logic). If you can tie it well, you can confirm your point, making your essay more persuasive. Thus, taking up a counterargument when necessary is important to get a higher score. You can deal with a counterargument in an appropriate part of a paragraph or use a whole paragraph to deal with it.

Note 2) Start with a short and simple sentence and elaborate on the idea in the next one: a simple main idea (topic sentence) and a longer explanation, and a simple example and a more specific example or two. Of course starting with the main idea with expressions for transition like “Another good thing about having a TV set in your room is that” or “Last but not the least” is a good idea and these expressions can sometimes be long and complicated, but the core of the main idea should be short and simple so that you can make the point clearly. Very often, we lose our point by being particular about details at the beginning of the paragraph, so, if you are not the type that can produce a perfect work just by typing what comes up to your mind, I would recommend making it simple first and focus on the details later. A main idea (topic sentence) is the pillar of the paragraph to which you attach other parts (details). Making it straight and firm would be safe in an academic test writing.

Now let’s practice paragraph development.
Choose one of the reasons you have come up with, make it the main idea, and develop it using the following form. As this is a sketch of a part of your real essay, use simple words and sentences for supporting details and focus on the logic and ideas.

Your sample paragraph development

【Main Idea】

【Explanation】

【Detail / Example】

【More Specific Detail / Example】

【Counterargument & Counter-counterargument】

【Conclusion】

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