Motivating coherence
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Motivating coherence. Presented by Katherine McGee. Today I will talk about motivating coherence. Boring, right?. So, how do we fix it?. Shared Context Problem Solution. Shared context. Provides background Qualifies or rejects a “truth” “Literature review”. problem. “But,” “However”

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Motivating coherence

Motivating coherence

Presented by Katherine McGee

So how do we fix it
So, how do we fix it?

  • Shared Context

  • Problem

  • Solution

Shared context
Shared context

  • Provides background

  • Qualifies or rejects a “truth”

  • “Literature review”


  • “But,” “However”

  • Two parts

    • Condition, situation, or recurring event

    • Consequence/Cost

  • Two kinds

    • Practical – a problem that makes people unhappy

    • Conceptual – something we don’t know or understand

Conceptual problems
Conceptual problems

  • “Cost” = “something more important that we do not understand but want to, because we do not understand the first thing” (Williams 90).

  • Solve with information

  • Explain what your readers don’t know and what they should want to know

  • Tell your readers why they should care


  • Offer a solution

    • For practical problems, encourage the reader to take action

    • For conceptual problems, tell the readers what you want them to understand or believe

The hook
The “hook”

  • A quotation

  • A Startling Fact

  • An Anecdote

Diagnose and revise
Diagnose and revise

  • Is the problem practical or conceptual?

  • Where does your introduction end?

  • Can you identify the shared context, problem, and solution/claim?

  • How did you transition from shared context to problem?

  • Can you identify the condition and cost?

  • Have you answered the question, “So what?”

  • Can you identify your claim?


  • Restate your main point

  • Re-answer “So what?”—ideally in a new way

  • Suggest that, even if solved, there will still be problems

  • Tie back in to your “hook”

Thus . . .

In academic writing, we often struggle with how to introduce our topics. However, there is a solution. In Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, Joseph M. Williams offers us a way to begin papers by “motivating coherence.” Through establishing a shared context with our audience, setting up a problem, and then offering a solution, we can get our readers more involved with our topics by helping them to care about our content.