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How to Achieve Coherence at a Macro Level Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan Professor of English, Purdue Coherence Coherence describes a writer’s ability to connect ideas and provide information in a fluid and comprehensible way. Coherence is achieved through appropriate lexical and

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how to achieve coherence at a macro level

How to Achieve Coherence at a Macro Level

Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan Professor of English, Purdue

coherence
Coherence

Coherence describes a writer’s ability to

connect ideas and provide information in a

fluid and comprehensible way. Coherence

is achieved through appropriate lexical and

structural choices, but it’s also achieved

through a consideration of audience and

genre.

principle of coherence one
Principle of Coherence One

Know your audience

What might seem a completely coherent

paragraph for someone with content-

specific knowledge may be impossible to

read for a layman. Knowing what your reader

generally knows will help you make

appropriate lexical choices. Consider the

following paragraph…

what s happening here
What’s Happening Here?

On the same day, Zorcon invaded Limlam, making

rapid progress by using aggressive tactics. At the end

of the month, Norpalese troops were forced to evacuate

the continent, abandoning their heavy equipment. On

June 10th, Tak-tak invaded, declaring war on Limlam

and Norpal. Twelve days later, Limlam surrendered

and was soon divided between Zorcon and Tak-tak. In

early July, the Norpalese attacked Limlam’s fleet in

Zoot to prevent their seizure by Zorcon.

Which historical event does this paragraph describe?

The paragraph above has been modified from Wikipedia.com. The original can be accessed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_Two.

what s happening here5
What’s Happening Here?

On the same day, Germany invaded France, making

rapid progress by using aggressive tactics. At the end

of the month, British troops were forced to evacuate

the continent, abandoning their heavy equipment. On

June 10th, Italy invaded, declaring war on France

and Britain. Twelve days later, France surrendered

and was soon divided between Germany and Italy. In

early July, the British attacked Italy’s fleet in

Algeria to prevent their seizure by Germany.

The proliferation of World War Two!

The paragraph above has been modified from Wikipedia.com. The original can be accessed at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_Two.

coherent for a lay person
Coherent for a lay person?

The freeze and thaw durability test was conducted according to ASTM C

666 (procedure A) using two 75 x 100 x 400 mm (3 x 4 x 16 in.) specimens

cast from one concrete batch. The free shrinkage measurements were

conducted according to ASTM C 157 on three 75 x 75 x 275 mm (3 x 3 x 11

in.) specimens also prepared from one batch of concrete.The scaling tests were

performed according to the modified ASTM C 672 procedure using two slabs

(each with exposed area 72 in2) cast from the same batch. The modification of

the standard method involved evaluation of the extent of scaling based on the

amount of material lost (expressed in pounds per unit area) rather than using

the visual rating of the surface.All specimens were cured in lime-saturated

water at temperature of 23C up to date of testing. The only exception was the

scaling tests (for which specimens were water cured for 14 days and than

moved to curing room kept at 50% humidity and 23C where they were stored

for another 14 days).The results of both fresh and hardened properties

presented in this paper represent an average of at least two measurements.

translate to common language
Translate to common language:

The freeze and thaw durability test was

conducted according to ASTM C 666

(procedure A) using two 75 x 100 x 400 mm (3

x 4 x 16 in.) specimens cast from one concrete

batch. The free shrinkage measurements were

conducted according to ASTM C 157 on three

75 x 75 x 275 mm (3 x 3 x 11 in.) specimens

also prepared from one batch of concrete.

translate to common language8
Translate to common language:

The scaling tests were performed according to

the modified ASTM C 672 procedure using two

slabs (each with exposed area 72 in) cast from

the same batch. The modification of the

standard method involved evaluation of the

extent of scaling based on the amount of

material lost (expressed in pounds per unit area)

rather than using the visual rating of the surface.

translate to common language9
Translate to common language:

All specimens were cured in lime-saturated

water at temperature of 23C up to date of

testing. The only exception was the scaling tests

(for which specimens were water cured for 14

days and than moved to curing room kept at

50% humidity and 23C where they were stored

for another 14 days).

The results of both fresh and hardened properties presented in this paper represent an average of at least two measurements.

principle of coherence two
Principle of Coherence Two

Know your genre

Documents for different audiences and purposes follow the rules of different genres. Genres are predictable patterns for arranging information to reach particular audiences. Genres helps audience anticipate the information they’ll receive in a document.

two examples of genre
Two Examples of Genre

Analytical Report

Introduction

Methods

Results

Discussion

Conclusion

Procedure

Introduction

List of parts/tools

Safety Info

Ordered Steps

Conclusion

two examples of genre12
Two Examples of Genre

Opening

Analytical Report

Introduction

Methods

Results

Discussion

Conclusion

Procedure

Introduction

List of parts/tools

Safety Info

Ordered Steps

Conclusion

Body

Closing

introduction
Introduction

Notice that both the genres listed in

the last slide have an introduction.

Regardless of genre, introductions

usually follow a standard pattern of

organization. To write a good

introduction, follow these following

six steps.

first define your subject
First, define your subject

Most readers will expect to know what a

report is about right away. A sentence or

two that immediately defines the subject

helps the reader contextualize all the

proceeding information. Example:

Severe weather has become a genuine concern for the residents of Tippecanoe County in recent years.

second state your purpose
Second, state your purpose

Tell the reader what your goals for writing

the report are. Your should be able to tell

the audience what your document will do in

one sentence. Example:

This report offers some strategies for managing severe weather in Tippecanoe and neighboring counties.

third state your main point
Third, state your main point

Let your reader know the main idea that

you want them to take away from your

paper. Your main point should be your

overarching solution, decision, or

conclusion that you want your reader to

take away from your work. Example:

Specifically, it provides tips on how to keep friends and family members from making bad decisions during emergency weather situations.

fourth stress the importance
Fourth, stress the importance

Make your reader understand that the

information your going to give them has

some pertinence to their life. Give them an

answer to the “So what?” question.

Example:

Without this information, you or a loved one may make a mistake in severe weather that could cost someone’s life.

provide background information
Provide Background Information

Give your reader some more information to

contextualize your report. Typically, this

information should be already known or

non-controversial. Example:

Recently, twenty Tippecanoe residents have been injured or killed during severe weather.

finally forecast the content
Finally, forecast the content

Forecasting lets your reader know exactly

what you’ll be telling them in the rest of the

report. Example:

This report will recommend simple changes residents can make around the home to protect against future injury. Then, it will give specific steps residents can take when severe weather hits. Finally, it will identify resources available for further severe weather education.

introduction example
Introduction Example

Severe weather has become a genuine concern for the residents of

Tippecanoe County in recent years. This report offers some strategies

for managing severe weather in Tippecanoe and neighboring counties.

Specifically, it provides tips on how to keep friends and family members

from making bad decisions during emergency weather situations.

Without this information, you or a loved one may make a mistake

during severe weather that could cost someone’s life. Recently, twenty

Tippecanoe residents have been injured or killed during severe weather.

This report will recommend simple changes residents can make around

the home to protect against injury or death from severe weather. Then,

it will give specific steps residents can take when severe weather hits.

Finally, it will identify resources available for further severe weather

education.

two examples of genre21
Two Examples of Genre

Opening

Analytical Report

Introduction

Methods

Results

Discussion

Conclusion

Procedure

Introduction

List of parts/tools

Safety Info

Ordered Steps

Conclusion

Body

Closing

the body
The Body

The body of a document can be organized a number

of different ways. Generally, the purpose of a

document will determine how the body information

should be organized. Organizational strategies

include:

Cause/Effect

Comparison/Contrast

Better/Worse

Cost/Benefit

If…then

Either…or

Chronological order

Problem/Need/Solution

Which form of body organization is most common in your profession?

the conclusion
The Conclusion

A good conclusion summarizes the

important information from the document,

emphasizing essential features, findings, or

recommendations. Many readers will skip

to the end of a document, so it’s important

that the conclusion is easily identifiable,

concise, and clear. There are four steps to

writing a good conclusion.

first make a transition
First, make a transition

Transitional words and phrases let the

reader know where they are in a

document. For a conclusion, use a

transitional phrase like: In conclusion,

To sum up, In closing, In summary,

Finally, Overall, As a whole, In the end,

On the whole, In brief, Put briefly,or

Ultimately.

secondly restate the main point
Secondly, restate the main point

What main idea did you build up in your

report?What claims did you make that

were essential for a reader to pick up?

Leading with your transitional phrase,

restate this main idea for your reader in

one sentence. Example:

In summary, if Tippecanoe residents want to stay safe during severe weather, they need to prepare beforehand and be aware of their surroundings.

thirdly re stress importance
Thirdly, re-stress importance

Try to emphasize the importance of what

you have told the audience in a positive

way. Remind them why they have spent

time reading the report.

We can easily reduce the number of casualties from severe weather by preparing our homes and property. Moreover, by disseminating information on how to handle severe weather situations, we can save our loved ones from harm.

fourth look to the future
Fourth, look to the future

Indicate to your reader that the future holds

promise or that things will improve if your

recommendations are acted on. Or, tell

your reader that further research needs to

take place in a particular part of your field.

If we all take these steps, Tippecanoe residents will reduce weather-related casualties. Increased severe weather will not have a detrimental impact on our lives.

conclusion
Conclusion

In summary, if Tippecanoe residents want to stay

safe during severe weather, they need to prepare

beforehand and be aware of their surroundings.

We can easily reduce the number of casualties

from severe weather by preparing our homes and

property. Moreover, by disseminating information

on how to handle severe weather situations, we

can save our loved ones from harm. If we all take

these steps, Tippecanoe residents will reduce

weather-related casualties. Increased severe

weather will have a minimal impact on our lives.

slide29

Adapted from Technical Communication Today by Richard Johnson-SheehanAdaptation by Joshua Prenosil and Richard Johnson-Sheehan

slide30

For More Information

  • Contact the Purdue Writing Lab:
    • Drop In: Heavilon 226
    • Call: 765-494-3723
    • Email: owl@owl.english.purdue.edu
    • On the web: http://owl.english.purdue.edu