Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you to refine skills, and demonstrate application of knowledge. You

Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you to refine skills, and demonstrate application of knowledge. You can work on a Touchstone anytime, but you can’t submit it for grading until you have completed the Unit’s Challenges. After you’ve submitted a Touchstone, it will be graded and counted toward your final course score.

Touchstone 2.1: Comparison/Contrast Essay

BEFORE YOU START

Consider revisiting the Writing Effective Comparison/Contrast Essays tutorial about brainstorming and organizing comparison/contrast writing. You might find it helpful to outline your topic choice using one of the two organization options for this Touchstone to kick-start writing this comparison/contrast essay.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a 3-4 page (approximately 700-1000 words) comparison/contrast essay in the informative mode. In addition, you must answer the “Think About Your Writing” questions, described below, beneath your essay.

Sample Comparison/Contrast Essay

In order to foster learning and growth, all work you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any plagiarized or recycled work will result in a Plagiarism Detected alert. Review Touchstones: Academic Integrity Guidelines for more about plagiarism and the Plagiarism Detected alert. For guidance on the use of generative AI technology, review Ethical Standards and Appropriate Use of AI.

CopyLeaks Originality Checker: All writing will be checked for originality. Do not use any outside text from third party sources to complete Touchstone 2.1. Focus on showcasing your ability to rely on common knowledge to compare two things.

A. Directions

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Begin by choosing a topic for your comparison/contrast essay. You are free to select your own topic, or you may use one of the sample topics listed below. However, you should choose a topic that you have some personal knowledge of so that you have sufficient points of comparison or contrast to discuss in your essay. Avoid choosing subjects that require extensive outside research that require citation (you will learn how to properly cite in a later unit). Consider subjects and points that fall under “common knowledge”: information that the average educated reader would accept without needing a source citation to back it up.

You will need to compare or contrast two or three primary points about the two subjects you choose to write about, resulting in an essay with either four or six body paragraphs, an introductory paragraph, and a conclusion. The writing for this assignment should be informative and objective, avoiding the first-person voice or any personal details that may inform bias or personal opinion.

The following are some ideas that can help you to select a topic for your essay:

    •    Compare or contrast two cities you’ve visited or that you’ve lived in

    •    Compare or contrast two sources of news

    •    Compare or contrast two singers in different music genres

    •    Compare or contrast two historical figures

    •    Compare or contrast two artists (e.g. two painters or two photographers)

    •    Compare or contrast two television series

    •    Compare or contrast two types of technologies (for example, two smartphone brands or two gaming consoles)

Remember that the two subjects you choose should have a meaningful connection so that you can draw comparisons or contrasts between the two.

HINT

Topic Choice Guidance: We encourage you to choose two subjects to compare that allow you to draw from your understanding and common knowledge about the topic. Your thesis should convey the main idea of the essay and clearly articulate what two topics you are comparing/contrasting. Because you are writing in the informative mode for this essay, you should use objective language. Remember that for this essay, you are not trying to persuade or convince the audience that one thing is better or worse than the other; you are instead informing the reader about the similarities or differences between the two subjects in an objective manner.

Keep in mind that no outside research is required for the writing of this essay. If you do conduct research and use what you learn to make comparisons, make sure to avoid plagiarism concerns by citing all sources. The following resources will be helpful to you if you need to cite any sources:

    1    Purdue Online Writing Lab’s APA Formatting and Style Guide

    1    This site includes a comprehensive overview of APA style, as well as individual pages with guidelines for specific citation types.

    2    Frequently Asked Questions About APA Style

    1    This page on the official APA website addresses common questions related to APA formatting. The “References,” “Punctuation,” and “Grammar and Writing Style” sections will be the most useful to your work in this course.

    3    APA Style: Quick Answers—References

    1    This page on the official APA Style website provides numerous examples of reference list formatting for various source types.

Step 2. Write a Comparison/Contrast Essay

Write a comparison/contrast essay that meets the following criteria:

    •    Properly applies elements of a comparison/contrast essay using personal or common knowledge of the subjects: Makes a clear and meaningful connection between two subjects related to one of the writing prompts; effectively organizes body paragraphs in one of the two prescribed ways and consistently uses transitional words or phrases to comparison/contrast ideas. Relies on personal or common knowledge.

    •    States the focused central claim of the essay with the clear purpose of comparing/contrasting two subjects: Has a clear, focused, and detailed thesis expressed in a single sentence that states the central claim of the essay; the thesis statement effectively communicates the two subjects that will be compared or contrasted and the two or three main points of comparison/contrast.

    •    Exhibits competent organization, flow, and writing techniques: Includes all of the required components of an essay, including an introduction with a strong thesis, an adequate number of body paragraphs (4-6), each with an effective topic sentence and a conclusion with an effective concluding statement; the sequence of sentences and paragraphs is logical.

    •    Establishes an informative tone and makes thoughtful choices: Demonstrates thoughtful and effective word choices and uses a wide variety of sentence structures; establishes a consistently objective and impersonal tone that is appropriate to an informative essay.

    •    Demonstrate command of standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and usage: There are few, if any, negligible errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, formatting, and usage.

Step 3. Think About Your Writing

Below your completed narrative, include answers to all of the following reflection questions:

    1    Did you use the point-by-point or block method to organize your body paragraphs? What made you decide to organize your essay in this way (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Consider the ways a comparison/contrast essay can be organized. Which organization did you choose and why?

    2    In what ways did writing a comparison/contrast essay differ from the Narrative essay you wrote in Touchstone 1? Give specific examples (3-4 sentences). Sophia says: Consider how the structure, point of view, and purpose of the two essays differ.

    3    Remember that the writing process is a recursive process, and your first draft of an essay is rarely your last. What part of the draft did you struggle with (3-4 sentences)? Sophia says: Think about how you could improve the draft if you continued the writing process with revision and editing.

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