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Undergraduate Writing: Purpose

Introduction

All pieces of academic writing should have a purpose statement, sometimes also called a thesis or an argument. This statement should not be a rewording of the assignment instructions; instead, it should be your own argument or perspective on the assignment topic.

Work through the exercise below to improve your understanding of purpose in academic writing.

Exercise

Read the bullying paragraph again now that it includes evidence. Is there a sentence that gives the author's purpose for writing? What exactly does the author want to achieve? Circle or highlight the sentence.

If you do not think there is a purpose statement, write one.

Bullying paragraph with evidence:

One out of every five students is bulled in U.S. high schools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Effects of bullying include depression and anxiety, school absences and dropouts, and underachievement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Teenagers should feel safe so that they can learn, graduate, and attend college. Because bullies are constantly targeting others, many students will not get that chance. Educators and administrators need to put peer mediation and a "no tolerance" policy in place in all schools.

Once you have identified that purpose, jot down a few more ideas that should be added to the paper to support that purpose or argument.

Exercise Discussion

The ending sentence of the paragraph should be highlighted as the purpose:

One out of every five students is bulled in U.S. high schools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Effects of bullying include depression and anxiety, school absences and dropouts, and underachievement (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Teenagers should feel safe so that they can learn, graduate, and attend college. Because bullies are constantly targeting others, many students will not get that chance. Educators and administrators need to put peer mediation and a "no tolerance" policy in place in all schools.

Here are some additional ideas that should be included in paragraphs later on in the paper:

  • Definition and examples of peer mediation
  • Evidence that peer mediation works for bullying
  • Explanation of a "no tolerance" policy
  • Evidence that a "no tolerance" policy works

This information will help explain why peer mediation and a "no tolerance" policy are logical solutions to bullying.