Effective essay introductions

Teaching History article

By Paula Worth, published 7th October 2016

'My initial concern is getting a hearing'

Struck by the dullness of some of her students’ essay introductions, Paula Worth reflected on the fact that she had never focused specifically on introductions. After surveying existing work by history teachers on essay structure in general and introductions in particular, she turns to the work of historians. Drawing on scholarly writing by Sheffield, Parker, Beard, Reynolds and Clark, she set to work planning some interventions. These included a taxonomy of introduction components, derived from the richly diverse, winningly effective and often quirky styles of academic historians. Worth’s taxonomy is designed to ensure that pupils  have rules and structures, but also models and principles that will be fertile in encouraging communicative flair and mature historical communication rather than dull formulae...

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