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 Critical Thinking
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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Writing Projects
Chapter 4: Analyzing a Decision to Be Made

Write an essay in which you analyze a decision you must make now or in the near future. Be sure to select a decision for which you already have considerable information or want to obtain more. Include all five steps of the decision-making method.


Purpose: This assignment provides what might be the useful opportunity to consider, in depth, a decision you really do need to make in your life.

Audience: You are an important part of the audience for this writing assignment, since you may in fact be making a real-life decision based on the ideas you generate here. Be sure to make your experience with making this decision seem important and understandable to other readers as well.

Subject: If there is a significant decision you will need to make soon in your life, there's no reason to avoid choosing it for your subject. The research and thinking you do for the assignment will obviously have immediate personal benefit. When you look back on the decision you made, you will be able to say that it was not rash or spur of the moment—you honestly tried to make the best decision possible.

Writer: You are the expert on your own decision-making. Do your best to apply the general decision-making process to the particulars of your situation.

Generating Ideas: If you are comfortable doing so, choose a decision that is fairly important to you. But also choose a decision that you will have to make soon, in order that you can apply your work for this assignment to the real-world situation right away.

List here some decisions that might be good to write about in this paper.

Defining a Focus: Be clear about exactly what the decision to be made is. You may even list the possible options as part of your thesis statement. Or you may come right out and announce which of the options you've chosen, if you have already made the choice.

List here the possible options you can choose among when you make your decision.

Organizing Ideas: Consider integrating the steps of the decision-making process and your essay's organization so that each structure compliments the other.

Drafting: Consider drafting in sections: each paragraph could be developed around one possible decision option. Whether or not you have already made the decision at hand will also affect how you draft your essay.

Revising: If you have the chance to get peer feedback, pay particular attention to whether or not you are providing sufficient background for your reader so that the importance of the decision, i.e. what is really at stake for you, is clear.

Revising Strategy: Save successive drafts on your computer under different file names. BUT BE CAREFUL that you are always working on the MOST RECENT version. By the end of the assignment, you will be able to look back and see how each version developed from the last, and also perhaps how different your final version is from your first draft.

Editing and Proofreading: Proofreading: Always proofread as the final step in the writing process. When you proofread, you are not exactly revising. Proofreading means looking for word, sentence and paragraph level errors in grammar and punctuation. Poor proofreading can have an very badly affect on your final wokr. Here's a link to some commonly used proofreading symbols.

Once you've completed your work, think about whether other readers might be interested in reading about your particular decision. If it is a decision that others might also be facing (like what major to choose for school), you might be able to publish your work in the school newspaper or in another appropriate venue.

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