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The following is an essay (used as a sample Compare/Contrast for the ENG 101 class) "Learning or Not: Active and Passive Classes"

Outline the essay.

Everyone who has gone to school knows that some classes are better,more interesting, livelier than others. We have all sat through classes where we learned little, accept the facts and to be quiet. We also have been part of classes where we actively learned by being challenged by teachers and the subject to learn for ourselves. Although classes often seem outwardly alike in having a teacher, in having some students and in producing some results, the differences between passive and active classes are enormous.

The passive kind of class usually has a teacher who lectures, puts outlines and terms on the chalkboard, and dispenses information to the students. Like my sophomore biology teacher Mrs. Noguida, who rarely looked up from the orange notebook in which she had carefully typed all her lectures, a teacher in a passive classroom simply dictates information and answers. They tell the students how to think and what to think. They pour facts into the students like water into a sieve. The students are forced, usually by the teacher's authority, to sit, listen, take notes, and regurgitate only what the teacher has said. The only kinds of questions are about form: "What is the work in subpoint 3, a, (1)?" Or "How do you spell photosynthesis?" The results in such a class are measured by multiple-choice or true-false questions, or questions that require memorized answers: "What is Newton's First Law?" "What are the three causes or the American Civil War?" The results in such classes are also measured by the quickness with which students forget the facts they had poured into them.

The other kind of class, the active kind, usually has a teacher who stimulates students to learn for themselves by asking questions, by posing problems, and most of all by being a student, too. Such a teacher might plan the outline of a course, but doesn't force the class in only one direction. Instead, like Ms. Cerrillo, my junior history teacher, a teacher in an active class uses the discussion to lead to learning. Instead of lecturing on the causes of the Civil War, Ms. Cerrillo gave us a list of books and articles and said, "Find out what caused the Civil War." We had to search for ourselves, find some answers, then discuss what we found in class. From the discussions, we all learned more than just the facts; we learned the facts but we also learned how complex the causes were. Students in active classes like that become more involved in their learning; they ask questions about why and how. The results in the active class are usually measured by essay answers, individual projects, and a change in attitude on the students' part. Learning becomes fun; although students may forget the facts just as quickly, their attitudes toward learning and their excitement in developing answers for themselves don't end with the last class.

We all remember having to learn that "4 X 9 = 36" and having to memorize dates like 1914-1918, 1776, and 1492. And those kinds of classes are important for laying some groundwork, but not much true learning takes place there. There is a difference between knowing a fact and understanding it. Despite their outward similarities, the passive kind of class is clearly inferior to the active one for helping students understand the world around them.


Remember an outline is not just choosing a new number for each new sentence. In a sentence outline, there may be more than one sentence per section. Each new section needs to be related to the section above and below it with the section number or letter showing that relationship.

There are two ways to begin your outline. Either begin with the thesis statement, then develop the points of the body next, or start with the sections of the paper (I. Intro II. Body, etc.) and then develop each section.

Also remember that you should not have a division unless there is more than one element in that section (in other words, you should not have an "A"
if you don't have a "B.")

Click on the flamingo to see the outline of the essay; click on the other picture to go back to the syllabus.

Link to Key

Link to Syllabus