In body paragraphs, general statements should be followed with specific examples that will help to convince the reader that the argument has merit. These specific examples do not bring new ideas to the paragraph; rather, they explain or defend the general ideas that have already been stated. A poorly written essay will be full of general claims supported by little to no evidence or specific examples. Conversely, successful essays will use multiple specific examples to back up general claims.
The following are some examples of general statements, followed by examples of specific statements that provide more detailed support of an idea.
General: Students may get distracted online or access harmful websites.
Specific: Some students spend too much time using chat features or social media, or they get caught up in online games. Others spend time reading websites that have nothing to do with an assignment.
Specific: Teens often think they are hidden behind their computer screens. However, providing personal information online can lead to danger in the real world.
General: Schools can teach students how to use technology appropriately and expose them to new tools.
Specific: Schools can help students learn how to use technology to work on class projects, communicate with classmates and teachers, and carry out research for classwork.
Specific: Providing students with laptops or tablets will allow them to get lots of practice using technology and programs at home, and only school districts can ensure that these tools are distributed widely, especially to students who may not have access to them otherwise.
Providing evidence from outside sources is an excellent way to provide support for the claims in an essay. Some essay prompts will include texts that may be cited in the essay, or writers may want to cite sources from memory. In either case, this supporting evidence should be incorporated smoothly into the essay. Context should be provided for the quote, and the quote should always be followed by a discussion of its importance or relevance to the essay.
When using outside sources, it is vital to credit the author or source within the text. Usually a full citation isn’t needed—it can simply be sufficient to note the author’s name in the text. And, as always, the writer must make sure to place direct quotations in quotation marks.
In the example below, a first-person paragraph incorporates two sources: a scientific study and a personal anecdote from the author.
In addition to helping students work better with each other, technology can also help students communicate more effectively with teachers. A recent study from the University of Montana showed that over 75 percent of students have at some point been too intimidated to speak up in class, even if they thought they had something valuable to contribute (Higgins, 2015). But what if technology could provide a way to make speaking up easier? Private online messaging, comment boards for questions, and online tutorials are all made possible by introducing technology to the classroom. A well-trained teacher will be able to use these resources to encourage more effective classroom communication. In my personal experience, I have seen numerous students respond effectively when given the chance to communicate in the privacy of an online interaction.