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Identifying Key Terms

Some writing assignments—especially those involving analysis, synthesis, and/or argument—usually require you to use the key terms and concepts of a discipline. For example, an analysis of the significance of a memorable learning experience might include the use of an important educational concept, as in:

"Beyond the obvious lesson that students are expected to learn, what is the hidden curriculum of this learning situation?"

Or an actual writing assignment for a computer science course states:

"In your own words, what is the concept of downward compatibility and what is an example using specific operating systems and application software?"

As you analyze an assignment:

  • Circle or highlight the key terms that you are expected to use
  • Explain the term in your own words in order to further understand the concept
  • Consult your class notes and/or your textbook

For more on the use of specialized terms in academic writing, see "Connections: RLC 110-111 and Other Courses."