Interpret the Topic (Workout B)


This general sample topic offers few clues to help you know what to write about. What type of education? What kind of video games? And what kind of relationship is there between them?

The topic contains very little information about the scope and goal of the proposed essay. Scope refers to the context of the essay – what kind of information will be included? Goal refers to the work the essay will do – what will we learn from reading your essay?

You need more information to help you understand what your essay should do. You need a more clearly defined essay topic or research question. Sometimes it’s your job to develop this essay topic. Sometimes, your instructor gives it to you!

Revised Topic

Often, when you are given an essay topic, your instructor is very clear about the expectations for that project. Part of your challenge is to be able to interpret what the instructor is asking you to do!

Let’s practice this.

Interpreting the Topic Question (Practice)

Read over the revised essay topic in the box.

Find what you think are some key words that help you understand your task. The task is what you need to do.


Let’s try another topic!

Read over the essay topic in the below.

Find what you think are some key words that help you understand the task. The task is what you need to do. Click on what you think are the key words.

Interpreting the Topic Question (Sample Answers)

Review how video games are used in primary school classrooms.

Review – To review means to look in depth into the topic. In this case, you are asked to provide information about how video games are currently being used in classrooms.

Video games – What kinds of games are included? You must decide how to define what counts as a video game in this context.

Used – This is the clue that determines the core categories of information that will make up the essay. What two or three or even six different ways are video games being used in classrooms? Your work in this review essay is to distinguish categories of use. Now you know what you must find out to write the paper!

Discuss why video games are a useful tool in the primary school classroom.

 Discuss – Discuss means to engage in a debate where you use reason and evidence to make an argument.

 Video Games – What types of video games will be included in your argument? For example, will your argument only apply to educational games?

 Useful Tool – This phrase is the core assumption of the argument. You must choose whether to agree with this assumption, that they are useful, and argue why, or disagree, and argue why they are not useful. You can, of course, take a position somewhere in the middle and discuss why they are useful under certain circumstances. Also, you must define this phrase – How do we know when a video game is ‘useful’? Useful for what?

Download Sample Answers