Beginning, Middle And End Model: Changes In Topic
The Relationship Model
The Rhetorical Model
The Role Model
The Task Model
Descriptive Formats: Ways to Describe a Discussion
Beginning, Middle And End Model: Changes In TopicThe simplest way to describe a text is in terms of a beginning, middle, and an
end. In writing class, teachers often speak of texts having an introduction,
body, and conclusion.
The parts of a text do not have to be of the same length, and may not
necessarily coincide with paragraph divisions. You can determine a beginning,
middle and end only after having read the complete text. Many shifts that you
note in your initial reading will seem minor once you get further into the
text. What you take as the main idea in the early paragraphs you may come to
see later as merely the catalyst for the discussion, or as a viewpoint refuted
later in the discussion. Section headings may guide you, but critical readers
verify that such headings adequately describe the text.
How should you distinguish between parts in deciding on a beginning, middle and
end? The most obvious shifts are changes in topic. The discussion might shift
in terms of discussing
Note that parts need not be equal in length. One part may include a single
sentence, another part five paragraphs. The point is not to divide the whole
equally, but to divide it into units that recognize major features of the
presentation as a whole.
- parts of a whole, one after another
- steps in a sequence, such as large to small, major to minor
- different time periods (chronological order)
- steps in a logical argument
- alternative conditions or circumstances
- shifts in viewpoint or perspective
Finally, note that this model can be expanded to lower levels of analysis:
The act of isolating a beginning, middle, and end of a discussion, by itself,
doesn't tell us very much. But the effort can help you see the content more
clearly. The activity of trying to divide the text into major parts may be
the first step in seeing the content in detail.
- beginning of discussion
- middle: main argument
- beginning of main argument
- middle of main argument
- end of main argument
- end of discussion
The Relationship ModelStatements, and hence ideas, are usually
related to each other in one of the following ways:
These relationships are usually signaled by an appropriate term, such as one of
- sequence or series
a listing of similar items, often in a distinct order, whether in terms of
location, size, importance, etc.
- time order/chronology : a series of events in order of occurrence
- general/specific relationship: examples and generalizations
- logical relationships
conditional relationship between factors
These relationship concepts and terms can be used to discuss connections
between paragraphs or larger sections of a text, as well as the relationship of
patterns of content or language throughout a text. A particular fact may serve
as a reason for a certain conclusion, a cause for a given effect, or an example
for a generalization. An assertion isn't a reason, after all, until it is used
as the basis for reaching a conclusion. An assertion doesn't necessarily
specify a cause until you assert an effect resulting from it. And any single
sentence can be, at once, both a conclusion for the preceding discussion and an
assumption for the following one.
- sequence or series:
next, also, finally, lastly, then, secondly, furthermore, moreover
- time order/chronology :
before, after, then, since, soon, until, when, finally
- general/specific relationship:
examples, such as, overall, for instance, in particular
similarly, like, in the same way, likewise
- differences (contrast):
however, unlike, otherwise, whereas, although, however, nevertheless, still, yet
- indicating reason/conclusion, cause/effect, and/or a conditional relationship
hence, because, if, therefore, so, since, as a consequence, in conclusion
The Rhetorical ModelAn alternative model looks at the rhetorical nature of remarks. This model
uses categories such as the following:
In very general terms, we argue and evaluate positions, define and explain
concepts, describe objects, and narrate events. Aspects of any or all may
appear anywhere in a discussion.
- definition : indicating what a term means
- explanation : discussing what an idea means
- description : indicating qualities, ingredients, or appearance
- narration : recounting events
- elaboration : offering details
- argumentation : reasoning, or otherwise defending an idea
- evaluation : judging or rating
Recall the observation that relatively specific remarks
tend to support other remarks by offering description, reasons, or examples.
This model describes that process.
The Role ModelA text can also be examined according to the roles different portions play
within the discussion. Roles might include:
Remarks carrying out these roles can be found throughout a discussion, at all
levels of analysis.
- Raise an initial idea, topic, or question
- Shape the scope or direction of the discussion
- Discuss and/or explain an idea
- Conclude the idea or otherwise draw elements together
- Add material for emphasis, clarification, or purposes of persuasion,
The Task ModelThe final model presented here reflects tasks that different elements fulfill
within a discussion.
What has to be shown to reach a particular conclusion? What evidence is
required? What authorities would be applicable? What assumptions must be
made? Whether we are trying to shape our own thoughts or evaluate the
effectiveness of a presentation, we can attempt to determine the ingredients
necessary to make a certain point.
To show a lie, for instance, we have to indicate a statement that contradicts
the speaker's beliefs, and that the speaker intended to deceive. Without these
specific elements, we might simply have someone misspeaking, more a case of
ignorance than deceit.
We might think of this model somewhat in the way we think of recipes. Recipes
indicate not only the ingredients, but also how they are mixed, not only what
to include, but also what to do. Recipes indicate steps to be accomplished and
the ingredients with which each step is executed.