I had a great question from a tutor this week about the “funnel paragraph” popular in high school.  I’m giving you my response and Catharine Wright’s response:

The “funnel intro” paragraph taught in high school is often very broad. First-years often start their intro paragraphs with sweeping observations about life, the cosmos, how great a particular author is. Most Midd profs want intro paragraphs  that jump into the meat of the topic.  There can be a somewhat modified funnel intro moving from the meat of the topic through some background down to the thesis, but the vast generalizations of the high school intro are frowned upon.

Catharine Wright added the following:

And another thing that I tell my students and tutees is that intro paragraphs are often increasingly disciplinary specific as the course levels go up, as in, the context in the intro targets a debate within a discipline or several disciplines and works from there. So, yes, the broad funnel model is more appropriate for high school, and the intro context in college papers is more focused.


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