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Writing for Success

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Description: Scott McLean’s Writing for Success is a text that provides instruction in steps, builds writing, reading, and critical thinking, and combines comprehensive grammar review with an introduction to paragraph writing and composition. Beginning with the sentence and its essential elements, this book addresses each concept with clear, concise and effective examples that are immediately reinforced with exercises and opportunities to demonstrate, and reinforce, learning. Scott McLean is the Shadle-EdgeCombe Endowed Faculty Chair at Arizona Western College. He serves as the Professor of Communication, including Journalism and English, for a combined campus partnership with the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University-Yuma. Scott is the author of “The Basics of Speech Communication” and “The Basics of Interpersonal Communication,” both currently published by Allyn & Bacon

Author: Scott McLean

Original source: www.merlot.org

Adoption (faculty): Contact us if you are using this textbook in your course

Adaptations: Support for adapting an open textbook

Open Textbook(s):

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Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Writing for Success.pdf (15 MB)
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Attribution 3.0 License. Copyright Yusuke Kamiyamane. Writing for Success.doc (46 MB)

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Writing for Success by Scott McLean is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Reviews for 'Writing for Success'

Number of reviews: 4
Average Rating: 4.23 out of 5

1. Reviewed by: Gabriele Spaulding
  • Institution: Selkirk College
  • Title/Position: Instructor- ABE
  • Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text is comprehensive, but can only access the table of contents by linking to the textbook site. This would affect the usability if the student elects to print the book since many of the exercises refer back to previous sections that are accessible as links but give no page numbers and the printed view has no table of contents or index. Would also like to see an answer key for the grammar exercises. Also, the document view lets the student see the errors in the grammar exercises.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Yes, the content is accurate. I am wondering about the order of importance segment since there is a school of thinking that says the best positions for important information are the first and last paragraphs since people tend to remember what they read first and last.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Yes, content seems current.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Yes- the level of prose is accessible even for secondary students.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Yes- I find the text material would be easy to reorganize to suit individual instructor needs.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

I like the flow of the text.

Organization Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

There is quite a difference in the formatting depending on whether reading it as a PDF or document. This affects things like figure labels, which are often on a different page than the figures, and tables which often have rows split between pages. This is actually a problem in both the PDF and document views. My chief complaint about this text is the formatting-the spacing is not conducive to clear understanding. There is only a single space between text and exercise headings so the last line before the exercise heading tends to be difficult to read. Putting the example essays in textboxes that look like a piece of paper is a nice effect, but it often creates large white spaces and is sometimes hard to read because of the font. I also don't like the unindented bullets

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Not true There are many places where there are no spaces between words, missing words,etc. Will attach the document with final markup if it's possible.

Grammar Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

Seems to be inclusive.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

--I find many of the examples and exercises don't have much relevance for a Canadian student since they are often about politics, social issues, and events that are important and current in the U.S., but which many Canadian students would be unfamiliar with.

2. Reviewed by: Jennifer Walinga
  • Institution: Royal Roads University
  • Title/Position: Associate Professor and Director of School
  • Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text is comprehensive in that it addresses all major elements of
writing and the writing process. In particular, there is an extensive section
on grammar and sentence/paragraph construction.

The section describing and exploring types of essays is likely the most useful and includes process, comparison/contrast, persuasive, research, etc. Section 11.4 on finding and using types of sources in research is particularly useful and clear.

The text appears to take two different foci, however, which are incongruous:
the first section is quite elementary whereas the second section is quite academic.
I would prefer the second for use in my undergraduate classroom and would
therefore recommend that the first section on written construction and types of
writing to be situated within more of an academic and professional context. i.e.
the grammatical constructions could be illustrated as part of the academic writing
process and structure. Rather than topics such as 'vegetables', perhaps use business, sociological, or literary topics. Use written samples that are from a research paper rather than what appears to be more of a highschool composition.

The author enhances each section with 'takeaways', 'writing at work', 'tips' and
exercises. A variety of examples are provided to illustrate each component discussed.

The table of contents is not available in the pdf version, though it is
referred to in the first chapter more generally. Being able to link to chapters
as they are referenced within the text would be a useful feature.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

Excellent, I found no errors.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Updates will be necessary i.e. databases, examples and are interwoven within a
section. However, I believe the main updates will occur in the one section on research papers.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is fluid and logical. It is quite accessible, though I recommend that
the author elevate the level of prose and examples in early sections to better align
with the more challenging and academically situated later sections.

Terminology is well explained and highlighted throughout the text. Again, a table of contents
that is accessible throughout the text, clear headings, highlighted and linked
concepts/terms throughout would be particularly useful for an online text making
concepts even more accessible to the student.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

It may make more sense for the student to learn about parallelism within the context of essay
writing as opposed to beforehand, for instance. The first sections appear too
much like a secondary school grammar text and I believe that the author loses out
on the innovative style and approach he brings to the text overall by following suit.
I recommend that he adopt the style he uses in the later sections earlier. Perhaps
beginning with essay writing and then linking or embedding various structural and grammatical
elements into these broader topics would make the content more relevant and
accessible to the learners. Examples would interweave more integratively as well.
The text would illustrate more completely the when and where of each structural and grammatical
element if these were integrated into the larger purpose for writing. Perhaps
the whole text could be framed by the various types of writing, which is truly the
main concern of a typical student. From there, grammar and construction can be
illustrated and taught. i.e. rhetoric within the persuasive essay structure, parallelism when discussing supporting sentences, emphasis and style when discussing the construction of a thesis statement...

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text is well organized and separated into 'chunks'. I would like to see the
sections made more meangingful at times. i.e. Tips - I imagine a student combing
through this text for the 'tips' sections as a way to track their key learnings. I think the 'tips' could be made more useful, like cheat sheets of formulas, frameworks, eg's.

When I imagine my own students using this text, I would imagine the paragraph structure
outline being something that they would want to refer back to often. It would be
useful to create a more visually memorable framework for them that incorporates
a memnonic device i.e. Highlight the first letter of each part or create more creative
and varied visual charts rather than only the heirarchical charts used for the most part throughout
the text.

Writing at work could be leveraged more meaningfully as well - provide an actual example of where this topic or concept might be relevant at work.

The exercises could also be more interactive - most are individual. If I were to
use this text in a class, I would partner, trio, or team up the students. It would be useful to hhave exercises to which I could point the group or duo. The exercises tend to be fairly static. More of an applied approach would be welcome.

The sample paper p. 480 is quite useful to students. This is sn approach you may wish to use throughout the text. Perhaps you could appendicize several more papers?

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

See earlier comments on integration of topics. The section on research is an excellen tmodel of how an overarching concept can provide fertile ground for teaching related concepts
in a more integrated manner.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

If anything, I think the text would benefit from more images and charts or more
creative visuals to illustrate the various styles and purposes of writing.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text is grammatically strong.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text appears to reflect a diverse perspective on topics and issues. Examples are
also representative of a wide range of ethnicities and worldviews. I was not struck
by any form of insensitivity.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

The final section on research is comprehensive and detailed. I value the way that
the author has structured this section and would recommend that the whole text be
modelled after it. The author teases out issues and concepts from within the larger
framework (sourcing, structuring, editing, organizing, preparing etc...) I believe that
the other writing structures i.e. persuasion could be leveraged in the same way.

Teaching adjectives may not be necessary at all for instance i.e. Frederick ________ choked on the piece of chicken when he saw Margaret walk through the door. Why not instead focus on the
issues that we most see in our students' writing and that are most relevant to
the work they will be required to do. Comma usage, emphasis, logic, rhetorical
strategies, spelling, more complex punctuation, the use of prepositional phrases....
and teach them these concepts/structures within a context that is relevant to their
studies.

Another section that may be relevant is the 'translation' of technical language into more
popular or layman terms or making their own writing accessible to the public.

Your section on critical thinking and evaluating is quite relevant and innovative. More on this would be welcome with creative exercises that challenge the student to reflect and question their perceptions and the content to which they are exposed.

All in all, this text is clear, well written, well structured and conceived. I encourage the author to stretch their creativity and challenge assumptions about how to structure a text on writing. I also challenge the author to reflect on the actual needs of the undergraduate student - what are the patterns of error that you see in their writing? what comments do you make continually? Rather than a section on 'adjectives', what about 'subject - verb agreement'? Grammar will make more sense if embedded in a relevant context.


3. Reviewed by: Ceilidh Hart
  • Institution: University of the Fraser Valley
  • Title/Position: Assistant Professor
  • Overall Rating: 3.9 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

The text is very comprehensive. I wonder if some sections actually try to do too much? For example, I’m not sure the substantial early sections on learning styles and note-taking in class are necessary for a writing textbook. Because of the volume of material provided, isolating key points can be difficult.

The chapters related to grammar can seem a bit unwieldy. Again, I wonder if there’s just too much here? It might be more effective to isolate some of the key technical problems native-English speaking students run into and focus on those.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to methodologies for online research.

I felt the sections on MLA and APA could be much-condensed.

I would have liked to see some attention paid to the importance of using inclusive language.

I liked that Chapter One includes strategies for reading.

I liked the inclusion of strategies for delivering oral presentations.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

In chapter 11, the author suggests that research articles are primary sources; in fact, they are secondary sources. Otherwise, the content is generally accurate.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

Content is relatively up-to-date, although I think there could be more attention paid to online research given the increasing opportunities (and expectations)for this kind of work, and its accompanying challenges.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The text is clearly written. Terminology is explained well.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The text is generally consistent.

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

The text is designed in such a way that individual instructors will be able to use the various sections according to their own course designs.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The text is generally organized, although it seems a bit strange that we don’t get to the actual “Writing Process” until chapter 8. Again, substantial chapters on grammar and mechanics seem to be privileged over the craft of composition itself.

There was no Table of Contents in the version I downloaded?

I would have found it helpful if, at the beginning of each chapter, there was a brief Table of Contents for the chapter itself.

Organization Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

I came across significant formatting issues and errors: inconsistent alignment in tables, page breaks separating tables from their titles, small tables unnecessarily split between two pages, missing double-spaces before headings.

Several times the text invites readers to read a paragraph in which “the topic sentence is underlined,” when, in fact, nothing is underlined (see page 248, 249, 250).

Headings/subheadings don’t always work effectively at organizing the material.

Interface Rating: 2 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text contains few, if any, grammatical errors. There are some spaces missing between words, though.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text is written in inclusive language.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

The readings and examples are not especially relevant for Canadian students.

The text does a great job of breaking down the process of writing into stages, but I do find it to be too prescriptive at times. For example, the author suggests that the 5 paragraph essay is standard. In fact, I find most of my colleagues encouraging their writing students to think outside of this (often) too-simple model. The author also suggests that “most paragraphs contain three to six supporting sentences” (251). Again, I wonder if this limits students’ ability to imagine the essay as a flexible structure that can accommodate their unique approaches? The author suggests students use the “funnel technique” for writing introductions. In my experience, this is not an effective model because it seems to invite opening sentences that are far too broad and irrelevant to the paper’s specific topic.

I wonder if, at times, the author leads students astray by encouraging them to use “interesting vocabulary” (245) or words that will give their writing a “mature feel” (333), rather than keeping the emphasis on clarity and concision.

4. Reviewed by: Candy Ho
  • Institution: Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Title/Position: Instructor, Co-operative Education
  • Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
  • Date:
  • License: Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

McLean did an excellent job covering the basics of university writing, from grammar rules, diction, to types of paper students will encounter in their university career. I appreciated the exercises, reflection worksheets, and relevance to the workplace sections throughout the book.

I believe the book will be appropriate for students in their first year of university because it will help them become familiar with university writing, while providing some useful refreshers (or addressing topics they should already know at the university level, but are too shy to ask!)

The e-text I downloaded did not have an index or glossary, so I couldn't comment on this.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

I was unable to spot any inaccuracies or biases in the content.

That said, there were some errors I found (some examples):
52: "orunless" should be "or unless"
54: The second "Taking" - the T is bolded when it should not be
55: "She was congratulating" - the "c" is bolded when it should not be
62: "calledirregular" should be "called irregular"; "anddo" should be "and do"
159: Exercise 1 asked students to "Replace the underlined words in the paragraph with appropriate synonyms." Yet there were no underlined words.
208: Prepositions after Adjectives Table - under "interested in" (Adjective + Preposition), the phrase in the "Meaning" section should be "to give attention to something, to express interest" in order to be consistent with the rest of the table.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

The content is timeless as everyone can benefit from improving their writing skills (and grammar rules aren't changing drastically anytime soon).

There's much potential for this text to be used and adapted for specific purposes as determined by instructors.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Overall, the text is well-written and easy to understand. Even when there are technical terms (ie. prepositions, gerunds, idioms, etc.), McLean did a great job defining and contextualizing them for students to understand what they are, when and how they may use them.

I also appreciated whenever McLean provided student examples and walk readers through how the student approach their writing assignments.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

I believe the text to be internally consistent - I was unable to spot any discrepancies.

Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

McLean used titles and headings effectively to indicate natural breaks between modules/topics. Not having used the textbook (yet), the distribution of these natural breaks makes sense to me from an instructor standpoint. I can see myself drawing from various subunits to build content for a single class module.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

The chapters flow well overall, with each increasing chapter building on the concepts learned from previous chapters.

I would have appreciated a "How to Use This Book" to be part of the Preface/Introduction that discusses the author's intention on the book's organization, what all the coloured boxes mean (blue = exercises; green = takeaways, etc.)

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

The text makes good use of visuals to support its content whenever appropriate. Personally I would have like to see more visuals as academic writing textbooks can be very text-heavy (which is understandable but more reason authors should seek ways to make it visually appealing for readers).

Interface Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

Just the errors I noted earlier.

Examples:
52: "orunless" should be "or unless"
54: The second "Taking" - the T is bolded when it should not be
55: "She was congratulating" - the "c" is bolded when it should not be
62: "calledirregular" should be "called irregular"; "anddo" should be "and do"
159: Exercise 1 asked students to "Replace the underlined words in the paragraph with appropriate synonyms." Yet there were no underlined words.
208: Prepositions after Adjectives Table - under "interested in" (Adjective + Preposition), the phrase in the "Meaning" section should be "to give attention to something, to express interest" in order to be consistent with the rest of the table.

Grammar Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

The text is relevant to a diverse group of readers and is very inclusive.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

In terms of making the text more appropriate for Canadian institutions, perhaps a mini-section of US vs. Canadian spellings and provide examples.