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AP Language & Composition

Process Analysis
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Process Analysis

Examining Writing Practices

From The Compact Reader by Jane A. Aaron

 

                Game rules, car-repair manuals, cookbooks, science textbooks – these and many other familiar works are essentially process analyses.  They explain how to do something (play Monopoly, tune a car), how to make something (a carrot cake), or how something happens (how our hormones affect our behavior, how a computer stores and retrieves date). That is, they explain a sequence of actions with a specified result (the process) by dividing it into its component steps (the analysis). Almost always, the purpose of process analysis is to explain, but sometimes a parallel purpose is to prove something about the process or to evaluate it; to show how easy it is to change a tire, for instance, or to urge dieters to follow a weight-loss plan on the grounds of its safety and effectiveness.

                Process analysis overlaps several other patterns of development. Process analysis contains division and analysis. Cause-effect analysis asks why something happens or has results, but process analysis asks mainly how something happens. Process analysis also overlaps narration, for the steps of the process are almost always presented in chronological order. But narration recounts a unique sequence of events with unique result, whereas process analysis explains a series of steps with a predictable result. You might narrate a particularly exciting baseball game, but you would analyze the process – the rules – of any baseball game.

 

Process analysis falls into one of two types:

[directive process:

                Ntells how to do or make something – bake a cake, repair a bike, negotiate a contract.

                Noutlines the steps in the process completely so the reader who follows can have the specific result

                Ngenerally addresses the reader as you (second person), or uses imperative (commanding mood) of verbs, such as “add one egg yolk, stir vigorously”

 

[explanatory process:

                Nprovides information necessary for readers to understand the process

                Npurpose is more to satisfy the reader’s curiosity than to teach her how to perform it

                Nmay address the reader directly, but third-person he, she, it, and they are more common

 

Whether directive or explanatory all contain the following:

                Zchronological order

                Zdivision into stages

                Zdivision into steps

                Zsteps are detailed

                Zreasons are specified

                Ztime is specified

Process Analysis

Examining Writing Practices

From The Compact Reader by Jane A. Aaron

 

                Game rules, car-repair manuals, cookbooks, science textbooks – these and many other familiar works are essentially process analyses.  They explain how to do something (play Monopoly, tune a car), how to make something (a carrot cake), or how something happens (how our hormones affect our behavior, how a computer stores and retrieves date). That is, they explain a sequence of actions with a specified result (the process) by dividing it into its component steps (the analysis). Almost always, the purpose of process analysis is to explain, but sometimes a parallel purpose is to prove something about the process or to evaluate it; to show how easy it is to change a tire, for instance, or to urge dieters to follow a weight-loss plan on the grounds of its safety and effectiveness.

                Process analysis overlaps several other patterns of development. Process analysis contains division and analysis. Cause-effect analysis asks why something happens or has results, but process analysis asks mainly how something happens. Process analysis also overlaps narration, for the steps of the process are almost always presented in chronological order. But narration recounts a unique sequence of events with unique result, whereas process analysis explains a series of steps with a predictable result. You might narrate a particularly exciting baseball game, but you would analyze the process – the rules – of any baseball game.

 

Process analysis falls into one of two types:

[directive process:

                Ntells how to do or make something – bake a cake, repair a bike, negotiate a contract.

                Noutlines the steps in the process completely so the reader who follows can have the specific result

                Ngenerally addresses the reader as you (second person), or uses imperative (commanding mood) of verbs, such as “add one egg yolk, stir vigorously”

 

[explanatory process:

                Nprovides information necessary for readers to understand the process

                Npurpose is more to satisfy the reader’s curiosity than to teach her how to perform it

                Nmay address the reader directly, but third-person he, she, it, and they are more common

 

Whether directive or explanatory all contain the following:

                Zchronological order

                Zdivision into stages

                Zdivision into steps

                Zsteps are detailed

                Zreasons are specified

                Ztime is specified

 

If a handout is available online (e.g., a newspaper article) I might include the appropriate link to the information students need on this page.