ESSAY TYPES: MODES - Classification & Division

Classification & Division

Foillage fractal courtesy of
Janet Preslar, FrActivity

Classification and division are methods by which large systems are broken down into logical smaller units. We often use classification and division to describe or order important things in science. For example, the classification of animal types by genus and species, as well as dividing all life on earth into plants, animals, and other groups is useful when attempting to analyze such a complex system, as well as to see the interrelated nature of these items within a group.

Although this approach is quite common in science, we use classification and division commonly in our daily lives, whether consciously or unconsciously. Sports fans are well aware of the classification and division of labor within a baseball team, the difference between the coaches and players, as well as the differences between the roles of the players themselves. Those who watch a great deal of television are also well aware of the classification of programs: news, comedies, dramas, the reality shows and the like. The television shows are also classified by audience, with shows specifically designed for children, teens, young adults, seniors, and even various ethnic groups. Again, it is important to note that while in some cases we may do this almost naturally, the function of classification is very important. Classification and division allow the human brain to coordinate and keep track of complex systems, helping makes sense of our multi-layered world. The classification and division essay will be very useful in courses that involve a great deal of material with a great deal of factual data, including history, the sciences, social studies and mathematics.

For the purposes of this class, we are using classification and division to delineate the roles of individuals found on campus. The assignment is to observe outside of the classroom the people that make up a college campus. As part of your assignment, you'll describe in minute detail four individuals as they pass by you. You will want to note approximate age, gender, ethnic background, clothing, actions and encumbrances in order to determine that person's function and place on the college campus. This type of DEDUCTIVE exercise forces you to be observant and detailed, noting the subtle aspects of a person that normally are ignored or overlooked. You are to do this exercise without consulting your subjects. You are to find one of each in the following four categories:

  1. Student
  2. Faculty
  3. Administrator
  4. Non-Faculty Staff

Once you have established and described fully your four subjects, you will write a paragraph on each of your observances, placing the full description first and your classification of the person at the end of a paragraph. These four paragraphs will serve as the body of an essay that will have, in addition to those four paragraphs, an introductory paragraph and a conclusion. Your thesis will depend on what you've learned from this experience.

Start your observation by choosing a single building, describing it in specific detail, enough detail that someone who has never been on this campus would be able to distinguish the building from all the others on campus. Also note the weather and other aspects of your environment, as these factors will influence the appearances of your subjects.

In total, your essay will be seven paragraphs long. Again, be sure to choose an appropriate thesis that reflects your experience.

© T. T. Eiland, October 2000
Last modified: October 14, 2000