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Functions of an introduction

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The length of the introduction can vary. You do not need to include any more than is necessary to accomplish the function of the introduction. There is no rule on what this will consist of, as different issues may require something a little different. For example, you may need to include a definition of some terms in order to clarify the precise focus of the assignment.

Look at the following introduction to a student report for Perspectives on Learning:

Which part of this introduction sets out what this report will do, and which part contextualises it?

Enter your response into the text box beside each part.

Learning is a complex process and precisely what takes place in the classroom varies from situation to situation and individual to individual. Therefore teachers cannot assume that students learn what they teach. They need to notice and understand the processes that are taking place in their classrooms.

Sets out what report will do

Contextualises report

In this report I present observations I made in a primary school classroom of student learning, and then analyse them in terms of the importance student motivation had in the learning that took place. Although my observations were of the class as a whole, I also provide a more detailed analysis of the learning by one boy.

Sets out what report will do

Contextualises report

Check your answer


Below is an introduction written by another student. It carries out five functions:

  • defines important terms
  • contextualises the assignment
  • outlines how this report will proceed
  • states the focus of the report
  • indicates the significance of the findings

Indicate which part of the introduction achieves which function by selecting the appropriate answer from the boxes beside each part.

1 Learning in a classroom is a function of many factors. As a consequence, students do not necessarily learn what the teacher thinks they are learning. In order to direct learning successfully, a teacher needs to notice how different factors come into play in their classroom for different students. One important factor affecting learning is motivation. However, motivation takes two forms and they differ in their effects on learning. Defines terms

Contextualises

Outlines how this report will proceed

States the focus

Indicates significance of the findings
2 Intrinsic motivation is motivation that the student brings to the task. Extrinsic motivation is motivation stimulated by something in the environment, such as a reward. Defines terms

Contextualises

Outlines how this report will proceed

States the focus

Indicates significance of the findings
3 This study analyses the comparative importance of both these forms of motivation in learning. Defines terms

Contextualises

Outlines how this report will proceed

States the focus

Indicates significance of the findings
4 First of all, I report on observations made of a class of primary schoolchildren. and attempt to show how the presence or absence of motivation influenced the behaviours observed. I distinguish between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations present and attempt to clarify the relative impact of these different forms of motivation on the students' learning. Although observations are made of the class as a whole, I will pay especial attention to one student in particular. The analysis suggests that intrinsic motivation is necessary for effective 'deep learning'. Defines terms

Contextualises

Outlines how this report will proceed

States the focus

Indicates significance of the findings

Check your answers

Feedback

We could divide this introduction up as follows:

Student Introduction What these sentences do
Learning is a complex process and precisely what takes place in the classroom varies from situation to situation and individual to individual. Therefore teachers cannot assume that students learn what they teach. They need to notice and understand the processes that are taking place in their classrooms. These sentences provide the context for this report. The course focus on learning is introduced at a general level but in a way that leads on to a specific statement of a problem. The significance of the assignment topic is quite apparent in light of this problem. The topic has been contextualised clearly.
In this report I present observations I made in a primary school classroom of student learning, and then analyse them in terms of the importance student motivation had in the learning that took place. Although my observations were of the class as a whole, I also provide a more detailed analysis of the learning by one boy. These sentences state what this report will do. These sentences outline in very brief form what will be done in this report.

Comment

  1. These sentences contextualise the assignment.
  2. These sentences clarify the meanings of two terms central to this assignment.
  3. This sentence states the focus of this assignment
  4. These sentences outline how this assignment will proceed.
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