Imagine that you are a first-year student in a biology course.
The goal of today’s class is to describe the topic of biology: What is life? There are two paths to reaching that goal.

Traditional path (from general principle to specific examples)

One path—the direct route—is to review the list of characteristics that experts agree living things share. As a learner, you might listen to a lecture, watch a video, or read a textbook presenting this information. You will discover, among other things, that all living things metabolize energy from their environment to sustain their own activities. The information might also include illustrative examples. You might learn that humans are living, as exemplified by the fact that they eat food to extract energy that they convert into motion, heat, and chemical processes. Following this sequence—presenting the concept and then reviewing examples—you should meet the objective of describing “What is life?”

Alternative path (from specific examples to general principle)

Now imagine a different learning journey. When you arrive to class, the instructor doesn’t tell you what experts know. Rather, you start with examples. You are placed in a group and are given a list of five organisms: a donkey, a moss, an E. coli bacterium, an alga, and a cactus. You are told that these things are alive. You are also provided a list of three things and are told that they are not alive: fire, wind, and a rock. Your task is to compare and contrast the items in each list and infer the characteristics that are common and unique to all of the living things.

Your group makes hypotheses. What about the ability to extract elements from the environment to grow and make more of themselves? You test them out with the evidence available. Yes, all living things do that, but disturbingly, fire uses oxygen to grow. You explore ways in which fire’s use of oxygen to grow is different from a cactus using oxygen to do the same thing. Rich discussions arise about the meaning of “metabolism.”

Once your team comes to a consensus about what constitutes living and non-living things, you share it with the class. You discover that other teams worked from a different set of examples and came to slightly different conclusions. The class tests each team’s hypotheses with the larger set of examples. As a class, you decide that “metabolism” is necessary, but not sufficient to classify something as “alive.” Other characteristics must be present. And you work to answer the question: What is life?


• Read Text A above and write a well-structured essay of 1000 words in which you discuss your understanding of the text by analyzing how the author’s style is established and maintained throughout the text. In your analysis, pay particular attention to the lexical cohesion and coherence. [50 marks]


• Read Text A and write a well-constructed essay of around 1000 words in which you analyse HOW language and meaning (focusing on intention and meaning; choosing the right word; conceptual and associative meaning) are used by the writer to project informative information to the reader. Refer to relevant examples from the text to support your answer. [50 marks]

Answers to Above Questions

Answer 1: An analysis of the given text indicates that the style of author is effectively established and maintained throughout, by explaining the viewpoints of the author in a concise manner. The concept of life is defined by citing the examples of traditional path and alternative path, and the consistency is maintained by way of using specific examples in both the alternatives.


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