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Practice Paraphrase/Summarize

You can practice your paraphrase and/or summary skills with the exercises below. Draft a summary and/or paraphrase on one or more of the practice exercises. UHV students can schedule an appointment with an Student Success Center tutor who can discuss paraphrase or summary with you. You can also send in your paraphrase or summary to the online tutors if you include the passage(s) you’re working on. Whether scheduling a face-to-face or submitting for an online session, please note that the tutor will only be able to tutor two or three exercises with you at one time.

Practice Exercise I:

In what was perhaps the first instance, the leap of imagination that gave rise to writing took place around 350 B.C. in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern-day Iraq. Sometimes referred to as “the cradle of Western civilization,” Mesopotamia (meaning ‘between the rivers’) was inhabited at the time by the Sumerians and the Akkadians. These peoples were city dwellers with a sophisticated economic system based on agriculture, cattle, and commerce. Exactly how the Sumerians and Akkadians invented writing will never be known, but we can surmise that the potential for secondary symbolization was discovered fortuitously as someone struggled to formulate a visible message for which no agreed-upon visual symbols existed. (p. 482)

--Finegan, E. (1994). Language its structure and use (2nd ed.). Fortworth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Practice Exercise II:

The persistently poor are only a minority of the people who ever experience poverty, but they place a disproportionate burden on welfare resources. Less than half of the people on welfare rolls at any one time are persistently poor, that is, likely to remain on welfare for five or more years. Thus, for most welfare recipients, welfare payments are a relatively short-term aid that helps them over life’s difficult times. For others, welfare is a more permanent part of their lives. (p. 121)

--Dye, T. (1995). Understanding public policy (8th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Practice Exercise III:

It is generally acknowledged that all organic beings have been formed on two great laws—Unity of Type, and the Conditions of Existence. By unity of type is meant that fundamental agreement in structure, which we see in organic beings of the same class, and which is quite independent of their habits of life. On my theory, unity of type is explained by unity of descent. The expression of conditions of existence, so often insisted on by the illustrious Cuvier, is fully embraced by the principle of natural selection. For natural selection acts by either now adapting the varying parts of each being to its organic and inorganic conditions of life; or by having adapted them during long-past periods of time: the adaptations being aided in some cases by use and disuse, being slightly affected by the direct action of the external conditions of life, and being in all cases subject to the several laws of growth. Hence, in fact, the law of the Conditions of Existence is the higher law; as it includes, through the inheritance of former adaptations, that of Unity of Type. (p. 233)

--Darwin, C. (1979). The origin of species. New York: Gramercy Books.

Practice Exercise IV:

Words and pictures that complement one another employ different visual and verbal content, and both modes are designed to work together in order to help the reader understand the same main idea (the same referent). Together, the two modes render the idea more fully than either does alone because each provides different information about the idea. For example, a complementary text and diagram combination about how a motor works might offer a 3-D presentation of the spatial features of the motor, a representation that would be cumbersome to provide in prose. On the other hand, details about the purpose of the motor and its practical uses might be best presented in words. Each form makes a unique contribution to strengthen and clarify the reader’s understanding of the main idea. (p. 415)

--Schriver, K. (1997). Dynamics in document design. New York: Wiley Computer Publishing.

Practice Exercise V:

Testing can also be stressful for developers. It is difficult to spend months on an interface and then watch people conspicuously fail to use it "correctly" during testing. Conducting usability testing requires developing an outlook that sees testing as part of the design process, rather than as a critical activity with potentially dire consequences. After all, it is widely accepted that all software has bugs that need to be addressed. It is unreasonable to expect user interfaces to emerge magically bug-free from the development process. When seen in this light, testing is extremely effective at helping developers to think about users and their needs.

--Gaffney, G. (2001). Do-it-yourself usability testing. Retrieved from

Practice Exercise VI:

There is no necessary correlation between publicity, realness, and shareability. Persons can be most alone in their experience of the most public of spectacles; and most together in the sharing of the most ‘real’, yet unqualifiedly private of events. Sharing a common experience may be a token of the most genuine bond between two persons, or a token of the most abject bondage. Phantasy may or may not be experienced, by either the one person or the other, as inner or outer, private or public, shareable or unshareable, real or unreal. (p. 37)

-- Laing, R.D. (1969). Self and others. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books Ltd.