Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Conceptual Strategy Families > Exposition

Exposition is a set of strategies for
  • recalling what one knows about a subject,
  • distinguishing between important and incidental information,
  • using the natural structure of the domain to select and organize material, and
  • explaining that material to other people.

It includes concept-mapping and brainstorming techniques for generating ideas and related strategies that exploit conceptual relationships (such as part/whole, cause/effect, generalization/example) to organize and explain complex collections of information. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 11.

This class of strategies corresponds to Writing Standard 2 from the Common Core State Standards. However, this standard is narrower, concerned with the ability to specifically produce the surface patterns of expository text, which reduces (without the underlying content) to the discourse skill of structured expression. Exposition as a strategy also includes a range of thinking strategies that support production of expository text.

Literature Note - Exposition

Development Table 11. Hypotheses about the Development of Exposition Skills

(oral to sentence)
Can distinguish between statements that are clear and easy to understand and those that are challenging or difficult.
In addition to triggering paraphrase strategies, can apply elaboration strategies in which one seeks to clarify a statement by adding background or clarifying information.
Can modify one’s verbal expression strategies to avoid difficult vocabulary or challenging sentence patterns.
(sentence to paragraph)
Can recognize how well an audience with no specific prior knowledge or context will understand information when it is presented in a particular order.
Can apply information-sensitive strategies to sequence statements in a text (e.g.,, beginning with general statements that will be easy to understand, and narrowing the focus gradually down to the main point one wishes to discuss).
Can modify one’s structured expression strategies to emphasize definition, repetition with paraphrase, previews, and other text organization elements that are indicated when the audience lacks sufficient prior knowledge.
(paragraph to text)
Can recognize how well a particular pattern of text organization will work if it is combined with particular types of content.
Can apply planning and revision strategies that propose alternate organizational structures and evaluate how well they will work given the information that needs to be communicated.
Can modify one’s structured expression strategies to provide additional or stronger cues to conceptual organization when the text structure is not the obvious, default way to organize a particular type of content.
(text to context)
Can recognize whether a particular strategy for organizing and presenting information will be likely to engage the interest and attention of the target audience.
Can apply planning and revision strategies that trigger searches for hooks—information that can be strategically deployed to capture audience interest and attention.
Can modify one’s structured expression strategies in order to place engaging information early and create textual bridges that will gradually lead readers to more difficult or less-interesting information.
(text and context to discourse)
Can recognize how easily an audience will be able to connect the information in a text to prior discourse on the same subject, given the particular organizational patterns selected.
Can apply planning and revision strategies that trigger searches for springboards—other texts that raise the right issues and can be cited or quoted strategically to prepare an audience for a particular point or rhetorical move.
Can modify one’s structured expression strategies in order to emphasize textual references that link the information provided by a text back to an ongoing discourse.

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