How to Write a Compare and Contrast Essay in Family and Consumer Science

Writing guide
Posted on April 23, 2020

Wondering how to write a compare and contrast essay in family and consumer science and looking for tips? Compare and contrast is a common form of academic writing so students are often asked to make comparisons of different concepts and ideas and discuss their differences. This type of writing requires strong analytical and critical thinking skills so many students find such assignments rather challenging. To help you get started with your compare and contrast essay in family and consumer sciences, we’ve created this step-by-step writing guide with detailed but simple instructions. Read it to learn about all the essential stages of the writing process. And if you face difficulties with completing other types of academic papers, at our website, you can also find full guides to all writing assignments out there.

What Is Compare and Contrast Essay in Family and Consumer Science?

First, let’s discuss what it means to compare and contrast in academic writing and what types of structure you can use to organize your ideas. Comparison in writing explains similar elements and contrast in writing discusses elements that differ. So, a compare and contrast essay in family and consumer science should explain the ways in which two or more subjects are similar and different. Your goal is to describe relationships between these subjects (concepts, ideas or theories). That’s why it’s crucial to pick two or more subjects that are connected in a meaningful way to ensure that you have a basis of comparison.

It’s not enough to speak about obvious features and characteristics. Instead, you should discover unexpected similarities and subtle differences. So, you should choose subjects in a similar category and compare and contrast them to help your readers get a better understanding of the entire category.
There are two basic structure patterns for organizing your ideas in a compare and contrast essay.

  • Using the block (subject) structure, you should discuss one subject and after that the other one.
  • Using the point-by-point (alternating) structure, you need to discuss one characteristic of the first subject and immediately after that you should discuss the same aspect of the second subject.

Both structures have their own advantages. The block structure is easier to write but the point-by-point structure is clearer and shows similarities and differences more explicitly. The choice of the structure depends on the nature of your topic and its complexity and on your purpose. You can also combine both methods when writing your essay.
When you compare and contrast different ideas, concepts or theories, you should use phrases of comparison and contrast. Here are some examples.

  • Common compare words and phrases are the same as, similarly, most important, like, just as, in the same way, as well, in addition, both, also, similar to, not only … but also…, neither .. nor… etc.
  • Common contrast words and phrases are while, instead, unlike, unless, in contrast to, however, though, regardless, furthermore, rather than, besides, otherwise, on the other hand, compared with, but, nevertheless, more than, although.

Now let’s discuss the essential steps in the writing process that you should follow when working on your assignment.

Start with Choosing a Good Topic

Selecting a topic is a very important step that often determines the success of your compare and contrast essay. Family and consumer sciences focus on different aspects of interrelations of family and work. The goal of this field of study is to give students knowledge and skills that will allow them to help people make informed decisions about their relationships, wellbeing, and resources to achieve optimal quality of life. It’s an interdisciplinary field so students study different concepts related to human and family development, interpersonal relationships, consumer resources, housing and interior design, parenting, personal finance, wellness, and nutrition. As you see, it’s a broad field that covers diverse topics.

If you were not assigned a specific topic to write about, the best approach is to select a topic that you are interested in. But you should make sure that it is relevant to your course. Choose 2 subjects that are related in a meaningful way and have enough in common so that you will be able to discuss their similar features and differences. If you have no idea of what to write about, here is a short list of 15 interesting family and consumer sciences essay topics that you can use for writing compare and contrast essays.

  • Compare Participation of Men and Women in Childcare in the USA;
  • Compare Modern Fashion Trends and Clothes Styles of the Past;
  • Compare Lifestyles of Adult People Living in Urban and Rural Areas;
  • Differences between Online Dating and Dating in Real Life;
  • Being an Only Child vs. Having Siblings;
  • Compare the Roles of Macronutrients and Micronutrients in Human Nutrition;
  • Differences between Natural and Synthetic Fabrics;
  • Compare Different Stages of Child Development;
  • Financial Planning vs. Retirement Planning;
  • Compare Impact of Different Textiles on Sustainability;
  • Explain Cultural Similarities and Differences in Parenting;
  • Compare Lifestyles of Elderly People with Lifestyles of Young Generation;
  • Freud’s Psychosexual Theory of Development vs. Cognitive Theory of Development;
  • Compare Child and Family Policies in the USA and in the UK;
  • Compare Consumer Behavior in the Past and in the Digital Age.

Brainstorm the Ideas and Create a Compare and Contrast Essay Outline

When you have a topic for your compare and contrast essay in family and consumer science, brainstorm the qualities of each subject. Then you may create a mind map or a Venn diagram to establish connections between ideas and sort the information. Write down all similarities and differences between your subjects as they come to your mind and decide which of them you will use as main points for essay. After that, you should do additional research and find relevant information in the authoritative sources to support your main points. As you read your sources, you need to make notes of interesting ideas for direct citing and paraphrasing, as well as facts and examples that will illustrate your points.

When you gather enough material, you have to think about your thesis statement that will guide your argument. For example, if you want to write a compare and contrast essay about healthy lifestyle habits and unhealthy lifestyle habits, your thesis statement may look like this one:

Healthy lifestyle and unhealthy lifestyle are similar in the fact that they both affect our physical and mental health but they are different in terms of living habits, attitude to sports and physical activity, and eating choices.

Now you can create an outline of your compare and contrast essay. You need to follow the basic essay structure and think about an introduction that presents your topic, body paragraphs where you explain differences and similarities, and a conclusion that wraps everything up and brings a sense of closure. When making an outline, you should organize the ideas in your body paragraphs using the block, the point-by-point or the combined method.

For example, you may structure your essay this way.

  • Paragraph 1: Introduce your topic and the subject that you’ll compare and contrast
  • Paragraph 2: Compare the subjects and tell about their similarities
  • Paragraphs 3 & 4: Contrast the subjects and explain how they differ
  • Paragraph 5: Summarize the main points

Write an Engaging Introduction

The goal of an introduction is to inform your readers of what they can expect from your compare and contrast essay in family and consumer science. You need to capture your audience’s attention, making them want to read the rest of your essay. Here are some effective strategies that you can use to make your introductory paragraph as engaging as possible.

  • Use a ‘general to specific’ structure. Start broad, introducing the topic your essay will address in the general sense. Provide context and them narrow down your topic to your specific position and the line of the argument.
  • Provide background information that is directly relevant to your topic and be brief. If it is required, you may give some definitions of the key terms.
  • Establish your position with a strong and highly specific thesis statement that sets your argument. Make sure you give a direct answer to your essay question.
  • Briefly outline the structure of your compare and contrast essay or give an overview of the main supporting points you are going to make.
  • You should try to avoid clichés that will make your essay boring and try to persuade your audience that your paper is worth reading.

Write Body Paragraphs

The body is the part of your essay where you actually make the argument so it’s the biggest section. Each paragraph should be focused and has to discuss only one main point. You should organize it in a way of moving from general to specific information.

A good body paragraph should be structured in the following way:

  • You may start your paragraph with a transition sentence that leads from the previous paragraph to help your audience follow your logic.
  • Write a topic sentence that introduces the controlling idea of the paragraph. You need to tell readers what you are going to discuss.
  • Explain the meaning of your topic sentence in 2-3 additional sentences where you may provide some details.
  • Illustrate and reinforce the main point with relevant evidence and examples. You can use facts, established opinions, research data, statistics, and examples from published cases studies.
  • Explain your evidence and clarify how your readers should interpret it.
  • End each paragraph with a concluding sentence that wraps everything up and explain how the information in the paragraph is related to your thesis statement.

It’s important to use transition words and phrases between paragraphs and within them to show your audience how your ideas fit together.

Create a Strong Conclusion

The goal of a conclusion is to summarize the main points of your argument and remind your audience about the significance of your analysis. Don’t just repeat things that you wrote in the body of your essay. Try to bring all your key points together and show how they are connected and how they support your argument. Emphasize the significance of your thesis statement. You need to answer the ‘So what?’ question and help your readers understand why your analysis matters. Besides, you can tell your readers about broader implications by setting your essay’s argument in a broader context. Avoid such phrases like ‘to sum up’, ‘in conclusion’, ‘in summary’ although they are OK during oral presentations.

Revise, Edit, and Proofread Your Compare and Contrast Essay in Family and Consumer Science

When you finish the first draft of your essay, you should put it aside for a few hours and then revise and edit it to improve the content, the logical flow, paragraph and sentence structure, and word choice. You will need to reread and rewrite your essay several times to ensure it makes sense and answers the essay question in a coherent and concise manner. When you are satisfied with the content and logic of your final draft, you should proofread it and fix minor grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes and typos. Editing and proofreading are important stages of the writing process so you should never skip over them.

Here are some effective editing and proofreading strategies that really work.

  • It’s better to edit and proofread using a printed copy of your essay because it’s easier to catch errors and inconsistencies on the paper than on the computer screen.
  • Read your essay aloud. In this way, you’ll be able to catch awkward development of the ideas and poor structure as well as grammar mistakes.
  • Read your essay several time and look for one specific type of problem at a time. Start with concentrating on the sentence structures, then pay attention to word choice, after that focus on spelling issues, and finally fix punctuation mistakes.
  • Read your essay backward from the end to beginning sentence after sentence and focus on every word. You may also review your essay this way paragraph after paragraph.

Follow our easy step-by-step instructions and proven strategies and you’ll be able work more effectively. We hope that our guide will help you cope with your compare and contrast essay in family and consumer science and create an impressive piece of writing that will get you a high grade.

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