Essay Writing Samples

Sample Master’s Comparative Essay on Teaching and Poverty

This comparative essay from Ultius examines the impact and effects of poverty on learning. This essay compares and contrasts the main points of four authors as they explore the academic challenges of poverty, how students of different socio-economic status manage learning difficulties, and provide solutions to close the racial achievement gap.

The impact of poverty on learning

The PowerPoint presentation “Teaching with Poverty in Mind” (Jensen, 2015) is concerned with how poverty impacts the brain and learning, and ways in which the SHARE model can be used to assist students living in poverty with their educational experiences for a successful outcome. Jenson makes the point that for every 1000 hours that teachers have students in the classroom, the students are spending 5000 hours outside of school. Building and maintaining positive relationships with students is thus key toward making the learning experience successful. In order to build these relationships, it is necessary to understand the environment in which the student is living. The presentation by Jensen (2015) is primarily concerned with teaching students not what to do but rather how to do it. At all times the teacher must keep in mind where the student is coming from, both in a figurative and in a literal sense.

The academic challenges of poverty

In the article “Overcoming the Challenges of Poverty” (Landsman, 2014) the author takes the position that in order to be successful educators, teachers must keep in mind the environment in which their students are living. In this regard, the basic premises of the article are very similar to the PowerPoint presentation by Jensen (2015). Landsman (2014) presents 15 strategies that teachers can use to assist students living in poverty with being successful in school. These include things like telling students to ask for help, imagining the obstacles that these students face and seeing their strengths, and simply listening to the child. A key way in which the Landsman article is similar to the Jensen article is in their focus upon building and maintaining relationships with students rather than with simply providing resources or assistance to the student, as the other two articles to be discussed do.

Closing the achievement gap

In the summary “A Novel Approach to Closing the Achievement Gap” (Singham, 2003) the author focuses upon what is known as the racial achievement gap. Singham (2003) points out that availability of classroom resources, whether tangible or intangible, is the single most important factor in how well students will achieve on tests and on graduating from college. Like the PowerPoint by Jensen, Singham (2003) is concerned with the differences in educational success between children of different races, but instead of being primarily concerned with building relationships, he focuses upon the classroom environment and what is available for the children. The focus upon environment is similar to Jensen’s focus upon environment, but the former focuses upon the impact of the school environment while the latter focuses upon the impact of the home environment. There is a bit more “othering” in the article by Singham than there is in Jensen’s PowerPoint or in Landsman’s article, and this is likely due to the fact that Singham is not as concerned with the children themselves, but rather with the resources that are available to them. Another difference in the Singham article compared to Landsman or Jensen or Calarco (to be discussed) is that Singham focuses upon both the achieving and the underachieving groups at the same time, while Landsman, Jensen, and Calarco focus primarily upon the underachieving group living in poverty.

Managing learning difficulties based on socio-economic status

The article “Social-Class Differences in Student Assertiveness Asking for Help” (Calarco, 2014) is also, like Jensen and Landsman, focused upon the learning differences between students in terms of socioeconomic status. Calarco’s focus is upon the ways that students from working class manage learning difficulties compared to the ways that students from middle-class families do. Because middle-class children are taught different lessons at home, they are more likely to ask for (and to expect) help in the classroom, while working-class children tend to try to manage these difficulties on their own. Calarco provides some useful steps that teachers can take to help working-class students get support for learning. In the Calarco article, like the Singham article, there is a bit more othering than in the Landsman or Jensen article/presentation. To some extent, all of the articles/presentation have a bit of othering, and this likely cannot be avoided, as the educators are discussing an “other” group: the students. However, Jensen and Landsman focus more upon developing relationships, while Singham and Calarco focus more upon what can be provided to students to assist them.

Stuck with writing?


Ultius can help


In summary, all four authors focus upon the differences in achievement between students of different socioeconomic and/or racial groups. Two of the articles focus upon building relationships with students, while the other two are more concerned with resources available for the student. There is a bit of othering in each of the articles/presentation, but Jensen and Calarco exhibit a greater degree of this tendency. The tendency to “other” is likely rooted in the fact that the authors are discussing students, but this tendency may also reflect the fact that the authors are living in a more affluent socioeconomic status than the children they write about.

Need help writing an essay like this one? Check out our guide on how to write a cause and effect essay.


Calarco, J. (2014). Help-seekers and silent strugglers: Student problem-solving in elementary classrooms. American Educator, 38(4), 24–27.

Jensen, E. (2015). Teaching with poverty in mind. Retrieved from

Landsman, J. (2014). Overcoming the challenges of poverty – EL summer 2014.

Singham, M. (2003). The achievement gap: Myths and reality. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(8), 586–591.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *