Presentation on theme: "Starting with a Strong Foundation"— Presentation transcript:
1 Starting with a Strong Foundation Writing Strong Thesis Statements
2 What is a thesis statement Part 1What is a thesis statement
3 What is a Thesis statement? A statement (usually placed at the end of your introduction) that reveals the writer’s claim or opinion on the assigned topic.If an essay were a building project, a thesis would be like both the foundation of the building and the mortar holding the bricks together.
4 Types of Thesis statements Reveal central claim or idea of the essayForecast (state) the main supporting points that the writer will use to illustrate or prove the claim.Good for neutral audiencesThis approach gives sign posts to readers and aids them in remembering the important points of the essay.State the writer’s claim or central ideaDo not reveal any of the support the writer plans to share.Work well with hostile audiences and on topics that are controversialWriters who choose this approach choose not to “reveal all the cards in their hands.”Open Thesis StatementsClosed (Forecasting) Thesis Statements
5 Mixed Thesis statements In addition to being open or closed, thesis statements can be mixed or un-mixed. An unmixed thesis statement simply states your central idea. In contrast, a mixed thesis statement acknowledges counter-arguments and/or other points of view.
6 Non-Mixed Thesis Statement Mixed Thesis Statement ExamplesAlthough Michael Vic is a talented quarterback, the NFL should not have let him return because Vic’s crimes reflect badly on the integrity of the NFL.The NFL should not have let Michael Vic return because his crimes reflect badly on the integrity of the NFL.Non-Mixed Thesis StatementMixed Thesis Statement
7 Advantages of Mixed Thesis statement Demonstrates your knowledge of the issueCan reveal your objectivityDemonstrates that you are sensitive to your audience’s beliefs and knowledge
8 Recognizing a Strong Thesis Statement Part 2Recognizing a Strong Thesis Statement
9 Characteristics of strong Thesis Statements Address the assignment descriptionDebatable (some people will disagree with it)FocusedConciseGrammatically and mechanically correctSensitive to needs of audience
10 Is this thesis statement Strong or Weak? For people living in the city, cats make good pets because they are affectionate, unobtrusive, and do not require a lot of maintenance.Strong: This statement fulfills all the characteristics of a strong Thesis statement.
11 Is this thesis statement strong or weak? There are advantages and disadvantages to off-shore drilling.WeakThis statement, like the previous statement, is not debatable. Of course, with any controversial issue there are both benefits and drawbacks. This tension is what creates the controversy. This writer needs to stake a clear position concerning off-shore drilling. Otherwise, the paper will be what some teachers refer to as a “so what” paper.
12 Is this thesis tatement strong or weak? Should the United States invade Iran?WeakLike the previous statement about off-shore oil drilling, this sentence is not debatable. In fact, this “thesis statement” is not even a statement; it is a question. This question would be a good place to start your research, but as a thesis statement, this type of question is simply too broad and undefined.
13 Is this thesis statement strong or weak? In this essay, I am going to state my opinion as to why the United States should invade Iran.WeakThis thesis statement is wordy. You do not need to use phrases like “In this essay, I am going to state my opinion . . .” or “It is my opinion that . . .” The reader already knows that your writing expresses your opinions. Simply state your thesis without all the excess baggage. You will keep your reader much more engaged and satisfied with your writing.
14 Is this Thesis statement Strong or weak? The benefits of wind farming.WeakThis “thesis statement” is not even a complete sentence. Your thesis must be at least a complete thought.
15 Is this thesis statement strong or weak? Although purchasing a Mercedes may seem too expensive for the average middle-class buyer, this purchase is a often a much “better buy” than a cheaper automobile.Strong
16 Is this thesis statement good, bad, or ugly? Romeo is a sniveling, fickle idiot kid who does not really love Juliet.Why?Although this thesis statement does state a clear opinion, it needs more focus. The writer also betrays an overly emotional tone and uses a vocabulary that is too casual.
17 Writing strong thesis statements Part 3Writing strong thesis statements
18 Steps to Writing a Thesis Statement Determine your purposeExamine your audienceFocus your topicForm a research questionConduct your researchDraft your thesis statementRevise your statement
19 Step ONE: determine your purpose ArgumentativeAnalyticalExpository
20 Expository EssaysAn expository (explanatory) paper “explains something to the audience” (OWL at Purdue).
21 Analytical EssaysAn analytical paper “breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience”(OWL at Purdue).
22 Argumentative EssaysAn argumentative paper “makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation” (OWL at Purdue).
23 Some thesis Statement Examples Expository: The life of the typical college student is characterized by time spent studying, attending class, and socializing with peers.Analytical: An analysis of the college admission process reveals one challenge facing counselors: accepting students with high test scores or students with strong extracurricular backgrounds.Argumentative: High school graduates should be required to take a year off to pursue community service projects before entering college in order to increase their maturity and global awareness.Note: The examples listed above are borrowed from the OWL at Purdue website.
24 Step Two: Examine your Audience Aside from your purpose, your understanding and awareness of your audience is the most important element in creating an effective thesis statement.
25 Questions to Consider about your audience Who is your audience?What is their education level?What biases or preconceptions do they have about my topic?What are their core values?How old is your audience?Is your audience composed of a particular ethnic or racial group?In what region(s) does your audience live?Is your audience gender-specific?
26 The Impact of Audience Awareness Awareness of your audience will help you with determinethe tone of your writing.the style and level of formality of your languagewhat kind of thesis statement you want to use.the reasons and/or explanations used to develop your central idea.
27 Audience Exercise Middle-Aged Men Housewives Imagine you are writing an essay aimed at convincing one of the groups of people represented by the famous characters below to purchase a new sports car. How would your approach differ for each audience?Middle-Aged MenHousewivesIn contrast, targeting a housewife like June Cleaver might lead you to focus your thesis statement on the safety features of the car or portray the car as an escape from the doldrums of everyday life around the house.If you were writing a thesis statement targeting a middle-aged man like Al Bundy, you might want to focus your thesis on the “youthful” aspects of the car like style, image, and speed and/or the prestige of owning a sports car.
28 Step Three: Focus your Topic Focusing your thesis on a specific topic helps your essay in the following ways:Your paper’s development will be more thorough.Your paper will be more interesting.You will be able to organize your essay with greater ease.
29 This topic needs more focus This topic needs more focus. People have written many books on this topic.focusing your TopicWhile this topic is better, it is still too broad for an essay. People have written books on this topic.Your topic should be narrow enough to write an essay (not a book). Consider each of the following topics. Is it narrow enough?Vietnam veteransVietnam Veterans in filmForrest GumpThe role of disability in Forrest GumpWhile this topic is narrower than the previous two, it is still too broad. Studying a film or work of literature requires that you focus on a specific aspect of the film.This topic is narrow enough to direct your research and lead you to a focused thesis statement.
30 Step Four: Form a Research Question Once you have a narrow topic, form a question about that topic. This question will guide your research. Ideally your thesis statement will be an answer to your research question.Research Question Example: How does the presence of Dan’s and Forrest’s disabilities contribute to the central message of the film Forrest Gump?
31 Step Five: Research Look for an answer to your research Question It is important to do some research before you draft your thesis statement. Since research allows you to form an educated answer to your research question. Creating a thesis statement before you really know anything about a topic can lead you to frustration as you try to write your paper later and find evidence to develop your essay.
32 Step Six: From Research to Drafting Once you have completed some preliminary research, you can begin to draft a working thesis statement. Imagine you are researching the previously mentioned research question. From your examinations of the film and from the articles you read about the film, you feel that the film is using the characters’ disabilities to universalize the “American dream.” Your working thesis statement might look something like the following: Thesis: Disability in the film Forrest Gump, particularly the disabilities of Forrest himself, appear in the film to demonstrate that anyone can achieve the “American dream” of economic success.
33 Step Seven: Revise your thesis statement After you have your initial draft of your thesis statement, you will probably need to revise it throughout the writing process. Don’t be surprised if your thesis statement changes radically as your paper evolves. Remember, you should never be so attached to your thesis statement that you will not change it.
35 A Thesis statement isA statement (usually placed at the end of your introduction) that reveals the writer’s claim or opinion on the assigned topic.
36 A thesis statement may be Closed or OpenMixed or Un-mixed
37 Characteristics of Strong Thesis statements Addresses the assignment descriptionDebatable (some people will disagree with it)FocusedConciseGrammatically and mechanically correctSensitive to needs of audience
38 Steps to writing a strong Thesis Determine your purposeExamine your audienceFocus your topicForm a research questionConduct your researchDraft your thesis statementRevise your statement
39 Questions?If you still have more questions about thesis statements or need help developing a thesis statement for an upcoming class, come speak with an SSC tutor. You can contact the SSC via or in person at the library. Tutors are available during open lab hours and by appointment.