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Critical Thinking and Thesis Development Kayla Skarbakka Writing Consultant Walden University Writing Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Critical Thinking and Thesis Development Kayla Skarbakka Writing Consultant Walden University Writing Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Critical Thinking and Thesis Development Kayla Skarbakka Writing Consultant Walden University Writing Center

2 Housekeeping Muting Questions Recording:

3 Agenda Critical thinking –Why is it important? –How do I demonstrate it in my writing? Thesis development –What is a thesis and how do I write one? –Why is a thesis important? Analysis –How do I support my thesis throughout my paper? Additional ways to demonstrate critical thinking –Synthesis –Paraphrasing

4 Critical Thinking Involves evaluating the information you’ve learned A skill that involves using the information you gain from your reading for your own purposes as a scholar. An active process – not just regurgitating ideas.

5 Critical Thinking According to Kurland (2000), there are six key characteristics of critical thinking: 1.Rationality 2.Self-awareness 3.Honesty 4.Open-mindedness 5.Judgment * 6.Discipline *

6 Critical Thinking Judgment Involves being able to form an opinion about something based on the information presented Allows you to: –Effectively evaluate your sources –Form an argument based on the information you’ve read –Determine what, of everything you’ve learned, will help support your argument (what is and is not useful)

7 Critical Thinking Discipline Involves self-control and objectivity Helps you: –Define the scope of your paper (what you will discuss and won’t discuss) –Maintain your objectivity as a scholar and support ideas with scholarly evidence rather than opinion or belief –Maintain your focus on your topic and argument

8 Importance of Critical Thinking Demonstrate to instructor, peers, and community that you can not only learn information but also use it to create new research/ideas to contribute to your field. Take the knowledge you’ve learned and use it to make a difference in your field and the world.

9 Incorporating Critical Thinking What does not involve critical thinking? A book report A penguin

10 Incorporating Critical Thinking Don’t be a penguin. Instead of regurgitating the fish, play around with it and create something new and exciting.

11 Critical Thinking Red Flags Ideas supported with a single source. Extensive quotes. Use of sources of questionable credibility. –Websites –Opinion pieces –Sources or studies sponsored by an organization with a vested interest. Restatement of a study’s findings.

12 How Do You Demonstrate Critical Thinking ? Thesis statement Analysis Synthesis Paraphrasing

13 Thesis: Definitions “a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, esp. one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections” (, 2009). “a position or proposition which a person advances and offers to maintain, or which is actually maintained by argument” (Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary,1998). “a treatise advancing a new point of view resulting from research” (Princeton University, 2006). All these definitions (a) stress the importance of presenting an argument and (b) insist that this argument is capable of advancement.

14 Is Your Thesis an Argument? 1.In his article, Jefferson (2003) insisted that The Real World was responsible for corrupting the mind of America’s youth. 2.The purpose of this paper is to consider the positive and negative ways that women are portrayed in The Real World. 3.The Real World reinforces gender inequality in America, suggesting that women are not just avid consumers, but consumables as well.

15 Is Your Thesis Capable of Advancement? 1.The Real World should not be censored. 2.There are many reasons to censor the content that appears on The Real World. 3.The FCC has the right to limit the content that appears on The Real World in cases where the show depicts overtly sexist images. A failure to address such issues would suggest that American society approves of such views.

16 Is Your Thesis Capable of Advancement? Thesis: “The FCC has the right to limit the content that appears on The Real World in cases where the show depicts overtly sexist images. A failure to address such issues would suggest that American society approves of such views.” I. Examples of sexual objectification in The Real World. II. Consequences of sexual objectification in The Real World. III. Argument that censorship is warranted in situations with such dire consequences (may included counterarguments) IV. Suggestion that these unchecked images and consequences define the society that refuses to condemn them. Conclusion: If a society is defined by its actions (or inactions), then the FCC should reserve the right to limit sexist images in The Real World.

17 Extra Tips Thesis Mad Libs In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____. While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______. Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______. * These models are for drafting purposes only and shouldn’t appear in your final work.

18 Extra Tips Avoid words like: Instead, try: exploreinvestigate learncompile summarizeexplain arguecritique questioninterrogate

19 Analysis Your own interpretation of other authors’ ideas Ensures that you’re not just summarizing your research, but using it to support your argument How you’ll support your thesis statement throughout your paper Important to include in every paragraph

20 Analysis MEAL plan (Duke University's Thompson Writing Program, n.d.): Main idea: topic sentence Evidence: information from your sources to support your main idea Analysis: explanation of the evidence/discussion of its relevance in light of your thesis statement Lead out: conclusion

21 Analysis I.Examples of sexual objectification in The Real World. Main idea: Many examples of sexual objectification Evidence: List of examples (e.g., scenes, images, and quotes from the show) Analysis: Discussion of how these examples demonstrate objectification; interpretation of these examples for your reader Lead out: Hint at the significance of those examples

22 Synthesis Combining independent elements to form a cohesive whole Involves –Critical analysis of sources –Comparing and contrasting what the authors have to say –Evaluating and interpreting that information Like a dinner party

23 Synthesis Not synthesis: “X argued A. Y said B. Z suggested C.” Synthesis: “X argued A. Y supported X’s argument by stating B. Z, however, offered an opposing view, noting that, while A may be true, B does not necessarily follow. Rather, C.”

24 Not Synthesis Synthesis is NOT: Organization based on solely on authors A summary of your sources Author A Author C Author B

25 Synthesis Synthesis is: –Organized thematically –Focused on the relationships between authors censorship Sexual objectification The Real World BC A A B A B C C

26 Synthesis Not synthesis: According to Peterson (2008), 83% of teenagers claimed that reality television had no impact on their perception of sexuality or gender. Carol (2010) noted that teenagers who watched an hour or more of reality television per day reported a higher dissatisfaction in their relationships with the opposite gender than did teenagers who watch little or no reality television. Synthesis: While Peterson (2008) noted that the vast majority of teenagers do not believe that reality television affects their perception of sexuality or gender, Carol (2010) found contrasting evidence that frequently watching reality television can negatively affect relationships with the opposite gender. It is possible that teenagers are simply not aware of the negative influences of reality television.

27 Paraphrasing Placing ideas or information from a source in your own words Always preferable to directly quoting –Your author wants to read your words, not someone else’s –Condense, reframe, restructure, and reinterpret the author’s idea to fit your own purpose

28 Recap Don’t be a penguin! Your thesis should be specific, arguable, and capable of advancement Use analysis to advance your central argument throughout your paper Use synthesis and paraphrasing to demonstrate critical thinking throughout your writing

29 Resources Writing Center Website –Critical readingCritical reading –Thesis statementsThesis statements –Paragraphs (MEAL plan)Paragraphs (MEAL plan) –ParaphrasingParaphrasing –WebinarsWebinars

30 Questions?

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