Developing a Thesis
Now that you are familiar with thesis statements, take a few minutes to review by taking notes on what you know about thesis statements.
- How would you define the term "thesis statement" in your own words?
- What is the purpose of a thesis statement?
- Have you used thesis statements in your writing before? When?
- What do you think makes a thesis statement effective?
- What is something you don't know about writing thesis statements?
Once you complete this brainstorming activity, read this article to continue learning about developing strong thesis statements.
A thesis statement is a sentence (or a few sentences) that states what an essay is about. A thesis statement should tell the reader what the essay's topic is, give a general outline of the essay, and take a position on the topic that can be debated.
Myths about thesis statements:
- Thesis statements have to be one sentence
- Thesis statements have to have a three-pronged structure that sets up the three main body paragraphs
- Thesis statements should be the first part of the essay that you write
- Thesis statements must be placed at the end of the first paragraph
- The thesis statement should summarize your whole essay
A thesis statement can meet some of these criteria, but it does not have to.
Common problems with thesis statements:
The non-thesis thesis
A thesis needs to take a position on an issue. It is different from a topic sentence in that a thesis statement is not neutral.
Less: This paper will consider video game learning in the classroom.
More: Video games represent a promising teaching tool in the classroom.
The incontestable thesis
A thesis must be arguable. And in order for it to be arguable, it must present a view that someone might reasonably disagree with.
Less: Students should not cheat.
More: Cheating is not simply a problem in schools; it may affect people's future workplace behavior.
The overly broad thesis
It is not possible to write a good college-level paper about the history of America in a five-page paper. An essay topic should be specific enough for you to address the topic thoroughly in the essay.
Less: Teachers need to stop students from cheating.
More: New computer technology may be able to help teachers stop some formsof cheating.
The "list essay" thesis
A good argumentative thesis provides not only a position on an issue, but also suggests the structure of the paper. The thesis should allow the reader to anticipate how the arguments will follow one another. A "list essay" just states a series of facts without connecting them in a logical order. Without a strong structure for the essay, different facts and paragraphs appear arbitrary and unrelated to one another.
Less: There are many ways that video games could enhance education, including system thinking, collaborative tasks, and what James Paul Gee calls "situated meanings".
More: Among the many learning tools James Paul Gee cites in video games, the most significant ones – system thinking, collaborative tasks, and situated meanings – all share an emphasis on seeing information as a whole, rather than as disconnected facts typically presented in the classroom.
Source: Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, http://opencourselibrary.org/eng-9y-pre-college-english/
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.