Students, Below are some great tips on thinking about and approaching thesis statements. The link for this site is listed below if you would like more information.
What to do Before Writing a Thesis Statement
Before writing a thesis statement, the writer must be aware of his or her audience and purpose. Unclear thesis statements emanate from the minds of writers with an unclear purpose. Teach students how to write effective thesis statements by teaching the following:
- You must begin with a topic question. If your instructor has assigned an essay question to answer, this step has been done for you. If you are doing a research paper, take time to come up with a good topic question.
- You must form an opinion and state it clearly. Do not be wishy-washy.
- Be sure you have approached your evidence fairly, without bias.
- Consider both sides of a controversial issue.
- Once you've established the topic question, a clear position, and objectivity, you're ready to write a thesis statement.
What is a Thesis Statement
Students have heard the term thesis statement hundreds of times by the time they reach high school, yet have only a vague understanding of what one is. Your first responsibility is to teach them what a thesis statement is:
- A thesis statement presents your opinions or thoughts on a subject or an issue. You cannot write an essay without one.
- A thesis statement must contain a subject + an opinion.
- A thesis statement answers the topic question (the one you created or the one presented to you by the instructor).
TIP: A thesis statement should never contain the following: in my opinion, I think, I believe, etc. However, it may be helpful for students to begin their thesis statement rough draft with in my opinion, I believe, or I think to make sure they are expressing their thoughts or opinion on a specific subject or issue. When writing the final thesis statement, simply eliminate those phrases
Writing a Good Thesis Statement
When teaching thesis statements it is important to demonstrate the difference between writing a thesis statement and writing a good thesis statement. These instructions will help you teach the latter:
- A good thesis statement is short and simple: it should be no longer than one sentence, regardless of essay length.
- Good Example: Success is a result of doing the right things consistently.
- Bad Example: In a world full of success gurus and books about success, it becomes ever so more important to delineate the one trait that ultimately determines success: doing the right things consistently.
- A good thesis statement is limited to one main idea.
- Good example: The key to successful dieting is focusing on a specific goal.
- Bad example: The key to successful dieting is focusing on a specific goal, which is also the key to successfully running a business and coaching a football team.
- A good thesis statement is a declarative sentence with no qualifiers (might, maybe, perhaps, etc.):
- Good example: Lebron James' ability to score, pass, and rebound make him the league's most valuable player.
- Bad example: Does Lebron James' ability to score, pass, and rebound make him the league's most valuable player?
- Bad Example: Lebron James' ability to score, pass, and rebound just might make him the league's most valuable player.
How to Write a Good Thesis Statement
Knowing what a good thesis statement looks like and knowing how to write a good thesis statement are not the same. The following steps will help you and your students write a good thesis statement.
- Write several trial thesis statements: writing is a process, so is writing a thesis statement. When teaching thesis statements, teach students to revise thesis statements.
- If you're having trouble deciding which side to take on a controversial issue, write your thesis statement from two different points of view. Then decide which one better represents your opinion. If you still can't decide, list facts on both sides of the issue and decide which facts make a more persuasive argument.
Evaluating Thesis Statements
You've taught how to write a good thesis statement. You've spent time writing a good thesis statement or helping others understand how to write effective thesis statements. In short, you've spent valuable classroom time teaching thesis statements. Wouldn't it make sense to learn and teach how to evaluate thesis statements? Instruct students to use the following questions after writing a thesis statement:
- Have you answered the question or merely restated it? The following examples are based on this question: Does Romeo's prior feelings for Rosaline diminish the credibility of his love for Juliet?
- Good example: Romeo's prior feelings for Rosaline diminish the credibility of his love for Juliet.
- Bad example: This essay examines whether or not Romeo's prior feelings for Rosaline diminishes his love for Juliet.
- Have you tried to argue both sides of the case? It is important to acknowledge the other side and address the other position. That does not, however, excuse you from choosing a side.
- Good example: Juliet was not the first woman to capture Romeo's fancy; she was, however, the one who affected him the most.
- Bad example: Romeo loved Juliet with all his heart, but he loved Rosaline too; It could be argued they were both his favorite.
- Have you prejudged the issue by using loaded language? Immature writers manipulate readers through emotionally-charged language.
- Bad example: Immature, whiny, male-pig Romeo, a male harlot, ruined precious Juliet whom he loved no more than Rosaline.