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Video Transcripts

Analyzing & Synthesizing Sources: Synthesis in Paragraphs

Last updated 11/8/2016


Visual: The screen shows the Walden University Writing Center logo along with a pencil and notebook. “Walden University Writing Center.” “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. The background changes to the title of the video with open books in the background.

Audio: Guitar music plays.


Visual: Slide changes to the title “The MEAL Plan” and the following:

Synthesis is analysis that connects multiple pieces of evidence

  • Main Idea: Topic sentence
  • Evidence: Paraphrase or quote
  • Analysis: Explanation, interpretation, or adding to the evidence
  • Lead Out: Summarizing and concluding the paragraph

Audio: So in the MEAL plan, synthesis, it fits in the MEAL plan in the form of analysis. So synthesis is analysis that connects multiple pieces of evidence together. So in this way, even though the MEAL plan doesn't include synthesis, it really can fit in as kind of replacing or in addition to analysis. And you might have a paragraph that has some analysis on its own. Just, you know, analyzing one piece of evidence, and then you might actually also include some synthesis that, you know, puts together multiple pieces of evidence.


Visual: Slide changes to show the following:

Synthesis is analysis that connects multiple pieces of evidence—analysis on steroids!

Sample paragraph construction:

  • Main idea
  • Evidence
  • Evidence
  • Analysis [synthesis]
  • Lead-out

Audio: So you can have both analysis and synthesis in the same paragraph, and you can kind of think of synthesis as related to analysis. Okay? So that's helpful to keep in mind, and kind of how that fits into the MEAL plan.


Visual: The slide changes to show the following example. In this example, the topic sentence is italicized, the evidence sentences are underlined, the synthesis sentence is bolded, and the lead-out sentence is in normal text. As the speaker talks about each of these sentences, she points to them.

            We focus on middle school students in the present investigation for several reasons. First, middle school teachers are much more likely than elementary school teachers to use formal assessments (e.g., paper-and-pencil quizzes and exams), as opposed to informal observation, when determining report card grades (Brookhart, 1994; Gullickson, 1985). This transition in grading practices reflects a more general shift toward rank-ordered comparisons of students (Eccles et al., 1993). Additionally, as children enter middle school, academic performance becomes an increasingly important component of their personally valued goals and overall self-esteem (Galotti, 2005; Harter, 1985); notably, self-esteem, school engagement, and report card grades may all decrease sharply during this transition (Eccles, 2004; Eccles et al., 1993; Simmons & Blyth, 1987). At the same time, children become much more sensitive to the distinction between intelligence and effort, with heightened attention to how they compare with other students (Stipek & Douglas, 1989). In sum, middle school represents an inflection point in the nature, purpose, and interpretative consequence of the assessment of academic performance. Thus, this developmental epoch is the earliest at which we would expect a measurable and consequential rift between standardized achievement test scores and report card grades.

(from Duckworth, Quinn, & Tsukayama, 2012)         

Audio: I have this example here of a paragraph. I know it's pretty long, what I want to focus on though is how we have a topic sentence here, introducing the focus of the paragraph. Then we include some evidence, and you can see that because of all the citations, right? We've got citations throughout this paragraph, right here (indicating). And right here (indicating) and right here (indicating). And all these sentences are evidence sentences which we know by the citations.

Note these sentences also include some transitions, which I've underlined, which are really helpful in synthesis. So I like to emphasize that synthesis is really -- when you're using multiple pieces of evidence like this, can you help connect them by transitions, which can be really useful. And then after that, we have this nice little sentence of synthesis (indicating). And you can see, "In sum," that transition helps indicate that synthesis is coming. Because we're saying in sum, all this evidence, that we just looked at, together, means this. And then we end with a summary or concluding sentence in the paragraph as well, okay? So this is kind of like synthesis and the MEAL plan in action. And you can kind of see how it works together in the context of a paragraph.


Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Questions? E-mail” appears in center of screen.