Last update 3/27/2018
Visual: Walden logo at bottom of screen along with notepad and pencil background.
Audio: Guitar music.
Visual: “Walden University Writing Center. Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears in center of screen. Background changes to a laptop and notebook a person is writing in on a table with the title “Applying Feedback to Your Paper: Thesis Statement Feedback.”
The screen then changes to show a sample paper with the following sentence at the end of a paragraph and feedback in a comment bubble from writing instructor Beth Nastachowski:
Therefore, the literacy question for this school will be what reading practice and programs will show academic growth in reading and literacy for students that fall below the 25% on grade-level benchmarks.
Rather than end this introduction with a question, in academic writing we typically want to end our paragraphs with a thesis statement. This is a statement of what you’ll show or prove in your paper. It helps tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the paper. Without a thesis statement, the reader might know what your paper is about, but not what you’ll say about that topic.
With this question I know you’ll discuss this school’s reading practices and programs, but I don’t know what you found about these reading practices and programs; what did you conclude?
Instead of a question at the end, think about what you concluded when you wrote this paper. You can also think about this in terms of what you want the reader to walk away from this paper with—What main idea about this school’s reading practices and programs do you want the reader to understand?
Consider this question, then write out your answer, which will be your thesis statement! Then replace this question with your thesis statement. As the speaker continues, she points out the components of the feedback in the comment bubble.
Audio: In this video, we’ll focus on how to apply thesis statement feedback to your writing. If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch our introductory video, “Applying Feedback Principles,” first.
What might that thesis statement feedback look like?
Here’s an example: In this comment, the writing instructor is commenting on the student’s last sentence of the introduction, a guiding question for the paper about the school’s reading practices and programs. The writing instructor explains that a thesis statement is missing and why this missing thesis statement is problematic. The writing instructor then gives the student directions for how to develop a thesis statement for the paper.
Visual: The screen changes to a second sample paper with the following sentence at the end of the introduction paragraph and feedback in a comment bubble from writing instructor Beth Nastachowski:
Therefore, the success of the CBPR lies in the diligence and the persistence of its community partners and community members.
Great job including a clear thesis statement at the end of your introduction here! A thesis is really important in communicating to the reader what you will show or prove throughout the paper, not just what topic you’ll be discussing. It helps make this paper an academic argument.
However, I noticed that you mention community partners and members in this thesis, but not researchers, even though you mentioned researchers as one of the stakeholders in CBPR and throughout the rest of the introduction.
Take another look at the focus of your paper and whether researchers is an important part of the CBPR process; if so, be sure to add it here so your thesis encompasses the entire focus of the thesis. That way, your thesis is reflective of your entire paper. I also recommend reading through the rest of your paper to make sure that the focus of your paper and the focus in this thesis statement match up; if not, be sure to revise.
As the speaker continues, she points out the components of the feedback in the comment bubble.
Audio: Here’s another example: In this comment, the writing instructor points out that the student does have a thesis statement and explains how this thesis statement is helpful. However, the writing instructor also explains that the thesis statement’s scope doesn’t match the paper because it doesn’t mention the importance of researchers along with community partners and community members, even though researchers were emphasized earlier in the introduction and throughout the rest of the paper. The writing instructor explains that this means the thesis statement isn’t as comprehensive as it could be; it doesn’t match the rest of the paper. The writing instructor asks the student to consider the focus of the entire paper and the thesis statement together, making sure they match.
Note that in this last example, the writing instructor explicitly asks the student to consider this thesis statement feedback in the context of the paper as a whole. However, even if the writing instructor only commented on the missing thesis statement or that the thesis statement wasn’t comprehensive—like in the first example—the student should still be sure to use the comment to consider the entire paper.
Whether the person giving you feedback explicitly asks you to consider the thesis statement in the context of the entire paper or not, it is very important that your thesis fits within that context or you’ll have larger argumentative and structural issues. So, even when you aren’t explicitly asked to apply the thesis statement feedback in the context of the entire paper, make sure you do so anyways.
Finally, note that these are just two examples of what thesis statement feedback might look like, so the feedback you receive might look different. However, you can still use everything we talked about today to help you incorporate whatever thesis statement feedback you’ve received.
Visual: The screen changes to show the following slide: Appropriate Revision Strategies
Ask questions: What is my conclusion about this topic?
Read your paper for scope: What am I missing? What is extra?
Create a reverse outline: Compare your thesis to your sections
Audio: Before we incorporate this thesis statement feedback, let’s talk about the revision strategies we recommend you use when considering this type of feedback.
First, try asking questions. If you don’t have a thesis statement yet, ask yourself: What is my conclusion about this topic? What do I want my reader to walk away knowing about my topic? These questions will help you identify your thesis—what you are arguing for or showing about your topic—instead of just focusing on your paper’s topic.
Second, try reading your paper, thinking specifically about the scope of your paper. For your thesis statement to be effective, it needs to match the scope of your paper. This means ensuring that everything you mention in your thesis statement is addressed in the rest of your paper so that (a) nothing is missing but also that (b) there’s nothing extra. To do this, you can highlight your thesis or put it on a separate piece of paper, then read your paper, constantly referring back to your thesis to make sure it matches your paper’s scope.
Third, try creating a reverse outline. A reverse outline is an outline you create after you write a paper. First, highlight your thesis statement and copy and paste it into another Word document; then identify the main sections and points of your paper, summarizing them, in order, under your thesis statement. This strategy will help you compare your thesis statement to the sections of your paper, giving you another way to make sure your thesis matches the scope of your paper.
Visual: The screen changes back to the first sample paper. The speaker points out the components of the feedback comment she should pay attention to, including the questions the writing instructor asked the student to consider when revising their thesis statement:
You can also think about this in terms of what you want the reader to walk away from this paper with—What main idea about this school’s reading practices and programs do you want the reader to understand?
Audio: Now that we know what thesis statement feedback might look like and the revision strategies we might use to revise thesis statements, let’s apply this feedback in the papers.
Here’s our first comment where the writing instructor explained that this introduction was missing a thesis statement. To incorporate this feedback, I’m going to ask myself the question the writing instructor posed: What main idea about this school’s reading practices and programs do I want the reader to understand?
To answer this question, I should read my paper again, paying close attention to what I found in the research. I should also look at my conclusion paragraph, since I might have included the answers to these questions in the conclusion.
Visual: The following is displayed over the sample paper:
(a) professional development for teachers
(b) analyzing and using data
(c) incorporating early interventions
The speaker then writes a new thesis statement, replacing the current last sentence of the paragraph with the following sentence:
Therefore, this school must focus on professional development for teachers, analyzing and using data, and incorporating early interventions to promote the academic growth of students that fall below the 25% grade-level benchmarks.
Audio: When I’ve done this, I realize that the following are important for improving underperforming students’ academic growth: (a) professional development for teachers; (b) analyzing and using data; and (c) incorporating early interventions. Based on these conclusions, I write my thesis statement to replace this question.
Visual: The screen changes to the second paper example, and the feedback about the thesis statement’s scope is pointed out on the screen.
Audio: Let’s look at our other example: In this comment, the writing instructor is noting that the thesis statement doesn’t match the scope of the paper. To revise I could think about what is missing in this thesis, like “researchers” as the writing instructor pointed out. Similarly, I could also create a reverse outline, pulling out the thesis and my main points in a separate document.
Visual: The speaker adds the word “researchers” to the thesis statement so it reads as follows:
Therefore, the success of the CBPR lies in the diligence and the persistence of its community partners, researchers, and community members.
Audio: I already know that I’m missing “researchers”, so I’m going to rewrite my thesis to include it.
And the process continues! While I already incorporated both thesis statement comments, I could use other revision strategies to continue to check that my thesis statement matches the scope of my paper. For example, I could use reverse outlining to analyze my thesis even further, which would help ensure I have a strong and cohesive argument in my paper. I can also use these strategies to check my thesis statement in future papers. If this process seems complicated, trust us; it’ll get easier with time and practice.
Visual: The video ends with the following message: Walden University Writing Center
Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org