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Webinar Transcripts

Writing Strong Thesis Statements

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Presented November 14, 2018

Last updated 1/13/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping 

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  • Help
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Audio: Kacy: This webinar is being recorded. And in a day or two you’ll be able to access it through our website. So, if have to leave early or you want to go over portions of this webinar again later, you'll be able to check out that recording. Along with it you’ll find many other recorded webinars on various writing-related topics. There will be several chances to interact with colleagues and with our presenter, Beth, so please be sure to participate during the chat sessions in the large chat box. Just like you did before the webinar started today. 

Also, all of the links in the slideshow are active so you can click directly on them for access to more information either now or later if you’re watching the recording. 

We also have a few helpful files in our files pod and you can download them by clicking on the download files button at the bottom of the pod. There’s going to be a lot of information in this webinar and if you have any questions you can use the Q&A box. I’ll be watching the Q&A box and I’ll answer your questions as quickly as I can. If we run out of time, however, or if you have any questions later on, please send them to writingsupport@waldenu.eduand you will get a response through e-mail. Finally, if you encounter any technical difficulties, there is a help button in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar screen and you can also reach out to me and I can try to help you if have more questions. Just reach out in that Q&A box. So, thank you again so much for joining us. I'm going to turn things over to Beth Nastachowski.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Practical Writing Skills: Writing Strong Thesis Statements” and the speaker’s name and information: Beth Nastachowski, Manager of Multimedia Writing Instruction, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Beth: Thank you so much, Kacy, and hi everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with you all today. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to attend this webinar. This is Practical Writing Skills: Writing Strong Thesis Statements and as Kacy said my name is Beth Nastachowski. I am the Manager of Multimedia Writing Instruction for the Writing Center so I help coordinate and manage webinars like this as well as our videos and our self-paced modules throughout the Writing Center. I really enjoy our webinars because I love being able to talk with students live, and hopefully help clarify some topics. Academic writing topics that we do throughout our webinars. In particular today, talking about thesis statements, thesis statements are something that are so central to the academic and argumentative writing we do at Walden and so Mi real excited to talk more about this, and hear more from you all about how you are viewing thesis statements and to kind work through some of the activities that I have planned today as well. 

I also wanted to take a moment here and thank everyone who responded to that poll question we had in the lobby. If you had a chance to respond that, you were looking at different statements and identifying the best one that articulated a thesis statement. Most of you got that correct, responded correctly to that which is really fantastic considering we have not talked about thesis statements yet. The correct answer was the middle one, option B.  Because it most clearly defined sort of the topic of the paper, but also the argument that the author is going to talk about.  

We are going to look at that a bit more but know that if you chose option B you are on the right track and if you didn’t choose option B that is okay that is why we are here today and I hope as we talk about thesis statements you will see why option B was the best choice.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives: You will be able to

•      Define the purpose of a thesis statement and discuss its importance in academic writing 

•      Identify elements of a strong thesis statement

•      Identify strategies for writing a strong thesis statement

•      Apply strategies by reviewing and writing thesis statements

Audio: So, speaking of the webinar today this is what we are going to talk about. We are going to talk about thesis statements in a number of different ways. So, first, we’re going to define thesis statements and why we use them. Then we’re going to identify the elements of a strong thesis statement and strategies for writing that strong thesis statement. Sometimes it can be easy to say, okay, I know what a thesis statement is and I can see what a strong one is when you put in front of me but how do I actually do it my own writing. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. And then we’re going to apply these strategies and analyze some thesis statements and have you write your own thesis statements as well so there will be about 20-30 minutes of me talking through the first three bullet points here and then the last hopefully 30 minutes at least will be on the last bullet point where we will be doing some activities. That is our outline for the next hour here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statements

•      Definition

•      A concisespecific, and arguable explanation of your paper’s main argument or purpose

•      Appears at or toward the end of the introduction

•      Importance

•      Keeps writer on topic 

•      Sets readers’ expectations

•      Answers the question
“Why are you telling me this?” 

Audio: And as I said, we’re going to start with what is a thesis statement? So, I have a definition here of a thesis statement, it’s a concise specific and arguable explanation of your paper's main argument or purpose. And I want to articulate a difference between a paper’s topic and a paper’s argument because sometimes I think, when we are not used to thesis statements we focus on our paper’s topic, because we are used to identifying those. But a thesis statement is beyond the topic. 

So, maybe you can think way back to high school or even earlier in your college career and you might have been asked to demonstrate knowledge on something. Maybe you learned about the education system in your state and so, you had to demonstrate that you knew about the education system so you are writing a paper and the topic was that education system and the purpose was to show that you know things about. Right? Maybe you studied about it, you read a  textbook. You had lectures and you are writing a paper to demonstrate that knowledge about the topic itself. That is fantastic. But in academic writing and particularly in the courses you'll taking now and the coursework you are doing we are not just demonstrating knowledge. You also want to show your application of that knowledge through an argument so you are developing an argument about that topic and that’s really important to know because now we are moving from just demonstrating knowledge to demonstrating and application. 

That is where the thesis comes in. We can’t just say we are writing a paper about the education system in Minnesota for example where I am. We want to make an argument about that topic and so maybe just throwing it out there my arguments might be that we need to have better teacher preparation in the Minnesota’s education system. That might be an argument I would make about that particular topic. So that’s really important to note the difference between those two things.  Because a thesis statement is only present in that argumentative paper. The thesis statement is not evident in the topic or knowledgebase, showing that knowledge base paper. So that is important to note and I like to emphasize that because a thesis statement it has to be arguable. You have to be able to argue for or against it so that’s an important component of the thesis statement.

The other thing to keep in mind is that a thesis statement usually appears at or toward the end of the introduction. Most commonly I’ll see it the very last sentence of the introduction paragraph, that’s where I’ll usually find it and look for it as a reader.  Potentially it could be a little bit earlier, but if you’re new to thesis statements that’s normally where you’ll put it. 

A thesis statement is very important that’s the other thing we want to talk about here. And it’s important for a couple of reasons. It really acts as the roadmap for your paper, like I have here on this slide. It acts as that road map for both you and the reader.  It’s both useful for you as a writer and to your reader looking at your paper. It helps you stay on topic. Having a thesis statement helps you know what to include in your paper because everything in your paper needs to work towards that argument. Right? So, if you’re writing a paper and you don't know exactly what purpose your writing for you might include a lot of extra detail or you might leave out things that would help develop that argument. By having a thesis statement and knowing what you're arguing for you’ll be able to determine what information should fit in your paper and in what order because you’re building that argument. So, it’s sort of the driving force of that paper for you. 

A thesis also helps your reader by setting expectations. It tells the reader exactly what you're going to argue. So, you say, I’m going to talk about X and I’m going to argue Y about that thing and so your reader will look for that argument and that you will have developed and shown that argument throughout the paper. So, it sorts of sets up that road map. It also answers the question of why are you telling me this. Why does this matter? Why as a reader should I care about this topic or the argument? It helps answer that so what question. So, as you can see, thesis statements are really important in our academic and argument of writing so that is why we devoted a whole webinar to this. I hope that all makes sense to you all.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What isn’t a good thesis statement? 

Your thesis should not be

•      A nonarguable claim or the topic of your paper

•      Small business owners employ 35% of the United States’ workers.

•      In this paper I will show the importance of small business owners to the local Minnesota economy.

•      Buried so your reader can’t find it

•      Implied

Audio: I'm next going to talk about what a good thesis statement is not. Just to kind of help highlight some of these points that we already started talking about. So, first your thesis statement should not be a non-arguable claim or the topic of your paper. I’ve already talked about this. The difference between a thesis and a topic. But the other point remember is a thesis needs to be arguable. It can’t just be a statement of fact it needs to be something you could argue against. And that’s important as well.

So, here’s an example of a fact something that is not arguable. Small business owners employ 35% of United States workers. This is a fact and something that isn’t arguable. You couldn’t argue against it necessarily. Instead we could turn this into an arguable thesis statement by saying in this paper I will show the importance of small business owners to the local Minnesota economy. That’s an arguable statement where we’re showing the importance someone could argue that actually small business owners are not important to the Minnesota economy or they could argue that a different component of the economy is more important than small business owners. You see how that arguable part is really important. And you can see the thread here. I’m clearly from Minnesota so I'm using those in the examples, I’m bringing up here. But I hope this is useful for everyone.

The second thing is that it shouldn’t be buried so your reader can’t find it. It needs to be something your reader can easily identify and that is why it’s usually found at the end of that introduction paragraph. Sometimes students will ask whether the thesis should be the very end of their paper, sort of the big reveal and that is just kind of how we think as writers, sometimes we are writing we come to our thesis and discover what we are arguing at the very end as we are processing information but actually we want that at the very beginning so our reader sets that expectation at the very early part of our paper.

And then the second thing it shouldn’t be implied. You want to make that thesis explicit and that is why we have thesis statements. Sometimes if you took it out of a paper you could kinda figure out what the argument the writer is making just by how they are discussing the topic and what other points they are making. But we want to make that thesis or that argument really explicit and really clear from the outset. It should also be, it shouldn’t be implied. So, if you have a thesis statement you don’t have to worry about any of these things. It will take care of it for you. But it’s helpful to think about if you did not have a thesis statement what problems might that present for us? 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: When do I need a thesis?

Almost all assignments:

  • Brief responses, discussion posts, short essays, long essays, research papers, etc.
  • Instructors may not always explicitly state that a thesis is required

Audio: When do we need a thesis statement? When? Really in your academic writing and particularly if you are a Masters or doctoral student if you are thinking about your coursework, you’ll need this in almost all of your assignments. Even brief response, discussion post, [hearing a loud beep] apologies every one that’s just the oven. My husband is getting dinner ready for us. So that is all you heard. apologies about that. So, when do you need a thesis? You need in almost all the assignments so that includes these brief responses even discussion posts or short essays, shorter assignments that you might be doing. You might think I am only writing a page or two so do I need a thesis statement? Ideally, yes, your assignments for the most part will be argumentative where you are presenting particular perspectives or an argument on a topic so those thesis statements are really necessary. They are also necessary and longer essays are research papers that you’re doing. That’s also important.

I do want to note here, if you are a doctoral student when you're thinking about the final study that you’ll be doing so that is the dissertation or the project study things like that, that you won’t have a traditional thesis statement in those necessarily. The sort of argument that you’re making is represented in other kinds of statements in those documents and so I just want to note that. That’s a difference in genre. The dissertation or the doctoral study follow their own particular requirements and rules than the course papers you will be writing threat your coursework. So, I just want to know that from the outset as well.

The last thing to note here is that instructors may not always explicitly state that a thesis is required. That is because it is assumed that you will include it in your argumentative writing. What you’ll be looking for is those assignments that are asking you to provide your perspective, to make an argument, to discover new ideas, to maybe synthesize, those are all indications you are writing an argumentative paper or an argumentative piece and you need a thesis statement. I hope this is useful. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: How do I get ideas for my thesis?

•      COLLECT and ORGANIZE evidence

•      Look for RELATIONSHIPS and CONNECTIONS among evidence

•      Think about the SIGNIFICANCE of these relationships and connections.

•      ASSESS the goal of your paper based on these relationships and connections

Audio: We are going to go into strategies for how do I get ideas for my thesis statement but I want to pause here and just remind you that we have the questions box on the right. I hope that this is making sense and is clicking for you all. But if you have any questions make sure to let Kacy know as we are going along here. I’m going to keep talking at you for a little bit more but then I'm going to stop for questions. So, I just want to note that as well.

So, you might be wondering how do I get ideas for my thesis? How should this fit within my writing process and how do I ensure that I could develop a thesis or figure out what my thesis is? And this is sort of, something you should be keep in mind throughout your writing process. It doesn’t fit into really neatly into one specific part of your writing process. Part of that is because it might depend on the paper you are writing and the topic you're writing about as well. 

So, if I’m writing about a topic that I know really, really well maybe I’ve researched it before in other classes or something that is really closely related to the job, that I do every day. I may already know what my thesis is because I’m already very well-versed in that topic. I know the research, I know the different ideas that are out there. So, I might know what I want to argue early on in my writing process. If it is something that you are researching a totally new topic or a new area of your field you might find that you develop your thesis statement later on after you've done more research and more informed yourself about the various conversations that are happening on that topic. 

So, there isn’t one place that you're going to develop that thesis statement but it is something that you want to be thinking about throughout the writing process. As you’re looking at the assignment prompt  it’s always helpful to check in and think oh gosh do I already know what kind of argument I might want to write about this, then as you go and do the research and read through any required resources and maybe even do the discussion posts if it relates to your final paper you are going to be thinking about what your argument might be and be thinking about that thesis. As you do so, you want to look for relationships and connections between evidence. Seeing what kinds of relationships, you are seeing and what that might mean for the argument you want to make. And then think about the significance between those as well and assess the goal of your paper based on those relationships. 

As you’re reading the research think about the thesis statement. Maybe if you already know what your argument is you want to read that research to see how it informs that thesis maybe it supports what you already thought your argument should be or maybe it changes what you think your argument should be, maybe it just tweaks and little bit, that is fine. If you don't have an argument before you started your research then maybe as you’re looking through the research, you’re developing it there and you’re already looking at these relationships in terms of what could my thesis be? So, no matter where you are, you want to keep in mind before you start your reading and then as you do your reading. 

And then the other thing is that as you start developing your paper maybe you’re outlining your paper or you’re starting to write your paper, you're going to want to have that thesis in mind. But I want to emphasize here that the thesis will not be set in stone until you finalize your paper. As you write and as you develop your outline if you’re doing that or as you are writing and drafting your paper you going to refine your ideas and you’re going to make more connections because writing is thinking. As we write we process information and as you do that you might find that you need to change your thesis statement or that you need to tweak it or kind of adjust it or shift it or add to it a little bit. And that’s okay, too.

There isn’t one place that you’re going to have your thesis statement what you will have it throughout and as you have your thesis statement throughout the writing process, you're going to shift it and change it potentially. I don't know that there is a paper I've ever written where my thesis statement that I started out with before I started researching was exactly the same statement that I ended with my final draft and that’s okay. Keep that in mind throughout.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What should my thesis include?

•      WHAT is your specific claim?

•      The claim itself 

•      HOW are you going to prove your claim? 

•      The events, ideas, sources, and details that you choose to prove your claim 

•      WHY is your claim significant? 

•      In terms of understanding your position as a whole (answers the “so what?” question)

Audio: What should my thesis statement include? That’s the next section here we are going to talk about and all of these are kind of related but you want to have three main parts of your thesis statement and they are all interrelated, really. So, first your specific claim you want to have an arguable claim within your thesis statement and you also want to make sure that you’re also including how you are going to prove it and why your claim is significant. 

These last two parts are really about including specifics in your thesis statement. So, you want to makes sure that, that thesis isn’t just an arguable claim that’s kind of broad and not very specific outlining your paper. You want to make sure it is also gets to the detail of your paper itself so that is unique to your paper. You would not want your thesis statement to also apply to another classmate’s paper in that it is so broad and does not include the specific details for how you're going to argue that particular claim. So, the what, how and why are both really important.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What should my thesis include?

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why
  • Although they might find cheaper prices at large chain stores outside of town, residents who shop at smaller neighborhood storessupport their communities economically and strengthen the communities’ identity.
  • You could also argue that smaller neighborhood stores don’t provide as many jobs as bigger stores.

Audio: Here’s an example and I've used some formatting to color code this a little bit, although of course remember this is all one sentence so it all bleeds together a little bit and I am going to pause for a moment so you can take a look at this statement and then I'm going to read it out loud and talk about a little bit.

Okay, so this thesis reads although they might find cheaper prices at large chain stores outside of town, residents who shop at smaller neighborhood stores support their communities economically and strengthen the community's identity.

So, there is some important what here, residents who shop. And specifically, how this person is going to talk about this, this author. They’re going to talk about residents who shop at smaller neighborhood stores who support their communities economically and strengthen the community identity. Those are all really important components of the thesis statement so it's very clear about the topic and area that we are going to talk about here. Residents and their shopping habits. We are going to talk about those in terms of small neighborhood stores versus those large chain stores and were going to talk about those because it is important to the community itself. Economically and for their identity. So, we included a lot of specific details which are really helpful. As readers we can imagine what the author might discuss throughout the rest of their paper and it sets those expectations really well. We realize that the author is going to have to talk about the importance of those smaller stores, they’re going to have to compare them to the larger chain stores and they’re going to have to show us why those small stores contribute economically to the community identity. Those are all really important. 

The other thing that I want to note here, is this is also an arguable thesis statement. You could argue that small neighborhood stores do not provide as many jobs as bigger stores for example. That would be an alternative thesis you could take. So it’s also arguable and that is really important. As well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis

Electronic health records (EHRs) allow medical institutions to streamline communication. 

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: All right, we’re going to go through a couple different activities where you're going to assess these thesis statements on your own so were not going to open a chat box or anything but I’m going to give you a moment to think about these a little bit and then I'm going to talk through them and this will prepare us for the activities we're going to do in the second half of the hour, here. So, electronic health records (EHR’s) allow medical institutions to streamline communication. And I want you think about how this adheres to that what, how and why and how you might improve this particular thesis statement. Assess it a little bit. I’m going to go quiet for 20 or 30 seconds and then we will go to the next slide where we assess this.

Ok, that was maybe not 20 or 30 seconds.  More like 10. I think that is enough time. Let's go to the next slide and think about this. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis: Answer

As compared to paper records, electronic health records (EHRs) allow medical institutions to streamline communication, bringing about fewer medication errors and better patient outcomes.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: So, this is the way that I assess that particular thesis statement and the wording that is bold, not bolded, but italicized or underlined and in the teal wording is what I’ve added. Okay. This thesis statement didn’t include enough specifics. Right? Electronic health records allow medical institutions to streamline communication, is kind of an argument, it’s not quite specific enough. That could be applied to any number of different papers and you could take that thesis in any number of different ways. It’s not specific enough to outline the roadmap. We are missing the how and why, so instead I revised it to be more specific and detailed to envision that paper in the argument the writer is going to make. 

As compared to paper records, electronic health records allow medical institutions to streamline communication bringing about fewer medication errors and better patient outcomes. So, in this thesis we can see what the authors going to do is they are going to compare medical records that are electronic to the paper ones and show how the brings fewer medication errors and better patient outcomes. That is the revised version is much stronger and includes those specifics. It’s also much more arguable, right? And specific to this particular paper.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis

In this paper, I will discuss the effectiveness of online discussion boards in an online classroom.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: Another one I'm going to read it aloud and give you let’s say 10 seconds, I think 10 seconds feels more manageable and then we’ll talk about it out loud. In this paper I will discuss the effectiveness of online discussion boards in an online classroom. Think about that and how it fits into that what, how and why. 

Alright, so, this particular statement was okay. But it is not necessarily arguable. It’s not taking a stance on this particular issue of the effectiveness of online discussion boards. It’s stating a fact. It’s not arguable. I can’t really argue that you won't discuss the effectiveness of online discussion boards so we can’t take an alternative stance.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis: Answer

Instructors can make online discussion boards more effectiveby consistently engaging students and asking prompting questions throughout the weekimproving student learning in the course.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: Instead though we could take this non-arguable statement and make it arguable in this way: Instructors can make online discussion boards more effective by consistently engaging students and asking prompting questions throughout the week, improving student learning in the course. We’ve included an arguable component to this. We could argue that consistent engagement with students does not impact the effectiveness of discussion boards or we could argue that something else makes them more effective. Right? And we’ve included more details to include the how and why so we’re talking about, we could see specifically how the writer will make this argument and why it is important. Improving student learning outcomes.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis

In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: All right, I think this is our last one. Yes, this is our last one that we’re going to look at. In this essay I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences. Think about this one and take a minute to assess it for the what, how and why.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis: Answer

In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognitioncan reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: This one is similar. Right? The thesis statement really isn’t arguable. If I go back here

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis 

In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: It says in this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences. It’s kind of explaining how they are going to or what, kind of how they’ll achieve something in the paper but we don't know exactly what. I can’t argue against the writer will examine two scholarly articles. It is not arguable. Right? And we’re also missing some details. We don't exactly know what the topics are, what the authors are going to discuss. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assess the Thesis: Answer

In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognitioncan reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: We could definitely make some revisions here and this is my revision. In this essay I will argue that Bowler’s (2003) autocratic management style when coupled with Smith’s (2007) theory of social cognition can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover. Again, the ideas within this paper might not have changed at all. But the thesis statement better reflects the ideas that the writer is discussing. The two articles are being compared and we know why they are being compared and what outcome we are getting from this so we can better see that roadmap for the paper. And again, it’s also arguable. So much better thesis statement all around.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Other Elements of a Thesis Statement

•      Concise

•      Instructors in any university setting, including an online setting, should approach teaching APA through assignments that provide practical practice, short recorded videos no longer than 2 minutes to teach individual APA rules, quizzes and tests, and one-hour lectures. 

 

•      Specific

•      Instructors should teach APA through multiple methods.

Audio: All right, the last couple components I want to talk about for thesis statements before we have a moment for questions so if you have questions that are lingering make sure to submit those to Kacy so we can talk about those out loud as well. But, two other things, we’ve already started talking about this a little bit but is also really important to think about your thesis statement as being both concise and specific. Those two things sometimes can work against each other so I want to talk about them together. Because to achieve concision sometimes you have to leave out details but we also want our statement to be specific so it’s also not too broad and you have to balance these two things when thinking about your thesis statement. 

I'm going to read these two examples of the same thesis statement one that is not concise and one that is not specific so they are the polar opposites and then we are going to see the middle ground balancing both concision and specificity. 

The one that is not concise: Instructors in any university setting including an online setting should approach teaching APA through assignments that provide practical practice, short recorded videos, no longer than two minutes to teach, individual APA rules, quizzes and tests and one-hour lectures. You can see here that this a lot to through and it is very specific and includes a lot of details that isn’t really needed in an introduction to a paper. It includes a lot of details that we could discover within the main points in the body of the paper. So, it is not necessary. It is not concise. 

The one on the right isn’t specific enough. Instructors should teach APA through multiple methods. Well, it’d be helpful to get more specific information. What are those multiple methods and why should we have that, why should they teach those, APA through those methods? What's that achieve? 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Other Elements of a Thesis Statement

•      Concise

•      Specific

University instructors should teach APA through multiple opportunities for students to learn, including practice assignments, short videos, quizzes and tests, and lectures.

Audio: So, this is my middle ground. University instructors should teach APA through multiple opportunities for students to learn, including practice assignments, short videos, quizzes and tests and lectures. I wanted to show you this because it balances both being concise, right? But also, with that specificity. It’s also specific enough for the thesis statement. 

Now one other thing I want to note here is this thesis statement I could imagine it working really well for maybe a discussion post that has three or four paragraphs. It could also work maybe for a shorter discussion post or even it can probably be expanded out to a paper that is 3-5 pages, something like that. It would be really difficult to write an entire 20-page paper about this thesis statement. If I am looking at an article a journal article that is 20 pages long or book chapter, I would probably want to see a thesis statement that is a bit longer and maybe even more specific. Because your thesis statement can also expand or contract depending on the length of the paper and the scope of the piece you are writing. So, I want to note that as well. Concision and specificity all depend on context so it depends on what you are writing. That is important to keep in mind. You're going to hit this balance differently depending on the type of paper you are writing. I Hope that makes sense as well.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions

Any Questions

Audio: All right, let's stop here and talk there any questions that might have come up that would be useful for us to talk aloud as a group. Kacy, is anything that would be useful for me to address?

Kacy: We had great questions come in so thank you for that. The first one I wanted to talk about as a larger group was, does the thesis appear in the abstract of a paper? And where would it appear?

Beth: Oh, that’s a great question. Yes, your thesis definitely could appear and probably should appear in that abstract. I would say because the abstract is a summary or an overview of your entire paper it’s probably going to be the first or second sentence in the abstract. It depends on the scope of your paper. An abstract is similar to a thesis in that if you have a longer paper your abstract is probably a little bit longer, a shorter paper requires a shorter abstract because you have to summarize less so a longer abstract you might see it a little bit later in the abstract but usually, I would say the first or second sentence. That’s what I normally see. Kacy, would you agree? Anything to add to that?

Kacy: I definitely agree.  I think that was my answer as well that the abstract is working as almost a, another thesis. You mentioned about talking about length and I have some questions about how long a thesis sentence should be for like a five-page paper versus a 20-page paper and would you ever have a thesis statement that is longer than one sentence?

Beth: That’s a great question and I would say yes you have a thesis statement longer than one sentence. I have seen two or sometimes three sentences although that is kind of pushing it a little bit. But you are definitely getting up to 20 page, 25, 30 pages for the paper there. I would say the longer your thesis statement is the longer your paper should be and the broader your scope would be as well.

Kacy: Thanks so much. I think that is it for now but I am sure I see some more questions coming in. So, we’ll have more for our next question session.

Beth: Wonderful. We will move on to our second half of our session.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice 

•      Read each passage.

•      Determine whether the thesis is specific, concise, and arguable.

•      If it needs improvement, rewrite the thesis.

Audio: We are right on time which is fantastic. We have lots of time for these activities. We are going to do some thesis statement practice and I realized here that I changed some of the activities so these directions don't quite fit.

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #1

Chat: Revise this thesis statement to improve it.

Teachers who work with an instructional coach report many benefits.

Audio: So, I'm going to move on and go right to the directions for the individual activities here. We are going to talk first I would like you to look at this thesis statement and just revise it to improve it. Provide your own details and kind of, try to use your creativity to think about this a little bit but add in the components that are missing to this thesis statement.

Teachers who work with an instructional coach report many benefits. 

Kacy, do you mind switching us over to the first chat out there? Thank you. Perfect. 

Think about that little bit and I'm going to provide you with my example and I know that this might not be a topic that you are fully invested in or have done the research on but think about how you could maybe add in what’s missing here and if it’s not entirely accurate that is okay. Do your best. Use some creativity and I am going to go on mute for a minute or two here.

[silence as students type]

You guys are doing such a great job. I love this. If you are still typing feel free to continue to do that and enter yours into the chat box. I wanted to just take some time here, I pulled out four different ones and talk through those a little bit on the left here and I'm going to try to make them bigger. Our first revision we have here is, teachers who work with an instructional coach report better learning outcomes. And one thing I like about this is because I know you all are creative and adding your own spin is, we have already improved just with the sentence the original thesis was vague. Report many benefits. What benefits are talking about? If we are developing an argument, we don't want to say report many things. We want to say specifically what kind of benefits are we reporting? Specifically, we’ve made a revision here to talk about better learning outcomes. We’ve made that more specific and that in itself would really help and you could see how this thesis statements, teachers who work with an instructional coach report better learning outcomes could work really well for a small paper or even a discussion post because it’s very narrow in scope. We are talking just about learning outcomes. 

The second thesis statement I have here is online teachers who work with an instructional coach report improved communication with their learners which increases engagement. Here again what I love is that we are improving that last part. We are talking about, we are making it more specific. Improved communication with their learners. We are also including that why which increases engagement and I'm going to underline that. That’s really helpful because it helps add that specific information that how and also the Y that we have been missing here as well.

The third example I have here, special education teachers who work with an instructional coach yield higher standardized test scores and again what I love, a couple things, we are making that last one more specific. They are yielding higher test scores but also, I wanted to note here that the first part is also more specific and I love that as well. You not only saw an opportunity to make the last part more specific but you’re saying which teachers we are talking about here? And actually, I just noticed in the second statement also made the first part more specific. Online teachers. That is been really helpful as well. 

And then the last one I have is when compared with teaching independently it is been shown that teachers who are supported by an instructional coach provided rich lessons with increased comprehension. Again, we are making that last part more specific and we are also adding more how when compared to teaching independently. That’s fantastic. The one last thing I wanted to note that is helpful in the thesis statement is that you don't need to necessarily refer to research or something like, it has been shown or it has been proven or I think that kind of phrasing kind of detracts from your overall statement so I wanted to show we can just actually take this phrasing out and just say, teachers who are supported by instructional coach. We don't have to say it has been shown because you're going to show that research and that evidence in the body of your paper. That is where you show this is all research-based so for this part for your thesis statement you don't need to refer to that research at all yet.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #1

Chat: Revise this thesis statement to improve it. 

Teachers who work with an instructional coach report many benefits.

Revision:

As opposed to only receiving feedback from an administrator, teachers who work with an instructional coach report many benefits including stronger lesson plans and greater student achievement.

Audio:Here's the statement I came up with. As opposed to only receiving feedback from an administrator, teachers who work with an instructional coach report many benefits including stronger lesson plans and greater student achievement. I wanted to note here that you all picked up on a lot of the things I picked up on. I added something at the beginning of that thesis like comparing the instructional coach, the teacher who gets that instructional coach to one who does not. Similar to one of you who had done that and at the beginning of the thesis you added that phrasing at the beginning. And I also made that last part more specific listing specific things that are the benefits. Fantastic job. I hope this was useful in thinking through everything here. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #2

Chat: Which characteristics of a good thesis does this statement illustrate?

I will show that by drawing on an ethical framework informed by a variety of reliable sources, the nurse in the case study is able to evaluate a confusing ethical situation and determine a course of action to avoid potential negative outcomes.

Audio: We're going to move on to our practice number two. Pull up the poll layout. Awesome. Thank you so much.

I want you to take a look at this thesis and analyze it for what, how, why and whether it is arguable. I will show that by drawing on an ethical framework informed by a variety of reliable sources the nurse in the case studies is able to evaluate a confusing ethical situation and determine a course of action to avoid potential negative outcomes. I know it’s a lot so I’m going to let you read through it again and go ahead and respond and we are going to take a few minutes to let everybody respond then we will talk through the poll. There are multiple options. So choose…[in audible].

[silence as students respond]

You know I just realized that I was broadcasting everyone's responses as you were providing them and I did not mean to. I meant to do only big reveal once the response is slow down. I apologize everyone but I hope you were not influenced by your fellow students’ choices. You should all be able to see that we have a cascading response here so most everyone shows A. Many of you chose B and many of you also chose C and D those came out of the very end. 

I want to say that from my standpoint what I am seeing here is this actually has all of those different components. There we go. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #2

Chat: Which characteristics of a good thesis does this statement illustrate?

I will show that by drawing on an ethical framework informed by a variety of reliable sourcesthe nurse in the case study is able to evaluate a confusing ethical situation and determine a course of action to avoid potential negative outcomes.

  • Arguable
    • What 
    • How 
    • Why

Audio: So, I’ve outlined them here so we have our what, the nurse in the case studies able to evaluate confusing ethical situation and determine a course of action. We have our how at the very beginning drawing on an ethical framework. We also have our why, avoiding potential negative outcomes so those are all present there. It’s also arguable in that we could say that this ethical framework actually shows that the nurse in the case study is not able to evaluate these things or that we need to use a different framework to analyze this case study. So, it’s actually all of these different things, although I can definitely see how we for sure have that what and the how and the why are kind of, a little bit less seeable in this particular example.  

I also wanted to say to, I haven’t been showing you many great examples. So, that’s partly why wanted to show you this is this is a pretty good example. Right? We have all these different components. I will say that, one thing we could think about if we wanted to revise this thesis statement is that we would not necessarily have to say I will show. We could just say drawing on an ethical framework informed by a variety of reliable sources, we could see that the nurse in this case study is able to X, Y, and Z. That could be a different way that we might talk about this and remove that I will show language which could be more informal. That is one thing to keep in mind. Great job everyone. I hope this is all useful for you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #3

Chat: Revise this sentence for (a) concision and (b) specificity.

Imagine your paper concerns the social and academic benefits early elementary children gain by having strong reading skills.

Reading development (including sounding out words, learning new words, and learning the pronunciation of words) is essential for children ages 6-10 in public elementary school because these children receive both social (learning social cues, learning aspects of society, engaging with peers in group reading) and academic benefits (increasing language skills, increasing knowledge of topics, and transfer learning from reading to other studies) from developing strong reading skills.

Audio: Let's go to that third layout. Thank you so much Kacy, I appreciate it. I want you to look at this thesis statement and you're going to revise it doing what I had done in the previous example where I took that really long statement and cut it down. So, I want you to revise it for thinking about concision and specificity. And I want you to cut away and think about how you can make this more concise but also maintain the specific nature of it. So, thinking about that. And I guess, I know we talked about concision and specificity all been contextual so think about it in terms of how specific and concise you’d want to be for a 3-5-page paper. Something like that. I’ll again go on mute for a couple of minutes.

[silence as students respond]

Oh yes, great question. I will answer that a loud. We are recording the webinar and that will be posted in our webinar archives so you will be able to come and watch it and also when we move back to the presentation layout at the very end of the session, you're welcome to download the slides and look at those after the session. I know sometimes we go through these activities a little quick so yes you will be welcome to take a look at those after the webinar ends.

[silence as students respond] 

Wonderful. I am seeing some commonalities here. And so, what I want, I pulled out a couple already, but I wanted to start going over these here, because I know we are heading into the last 10 minutes of our session today. What you all are doing really is just pulling out the main ideas and stripping away some of those details which I think is fantastic. I wanted to point out a couple of things. 

The first one I have here is essential public elementary reading development provides both academic and social benefits. And what I love here is that you've pulled out two things: first the topic the main idea, the what, public elementary reading development is essential. And, why because it provides both academic and social benefits. I can see what you're going to talk about there. 

The other one I'm going to talk about next is the third one I have listed in my notepad here. Reading development skills are essential for public school elementary children in both social and academic contexts. Again, the same two ideas but just said in a little bit of a different way and you can see how the details that we’ve cut out of this thesis might fit into main paragraphs. So, kind of create a really nice outline for the rest of our paper and that would work well. 

The other thing I wanted to point out was this third one that I have in the middle of the second one I have listed here but the third one I'm going to discuss. I wanted to talk this because I feel like it pulls out the essentials and is a bit easier to digest. While still being fairly comprehensive and probably would fit for a longer paper. So, I’m going to read this one too, Reading development is essential for children ages 6-10 in public elementary school. These children receive both social and learning aspects of society. The academic benefits is that they develop strong reading skills. 

Now what I wanted to pull out here is that actually, I feel what is working a little bit is that there is a little bit of an introduction to the topic itself in that first sentence of this thesis statement and really the sentence is more the thesis is more in the second and third sentences. And so, what I like about this is how this shows how we could have most of the rest of the introduction doing some of this work and contextualizing the thesis for us and that thesis focuses specifically on the academic benefits and the social benefits. That’s another thing to keep in mind. I wanted to show how this could work in multiple sentences. 

Thank you so much everyone. I hope this was useful in thinking how you can cut back. We’ve talked a lot about how you can add to a thesis. But now it’s also important to think about how we can cut back as well, in a thesis that is a little bit too long and has too much specific information.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #3

Chat: Revise this sentence for (a) concision and (b) specificity.

Imagine your paper concerns the social and academic benefits early elementary children gain by having strong reading skills.

Reading development (including sounding out words, learning new words, and learning the pronunciation of words) is essential for children ages 6-10 in public elementary school because these children receive both social (learning social cues, learning aspects of society, engaging with peers in group reading) and academic benefits (increasing language skills, increasing knowledge of topics, and transfer learning from reading to other studies) from developing strong reading skills.

One Revision:

Reading development is essential for children in elementary school because these children receive both social and academic benefits from developing strong reading skills.

Audio: Let's move on to the fourth chat in our final minutes here. This was my revision. Reading develop it is essential for children in elementary school because these children receive both social and academic benefits from developing strong reading skills. Again, those two main components that a lot of you already identified. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Thesis Statement Practice #4

Chat: Write a preliminary thesis statement for the following assignment prompt:

Online courses have become increasingly popular in higher education. Develop an argument for why you think the number of online students is increasing, supporting your argument with sources and evidence.

Audio: Number 4 here we are going to take a couple minutes let's say 2-3 to talk about writing a preliminary thesis statement for the following assignment prompt. Online courses have become increasingly popular in higher education. Develop an argument for why you think the number of online students is increasing, supporting your argument with sources and evidence. That’s the prompt so if you are thinking about this what argument would you make about online education and why it’s increasing? Develop a thesis that represents just a preliminary argument that you might make. This may be a thesis you would develop early on in your writing process. It does not have to be the final one. Think about that. I will go on mute while you write.

[silence as students respond]

Alright, if you are still typing and writing please continue to submit those. You are more than welcome to but I am going to talk through a couple that I grabbed here and overall, I hope this was interesting to think about considering we are all online students so I hoped your personal experience may help you create an argument on this, a little bit.

Overall, I appreciate how everyone is taking this idea that students are choosing online education in increasing numbers and adding why that might be in that argument you might take. So we have in the first one here students are choosing online education for the following reasons: convenience, work life balance and traffic. The second one online courses have increased in popularity due to the convenience for students with outside obligations that might prevent them from pursuing degrees. The third one the popularity of online classes in higher education can be attributed to low cost and flexibility for the adult learner. And in order to achieve higher learning goals working adults have returned to educational classrooms, mainly online studies versus traditional classroom settings which allows flexibility. 

All of these do a really good job of providing that what, how and why. Theyre arguable they provide a particular perspective and they are also probably achievable as you are talking about these things, they are not too broad or specific as well. The last thing I want to note is that we do have a couple, oh shoot, and I know were getting right up to time so I am going to keep going but I hope that this is useful for you all and thinking about everything. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Final tips

•      Thesis statement length

•      Depends on assignment

•      Discussion posts

•      Still benefit from thesis statements!

•      Dissertations or capstone studies

•      Have research questions, problems, and purpose statements instead

Audio: I am going to wrap us up here and talk about a couple of final tips. Just one second. Let me… just a couple final tips. We already talked about length. Remember that thesis statement length depends on the assignment. The discussion posts can still benefit from thesis statements so I encourage you to write them for those and remember that note about dissertations or capstone studies. Those have research questions, problems and purpose statements instead.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources 

Thesis Statements page on our website

Blog post “Argue is Not a Dirty Word: Taking a Stand in Your Thesis Statement”

WriteCast podcast # 2 “Thesis Statements”

Our webinar on “Strategies for Demystifying Walden Assignment Prompts”

Audio: I know we are at the final minute here so I want to remind everyone that we have lots of resources for thesis statements. All listed here. You can also download in the slides or in the files pot at the bottom right-hand corner 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

writingsupport@waldenu.edu•  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Check out the recorded webinars “Practical Skills: Paraphrasing Source Information”and “Building and Organizing Academic Arguments”

Audio: So, I encourage you to look more thesis statements. I hope this session has been useful for you in assessing thesis statement and thinking about writing your own statements. I hope you feel more equipped for those. If you have questions please email us or visit our live chat hours. We’d love to hear from you. And we also have additional other webinars that might be useful as next steps for this, including our paraphrasing webinar or our building and organizing academics one. That one would talk more about how thesis statements fit into building your argument as a whole. That would be a great next step after this webinar too.  

Kacy I know we’re at the very top of the hour. Any last things that I should talk about real quick or should we go ahead and end for the evening?

[silence] 

Okay I think she hopped off so think we are good to go. Thank you so much. We really appreciate you attending today and we are going to go ahead and close out and we hope to see you at another webinar coming up soon and happy writing everyone. Thanks so much.

 

[End of webinar]