A persuasive thesis statement will help you grab the reader's attention from the get-go. Here are tips to give your students on writing a winning paper.
A recent study found that nearly one-third of college students in America have never been asked to complete a major writing assignment. While some majors don't require intensive writing units, skipping over basic writing skills can cause issues down the road.
There are a number of benefits to having a clear grasp on persuasive writing. It allows you to present your thoughts and ideas more clearly. It is a handy skill to have in professional settings, especially in leadership positions.
If your students are unfamiliar with the academic essay format, they may not know how to approach your persuasive thesis statement. Without a strong thesis statement, they will struggle to bring the paper together.
Read on to learn more about the basics of putting together a persuasive thesis statement.
What Is a Persuasive Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement tends to come very early in a paper, usually within the first paragraph. If your paper is less than five pages, it may even be the first sentence.
The point of a persuasive thesis statement is to inform your readers of what your paper sets out to do. It is an explanation of your argument and a promise of what is to come in the body of your work.
There are a number of ways to approach your thesis statement, depending on the project at hand.
For example, the concept is different whether you're working on a dissertation or thesis vs capstone project. However, the steps we will outline below tend to apply no matter what your final paper or project looks like.
Narrowing in on the Topic
One thing to remember is that a thesis statement is not a statement of the obvious.
For example, if someone is writing about a novel, their thesis statement would not be a summary of the plot or a declaration of authorship. While these things are relevant to the paper, they are not the argument.
Chances are, students won't come up with their thesis statement right away even though it will eventually introduce their work. This is because first, they will need to determine what their topic is and this may require a great deal of research.
They should look to see what else has been said on the subject. Sticking with the example of a novel, what criticism already exists? What digging has been done into the novel itself or the connection between the novel and other subjects?
As they research more on their topic, they come to enter what is often called the conversation about it. Then, they can determine where the void is within that conversation. What hasn't been said yet that they believe will expand or enrich the conversation?
Stating the Position Clearly
Now that they recognize this void, they can begin to unpack their personal input. They have raised a question about the topic. Now it is time to go about answering it.
Remember, the persuasive thesis statement is not a question. It is, in fact, the answer to the question.
When students construct their thesis statements, it should be clear and concise. Typically, a thesis statement is one to two sentences.
A thesis statement has no loose ends. It is the writer's position on the topic, one that they are confident in and that they will prove in the body of the work. It is also not an "I" statement but instead an objective, declarative statement.
Let's look at two examples.
"I would like to know why the director of this film left it so open-ended and what this says about society." This is not a solid persuasive thesis statement. It hints at what the writer may be writing about but it doesn't give the reader a sense of their position on the subject.
"The director of this film left the ending open to interpretation in order to prove that your personal biases inform your reaction to the world." This is a much better persuasive thesis statement. It addresses the subject of the essay (the film and its ending) and allows the reader to dive into your paper prepared for the main argument.
Staying Open to Change
It is a good idea for students to begin with a general idea of their persuasive thesis statement. However, expect this statement to evolve as the research and writing process goes on.
It is not uncommon for scholars to enter their work expecting to find one thing only to discover another. This is not a weakness or sign of failure! Instead, it shows that they were open to their discoveries and willing to adapt to new information.
Trying to force research to fit a thesis statement is difficult and often results in less satisfactory work. What happens if you are determined to prove that an author intentionally left a character out of the second half of the book only to find out she simply forgot?
Remind students not to worry if they have to alter your thesis multiple times. If they are stuck or confused, allow them to set up a meeting with their instructor and ask for guidance!
Ace Your Next Paper
When students have never written a formal academic paper before, they might feel a little lost. The instructor keeps mentioning things like a persuasive thesis statement! What on earth does that mean?
If you know that not all your students have encountered this kind of writing before, come prepared. Provide handouts or schedule meetings to go over the individual components of essay writing.
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