Teaching Thesis Statements

From Topic to Thesis

Tisha Turk, Gender and Women's Studies, UW-Madison
Instructors often have to help students learn how to make a strong, analytical or argumentative central claim in a paper, a claim that goes beyond a mere statement of fact or obvious point.  In this handout for her students, Tisha Turk explains and illustrates what she's looking for in a strong thesis statement.

A well-constructed thesis statement helps hold an essay together by showing the reader where the paper is going to go. It defines not just a paper’s topic but its argument, and introduces the kinds of evidence or mode of reasoning that will be used to back up that argument. It does not merely summarize the points that will be made; rather, it shows the relationship between those points.

In-Class Writing Lessons

Molly Peeney, Slavic Languages and Literature, UW-Madison
Step-by-step instructions for designing and leading in-class discussions of student writing, developed for a Slavic literature-in-translation course.

Using student writing samples as the basis of your in-class discussions about writing is an effective method to teach writing and it saves you time. Why?


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