The time is nearing.
Topics have been chosen, research is in full swing, students are starting to ponder color schemes and costume choices. That can only mean that the time for one of the most difficult steps in the process is at hand: the writing of the thesis statement.
The thesis statement, best written when students are in the middle of their research so the statement is based on knowledge but still has a chance to be flexible, helps direct students through their argument and, later, judges and teachers through the project’s ultimate point. It is so important, and for a lot of students, so daunting.
There are no hard and fast rules for thesis-statement writing, but here are a couple of guidelines to ease students’ path.
- Keep it short. Thesis statements should hover between 40-60 words. Too short, and there’s not enough information to explain the argument. Too long, and too many details have been included. Plus, if the students are creating an exhibit, and they only have 500 student-composed words to use, it doesn’t make sense to use up 100 of those words on just the thesis.
- Include all five W’s. The thesis is the first thing the viewer reads, so we should know immediately the who-what-where-when, and also the why-is-this-important.
- Include the theme words. Judges and teachers need to know how the topic relates to the theme, especially if the topic is obscure, extremely narrow, or isn’t immediately clear in its connection to the theme words.
- Leave facts out, put arguments in. We don’t need to see every detail of the topic in the thesis. Leave those for the project itself. What we need to see in the thesis is the student’s argument, or the point he/she is trying to make.
- Write, revise, research, revise. Students should not use the first draft of their thesis statement, but instead should revise based on feedback, go back to their research or conduct new research to make sure the thesis is accurate, and then revise once more.
If you can, show students good examples of thesis statements, as well as bad examples. Here is a good resource to get you started. While a good thesis statement doesn’t automatically ensure a good project, it certainly makes the project better and helps the student find a focus.
CRLS Research Guide
Writing A Thesis StatementTip Sheet 13
Ask these questions:
What is it?
A thesis statement is a strong statement that you can prove with evidence. It is not a simple statement of fact. A thesis statement should be the product of your own critical thinking after you have done some research. Your thesis statement will be the main idea of your entire project. It can also be thought of as the angle or point of view from which you present your material.
When do I write it?
You will develop a thesis statement about your research topic after you have written a Statement of Purpose and done some actual research into the topic. You will then present your thesis statement in your introduction, prove it with evidence in the body of your paper, project, or presentation, and finally restate it along with a summary of your evidence in your conclusion.
How do I write it?
- Look again at your Statement of Purpose
- Look at the kinds of information you have been finding while taking notes.
- Decide what kind of statement you have enough evidence to prove.
(Be sure that you have done enough research to make a strong argument. You may be challenged.)
- Write that as your thesis statement.
There are many ways to approach writing a thesis statement.
Just make sure that it is not simple a fact and that you can support it with good evidence from reliable sources.
Here are some ways to approach it:
- Define a problem and state your opinion about it
- Discuss the current state of an issue or problem and predict how it might resolve
- Put forth a possible solution to a problem
- Look at an issue/topic from a new, interesting perspective
- Theorize how the world might be different today if something had/had not happened in the past
- Compare two or more of something similar and give your rating about them (cars, authors,computers, colleges, books)
- Put out your ideas about how something was influenced to be the way it is or was (music, art, political leadership, genocide)
What does it look like?
"I want to learn about what has influenced the music of 50 cent."
The music of 50 cent has been heavily influenced by (you fill in the blank).
"I want to find out some ways to stop teen gang activity."
Teen gang activity in the United States can be stopped by a combined approach which consists of supervised youth programs, more job availability, and closer family relationships.
Teenage gang activity can only be stopped with early education in the public school systems.
"I want to know how close we are to a cure for AIDS."
Although much research has gone into finding a cure for the AIDS virus, we are no closer to a real cure than we were when the disease first became known.
After years of research , scientists are on the verge of discovering a cure for the AIDS virus.
"I want to know why Christians and Muslims fought so hard with each other during the middle ages."
Even though Christians and Muslims were supposedly fighting for religious dominance in the medieval world, their motives were strongly affected by the desire for land and economic power.
Medieval Christians and Muslims were fighting exclusively for deeply held religious beliefs.
You can see that there is more than one way to write a thesis statement, depending on what you find out in your research and what your opinion is.