Thesis Proposal (Essay 1)

I’m studying and need help with a Writing question to help me learn.

To get us started on writing essay 1, I would like to get us to:

  1. Write a working thesis
  2. Narrow down which sources you want to include in our essay
  3. Practice writing an academic summary

This thesis proposal should include all three parts to receive full credit.

Step 1: Review How to Write a Working Thesis

First, for Essay 1, you are going to be answering either of the following prompts:

  • Describe how you have worked to face and overcome an educational barrier in your life and why it is important to stick with your educational goals. (This is piggybacking on the paragraph you just wrote last week.)
  • Describe one educational barrier that effects student success and how one might overcome that barrier (either from a student or instructor perspective).

A clear, well-written thesis will answer the prompt, so let’s get started on how to write a strong thesis.

A thesis is your main insight or idea about a text or topic, and the main proposition that your essay demonstrates. It should be true but arguable (not obviously or patently true, but one alternative among several), be limited enough in scope to be argued in a short composition and with available evidence, and get to the heart of the text or topic being analyzed (not be peripheral). It should be stated early in some form and at some point recast sharply (not just be implied), and it should govern the whole essay (not disappear in places).

A claim that is not debatable does not qualify as a thesis—for example:

  • “Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge”.
  • That doesn’t say anything-it’s basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.

Here is an example of a stronger, more debatable thesis:

  • “Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother”.
  • This is arguable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he’s in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.

Note that a thesis, just like the Point in your paragraph is an opinion/claim. The difference is that the thesis is the claim of the whole essay while a Point is the claim of that specific paragraph. Often the Points are reasons/sub-claims for the big thesis.

I like to think about the thesis in terms of a limited subject (what you are talking about) and an attitude (what you have to say or argue about the topic.) For our purposes for Essay 1, the limited subject is the education barrier and the attitude is how to overcome it.

Please be sure to view all three tabs before clicking Next.

Once you have completed all three steps, submit a document or text submission which clearly outlines all three steps.

  • Working Thesis:
  • Sources for Essay 1:
  • Academic Summary of One Source:

Step 2: Pick at least two sources to use for Essay 1.

Write down a list of the sources from Unit 1 that you plan to use to support your working thesis.

If you need to refresh your memory, here are your choices.

  • Duckworth, Angela Lee. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” TED, 9 May 2013.
  • Dweck, Carol S. “Brainology.” NAIS, 2008.
  • First Generation. Directed by Adam Fenderson and Jaye Fenderson, Lumina Foundation for Education and GOAL 2025, 2015. YouTube, uploaded 9 Sept 2015.
  • Freire, Paulo. “Chapter Two.” Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum Books, 1993.
  • Gaiman, Neil. “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries.” The View from the Cheap Seats, 2013.
  • Girl Rising. Directed by Richard E. Robbins, The Documentary Group and Vulcan Productions, 2013.
  • hooks, bell. “Learning in the Shadow of Race and Class.”
  • King Jr., Martin Luther. “The Purpose of Education.” The Maroon Tiger, 1947.
  • London, Malcolm. “High School Training Ground.” TED, 8 May 2013.
  • Love, Bettina. “Hip Hop, Grit, and Academic Success.” TED, 8 April 2014
  • Mailhot, Terese Marie. “I. Indian Condition,” “10. Indian Condition.” Heart Berries: A Memoir.Counterpoint, 2018..
  • Pierson, Rita. “Every Kid Needs a Champion.” TED, 3 May 2013.
  • Sissay, Lemn. “A Child of the State.” TED, 10 Mar 2014.
  • Taylor, Brandon. “Fear Is a Prolonged Argument with the World.” LitHub, 13 Sept 2019.
  • Teach Us All. Directed by Sonia Lowman, Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, 2017. Netflix.
  • Turner, Derek. “Trauma: A Cancer in the Education System.” Stanford Graduate School of Business, YouTube, 1 Jun 2016.
  • X, Malcolm. “Learning to Read.” The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Grove Press, 1965.

Step 3: Write an Academic Summary

Write an academic summary for one of the sources you want to use for Essay 1. Look at your list and choose either the text you feel the most comfortable with or the text you want the most support with.

Make sure to follow the format outlined in the lecture and below: How to Write an Academic Summary.

  1. Introduce the text to your reader. Note the title, author, type of text, and what the text is about. Remember that your reader may not be familiar with the text, so be as specific as possible. (1-3 sentences)
  2. Describe the author’s main idea or argument. Refer to the author by his/her name. Do not use a direct quote: instead, articulate in your own words what you think the point of the text is. (1-3 sentences)
  3. Explain how the author supports the main idea or argument. Keep an eye out for how the author organizes and/or divides up the text (are there sub-headings?). Pay attention to the author’s use of evidence, quotes from experts, examples from history, etc. The author might also use certain language or literary devices to support an argument. (1-3 sentences)
  4. Interpret why you think the author wrote the text. What is the context, or background, for this topic? Who is the audience? What does the author intend for the audience to take away from the text?

Note that the summary you write here can go into your Essay 1’s summary paragraph, so you are basically taking out a part of Essay 1 by completing this assignment! With that being said, do your best work!



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