several key concepts — big ideas W r i t i n g

several key concepts — big ideas W r i t i n g

I’d like to give you some feedback on your argumentative thesis statement, so when you have one or two possible theses, submit them here. Keep in mind that the points will be for submission, not evaluation.


Coming up with a thesis statement is not the first step in the writing process.

First, you have to develop your ideas and topics. Before deciding on the claim and rationale, you will need to develop your driving concepts and major points. Re-read “Thinking Like a Mountain” and check the discussion again. Review all the materials in this module for ideas that appeal to you. Consider creating a map or outline of points, then narrowing down the position. Great essays are driven (or sailed) by one or several key concepts–big ideas.

Advice and review:

  • Keep the prompt in front of you–perhaps at the top of the page of your document–at all times. Your thesis asserts your answer to the prompt. The prompt, and your answer, anchor your entire essay (ship metaphor, yes) and thus keep the paper from floating off topic.
  • The argumentative thesis is unlike other essays: it has two elements. 1. How can we think differently, more critically? And 2. Why should we think this way? In other words, what is the main reason for thinking more critically in the way you want? The rationale/main reason should reflect the reasoning process you will use in the body paragraphs to defend your idea.
  • Avoid merely restating the general language of the prompt. Your answer to the prompt should be more specific and narrow, and must be original–what you actually wish to argue for as an original critical thinker. While you are inspired by Leopold’s ecological argument, you should still make your own case and use your own approach. You can draw from the materials of the course in an original way.
  • Avoid summarizing other people’s ideas. Instead, selectively use quotes or facts for back up–support. The purpose of an argument is to propose YOUR idea, but you can support or back up what YOU know and think with other people’s ideas. The course materials are there to help with evidence and support, but they cannot carry your argument.
  • Your papers are your original creations. Critical thinkers synthesize ideas and facts, challenge assumptions and the status quo, and take the risk of proposing changes, even radical ones.

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