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Food Pre-Draft: Writing with a Thesis, Evidence, and Analysis

Writing with a Thesis, Evidence, and Analysis

Lesson objective(s): To help students understand what makes an effective thesis and how their thesis should be supported by evidence and analysis.

Total estimated time: 6o minutes

Course work or assignment underway: Research paper

Work and/or reading completed before class: Paper proposal or have chosen a paper topic

Sequence of Classroom activities:

  1. Discuss definition of thesis.  The handout below is based on Gordon Harvey, but it could also be revised.
  2. Do quick thesis exercise below.  The sentences could also be replaced to reflect something similar to the course readings for the assignment.
  3. Discuss evidence and analysis. Again, the handout is based on Gordon Harvey, but could be changed.
  4. Evidence and Analysis exercise: Give students a handout with three paragraphs from academic articles and/or books of the instructor’s choice, either from actual course readings or something similar.  Provide students with different colors of highlighters and ask them to highlight the topic sentence, evidence, and analysis in each paragraph.  After they are done highlighting, discuss the balance of each, how they work together, etc.

This workshop could also be done with just thesis, and just evidence/analysis.


What is a thesis?

  • Your argument – it is the main insight or idea about a text or topic, and the main propositions that your essay demonstrates.
  • Your thesis statement is a succinct statement of the main proposition you will argue in your paper.  It is usually no longer than a sentence and should appear in your first paragraph.  It can be your first sentence, or elsewhere in the paragraph, depending on what makes sense to you.

What makes a good thesis?

  • It should be arguable, that is, not obviously true (one alternative among several).
  • It makes an argument you can support with evidence (not an opinion).
  • It should be stated early in the paper (preferably in the introductory paragraph), and should govern the whole paper (not disappear in places).

Exercise #1

Read the following and identify which ones are thesis statements.  What makes it a thesis or not?

– Include a number of sentences, some should be thesis statements and some not, and discuss what determines whether each one is a thesis or not (i.e. fact vs. something that can be argued, thesis vs. opinion (what can be supported with evidence), etc)

Download: Food_Predraft3_ThesisEvidenceAnalysis (doc)

[1] Adapted from Gordon Harvey, “Elements of the Academic Essay,” available at


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