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The “Topic/Assertion/Why” model for writing thesis statements

My favourite teacher in high school was my Grade Nine English teacher, Mr. Moran.  Not only was Mr. Moran one of the funniest people I have ever met, he was also one of my most influential mentors in the craft of writing.  He taught me some of the most valuable and long-standing lessons in English language and literature that I have ever learned, and that I  still use as a third-year English major in university.

Mr. Moran was the first person to introduce the concept of a thesis statement to me.  The task of narrowing down the basic argument of a paper into a single sentence at first seemed like a daunting task, but Mr. Moran simplified the creation of a thesis into three easy steps.  He explained that the thesis sentence can be broken up into a topic, an assertion, and an explanation of why that topic and assertion are both valid and important.

The ‘topic, assertion, why’ model that I used to create theses in my grade nine 500 word assignments is the same model that I use to create theses in my third-year, 2,500 word assignments (although the eloquence of my sentences has hopefully somewhat improved).  I also use this model in my Peer Writing Assistant sessions because it simplifies the structure of a thesis—if a sentence cannot stand up to the ‘topic, assertion, why’ model, it is not an effective thesis.  This model stands the test of time for me because it is broadly applicable and it accounts for the nuances in language and style that I have developed over the years.  I have Mr. Moran to thank for breaking down the complexity of a thesis into a coherent format, and hopefully this contribution to my Peer Writing Assistant lessons will help new students feel more confident in constructing effective arguments.


Image of Thesis Statement word cloud courtesy of  http://blogs.msbcollege.edu/2013/03/15/8-tips-for-constructing-an-amazing-thesis-statement/under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivations 2.0 license.