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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Nancy Burkhalter
Pages 17-23

A Dialectical Approach to Critical Thinking Through Writing

Students often struggle with writing thesis statements. But without a narrow, focused thesis, the essay is often too general and scattered, resulting in an unconvincing and confusing product. This article offers a formula that not only helps writers devise a sharply focused thesis and controlling idea but also gives them a touchstone to help provide relevant, convincing support, as well as create topic sentences and transitions that anchor readers. The formula fosters students’ critical thinking because it helps them proceed dialectically between thesis formulation and the devel­opment of the essay to write with logic, relevance, depth, precision, and clarity, five of the nine standards for critical thinking outlined by Paul and Elder (2012).

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