Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Workshops

Main content start

Course: PWR 1

Activity brief description:  This series of two workshops provides students with norms for good rhetorical analysis thesis statements, examples and the opportunity to get feedback on their own draft thesis statement.  The first activity focuses on introducing students to sample thesis statements and norms for good thesis statements.

The handout provides three norms, four sample draft thesis statements, and questions students can ask when peer reviewing thesis statements.  Students are asked to ‘peer review’ these sample thesis statements.  As a group they come up with feedback for the ‘absent’ authors of these sample thesis statements.  Each of the samples is taken from a draft RA essay from a past class.  This activity provides students with a sense of what a thesis looks like and how to talk about what makes a thesis ‘good’.

The second activity repeats this process with their own draft thesis statement. This activity would take place one or two classes after the first.  The first part of the activity focuses on looking at one of the sample thesis statements from the first day.  I record the student responses on the first day.  I then re-write the drat thesis to take this feedback into consideration. We discuss my revisions (which usually draw on the actual revised thesis from the student paper) and then students repeat this process in small groups with their own thesis statements.  Students get peer feedback and then we have time to revise the thesis statement in class. This activity frames the thesis statement as a key step (after choosing a text) in drafting the rhetorical analysis essay.

Activity length and schedule: The first activity is approximately 45 minutes.  Students spend approximately 25-30 minutes to discuss two sample thesis statements. We then discuss their peer feedback for 25 to 20 minutes. The second activity takes between 45 minutes and one hour. 5 minutes is spent on the sample thesis and the revisions which respond to their feedback form the prior workshop.  20-25 minutes is spent peer reviewing their draft thesis. The remainder of the time is used for student revision of their draft thesis statement based on peer feedback.

Week 1/2. These two activities usually occur during the first or second week of class.  The first activity introduces students to the idea of a thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay and offers criteria for a good thesis statement.  Students evaluate sample draft thesis statements.  In the second activity students repeat the earlier workshop with their own draft thesis statements.  They provide structured feedback on their peer’s draft thesis statement and receive feedback on their own.

Activity goals:

  • To provide students with examples of rhetorical analysis thesis statements.
  • To provide students with norms for critiquing thesis statements.
  • To provide students with feedback on their draft thesis statement.
  • To give students space to revise their thesis statement based on feedback.

Activity details:

See handout #1 and handout #2. See also list of keywords and rhetorical theory concepts.