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Analysis/Synthesis Paper Prompt
Minimum word count: 1800
Maximum word count: 2500
Read and reread Allyn and Bacon chapter 12, pages 284-308.
A synthesis essay differs from a summary/strong response essay in that a synthesis
essay extends the process [of summarizing and responding] to more texts with the aim
of bringing them into conversation with each other. A synthesis essay shows how you
have taken apart, made sense of, assessed, and recombined the ideas of these texts in an
integration of ideas all your own that creates a new vision of the subject.
Allyn and Bacon, page 288
Evaluation of the analysis/synthesis paper will assume a knowledge and understanding of
Analysis/Synthesis Topic: Pragmatism vs. Idealism in an area of your choice, such as education,
career, relationships, etc.
In this essay, you will summarize and then analyze texts with different perspectives and
synthesize their ideas to present a new perspective of your own, which answers your own
specific version of the broad research question: which is more important, pragmatism or
As specified on p. 290 of Allyn and Bacon, the four main sources for this essay should be drawn
from reputable outlets, including magazine articles, op-ed pieces from major periodicals,
scholarly articles, and/or book chapters. Do not use blogs or non-journalistic/scholarly sources
for this assignment. Since you’re only using four sources, you really do want them to be
excellent in quality. If you’re not sure if the source is academic enough, you can try answering
the questions from Allyn and Bacon on 292-293. If you have difficulty getting through the
questions, then you may want to reconsider using that source. If you’re still in doubt, ask your
-May be serious or more lighthearted in tone, depending on the desired effect
● ¶1 Introduction paragraph
-Engages readers with a strong opening sentence. Remember that the best attention-getter
is often what initially sparked your interest in the topic
-Clarification of the focus on the pragmatism and idealism question—are you considering
education? Career? Church planting? Teaching strategies?
-Definition of pragmatism and idealism for your specific purpose. For example, you
might say, “For purposes of this discussion, pragmatism is defined as a focus on
vocational training, designed to lead directly into a career, while idealism is defined as a
focus on the liberal arts, designed to foster critical thinking and a broad intellectual
-Introductory paragraph concludes with a thesis statement in the following format:
Because of SP1 (synthesis point one), SP2 (synthesis point two) and SP3 (synthesis
point three), pragmatism is less/more important than idealism in ___________ (your
Your three synthesis points here (X, Y, and Z) should be the basis for your three
II. Summary Paragraphs (2)
● ¶2-Summarize at least two sources that generally advocate pragmatism. Don’t forget to
summarize them in light of your own arguments—remember, this is about framing them fairly
but usefully for your readers.
-Use the following topic sentence:
-While Author A and Author B disagree about ________, they are both agreed that
pragmatism is more important than idealism in __________ (your specific scenario)
because ___________ (main reason for agreement).
-Summarize the main point of disagreement between the two (from the topic sentence),
including why they disagree
-Wrap up by summarizing their big point of agreement, including why they agree. For
these last two sections, They Say, I Say has excellent templates on p. 46
● ¶3 -Summarize at least two sources generally advocating idealism using the same format as
paragraph 2. Be sure to use Author C and Author D this time.
III. Analysis Paragraphs (2 minimum)
● ¶4 In this paragraph, you will analyze the main themes and ideas of your sources that talked
-Use a topic sentence that highlights the takeaway of your analysis. You might note that
your two sources disagree on some aspect, but still agree on some other more important
aspect. Use templates from They Say/I Say (p. 23-27) to organize your analysis of the
texts. The goal here is to understand how the main ideas of these texts function both with
and against one another.
Pro tip: go back and write this topic sentence after you’ve written your analysis.
-To perform this analysis, look at the questions in Allyn and Bacon p. 295. Of the seven
questions there, answer the three or four that seem most useful to your thinking with
regard to these two sources.
-Wrap up with a nice summary sentence using a template from They Say, I Say p. 138 or
a transition word from They Say/I Say p.110
● ¶5 In this paragraph, repeat the process from paragraph 4 using the sources for idealism.
IV. Synthesis (3 minimum)
Using your research sources, your interaction with this research, and your own ideas,
synthesize these thoughts into your own position on the assigned topic by coming up with and
discussing three main synthesis points. Your synthesis does not need to be definitive and absolute;
however, your position must state and argue for several principles that reflect your emerging
position on the topic. Papers that do not take a position and end with an evasive position that both
sides have merit will doubtless be met with disapproval by the portfolio readers. You must
demonstrate that these NEW positions have been affected by all of the sources analyzed. You
must show growth in your ideas on the subject as a result of having read and analyzed these texts.
¶6-8 Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence using the following format (which you may vary
slightly to avoid sounding overly repetitive):
-Ultimately, idealism/pragmatism is more important in __________ (your area) because
SP1, SP2, or SP3 (synthesis points – make sure your thesis matches these points).
-In synthesizing your thoughts on this point, which should consider the viewpoint of most
if not all of your sources, you should refer to the questions in Allyn and Bacon on p. 297. Again,
consider which three or four out of these seven questions is most relevant to the specific point
you’re trying to make and address these questions in this paragraph. You should try to vary the
questions you consider, somewhat, in each of your three synthesis paragraphs. Note also that you
should not use the first person in these paragraphs, or any of your paragraphs, despite Allyn and
Bacon’s directions. Rephrase the relevant questions to get around the use of the first person.
¶9 Briefly summarize your paper and end by offering an aspirational thought, call to action, or
potential consequence for your reader. The goal of the conclusion is to close the conversation –
do not include any new analysis or synthesis points here.
Meritorious Satisfactory Unsatisfactory
The papers in the portfolio address
the assignments thoughtfully and
analytically, setting a challenging
task. The writer establishes a
clearly focused controlling idea and
demonstrates a strong sense of
audience awareness. Relevant
sources are cited, analyzed, and
effectively integrated into the
writer’s text. Textual organization
is coherent with effective
connections between ideas. Key
points are clearly stated and well
supported. The writer consistently
shows superior control of grammar,
sentence variety, word choice and
conventions of standard written
Papers address the assignment,
establishing a controlling idea and
meeting most audience needs and
expectations. The writer cites
sources, adequately integrating
them into texts when required and
appropriate. The papers
demonstrate adequate organization.
Key points are stated and analyzed,
but perhaps could use more/better
development at some points. The
writing demonstrates consistent
control of grammar, sentence
variety, word choice, and
conventions of standard written
English; errors that occur are not
frequent, systematic, or distracting.
Papers do not address the
assignment directly or clearly; they
may distort or wander from the
task. Papers show insufficient
awareness of audience. The writer
displays a lack of understanding of
appropriate texts; and/or fails to
cite, integrate, or analyze material
from the texts when required. The
organization of the text may be
confusing or ineffective. Key
points may be inadequately stated
or supported. Texts demonstrate
inadequate control of standard
written English; error may distract
or impede understanding.