Major Essay #4 – Academic Synthesis

Instructions for the Academic Synthesis essay

As Chapter 12 of the Allyn and Bacon Guide points out, synthesis is “a way of…coming to terms with complexities.” More specifically, synthesis is the act of putting multiple sources together for the purpose of understanding how the sources relate to each other. Anytime you’re dealing with multiple viewpoints or approaches to a question, you’re synthesizing. Ideally, synthesis leads you to think about your own views more fully. In other words, your goal is the creation of a “new whole out of potentially confusing parts.”

For this assignment, I’d like you to synthesize multiple articles on the topic of online education. I’ve provided one article to get you started: Rob Jenkins’s “Why Are So Many Students Still Failing Online.” You’ll need to read Jenkins’s article carefully, identifying his overall argument and the main points of evidence that he provides. Then, you’ll need to find one or two additional sources on this topic that take a different view of online education. The articles don’t have to disagree with each other entirely, but they should at least approach the issue in a different way. In other words, if the source(s) you find seem to agree with every point Jenkins makes, you’re going to have a hard time synthesizing them.

In the paper, you should summarize the arguments presented by the two (or more) sources, discuss the relationships between the sources (i.e., how they agree or disagree), and then explain your own view in the context of the sources’ ideas. 

As was the case with the Summary and Response paper, the Synthesis should be directed at an academic audience. In other words, you will need to follow the general standards of academic writing in the paper. Your style will need to be formal and generally impersonal, though you may use 1st-person pronouns when discussing your own views of the issue. Also, remember that academic audiences have high standards for the kinds of sources they consider to be credible. We’ll talk about evaluating sources for credibility, but in general you should avoid informal sources such as blog posts, student essays, or Wikipedia articles. The sources you use don’t have to be scholarly articles, but they must be credible and reliable in the eyes of an academic audience. All source material in the paper should be fully documented according to MLA style.

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Your paper should be 1000-1250 words in length.

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The paper must be written in appropriate academic style. 

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