How to Write a Thesis & Introduction for a Critical Reflection Essay
While the body paragraphs of your essay provide the critical reflection and evidence, the thesis statement and introductory paragraph inform the reader of background content and the major points that the essay will address. A thesis statement should be specific and debatable, and an introduction should be engaging and informative.
Narrow the Scope
If the focus of the thesis is too broad, you will have too wide a range of information to cover. Capital Community College states that "when you try to do too much, you end up doing less or nothing at all." Narrowing the focus will require you to go deeper into a specific area of the topic, which produces a more meaningful and detailed essay. For example, rather than writing, "Drug experimentation on animals is unfair," you could write, "Drug experimentation on animals is inhumane and not an accurate measurement of the impact the drugs will have on humans."
Make It Debatable
A thesis statement should not be self-evident; it should not be a fact. For example, you cannot write, "My brother is the tallest member of my family," since you don't need an entire essay to prove it; you can just line up your family to make the point. A thesis statement relies on your personal opinion and your interpretation of an issue or a text, and it should be a point with which the reader could disagree.
Find a Hook
From the start of the essay, you should catch the reader's attention with an interesting hook. You might use a shocking statistic, such as, "Smoking causes 30 times as many lung cancer deaths as all the different kinds of pollution combined do." Or you could begin with a rhetorical question that your essay will eventually comment on, such as, "How long can we ignore the hungry, sick and homeless men and women on our city streets?" Start with a sentence to make the reader want to continue reading.
Set Up the Essay
While the introduction should be specific, it should not begin arguing your main point. The critical analysis and specific examples belong in the body paragraphs. DePaul University suggests, "When writing an introduction, present the purpose of your reflection without giving your reader too much detail about the body of your paper." The function of the introduction is to set up the rest of the essay by engaging the reader's interest and by presenting the background and the thesis statement.
Soheila Battaglia is a published and award-winning author and filmmaker. She holds an MA in literary cultures from New York University and a BA in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley. She is a college professor of literature and composition.