Elizabeth R. Baldwin, Freedom in Structure: Helping Foreign-Trained and International Graduate Students Develop Thesis Statements by Component, Spring 2018 Second Draft 8 (2018), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/480
This article explains how I help students gain this understanding and control through the use of a thesis development template. I created this template to reinforce key lessons from the two texts our students read for their advanced research and writing courses at UW Law: Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (5th ed. 2016) (now Volokh) and Joseph M. Williams and Joseph Bizup, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (12th ed. 2016) (now Williams). The template asks students to state the thesis in three discrete, interrelated components—condition, cost, and solution.8 It works well because it helps students examine the connections among the components of the thesis, and it also gives them the freedom and agility they need to incrementally develop from the component on which their thinking is most clear—either by working backward from solution to condition, or through an iterative process that develops all three components through repeated cycles.
This article begins by discussing special issues that typical foreign-trained or international graduate students face when writing the LL.M. paper. Next, it explains the origins of the components on the template and the thesis development processes they enable. It ends by presenting some illustrations of how students have used the template to shape their own thinking by component.