Kutztown University of Pennsylvania Synthesizing Sources Discussion


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Many students develop a habit in high school of writing down their ideas and then finding sources to support their ideas to insert into their writing. These students know what they believe before they research and they only look for sources to satisfy the minimum requirements of an assignment.

That is the opposite of information literacy. As such, it’s not what any professor wants you to do in any class at the university level. Instead, we want you to synthesize your sources. If you understand synthesis, you may also better understand why we describe research as a conversation and why we insist that you cite your sources. Synthesis is an important life skill, not just a “school” skill.

Step 1: Watch

Watch the video on Synthesis (FIU Writing Program) (Links to an external site.)

Step 2: Post

  1. In your own words, what is synthesis?
  2. What part of the video most clarified synthesis for you?
  3. Describe a time when you had to read/gather information from various sources and synthesize that information to form an opinion. This can be something for school (for example: I had to decide whether I agree with a statement my philosophy teacher gave us) or from your private life (for example: my friends disagreed about where to go on vacation and I had to pick which one I agreed with). Then, answer the following questions:
      1. Describe the question you had (Why were you gathering information? What did you want to know?);
      2. Describe the sources you read/info you gathered (What were the kinds of sources you read/listened to? What did they suggest?);
      3. Describe the contradictions/disagreements you encountered within those texts (What questions came up for you along the way? Were there any decisions you had to make as far as which source to listen to more?)
      4. Describe the agreements you saw between two or more texts (What were some of the things the texts agreed on? Was there anything that the more you read, the more you realized that was true?)
      5. Describe your ultimate decision on that question from A above. (Why did you decide on this opinion/course of action? What did you find most convincing in the texts you gathered?)

Step 3: Comment

Read over the posts of two classmates and comment on their answers. Did it seem like they synthesized well? Do you feel your classmate understands what synthesis is? What does their example reveal about synthesis to you? How does it help you understand synthesis better? Please comment at least 50 words for each peer.

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