Monday, February 17, 2014

Synthesis, Synthesis Why Do I Care?


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We synthesize all the time.

When you have a conversation with a friend about something your other friends have said about that certain someone, that's a synthesis.

When you are given an assignment that asks you to use "at least one quote" to support your opinion, that's a synthesis.

When you go on RateMyProfessor to find reviews of a specific professor in order to decide whether to take his or her class, that's a synthesis.

When you read or watch the news, surf the internet, or your favorite video channel, and then form a new opinion, that's a synthesis.

Every one of the posts on this blog are a synthesis.  I'm not reinventing the wheel here, I just look for articles that might interest college students, or help them understand a concept better, and then add my own "two cents", as my father would say.

But let's take a closer look at the definition of an academic synthesis from Drew University:
"Although at its most basic level a synthesis involves combining two or more summaries, synthesis writing is more difficult than it might at first appear because this combining must be done in a meaningful way and the final essay must generally be thesis-driven. In composition courses, 'synthesis' commonly refers to writing about printed texts, drawing together particular themes or traits that you observe in those texts and organizing the material from each text according to those themes or traits.
"Sometimes you may be asked to synthesize your own ideas, theory, or research with those of the texts you have been assigned. In your other college classes you'll probably find yourself synthesizing information from graphs and tables, pieces of music, and art works as well." 
Many times when you are handed an assignment you will be synthesizing ideas towards a goal--the thesis or main idea.  As you read you will gain new perspectives on the main idea, which in turn can lead you to an original way of looking at the subject or a new line of thinking (thesis), that helps you achieve better insight into your subject and a new and interesting way to approach your paper.

Say your assignment asks "How has and does the popular press portray African Americans?"As sources for the paper the professor assigns articles on Frederick Douglass and his views about how African Americans were illustrated in the popular press of his day.  You would do a synthesis directed towards Douglass' views and think about connections to portrayals of African Americans in today's press.  Along the way you come up with some fresh insight into a subject you may not have thought much about. Once you weave your own thoughts into the conversation, that's academic writing.

See how this blog post is a synthesis?  First, there were a few examples of everyday synthesis, then there was a formal definition of synthesis.  The formal definition led to how a synthesis may create better insight, and finally, there was an example of how synthesis works in college assignments.

What kinds of assignments do you receive that ask you to synthesize?  What kind of everyday synthesis sources do you use to make decisions?

16 comments:

  1. Just like the author states, I come across synthesis with tons of stuff. I surf the web, read blogs, watch the news, and even assignments I am working on require a synthesis, like the essay I have for my English class. I agree with the author's quote, "We synthesize all the time," because I feel that I do in fact synthesize often throughout each day. Everything that I read and see gives me more knowledge, allowing me to have a new or stronger opinion on a the subject.

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  2. Hi there, I have just read your article "Synthesis, Synthesis Why Do I Care? ''. The first impression I felt at that time was that synthesis is very important because synthesis is as if a baby is given birth from a father and a mother. Synthesis also was created from two original articles, who is expected to have good thesis by them. So I have feeling that creating synthesis is similar to giving birth to a baby.
    In addition, I think that thesis of synthesis should has "new perspectives" as well as synthesis. This is like baby has not just similar DNA of his parents but also has new habits. Thesis sometimes give same action as his parents do because of his DNA, but It does not mean that baby are completely same as his parents, since he is not a copy of his parents but he has his own personality. That is why thesis should involve "new perspectives".
    In my view, synthesis looks humane. When I am assigned a homework about synthesis, I should make synthesis connecting with two articles and involving new ideas. I will pay attention to such a thing from now on, although I have already turned in an essay draft of synthesis.

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  3. We are all virtually synthesizing in our everyday life. We take others words and compare it to how we feel. We incorporate facts and opinions of others into our daily mantra. This sometimes doesn't allow for personal authenticity, it affects our own thinking. For example, there is a dress you actually find ugly, but if someone you look up to and admire finds that dress beautiful, this will in turn influence your own thinking about that dress. Though it is great to synthesize, I feel it takes away from our own thoughts. It would be convenient to use it for a term paper or something of that sort, but to use on an everyday basis, no.

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  4. In my General Studies, we are often asked to synthesize. We're either told to read a passage or chapter from a book or watch or a short video clip or film and are told to form an opinion based on the information that we have learned. Often if I read or hear something throughout my day, I broaden my opinion on the subject matter or at least keep an open mind about the facts or opinions that I hear. For example when I hear about something that could be good for my health, I like to ask others what they think and then I test it out. Then I formulate my opinion on what works and doesn't work for me health wise. I hope this example makes a little sense although it's vague. I do this in my everyday life. I keep an open mind about all of the information that I hear and I learn and form my own opinions about new information. I am not really sure if this defines synthesizing clearly, but that is generally how I synthesize. I think synthesizing isn't 100% honest because usually your asked to form your opinion about something that you've read, hear, or saw and it's not really asking for a very personal opinion.

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  5. I clicked on this article because the preview of it about how talking to one friend about what another friend said is a synthesis intrigued me to read this article because I am friend that does that and I never really knew that we synthesize in our every day lives. It always seemed harder than it was but really I see now that it really comes naturally like I am basically synthesizing right now while writing my response to this article. I read the article, got an main idea about it and now I am putting in my "two cents" about how natural synthesize should come to students on any assignment I feel like any assignment in any subject asks you to synthesize so really we should all be super experts in this field but that's just my opinion.

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  6. I thought this post was very insightful. When the word synthesis is used I did not connect it to everyday life, but after reading this it is easier to connect synthesizing to everyday activities. In addition this blog post connects class lectures. It made me realize that I am missing synthesis in my essay 4. A everyday synthesis source I use is the internet and articles.

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  7. I never would have thought that synthesizing happened almost everyday. I found this rather interesting because, I've never fully grasped the concept of synthesizing. Now that I see these examples of one using synthesize has allowed to become more understandable. An everyday synthesis that I use is getting advice from friends and comparing it to others opinions then put in my "two cents''. Assignments I believe we are asked to use synthesis is comparing and contrasting different methods or or lines of work.

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  8. There are all kinds of activities that we do on a daily basis that require synthesize. Just as the article stated we use synthesize in our everyday interactions with other people. We use synthesize to make an unchallengeable claim to friends, coworkers, teachers or family when ever we have a discussion. Usually when referring to school work and what kind of assignments we have to use synthesize that is in reference to any type of report that we have to turn in. These reports can be for any class we take because when doing the report we have to have a source that backs our claims or presented data. When you look at the everyday decisions that we have to make the main source that we use to determine what we will do for the day would in most part be the news. The information that is given in the news could tells us if we need to take a different route to work or if the plans that we have for the day are ruined because of the weather. So everywhere you look there is information that can both benefit you or hurt you in what you decide to use it for.

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  9. Synthesis is used everyday when we talk with people, because we use other sources to back up our own. As a student I may get an assignment that ask me to compare and contrast the ideas of global warm today to the ideas in 1950. In this I would pull articles or advertisements from both today and the 50s to show the different products and propaganda that was used in these two times to bring in other people's ideas and professional opinions. I would use synthesis to strengthen my argument and to give credit to those who are my knowledgeable in those areas and have done the research.

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  10. I never realized how often we synthesize. Basically every class we are asked to synthesize, in General Studies this week alone I was asked to synthesize with a group on majoring in Liberal Studies, in Kinesiology I was asked to synthesize the value of nutrition in our daily lives. For math we were asked to synthesize in a group the results of our second midterm, for this class in synthesizing the idea of synthesis, as well as for self defense we synthesize every tactic we learned all quarter in order to take our final quiz. We have always been asked to synthesize in school. An example of synthesis in our daily lives would be, yesterday in fact I waited for my roommates to see their reaction to the mashed potatoes to see if they were worth waiting in line for at the dining commons. We should be so used to this that it should come almost as second nature.

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  11. It is interesting to know that we are synthesizing everyday. I would have failed to recognize that. It is taking what other people have stated into consideration before forming your own ideas. I feel synthesizing is nice, but I prefer to come up with my own ideas before reading another individuals input because that will tamper with my own thinking. Its hard to avoid "synthesizing" if anyone does a lot of communicating through the internet or from person to person. If someone spends a lot of time alone and not surfing the internet, there is not a lot of synthesizing going on.

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  12. Yes! Your adding your perspective on synthesis to your blog therefore making it a synthesis. A synthesis adds two summaries together but then takes your opinion and adds it to the equation. I create synthesis' all the time when I write essays, because I am not simply reciting facts and I have "synthesized" the information I am talking about in my thesis. Not only that, but I am adding my view on the topic allowing myself and others to see an idea from a different perspective which will hopefully lead to better insight on a certain topic. No matter what you write when you are not just reciting the facts you are providing a synthesis and allowing others to gain insight, which I the beauty in writing opinionated essays also known as blogs. I hope one day I'll become a blogger so that I can help others find insight on topics that they previously did not have before!

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  13. Being able to synthesize allows us, as people, to form ideas and concepts to form even bigger and better ideas. But a lot of people like myself don't realize that we do it more often than we think. We synthesize everyday for example, preparing for an essay and thinking about the point you are trying to make and even new information that can be put in there to make it more relatable. Even working at a fast food place can require providing a synthesis. For example, thinking about different ways to make food faster, or serve customers in a reasonable manner. Workers and students also communicate everyday with people even if it just one person and at those times, are thinking about what to say next and give advice and/or ideas and together these people are having a synthesizing conversation probably without even noticing it.

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  14. Being able to synthesize allows us to create our own ideas to what the author is talking about in an article. synthesizing, would definitely give u more understanding to go ahead in an essay.at times we synthesize without really knowing. synthesizing can make you create a perfect thesis for an essay

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  15. When coming into college I would never have thought how much synthesis would be in my life. Through every class you are asked to synthesize something, whether it be read a few articles and connect the two and give your stance or conduct and experiment and synthesize all of your data into a report. I never understood why in college you must take so many different types of course from a vast selection. The answer is because every day you have to synthesize in the real world.
    Learning how to compare situations and connections between different events helps you in the every day. Gaining knowledge and being aware of everything and finding a connection between things makes life more enjoyable and easier to sort out the important from the nonsense. To know if you are learning to make connections is you will not continue to make the same mistakes over and over. It can be physical, social, or mental. To gain knowledge is to grow through your experiences and learning how to synthesize different events is positive way to learn.

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  16. In college we do many synthesize activities every class. Especially in English class as we are comparing our two different sources on Donald Trump. But even in math classes you might have to use knowledge from different chapters in the text book to solve a problem. Putting the pieces together is a great way to explain synthesize. I didn't know how much I use this skill until right about now actually. Makes me know there's more than just an analysis. Ways we use synthesis daily is when we combine with other students in class and come up with different ideas in group work. When people come together to solve a problem in everyday life. Those are ways people use synthesis it doesn't have to be just through a news source or something online.

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