Writing Essays on Advertisements to Teach Critical and Creative Thinking

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Joseph W. Check


The synthesis of critical and creative thinking presented in this curriculum is a highly contextualized answer to a very broad question: how can students develop responsible and effective thinking through writing when the subject matter is complex and involves values? Advertisements are complex and value-laden-they provide rich material for the development of thinking. Three aspects of advertisement that pose specific challenges to thinking are discussed: their presentation of appearance as reality, their use of symbols, and their ability to transfer values onto products. Students learn specific thinking strategies that help them understand and respond to these aspects of advertisements. The thinking strategies are integrated into writing exercises that follow a process-oriented approach to essay writing. In the exercises, students pose questions, respond to the writing of their peers and engage in a variety of different conceptual interactions with an advertisement. They integrate their responses into an effective point of view, revise and edit their writing with attention to intended audience. Students develop a scoring rubric, provide a comprehensive self-evaluation, and conference with the teacher at the end of the curriculum. Students publish their essays in a class anthology. Their essays are the culmination of their efforts: the product that demonstrates the development of their thoughts. The lessons are designed for high school English students in a way that gives the students responsibility for their own work. Each lessons contains thinking skills objectives, detailed descriptions of activities, journal writing assignments, follow-up activities, and writing samples. The curriculum is preceded by an in depth review of current curricula and specific work of chosed theorists from the fields of thinking, writing, and advertising.


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