Friday, August 16, 2013

How to differentiate summary and synthesis

by Derek Spencer

Our friends over at Actively Learn retweeted this link to a blog post written by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton. It's full of some good resources for showing the differences between summarizing (a lower-order skill) and synthesizing (a higher-order skill).

Reading Strategies: Differences between summarizing and synthesizing

Synthesis essays can be tough for students to write, and they may not realize that synthesis requires the integration of ideas from multiple sources into one cohesive whole. If students explain the information from one source in one section and another source in the next section, they aren't synthesizing — they're summarizing.

The resources in Dr. Eaton's blog post can help you clarify the distinction between summarizing and synthesizing, and one of the documents presents some ideas for activities that will help. Unfortunately, two of the links in the article are now broken. Still, there's enough information here that the article remains helpful.

What are your favorite techniques for teaching higher-order thinking skills like synthesis?

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

(P.S. – If you're looking for teaching guides that help students develop the ability to synthesize information, our Levels of Understanding units might just do the trick.)

Derek Spencer is a Marketing Communications Associate at Prestwick House.

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