Outcome: Supporting Claims

Identify Supporting Claims in Texts

It’s very easy to make a bold claim and walk away.  But how many people will be convinced by such a claim, all on its own?

The heavy lifting of most writing comes in the form of supporting details.  Support allows a claim to be verified, proven, and convincing to an audience.

Consider a recent example of an unsupported claim from early in the 2016 US Presidential campaign:

Photo of Carly Fiorina in red dress holding microphone

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina on several occasions has said 307,000 veterans have died while waiting for care from the Veterans Health Administration. In one instance, she said all of those veterans “died in the last year,” citing a recent inspector general’s report. But that’s not what the report says.

The VA Office of the Inspector General report said 307,173 of nearly 867,000 pending VA applications belonged to individuals who died. But poor record-keeping made it impossible to say how many of them died while waiting for care or how many of them even applied for care.

The report also said 84 percent of those who died, or 258,367 individuals, died more than four years ago — not last year.[1]

It may be coincidence that Fiorina was one of the first candidates to withdraw from the race…but then again, maybe not!

What You Will Learn to Do

  • identify various forms of support that can be used in a text to validate a thesis
  • identify use of personal forms of support (narrative, anecdote)
  • identify use of research-based forms of support (facts, statistics, outside authority)
  • identify relationship between the rhetorical context of a text, and the effectiveness of the types of support used

The Learning Activities for This Outcome Include

  • Video: Main Ideas and Supporting Details
  • Text: Support and Elaboration
  • Video: Relationship Between Purpose and Supporting Details
  • Self Check: Supporting Claims
  • Try It: Supporting Claims

  1. Gore, D'Angelo. Fiorina's Unsupported Claim about VA Deaths. FactCheck.org. 23 Sept. 2015. Web. 3 May 2016.