Michelle Obama’s Masters Thesis is flawed throughout
By Suzanne Eovaldi, Staff Writer
The thesis written by Michelle LaVaughn Robinson (now Obama) in 1985, contains three unmitigated impediments that would have rendered the paper an automatic F in the Introduction to the Research Paper course I taught at a Chicago area community college, yet it was accepted at her Ivy League Princeton University alma mater.
No attribution in the form of formal footnotes and very little author extrapolation are bad enough but using the school’s participation in the selection of field sample are unacceptable literary research flaws that would stop the grading process at page 17. Robinson states: “With the permission of ___________, the President of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni and his office, the STAFF at the Alumni Records Office ASSISTED the Study BY SELECTING every fourth name on a mailing list of approximately 1,200 names until 400 names were collected! This removes the paper’s author from the third person objective normative for independent research. Furthermore, Robinson, page 1, releases her thesis for widespread circulation by Princeton “to lend this thesis to other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.” Having no affidavit release forms for each sample participant can not be excused because some school alumni president or staff released these names without permission!
Nevertheless, for the purposes of this essay, I did a very cursory reading of the Robinson paper and found the first of many faulty pronoun antecedent errors, a grammatical problem the work never overcame. “The purpose of this study is to examine various attitudes of Black Princeton alumni in their present state and as they are perceived by the alumni to have changed over time,” is a faulty thesis statement. “They” should go back to its immediate noun antecedent of “alumni” but apparently refers to “attitudes,” a full eleven words away, making for a very elementary grammatical error that drops the grade for poor Form. But early and inadequate Substance is a prescient indicator of a flunked paper. The student sets out to do too much in way too little space with a flawed research sample that lacks precision by listing FOUR huge aims including even an attempt to research the Black community’s attitude toward God. My admonition to my students over and over was to Limit, Limit, Limit your scope, advice perhaps her Princeton teachers never gave her in their prewriting interviews.
Saying “this study tries to examine” and referring to Webster’s in a college paper are embarrassments. Her Bibliography is NOT ON ITS OWN PAGE but lumped with a confusing Appendix. Worst of all is the lack of FOOTNOTES. This deficiency again should have been corrected in the rough draft interviews, but was not. While the Bibliography contains eight entries, only one refers to the White population in a vague way, yet the student makes this hurtful assumption on page 37: “It is possible that Black individuals either chose to or felt pressured to come together with other Blacks on campus because of the belief that Blacks must join in solidarity to combat a White oppressor.” My students were never allowed to begin a sentence with “It,” but to comment further on that sentence that is parachuted into a paper that does not include earlier preparation will not be done here.
I taught literary research using the above grading standards before I was told not to teach that way any more because it is old fashioned. And that is how political correctness has ruined America’s schools. I did not analyze the paper’s dicto simpliciters.
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This day in history June 6
1944: D Day the Allied invasion ofEuropebegins. It led to the surrender ofGermany11 months later.
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