Texts and Materials:
- Reliable access to the internet
- Stratton, Reasonable and Fair (available only in bookstore, recommended)
the end of the course, students should have:
- a more precise understanding the
terms and concepts used in critical thinking: argument, premise,
conclusion, deduction, induction, proposition, and fallacy.
- the ability to use these concepts
to better organize, evaluate and deconstruct arguments.
- a working knowledge of how to
apply formal rules to evaluate logical arguments.
- a significantly expanded set of
techniques to use when asked to demonstrate analytical and problem solving
skills in future classes.
- an increased defense against
logical errors that tend to mislead us in written arguments, advertising,
statistical analysis, the interpretation of scientific studies.
- an increased ability to reason
clearly and argue convincingly in everyday life.
Discussion Board Forums/Class Participation
Debate Participation/Formal Evaluation†††††††††††††††††††††††††† 200 points
Group Problem Solving Project
Media Analysis Presentation†††† ††††
Evaluation of a Written Argument
the Instructor: The best way to contact me, at
any time of day, is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I check this e-mail address several times a day and, if
I am in front of my computer, I am alerted when an e-mail arrives.
Therefore, responses to your e-mails can sometimes be instantaneous. At
any reasonable time of day, you can usually get a response from me within
two hours, if it is clear that a response is called for.
check my campus e-mail a few times each week. It is not the best way to contact
me or submit late assignments.
office hours, I can be reached at 524 - 5153. At other times of day, you can
leave a message at this number, but I usually only remember to check my
messages once a week, so it is ALWAYS
better to e-mail me a quick message
- Reading: Reading holds a special place
in a critical thinking course. It is difficult to evaluate an argument
that isnít written down. We donít do much reading, probably no more than
two short articles a week, but what we do needs to be scrutinized closely
and several times. We will continue to improve our reading technique
throughout the quarter so that you continue to get more meaning with less
effort out of every text that you read. This is a skill you will find
essential in future college classes.
Copyright Notice: Many of the materials posted to this course site are
protected by copyright law. These materials are only for the use of students
enrolled in this course and only for the purposes of this course. They may not
be further retained or disseminated.
- Concept Quizzes: We will have 10 quizzes, worth 10 points each, over the material we cover in class each week.
Often, these quizzes will require you to apply logical concepts to
specific problems in order to demonstrate your comprehension and facility
with the idea. You will always have at least three days to attempt a quiz
up to three times, and you will receive feedback after each attempt
telling you which questions you got right and
wrong. It is to your advantage to attempt the quiz early and use the Course
Forum to talk about questions that are stumping you. Treat the quiz as a
learning tool and use the quizzes to get feedback. It is to your advantage
to attempt the quiz early and use the Course Forum to talk about questions
that are stumping you, but please donít simply post the answers on the
forum. Quizzes cannot be made up after they are given, so please arrange
your schedule so that you don't miss any.
- Discussion Board Forums/ Participation: The essence of critical
thinking is the development of reasonable and fair habits of mind. This is
a never-ending process (you will doubtless catch me being irrational and
bias from time to time), but it begins by exposing our thought process to
public scrutiny and allowing bad reasoning to be corrected. There will be discussion
prompts posted every week designed to draw out short arguments that other
students can then scrutinize and evaluate. This process will spill back
and forth between the classroom and the forum, which is why this is a
combined grade. It might be possible (but less effective) to limit your
participation exclusively to discussion forums and never speak up in
class, but it will probably not work as well the other way. You will also
get participation for actively engaging in the games and puzzles we will
play every other week to sharpen our thinking and creativity.
- Debate participation / Formal Evaluation: At least once during the
quarter, you will participate in a debate on a proposal to be determined
by the class. There will be 5 debates throughout the quarter. When you are
not a member of the debate group, you will be evaluating the debaters on
standards of fairness and reasonableness. Evaluators will be graded on the
thoughtfulness of their evaluations and the helpful nature of their
comments. Debaters will only be graded on their participation.
- Group Problem Solving Project: In small groups, students will demonstrate their
ability to follow a methodical approach to solving a specific problem of
limited scope. They will document their process and present their solution
to the class.
- Media Analysis Presentation: The student will choose an example of public media
(advertisement, magazine article, news report, political speech, opinion
column, website, etc.) and evaluate it for logical errors, hidden
assumptions and cultural bias. These will be presented in a visual
presentation to the class of 5 to 7 minutes, including questions.
- Evaluation of a Written
Argument: This will be your final project
for this class. You will choose a scholarly article in a subject of your
choice as if you were going to use it in a research project. You will
write up a report identifying its main arguments in syllogism form and evaluate
it based on logic, fairness, reasonableness and bias.
Assignments: Most of your interaction with the class will happen on
the Discussion Board so that other students can see what you are doing,
get inspired by it, think about it, and respond to it. I will make it
clear through Discussion Board titles where and when to submit certain assignments.
However, if you are having technical difficulties uploading assignments to
Angel, you may submit any written assignments by e-mailing them to me at email@example.com
Attendance and Participation: As indicated
above, participation is a significant element of this class. You will earn up
to 30 points per week (or sometimes more) for participating in class
discussion, contributing to weekly forums, actively participating in games,
puzzles, activities, workshops and group activities. Failure to participate can
significantly lower your grade. You may be marked absent if you are not in
class by the time I take roll, if you come without the materials to work that
day, or if you are mentally absent from class. You will lose two participation
points for every day you are marked absent for any reason.
Evaluation: Your final grade will be calculated
as a straight ratio of points earned to points possible and translated into a
letter grade based on a fairly generous scale. In order to calculate your
letter grade at any given point in the quarter (or on any particular
assignment), simply divide your current points by the points possible, multiply
the result by 100 and consult this chart.
Week 1: Introduction to fair and reasonable states of mind
Week 2: Overview of logic and argumentation
Week 3: A methodical approach to problem solving
Week 4: Basic logical reasoning: Deduction and Induction
Week 5: Cultural and psychological impediments to fair and
effective reasoning Ė Introducing fallacies
Week 6: Applying critical thinking to media
Week 7: Introduction to, and overview of, formal logic
Week 8: Identifying fallacies
Week 9: Applying critical thinking to research
Week 10: Applying critical thinking to science