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Getting Students to Think Reasoning Patterns and Criteria The doctor told Sardarji that if he ran eight kilometers a day for 300 days, he would lose 34.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting Students to Think Reasoning Patterns and Criteria The doctor told Sardarji that if he ran eight kilometers a day for 300 days, he would lose 34."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting Students to Think Reasoning Patterns and Criteria The doctor told Sardarji that if he ran eight kilometers a day for 300 days, he would lose 34 kilos. At the end of 300 days, Sardarji called the doctor to report he had lost the weight, but he had a problem. “What is the problem?” the doctor asked. Sardarji responded, “I'm 2400 kms from home.” Bill Strom, Dept. of Media + Communication

2 Indices of simple thinking Please watch the following presentation: This video available at this terrific clearinghouse site for critical thinking resources: Critial ThinkingCritial Thinking To which simple thinking pitfalls did you succumb?  Assumed …  Stereotyped …  Felt like …

3 So what is critical thinking? “Critical thinking is a process by which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.” Richard Paul and Linda Elder, 2004 (Authors working with CriticalThinking.Org)

4 What are those standards? Clarity: Please elaborate, exemplify.. Accuracy: Can we verify, check out..? Precision: Please be specific, detailed. Relevance: How does this relate, help? Depth: What is complex or difficult? Breadth: What other ways help us?

5 What are those standards? Logic: Does your argument cohere? Does the evidence support the main idea? Significance: What’s most important? Fairness: What personal biases cloud my treatment of this topic? These standards may be used to construct any number of assignments (papers, projects, presentations). Here’s one for us to do…

6 The Cereal Box Assignment What persuasive devices does General Mills use to package Oatmeal Crisp?  Clarity: what “assertion” is General Mills attempting to make about Oatmeal Crisp?  Accuracy: how can we be sure OC is high in potassium and low in sodium?  Precision: what specific ingredient detail is not promoted on the front? Why?

7 The Cereal Box Assignment  Relevance: what relevance is the packaging’s “rhetoric” to Canadians? Why?  Depth: cereal eating is a simple act, but what complex issues arise about “breakfast”?  Breadth: how would a 1) nutritionist, 2) recycler, 3) a visual designer, and 4) grocer view this box of Oatmeal Crisp?

8 Cereal…  Logic: Show the full syllogism at work on the front box. Do you agree with Aristotle that the enthymeme is more effective than a syllogism? Why or why not?  Significance: Are the marketers at General Mills addressing the most significant needs of Canadians?  Fairness: What personal biases cloud your evaluation of this box of OC?

9 Take 2 minutes… To come up with 2-3 questions you might ask students in your department regarding the Cereal Box assignment. Use 2-3 of Paul & Elder’s criteria.

10 Toulmin’s Reasoning Model: A tool for argument analysis Seven concepts help us articulate how to structure and evaluate arguments.

11 A. Claims: the assertion you want to prove. B. Grounds: the evidence that supports the believability of your claim. (e.g., reason, facts, example, testimony, statistic, value, etc.) C. Warrants: the assumption that makes reasonable the connection between grounds and claims. not always spoken, but usually at work in your audience’s mind Toulmin’s Model

12 D.Backing: additional grounds/support for the warrant or the grounds. usually the sub- and sub-sub points in one’s argument. E. Qualifier: a term or phrase (e.g., certainly, maybe, likely) that indicates the sureness or strength of a person’s claim. F. Rebuttals: counter arguments to any part of one’s argument, & Reservations: your own stipulations admitting where your claim is not true. Toulmin’s Model

13 Claim: It’s going to rain today. Grounds: 1) Because Kuss said so, and 2) because the sky was red this morning. Warrant: 1) Assuming Kuss is an expert, and assuming 2) sailor wisdom counts Backing: 1) FYI, Kuss has 10 years exp. 2) and FYI, sailors have 100s of years exp. Qualifier: 1) forecasts are usually right; 2) sailors are rarely wrong. So add “probably.” Rebuttal & Reservation: 1) unless Kuss is biased, 2) unless sailors are colluding Full example of Toulmin’s Reasoning Model “probably”

14 Toulmin identifies common cultural warrants By cause: x causes y to occur By sign: s is a sign of condition c By generalization: x¹, x², and x³ may generalize to the set of all Xs. By parallel case: c¹ is parallel to c² By analogy: c¹ and d¹ are similar By authority: because person P is credible


16 The Cereal Box assignment Ask students to discern the main assertion, evidence, and warrant in an argument, article, or in this case, cereal box text. For example: Evidence 1Main Assertion It’s high in Oatmeal Crisp in potassiumis healthy. Potassium causes good health (causal warrant)

17 Cereal… Evidence 2Main Assertion It looks healthy.Oatmeal Crisp is healthy. Healthy-looking foods actually are healthy (sign warrant)

18 And more… Evidence 3Main Assertion General Mills usesOatmeal Crisp whole healthy. Assuming whole grains generally create healthy cereals. (generalization warrant)

19 Etc…(note, same assertion, but different evidence & warrant) Evidence 4Main Assertion It’s similar toOatmeal Crisp Harvest healthy. Harvest Crunch is healthy, so OC must be too (parallel warrant)

20 Etc. Evidence 5Main Assertion It’s like a bananaOatmeal Crisp is healthy. OC and bananas share the quality of healthy potassium (analogy warrant)

21 and finally… Evidence 6Main Assertion Heart and StrokeOatmeal Crisp Found. implies healthy. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is a credible organization (authority warrant)

22 So the point is… We can ask students to… 1. Identify argument types in material 2. Explain their own arguments in assignments 3. Use such warrants in speeches 4. Contest such warrants in debate

23 Concluding thought… The critical habit of thought, if usual in society, will pervade all its mores, because it is a way of taking up the problems of life. Men [people] educated in it cannot be stampeded by stump orators... They are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain. They can wait for evidence and weigh evidence, uninfluenced by the emphasis or confidence with which assertions are made on one side or the other. They can resist appeals to their dearest prejudices and all kinds of cajolery. Education in the critical faculty is the only education of which it can be truly said that it makes good citizens. ~ William Graham Sumner, Folkways, 1906

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