Welcome to Critical ThinkingSpring Semester 2017Instructor: Molly Dwyer

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."~John F. Kennedy

Course Description

Critical Thinking is the process by which we develop and support our beliefs, and evaluate the strength of arguments made by others in real-life situations. This semester we will practice some of the most central and important skills of critical thinking, and focus on applying those strategies to understanding current issues, belief systems, and ethical positions. We will analyze media, the current political environment, and our own beliefs and moral inclinations. You will learn to appraise information and influences, discuss controversial topics intelligently, and construct well-reasoned arguments on a variety of topics. The course will focus on group discussion and written analysis. This is a writing course. You will be expected to produce and share rough drafts before turning in your final version.

Course Objective

The primary objectives of this course are to impart a functional ability to reason well and to improve your analytical skills and instincts. In addition to familiarizing you with elementary methods of building strong arguments, the course is further designed to aid you in understanding the essential principles involved in the practice of reasoned decision making. The writing skills you develop in this class will serve you across all academic disciplines and in the workplace.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate skills in elementary inductive and deductive reasoning.
  2. Identify and understand basic formal and informal fallacies of language and thought.
  3. Identify the components of arguments and demonstrate the ability to create complex argument structures in verbal and written forms.

Course Text

  • Required: Writing Logically, Thinking Critically, (WLTC) 8th edition by Sheila Cooper & Rosemary Patton
  • Required: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • Required: Internet access to course website: http://criticalthinking-mc205.wikispaces.com

Grading

  • 90-100 points = A
  • 80-89 points = B
  • 70-79 points = C
  • 65-69 points = D
  • 64 points or below = F or no credit


Due dates for Assignments:

(Essays require rough drafts. They’re due on first date, final draft on second.)

  1. Worldview Essay: Feb 22 & 27 (15 points)
  2. Portfolio: March 27 (15 points)
  3. Ethics Essay: April 17 & 19 (15 points)
  4. Science Quiz: May 10 (10 points)
  5. Oral Presentations: May 15 & 17 (15 Points)
  6. Final Exam: May 24 (15 points)
  7. Daily Writing Journal: (15 points)

Course Requirements:

  1. Daily Writing Journal: Each class day a paper (200 words) is due—summarizing homework and what you learned form it.
  2. 2 Graded Essays: Each paper will range in length from 800 to 1500 words, as assigned. Each requires a rough draft. (10 points each)
  3. 2 Rough Drafts: Each rough draft grade reflects your participation in peer evaluations and revision. You must be in class the day your rough draft is due to get credit for it. Rough drafts must be turned in with final draft. (5 points each)
  4. Portfolio: A presentation (collection) of response writings based on reading, journal material, possible creative work, images, etc. (15 points)
  5. Science Quiz: (10 points)
  6. Oral Presentation: Five-minute presentation to the class. (15 points)
  7. Final Exam: You will be given a topic on the day of the final and asked to write about it in the time allotted. (15 points)


portfolio.pngWhat is a Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of materials, artifacts (writings, doodles, images, photographs, creative responses, journaling) and documentation. It will include a Double-entry Reading Log (notes on the story, tracking the plot, characters, theme, and your personal response to the story); Study aids, such as Plot Diagrams, Vocabulary Word Lists, and Research. There is room for personal design, taste, and creativity. You will receive a handout that explains in detail what is expected. An academic portfolio should demonstrate your ability to reflect upon, synthesize, and showcase your work. Think of it as a “positive portrait” of your ability to document and
track a learning experience.


Classroom Policies

Common Courtesy & Common Sense

  • Respect and cooperation are the core principles in this class. Show up. Be present. Be thoughtful. Get to know your fellow students.
  • You are responsible for the information on this syllabus. Check it before coming to class. Know what’s going to happen and come prepared. Your class participation is equal in weight to one paper, and is based on in-class writing, discussion and participation in activities.
  • Be on time! Coming in late is disruptive.
  • Three unexcused absences may result in being dropped from the class. If you have to be absent, email me, let me know.
  • If you have to leave class early, please tell me at the beginning of class.
  • Phones are to be turned off and kept out of sight AT ALL TIMES.
  • If you’re falling behind in class or doing poorly, set up a time to speak with me about getting help. Advocate for your own success; stay engaged.

Critical Thinking Course Outline

(Reading assignments are to be completed prior to class on indicated day!!)

Week One: Course Introduction & Requirements


MON JAN 23
In-Class Presentation: Introduction to Class
Handout: Syllabus & Course Timeline
In-Class Activity: Introducing Ourselves

WED JAN 25
Read: WLTC (Writing Logically, Thinking Critically) Thinking & Writing, pgs. 1-3
Read & Watch Video: Home Page, wiki site
In-Class Presentation: Introducing Critical Thinking



Week Two: Seeing the World


MON JAN 30
Read: WLTC, An Open Mind: pgs. 3-7
Watch Video: “Test Your Brain,” Paying Attention, wiki site.
In-Class Presentation: Paying Attention
In-Class Activity: Take This Fish—Microwave background in universe, brain scans
Handout: Essay #1—Seeing Our World

WED FEB 1
Read & Watch Video: Perception & the Brain, wiki site
In-Class Presentation: Perception & the Brain
In Class Activity: Mind Games



Week Three: What Does it Mean to be Human?


MON FEB 6
Watch: 30 min segment on Artificial Intelligence from CBS 60 Minutes
In-Class Presentation: What Does it Mean to be Human?

WED FEB 8
Watch: 1½ hr. World Science Discussion, Spark of Genius: Awakening A Better Brain
In-Class Discussion: What Does it Mean to be Human?



Week Four: Imagining the Future


MON FEB 13
Watch: 1½ hr. World Science Discussion, The Mind & the Machine
In-Class Discussion: What Will the Future Look Like?

WED FEB 15
Read: WLTC, The Writing Process, pgs. 7-36
In Class Presentation: How Do You Write?



Week Five: Writing for Critical Thinking


MON FEB 20—PRESIDENTS DAY NO CLASS

WED FEB 22
Rough Draft Due: Worldview Essay
In-Class: Peer Critiques



Week Six: The Power of Narrative


MON FEB 27
Final Paper Due: Worldview Essay
In-Class Presentation: Introduction to The Book Thief
Handout: Portfolio Assignment

WED MARCH 1
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 3-81
In-Class Writing & Discussion



Week Seven: Society & Culture


MON MARCH 6
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 82-137
In-Class Writing & Discussion

WED MARCH 8
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 138-222
In-Class Writing & Discussion:



Week Eight: Truth & Justice


MON MARCH 13
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 223-303
In-Class Writing & Discussion:

WED MARCH 15
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 304-403
In-Class Writing & Discussion:



Week Nine: What is Ethics?


MON MARCH 20
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 404-455
In-Class Writing & Discussion:

WED MARCH 22
Read: The Book Thief, pgs. 456-550
In-Class Activity: The Book Thief Portfolio workday



Week Ten: Making Ethical Decisions


MON MARCH 27
Portfolio Due:
In-Class Presentation: Ethics & Moral Dilemma
Handout: Essay #2—Making Ethical Decisions

WED MARCH 29
Read & Watch Video: Ethics & Humanity, wiki page
Handout: What do you Value?



Week Eleven: Ethics & The Social Contract


MON APRIL 1
In-Class Discussion: Plato & Socrates, wiki page

WED APRIL 3
Read: Social Contract, wiki page
In-Class Presentation: Social Contract



Week Twelve: Spring Break


MON APRIL 10
WED APRIL 12



Week Thirteen: Understanding Science


MON APRIL 17
Rough Draft Due: Ethics Essay
In-Class: Peer Critiques

WED APRIL 19
Final Paper Due: Ethics Essay
Handout: Oral Presentations. Fallacies will be assigned
In-Class Presentation: Intro to Science Section



Week Fourteen: Inductive & Deductive Reasoning


MON APRIL 24
Read: WLTC, Deductive and Inductive Argument, pgs. 148-156 & 174-183
In-Class Presentation: Inductive Reasoning
In-Class Activity: Pattern Recognition Puzzles

WED APRIL 26
Read: WLTC, Deductive and Inductive Argument, pgs. 156-167
In-Class Presentation: Deductive Reasoning
In-Class Activity: Zebra Puzzle



Week Fifteen: Scientific Method


MON MAY 1
Read & Watch Video: Scientific Method, wiki page
Presentation: The Scientific Method & Reason

WED MAY 3
In-Class Activity: Scientific Research



Week Sixteen: Cosmology


MON MAY 8
Watch: First ½ hr. World Science Discussion: Infinite Worlds
In-Class Presentation: Cosmology

WED MAY 1O
Pop Quiz: Inductive & Deductive Reasoning



Week Seventeen: Oral Presentations


MON MAY 15
Oral Presentations Due: Logical Fallacies

WED MAY 17
Oral Presentations Due: Logical Fallacies



Week Eighteen: Finals Week


MON MAY 22

In-Class Final: Opinion Piece on Social Issue

Note! You must purchase a “blue book” from the bookstore to take your test


WED MAY 24
No Class