Welcome to Critical ThinkingFall 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 Graded Assignments:

Essays, Portfolio, Quiz & Oral Presentation, Final Exam

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

  1. Class Participation/ in-class writing 15 points
  2. Essay: Mon Sept 18, Wed Sept 20 (Worldview) 15 points
  3. Portfolio: Mon Oct 16 (Media Analysis) 20 points
  4. Essay: Wed Nov 8, Mon Nov 13 (Ethics) 15 points
  5. Quiz: Wed Nov 29 (Reasoning) 10 points
  6. Oral Presentation: Dec 4 & Dec 6 (Logical Fallacies) 10 Points
  7. Final Exam: Wed Dec 13 (In-Class Opinion Essay) 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; Study aids, such as 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 AUG 21

In-Class Presentation: Introduction to Class

Handout: Syllabus & Course Timeline


WED AUG 23

Read & Watch Video: Home Page, wiki site

In-Class Presentation: Introducing Critical Thinking

In-Class Activity: Introducing Yourself


Week Two: Seeing the World

MON AUG 28

Handout: Essay #1—Seeing Our World

Watch Video: “Test Your Brain,” Paying Attention, wiki site.

In-Class Presentation: Paying Attention / Take This Fish


WED AUG 30

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 SEPT 4 NO CLASS—LABOR DAY


WED SEPT 6

Watch: 30 min segment on Artificial Intelligence from CBS 60 Minutes

In-Class Presentation: What Does it Mean to be Human?


Week Four: Imagining the Future

MON SEPT 11

Watch: 1½ hr. World Science Discussion, Spark of Genius: Awakening A Better Brain

In-Class Discussion: What Does it Mean to be Human?


WED SEPT 13

Watch: 1½ hr. World Science Discussion, The Mind & the Machine

In-Class Discussion: What Will the Future Look Like?


Week Five: Constructing Knowledge—Deciphering Truth


MON SEPT 18

Rough Draft Due: Essay #1—How Do You See the World?

In-Class: Peer Critiques


WED SEPT 20

Final Paper Due: Essay #1—How Do You See the World?

In-Class Presentation: Constructing Knowledge—Deciphering Truth


Week Six: Building Strong Arguments

MON SEPT 25

Handout: Media Portfolio Assignment

In-Class Presentation: The Media & Its Influence


WED SEPT 287

In-Class Presentation: Building Strong Arguments


Week Seven: Media & It’s Influence


MON OCT 2

Read: Questions Worth Asking wiki page

In-Class Presentation: Questions Worth Asking

In-Class Activity: “20” Questions


WED OCT 4

In-Class Presentation: In-Class Presentation: Is Your Evidence Trustworthy?


Week Eight: Understanding Evidence & Opinion

MON OCT 9

In-Class Presentation: Recognizing Propaganda: Century of the Self


WED OCT 11

In-Class Activity: Fake News? Analyzing the Media


Week Nine: Deconstructing Bias

MON OCT 16

Portfolio Due: News Analysis Portfolio

In-Class Presentations: Portfolio Summary


WED OCT 18

In-Class Presentations: Portfolio Summary


Week Ten: What is Ethics?

MON OCT 23

In-Class Presentation: Ethics & Moral Dilemma

Handout: Bullet to the Brain


WED OCT 25

Read: Bullet to the Brain

In-Class Discussion: Bullet to the Brain

Handout: Essay #2—Making Ethical Decisions


Week Eleven: Making Ethical Decisions

MON OCT 30

Read & Watch Video: Ethics & Humanity, wiki page

In-Class Activity: National Ethics Bowl—Case Studies


WED NOV 1

In-Class Discussion: Plato & Socrates, wiki page

In-Class Activity: Allegory of the Cave


Week Twelve: Ethics & The Social Contract


MON NOV 6

Read: Social Contract, wiki page

In-Class Presentation: Social Contract


WED NOV 8

Rough Draft Due: Essay #2—Making Ethical Decisions

In-Class: Peer Critiques


Week Thirteen: Fallacies & Logic

MON NOV 13

Final Paper Due: Essay #2—Making Ethical Decisions

Handout: Oral Presentations. Fallacies will be assigned

WED NOV 15

In-Class Presentation: Inductive Reasoning
In-Class Activity: Pattern Recognition Puzzles

Week Fourteen: Inductive & Deductive Reasoning

MON NOV 20

In-Class Presentation: Deductive Reasoning
In-Class Activity: Zebra Puzzle

WED NOV 22

In-Class Presentation: Fallacious Arguments

Week Fifteen: Scientific Method


MON NOV 27

Read & Watch Video: Scientific Method, wiki page

Presentation: The Scientific Method & Reason

In-Class Activity: Research


WED NOV 29

Pop Quiz: Inductive & Deductive Reasoning


Week Sixteen: Oral Presentations

MON DEC 4

Oral Presentations Due: Logical Fallacies

WED DEC 6

Oral Presentations Due: Logical Fallacies


Week Seventeen: Finals Week


MON DEC 11

In-class Activity: Test Preparation


WED DEC 13

In-Class Final: Opinion Piece on Social Issue

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