Subject:
Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Module
Level:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Provider:
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
Tags:
Academic Sources, Analyze Sources, Counterarguements, Evidence of Claims, Logic, Paraphrase, Quotation, Rhetorical Situation, Summary, Support of Claims, Synthesis
License:
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
Language:
English
Media Formats:
Downloadable docs, eBook, Text/HTML, Video

Education Standards (1)

Critical Thinking: Course Map & Recommended Resources

Overview

Critical Thinking is one of the five main learning outcomes for the Ohio Transfer Module’s Ohio guidelines for second-year writing. The Department of Higher Education recognizes that second-year writing builds on the skills of first-year writing and adds the following skills to what a student should be able to do by the end of the course:

  • Find and evaluate appropriate material from electronic and other sources.
  • Locate, evaluate, organize, and use primary and secondary research material. Secondary research material should be collected from various sources, including journal articles and other scholarly texts found in library databases, other official databases (e.g., federal government databases), and informal electronic networks and internet sources.
  • Analyze and critique sources in their writing.
  • Juxtapose and integrate ideas and arguments from sources.
  • Develop a clear line of argument that incorporates ideas and evidence from sources.
  • Use strategies—such as interpretation, synthesis, response, critique, and design/redesign—to compose texts that integrate the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.

Introduction & Learning Objectives

Introduction

Critical Thinking is one of the five main learning outcomes for the Ohio Transfer Module’s Ohio guidelines for second-year writing. The Department of Higher Education recognizes that second-year writing builds on the skills of first-year writing and adds the following skills to what a student should be able to do by the end of the course:

  1. Find and evaluate appropriate material from electronic and other sources.
  2. Locate, evaluate, organize, and use primary and secondary research material. Secondary research material should be collected from various sources, including journal articles and other scholarly texts found in library databases, other official databases (e.g., federal government databases), and informal electronic networks and internet sources.
  3. Analyze and critique sources in their writing.
  4. Juxtapose and integrate ideas and arguments from sources.
  5. Develop a clear line of argument that incorporates ideas and evidence from sources.
  6. Use strategies—such as interpretation, synthesis, response, critique, and design/redesign—to compose texts that integrate the writer’s ideas with those from appropriate sources.

The materials below range from introductory lessons to more in-depth and detailed explanations for the various processes in critical thinking that build on the material from first-year writing. Many of the second-year material overlaps with other chapters on Reading and Writing in Academia, Understanding Rhetorical Situations, and Conducting Research. The materials are available as single lessons that can be used to supplement other course material and readings, or as standalone sections that can provide weeks of information and activities that can align with other writing assignments.

Learning Objectives

This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

  1. Find and evaluate appropriate material from electronic and other sources
    1. Use library resources to locate academic sources
    2. Identify appropriate and credible websites and online articles
  2.  Analyze and critique sources in their writing
    1. Apply the rhetorical situation
    2. Examine the logic
  3. Juxtapose and integrate ideas and arguments from sources through
    1. Summary
    2. Paraphrase
    3. Quotation
    4. Synthesis
  4. Develop a clear line of argument that incorporates ideas and evidence from sources
    1. Provide appropriate support and evidence for claims
    2. Incorporate opposing viewpoints
    3. Provide counterarguments

Course Map

The resources included here are intended to address the above listed learning objectives. They will cover each aspect of the critical-thinking process, although there are resources that may overlap. These resources can be used as standalone chapters, or in combination with other suggested resources from other chapters.

Recommended Resources

The materials below range from introductory lessons to more in-depth and detailed explanations for the various processes in critical thinking that build on the material from first-year writing. Many of the second-year material overlaps with other chapters on Reading and Writing in Academia, Understanding Rhetorical Situations, and Conducting Research. The materials are available as single lessons that can be used to supplement other course material and readings, or as standalone sections that can provide weeks of information and activities that can align with other writing assignments.

About Writing: A Guide by Robin Jeffrey

  • This is an electronic textbook published by Open Oregon Educational Resources, which can be read online or downloaded in a variety of formats. In the section “Academic Writing,” there are three chapters that build on critical thinking skills from first-year writing: “Countering Opposing Arguments,” “Putting Inductive Reasoning to the Test,” and “Most Common Evidence Used by Authors.” These three chapters are short, consisting of questions students can pose to texts or sources, or a list of examples. These can be used to introduce the topics and provide a starting point for practice.

The Word on College Reading and Writing by Babin, Burnell, and Pesznecker

  • Written by five college reading and writing instructors, this interactive, multimedia text draws from decades of experience teaching students who are entering the college reading and writing environment for the very first time. It includes examples, exercises, and definitions for just about every reading – and writing – related topic students will encounter in their college courses. “Part 1: Working with Texts” is recommended for first-year writing, but contains two sections that can be reinforced in second-year writing. “Writing About Texts” and “Information Literacy” provide in-depth explanations and exercises to help students understand the concepts related to the critical thinking objectives of second-year writing. “Part 2: Writing” contains sections relevant to critical thinking, which overlap with other second-year writing objectives. In particular, the chapters “Determining Your Audience,” “Drafting,” and “Using Your Sources Correctly” touch on objectives 1, 2, and 4, but might also be more appropriate for lessons about writing arguments and using research.

Writing Commons

  • Writing Commons is a free, peer-reviewed, web resource for college students. The chapter “Information Literacy” contains many useful sections to help students build their critical thinking from first-year writing: “Information Literacy Introduction” by Joe Moxley, “Critical Reading Practices” by Jennifer Janechek, “Active Reading” by Brogan Sullivan, “Distinguishing between Main Points and Subclaims,” by Jennifer Janechek, and “Identifying a Conversation” by Jason Carabelli. Other articles focus on research: “Library and Internet Research” by Joe Moxely, “Understanding URLs” by Christine Photinos, “Smart Searching” by Anna Fidgeon, “ Understanding Library Resources” by Amy Coughenour, “Search the Library Catalog” by Joe Moxley, “Web Search Strategies: Basics and Beyond” by Christine Photinos. In addition, there are other articles to help students build their analytical skills, many of which contain exercises: “News or Opinion” by Christine Photinos, “Double-Entry Response Format” by Joe Moxley, “Breaking Down an Image” by Jenna Pack Sheffield, “Analyzing Ads: Gender,” “Analyzing Ads: Race,” “Analyzing Ads: Socioeconomic Status,” “Language for Analyzing Ads” by Jennifer Janechek, and “Ad Analysis” by Jessica McKee.

Writing Spaces: Volume 1 edited by Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky

  • Much like the chapter from Writing Pathways, “Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic?” by Rebecca Jones builds on student understanding of rhetoric and argument, and serves as a good companion to lessons on argument. Jones’ chapter discusses argument and the various strategies people employ in argumentation. The chapter provides examples from various media (cartoons, Crossfire) to provide examples for students to consider. There is a section on inductive and deductive reasoning and a section on building arguments with the Toulmin method. The chapter concludes with a list of “rules” for evaluating arguments that are adapted from logical fallacies. There are some activities to help students think critically about their sources.

Writing Pathways to Student Success edited by Lillian Craton, Renée Love, and Sean Barnette, chapter by Sarah Hardison O’Connor

  • This anthology on writing is a collection of essays by first-year composition instructors that “examine[s] life lessons that both students and instructors learn from first-year composition courses.” Chapter 2: “A Confusion of Messages: The Critical Role of Rhetoric in the Information Age,” by Sarah Hardison O'Connor, is a lengthy reading that helps students see the connections between sources, the rhetoric of those sources, and the conclusions of the readers. In particular, it discusses the changes in technology that have allowed journalism to speed up and change how reporting works. Then, the chapter explains the significance of the rhetorical situations in shaping how readers respond to journalism. The second half of the chapter is a section titled “How Not to Lose the Message” and explains how to use the rhetorical situations to evaluate what students read and hear.

A Writer’s Guide to Mindful Reading by Ellen Carillo

  • Chapter 5, “Working With Sources” is a short, four page explanation of the difference between research-based writing and academic writing. By focusing on what it views as the four main differences, the chapter touches on the ideas of source credibility, skimming, field research, and avoiding plagiarism. This is good for introducing research writing and distinguishing how it differs from other types of writing students have read or written.

Supplemental Content

UNC Writing Center Handouts – The University of North Carolina Writing Center publishes a great array of handouts for writing and research, all of which are CC licensed.  Among the handouts pertinent to this set of learning objects are:

The Purdue OWL

For information about the Purdue Online Writing Lab and their mission statement, use this link: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/purdue_owl.html

Textbook Class Activities

  1. The Word on College Reading and Writing has many activities throughout the recommended sections. “Part 1: Working with Texts” has a summary activity where students read the essay “Consider the Lobster” by David Foster Wallace and then write a summary. The chapter on “Drawing Conclusions, Synthesizing, and Reflecting” uses the novel Catcher in the Rye to demonstrate synthesizing and reflecting. If students have not read Catcher in the Rye, the class could write or openly discuss their reflections on another common novel or movie, such as Harry Potter. Write the reflections on the board, then synthesize these ideas to form a conclusion about the life lessons from the novel. The section “Information Literacy” contains the chapter “Finding Quality Texts,” which outlines the C.R.A.P. test to help students discern whether a source will be useful in an academic context. The chapter provides links to essays and sources to which students can apply the C.R.A.P test. “Part 2: Writing” contains a lot of direction, but there are some exercises in “Strategies for Getting Started” and “Writing Paragraphs” that can help students with their writing (Learning Objectives 1, 3, and 4).

  2. In Writing Pathways to Student Success, Sarah Hardison O’Connor authored a chapter titled, “A Confusion of Messages: The Critical Role of Rhetoric in the Information Age.” There are no lessons in this chapter, but the checklist O’Connor provides is good for evaluating sources. Students could use the checklist to evaluate a news article posted on social media (Learning Objectives 1 and 2).

  3. The chapters “Countering Opposing Arguments,” “Putting Inductive Reasoning to the Test,” and “Most Common Evidence Used by Authors” in About Writing: A Guide contain useful checklists for students analyzing arguments or creating their own. Printing out these chapters for students to use as a checklist can help strengthen their own arguments. Using these questions to analyze the arguments of others can help students identify flaws in those arguments or create their own counterarguments (Learning Objective 2).

  4. Almost all of the articles in the chapter “Information Literacy” conclude with an exercise or activity. The Writing Commons articles for analyzing ads contain embedded videos and questions for students to answers. The article “Critical Reading Exercises” is more of an explanation on how to critique ads rather than a checklist or exercise. Instructors will have to provide texts to critique or students will need to find their own readings. The article “Understanding URLS” concludes with a practice exercise where students must identify a website based on its URL. The answers are located in another article (Learning Objectives 1 and 3).

  5. Searching The Purdue Owl for a “Paraphrasing Exercise” will result in finding an activity that contains several short paragraphs for students to gain practice paraphrasing. The exercise “Sample Essay for Quoting Paraphrasing and Summarizing” asks students to summarize the essay “So That Nobody has to Go to School If They Don’t Want To” by Roger Sipher. It provides an example of paraphrasing and quotation at the end of the essay for further direction (Learning Objective 3).

  6. The UNC Writing Center has many handouts to choose from. This particular handout provides an overview of literature reviews and explains how to do them. There are many questions students can ask about the text they are reviewing, which provides them with good guidelines to write a review. Students can write literature reviews of any assigned reading (Learning Objective 3).
  7. “Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic?” by Rebecca Jones, from Writing Spaces: Readings on Writings, provides many activities from which to choose. The first activity, “Thinking Outside the Text,” asks students to watch a clip from Crossfire and answer questions from the video. Another activity is “Finding the Middle Ground,” which asks students to evaluate the arguments of topics like gun control and universal healthcare. Instructors can substitute other topics. This activity is designed to avoid the “either/or” arguments. The activity “Applying Deductive and Inductive Reasoning” provides students with three arguments where students have to create deductive and inductive arguments for each position. There is an activity for audience awareness and one for the Toulmin Method. In addition, there is a list of additional activities on page 178 that requires additional readings of an essay by Stanley Fish (Learning Objectives 3 and 4).

Additional Class Activities

In addition to the activities from the textbooks, below are several other activities to help students develop their critical thinking skills.

  1. Working with Readings (summary, paraphrasing, quoting, synthesizing): Students can gain practice working with sources through their daily reading assignments. Ask students to write summaries of their reading assignment. As they progress, add requirements for quoting or paraphrasing with appropriate citations. Further practice can lead to students reading two articles on the same topic and synthesizing the ideas from both sources (what they have in common), explaining the opposing viewpoints, or evaluating the strength of the essays based on the rhetoric or arguments (Learning Objectives 2 and 3).

  2. Writing Arguments: Students can be given the opportunity to write arguments about anything, not just controversial topics. Practice writing short arguments by asking students to take a stance on a topic, whether it is something in the news or something that seems mundane (is a hot dog a sandwich?). These can also be given as timed in-class writing prompts using “should” statements that students will have to defend, refute, or resolve (students should pay more for tuition, students shouldn’t be allowed to wear flip-flops on campus, faculty should live on campus, etc.). The results can be commented on by instructors or shared with the class for discussion (Learning Objective 4).