and Critical Reasoning
course goals and student learning objectives
“Logic and Critical Reasoning” is designed to meet the G.E. learning objectives for Area A3.
Critical thinking courses help students learn to recognize, analyze, evaluate, and engage in effective reasoning.
Students will demonstrate, orally and in writing, proficiency in the course goals. Development of the following competencies will result in dispositions or habits of intellectual autonomy, appreciation of different worldviews, courage and perseverance in inquiry, and commitment to employ analytical reasoning. Students should be able to:
1. distinguish between reasoning (e.g., explanation, argument) and other types of discourse (e.g., description, assertion);
2. identify, analyze, and evaluate different types of reasoning;
3. find and state crucial unstated assumptions in reasoning;
4. evaluate factual claims or statements used in reasoning, and evaluate the sources of evidence for such claims;
5. demonstrate an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism;
6. evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system;
7. locate, retrieve, organize, analyze, synthesize, and communicate information of relevance to the subject matter of the course in an effective and efficient manner; and
8. reflect on past successes, failures, and alternative strategies.
• Students will analyze, evaluate, and construct their own arguments or position papers about issues of diversity such as gender, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
• Reasoning about other issues appropriate to the subject matter of the course shall also be presented, analyzed, evaluated, and constructed.
• All critical thinking classes should teach formal and informal methods for determining the validity of deductive reasoning and the strength of inductive reasoning, including a consideration of common fallacies in inductive and deductive reasoning. To clarify this Content Objective the following was developed by the Critical Thinking General Education Advisory Panel (GEAP) and adopted by the Board of General Studies on May 16, 2002: “Formal methods for determining the validity of deductive arguments” refers to techniques that focus on patterns of reasoning rather than content. While all deductive arguments claim to be valid, not all of them are valid. Students should know what formal methods are available for determining which are which. Such methods include, but are not limited to, the use of Venn’s diagrams for determining validity of categorical reasoning, the methods of truth tables, truth trees, and formal deduction for reasoning which depends on truth functional structure, and analogous methods for evaluating reasoning which may be valid due to quantificational form. These methods are explained in standard logic texts. We would also like to make clear that the request for evidence that formal methods are being taught is not a request that any particular technique be taught, but that some method of assessing formal validity be included in course content.
• Courses shall require the use of qualitative reasoning skills in oral and written assignments. Substantial writing assignments are to be integrated with critical thinking instruction. Writing will lead to the production of argumentative essays, with a minimum of 3000 words required. Students shall receive frequent evaluations from the instructor. Evaluative comments must be substantive, addressing the quality and form of writing.
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