Argument & Critical Thinking

someone thinking with a question mark above their headArgument & Critical Thinking also provides students with a scaffolded, step-by-step approach to writing, but the focus in this area is on creating strong, argumentative projects with convincing support free from errors in logic. This area of the Excelsior OWL is comprehensive in terms of argumentative writing and digital projects, providing support for everything from rhetorical analysis to logical fallacies. Just like The Writing Process and Research, this area features a series of videos that support each step of the argumentative writing process. Additionally, this area features an “Analyze This” set of videos that engage students in elements of analysis for each lesson learned. These videos, along with sample papers, Prezis, comics, and activity interactions make this area ideal to support a “flipped” classroom, an online classroom, or an engaging and interactive face-to-face classroom.

This area of the Excelsior OWL works well in support of writing classes that focus on argumentation and critical thinking and can be used in place of traditional textbooks. This area could be used in combination with an affordable argumentative reader or even free argumentative readings from the web.

Activity Ideas for Argument & Critical Thinking

  • After reviewing information on “Argument and Audience,” students can complete their own audience analysis mini essay, either formal or informal, for a project in the course.
  • After completing the “Finding Arguments” section, students can work in small groups to find arguments within specific topics, either assigned or developed within the group.
  • Once students complete the section of “Modes of Persuasion,” you can have students practice further with commercials, music lyrics, and then move into analysis of short articles.
  • Finally, the content can be used to support analysis of students’ own writing.
  • Once students complete the section on “Argumentative Thesis,” and complete the interactive activity for practice, students can submit a working or tentative thesis for feedback from you.
  • The “Organizing Your Argument” section can be used to teach students about the basic argumentative structures and the rhetorical purposes of each. You may have students study all of them and make decisions or just focus on one particular structure.
  • Similarly, “Argumentative Purposes” provides students with options. You can choose or have students study several options. The sample papers can also be used for formal or informal argumentative analysis.
  • Once students are ready for collecting and integrating evidence for their arguments, students can complete the “Using Evidence” section and practice with their own examples of evidence.
  • The “Logical Fallacies” section includes comics and a full interactive activity. Once students complete this section, they might create their own comics for additional logical fallacy types and/or use the interaction as a model for analysis of their own research process.
  • The “Revising Your Argument” section can be used to support a strong revision and editing workshop for students.
  • The “Argument Analysis” section teaches content and rhetorical analysis. You may want to teach this section first, depending upon the structure of the course.
  • The “Argument and Digital Writing” section focuses on a variety of digital argument options. You may want to focus on just one or two of these and use the samples provided as models to get students started on their own digital projects.

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