Week 4: Discussion One

Week 4: Discussion One

GEN499 Week 4 Guidance

Week Four Thinking


During Week Four, you will continue to reflect on your progress of the Final Research Project; however, the main focus will be on developing an understanding of critical thinking skills and how they are developed through general education courses. In order to demonstrate critical thinking in the discussion forums and assignments, students must be able to interpret evidence used to support various positions. They must also demonstrate their ability to compare and contrast various positions or arguments on a specific topic. When thinking about the final research project, these are some areas that must be considered in order to exhibit good critical thinking skills.

Critical Thinking

In the first discussion, you will describe the core critical thinking principles based on the readings for the week and give some examples of good critical thinking skills and examples that lack critical thinking skills. In the second discussion, you will provide your own evaluation on the research topic you chose for the Final Research Project and discuss any struggles you may have encountered in the process.

Being able to think critically (carefully) is necessary in order to come to conclusions that are more likely than not. The object is to cut back on the many mistakes that we all make throughout our lives. Thinking carefully (critically) helps us to evaluate the positions taken by other people; helps us to evaluate our own positions (analyzing arguments); helps us in solving problems (look before you leap); and helps us connect the dots between information, ideas, beliefs, and conclusions.

Guess what? People make mistakes!

Rather than make statements and proclamations, rather than simply accepting what he/she is told, the critical thinker begins by asking questions. The critical thinker seldom (if ever) simply accepts an argument, conclusion, solution, or fact claim. Simply accepting what someone else says means accepting whatever mistakes he/she has made. What if that person is wrong and not just wrong, but wrong in a very bad way? Maybe you haven’t made enough mistakes and are willing to add someone else’s pile to your own, but I have made quite a few mistakes in my time and don’t want to add that many more.

Week Four Emotion Logic

Asking Questions*

The important questions for a critical thinker can be put under just a few categories, according to Browne and Keeley (2006). You probably won’t remember all of these (I had to look them up myself), but if you can remember just a few of the categories or their questions you will be less likely to set foot in a bear trap. Try to keep these in mind for those occasions when someone tries to sell you something, whether he/she is trying to sell you a product, belief, idea, proposition, or statement. Remember, not everybody is as honest and open as you are.

The first question to ask is whether or not you should accept what the person is saying. Always ask for proof before accepting any statement.

· Logic: Is there evidence, data, information, or other proof to support the claim? Is the evidence cold, hard, objective, testable fact or is it someone’s opinions or beliefs?

· Complete: Is all the information there, or have key facts been left out?

· Relevant: Is the evidence actually relevant? Is it clearly related to the topic or issue?

If there is no proof, or if the proof does not stand up to questioning, then reject the claim.

If the person does offer proof, then question the evidence offered as proof (Elder & Paul, 2010):

· Accurate: Are the facts really facts? Can the information be corroborated or verified?

· Breadth: Does the evidence cover the details of the issue, or does it only speak to part of the issue (see “complete” above)?

· Smoke & Mirrors:

· Depth: There are very few issues, problems, or situations that are simple as they may appear to be. Does the argument (claim and evidence) take a simplistic approach or does it demonstrate the depth and complexity of the issue?

· Clarity: Is the argument (claim and evidence) presented clearly, or is it presented in a vague, general, or confusing way?

· Bias: Is the argument (claim or evidence) biased in any way?

· Significant: Is the issue, topic, or argument really all that important? Are we making a mountain out of a molehill?


· Why are critical thinking skills important for everyone?

· Why is it imporatnt for you to know how to be a critical thinker?

· how can you help others become critical thinkers?

Week Four Activities and Assignments

Here is a checklist of the weekly activities. Keep this handy as you move through the weekly tasks.

Week 4 Learning Activities Due Date
Review and reflect on Instructor Guidance Tuesday – Day 1
Read Required and Recommended Materials (articles, videos, tutorials, etc.) Suggested no later than Day 3
Post initial response to Discussion 1 – Elements of Critical Thinking Thursday – Day 3
Begin rough draft of final essay for Journal Assignment Suggested no later than Day 3
Submit rough draft to Paper Review in the Writing Center Suggested no later than Day 5
Once feedback is received from writing specialist, complete Rough Draft Review Process Evaluation Journal Assignment Monday – Day 7
Post two responses to peers in the Discussion 1 Monday – Day 7
Complete Critical Thinking Quiz Monday – Day 7


Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2006). Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Publisher.

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2010). The thinker’s guide to analytic thinking: How to take thinking apart and what to look for when you do (2nd ed.). Tomales, CA: The Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Emotion or logic concept [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/emotion-or-logic-concept-gm497304681-41723878

Evidence in argument: Critical thinking [Video file]. (2009). In Films on Demand. Retrieved from http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=100753&xtid=49816

Man thinking dreaming has many ideas looking up [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/man-thinking-dreaming-has-many-ideas-looking-up-gm469396302-61563084

Teaching media literacy: Asking questions [Video file]. (2006). In Films on Demand. Retrieved from http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=100753&xtid=36416

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