The course familiarizes students with a number of skills used to think critically. After a brief introduction, we will fine-tune our ability to 1) recognize statements, 2) recognize arguments, 3) distinguish between an argument's conclusion and premises, and 4) identify different types of arguments. These skills will be used to fine-tune our ability to assess arguments. Upon completion of the course, successful students will be able to identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments encountered in day-to-day life.
You can click on the following link to review SRJC's Official Course outline for all Critical Thinking courses:
Participation: Participating in our daily class discussions is an important part of our learning process. You will be expected to come to each class prepared to participate in our discussions, activities, and lectures. In addition, you will be expected to behave in a way that is consistent with the college’s Academic Integrity policies, Discrimination policies, Sexual Harassment policies, and Student Conduct policies. In our class, “disruptive behavior” is understood as any behavior that distracts the instructor or any student from the course’s stated educational tasks. This includes, but is not limited to, 1- tardiness, 2- leaving the room during class, 3- any use of a cell phone or other electronic equipment, 4- eating, 5- “side talking” (i.e., talking to the class or an assigned group about something other than the assigned topic or limiting one’s conversation to an individual or individuals during a class or group discussion), and 6- passing notes. Any student violating these policies may be asked to resolve the issue in a mandatory office visit. Any student failing to attend a mandatory office visit or unable to resolve an issue during an office visit, will be suspended from class as defined in the college’s Rules and Regulations.
Special note- Our classroom is for the purpose of learning to think critically. The moment you enter the room you are expected to refrain from any and all distracting behavior. The moment class begins you also are expected to stop using any and all electronic devices unless you have prior approval. Approval is acquired by signing an agreement during an office visit. Any student using an electronic device in the classroom without prior approval will be asked to leave and to resolve the issue in a mandatory office visit. Any student failing to attend a mandatory office visit or unable to resolve an issue during an office visit, will be suspended from class as defined in the college’s Rules and Regulations.
Weekly Online Reading Quizzes: There will be weekly recommended and ungraded online quizzes designed to assist our efforts to understand our week's reading(s).
Online Videos: There will be recommended and ungraded online videos to assist our efforts to promote media literacy which helps you apply our critical thinking skills to media examples.
Weekly Online Practice: There will be weekly recommended and ungraded online practice examples designed to assist our efforts to learn our critical thinking skills.
Weekly Online Homework: There will be weekly required and graded online homework assignments. Each homework assignment will assess your ability to demonstrate all of the skills we’ve learned up to that week of the semester.
Mid-Term Exams: There will be two required and graded in-class mid-term exams. Each exam will assess your comprehensive understanding of the skills we’ve learned up to that point in the semester.
Final Exam: There will be a required and graded final exam. This exam will assess your comprehensive understanding of the skills we’ve learned during our semester.
Please begin by buying our course textbook, reviewing our course website, and completing all of this week's tasks listed on our course schedule.
Each week's required and recommended tasks are listed in our course schedule. Please remember that, in the end, you are responsible for knowing each assignment's due date and completing each assignment promptly.
In addition, click on the following link to review important SRJC dates:
Participation: Any student missing 10% of our semester classes or more may be dropped from the course. However, it is your responsibility to drop the class if you decide not to continue. Any student who fails to do this will earn a ‘F’ or ‘NC’ for the class.
Weekly Online Reading Quizzes: Our weekly online reading quizzes are ungraded recommended activities designed to assist our efforts to understand our class readings. While they are ungraded, successful completion should indirectly improve your grade by helping you be prepared for class and our graded assignments.
Weekly Online Practice Exercises: Our weekly online practice exercises are recommended activities designed to assist our efforts to learn our critical thinking skills. While they are ungraded, successful completion should indirectly improve your grade by helping you be prepared for class and our graded assignments.
Weekly Online Homework: You will earn one point for each correctly answered homework question. Combined, your homework assignments are worth over 200 points.
Mid-Term Exams: Each mid-term exam will be worth 200 points. Combined, these two (2) exams will be worth 400 points.
Final Exam: The final exam will be worth 400 points.
YOUR SEMESTER GRADE WILL BE BASED ON THE FOLLOWING POINT SCALE:
No other considerations will determine your semester grade.
Please remember ...
NO ADDITIONAL LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED
YOU MUST HAVE PRIOR INSTRUCTOR APPROVAL TO RE-SCHEDULE ANY ASSIGNMENT.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN YOUR GRADE IS YOUR OWN WORK.
Texting during class is an example of disruptive behavior as defined in our course's "Participation Expectations." Any student who is texting during class will be asked to resolve the issue in a mandatory office visit. Any student failing to attend a mandatory office visit or unable to resolve an issue during an office visit, will be suspended from class as defined in the college’s Rules and Regulations.
Weekly Online Homework: You homework assignments officially are worth 200 points toward your semester grade. However, since there actually are 250 homework questions throughout the semester, and each correctly answered question is worth 1 point, you may earn up to 250 points through your homework assignments. As such, by correctly completing your homework assignments, you may earn up to 50 extra-credit points.
Mid-Term Exam: You may improve your grade by completing Week 16's extra-credit mid-term exam. The grade you earn on this assignment will replace your lowest mid-term grade.
Final Exam: Interested students may select to complete a project instead of completing our final exam. While the project must demonstrate your ability to think critically, it is an opportunity to use our course's concepts and skills imaginatively. To complete a Final Exam project, you must arrange multiple office visits with the instructor. The first meeting, during which we will define your project's guidelines, must be completed no later than Week #13. No exceptions!
These extra-credit opportunities are designed to consider improvement and minimize the impact of occasional failure. No other considerations will determine your semester grade. Remember ...
NO ADDITIONAL LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED
YOU MUST HAVE PRIOR INSTRUCTOR APPROVAL TO RE-SCHEDULE ANY ASSIGNMENT.
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN YOUR GRADE IS YOUR OWN WORK.
Critical Thinking discussions, activities, and assignments frequently involve questioning one’s assumptions. The goal of this self-examination is not to persuade you to change your beliefs. Rather, the goal is for each of us to fine-tune our ability to identify, analyze, and assess arguments, no matter how controversial the topic. To promote an environment in which each of us feels comfortable doing this, it will be important to understand, appreciate, and value each other’s academic freedom. Toward this end, both the instructor and students are expected to honor the following policies:
Student Academic Freedom Policy Every student has a right to pursue instruction objectively. This includes, but is not limited to, having instruction which distinguishes between general knowledge and the instructor’s personal opinion, having instruction which acknowledges the existence of plausible opposing opinions, and being evaluated using only the standards noted in this syllabus. In addition, every student has a right to instructional methods which are conducive to his/her academic freedom. While a student’s presuppositions may be questioned by the instructor or other students, and the student may be expected to question his/her presuppositions, this shall be pursued in a manner that is consistent with each student’s freedom: 1. To inquire; 2. To explore difficult and controversial material within official course descriptions; 3. To access any available information relevant to the official course descriptions; 4. To express differing opinions with students, faculty, staff, and administration; 5. To demonstrate, learn, and defend critical thinking skills; 6. To demonstrate, learn, and defend intellectual honesty; 7. To learn in an environment free of intimidation and censorship; and 8. To be graded solely on considerations that are intellectually relevant to the subject matter as articulated in the course’s official course description and described in the course’s syllabus.
Faculty Academic Freedom Policy The instructor has a right to pursue instruction objectively. This includes, but is not limited to, having the freedom to state personal opinion, having the freedom to ignore or identify implausible opposing opinions, and having the freedom to evaluate using solely the standards noted in this syllabus. In addition, the instructor has a right to use instructional methods which are conducive to academic freedom. As such, the instructor not only has a right to question a student’s presuppositions, allow other students to question a student’s presuppositions, or expect the student to question his/her presuppositions; but, so long as instruction is pursued in a manner that is consistent with each student’s academic freedom, the instructor shall be free: 1. To inquire;
2. To present and explore difficult and controversial material that is relevant to the official course descriptions; 3. To present and explore any information that is relevant to the official course descriptions;
4. To express differences of opinion with students, faculty, staff, and administration;
5. To demonstrate, teach, and defend critical thinking skills;
6. To demonstrate, teach, and defend intellectual honesty; and
7. To teach and interact in an environment free of intimidation and censorship.
Frankly, there is no simple formula to a successful completion in this course. In fact, there is no simple account of what it means for this course's learning experience to be successful. "Success" can be measured by your course grade, by how well a student can think critically at the semester's completion, by how well a student still can think critically years after the semester's completion, by how much the student's ability to think critically has improved during the semester, and by other means.
What all of these reasonable measures have in common is the goal to think critically. For this reason, if you want to complete this course successfully, I recommend you devote time reflecting on the question, "What is critical thinking?"We are devoting our first week’s classroom time to this question.I recommend you take careful notes, regularly review those notes throughout the semester, and ask any questions that arise during an office visit.If you do this, your understanding of our course’s goal (i.e., Thinking critically) is likely to mature as the semester unfolds.
The better you understand our course’s goal (i.e., Thinking critically) the better you will be able to develop study habits that are likely to be successful.Since your understanding of our course’s goal (i.e., Thinking critically) is likely to mature as the semester unfolds, I recommend you review and modify your study habits throughout the semester.
How should you study?
Another reason there is no simple formula to a successful completion in this course is that are no easily identifiable “study rules” that will guarantee successful completion.For example, successful completion is not as simple as: 1) Read two hours each week, 2) Review practice example for three hours each week, 3) Set aside one hour to complete each week’s graded assignments.Though successful completion will depend, in part, on devoting “enough time” to read, practice, and complete our graded assignments, the amount of time can vary from student to student.How much time you will need to complete this course successfully will depend upon multiple factors, including 1) your language skills, 2) your ability to think critically when the semester begins, 3) how clearly I explain our course’s concepts, 4) your ability to take clear and accurate notes, 5) whether or not you study in a place and time that is conducive to study, and other factors. For this reason, I recommend you proceed cautiously and set aside “a lot of time” to study.
How much time should you set aside to read the textbook and your notes?It is better to set aside too much time than not enough.To begin, I recommend you set aside at least 10 minutes for each page; and I recommend you read it at least twice.As the semester proceeds, you will be able to decide for yourself if you need less or more time than this; but I recommend you always set aside more time than expect to need and I recommend you read each required reading at least twice. Lastly, I recommend you take notes while reading.
How much time should you set aside to practice?Again, it is better to set aside too much time than not enough.To begin, each week we learn new critical thinking skills, I recommend you set aside at least two hours a week until you can perform those skills excellently (i.e., Answer at least 90% of all examples correctly and understand why that is the answer).Furthermore, I recommend you divide this practice into multiple study sessions over multiple days.Set aside, for example, three 45 minute sessions on different days to review practice examples.Finally, when practicing, do not merely answer each question and then stop studying.I recommend the following: 1) Identify which questions you answer correctly and understand that answer; 2) Identify which questions you answer correctly but do not understand that answer (i.e., you guessed or had a hunch but don’t understand the answer); 3) Identify which questions you answer incorrectly; and then 4) Once you identify the questions you do not understand, review the relevant readings and notes in an effort to understand that answer.If you still do not understand the answer, I recommend you document the example and bring it to an office visit.This is a vital process that many students neglect.
How much time should you set aside to complete our graded assignments?Again, it is better to set aside too much time than not enough.To begin, I recommend you set aside at least one hour for each “homework” assignment.Furthermore, I recommend you do not begin any “homework” assignment until you have practiced successfully (See the above paragraph), and that you take a break between your practice sessions and the time you start any “homework” assignment.Furthermore, don’t complete all of the assignments at the same time.I recommend you complete each graded assignment during a different study session.Finally, do not merely answer each graded question and then stop studying.I recommend the following: 1) Identify which questions you answer correctly and understand that answer; 2) Identify which questions you answer correctly but do not understand that answer (i.e., you guessed or had a hunch but don’t understand the answer); 3) Identify which questions you answer incorrectly; and then 4) Once you identify the questions you do not understand, review the relevant readings and notes in an effort to understand that answer.If you still do not understand the answer, I recommend you document the example and bring it to an office visit.Again, this is a vital process that many students neglect.
How does one successfully participate in our classroom meetings?
Successful completion of this course likely will not rely merely on how well you read, practice, and complete our graded assignments.Successful completion likely also will depend upon how well you perform during our classroom meetings.While there are no simple formulaic “class rules” that will guarantee successful course completion, here are some recommend general tips.
First, attend class!
Second, do not be tardy!In fact show up at least five minutes early.
Third, whenever you are in our classroom focus on thinking critically.Before class begins, review the textbook, review your notes, and review any questions you have.Furthermore, give others the opportunity to do this by speaking quietly or not at all. In fact, if you are talking before class and I judge that it is distracting or disrupting another student’s study or my own preparation, I will ask you stop talking.Our classroom is for learning!
Fourth, whenever you are in our classroom focus on thinking critically.Once class begins do not participate in any distracting or disruptive behavior.If I judge that your behavior is distracting or disrupting the facilitation class discussion, I will instruct you stop talking or I will instruct you to leave the classroom.If you are instructed to leave the classroom, you will be expected to review the college’s student conduct code and arrange an office visit to discuss why you were asked to leave the classroom.If the problem is not addressed to my satisfaction, I will file a formal grievance with the college.Please remember, our classroom is for learning!
Fifth, most classroom meetings will begin with a 5-10 minute opportunity for students to ask any questions about our course, including clarification questions about our expectations and review questions about practice examples or past graded assignments.If you have a question and forget to ask it when the class begins, I recommend you write it down and ask after class ends.Do not raise such matters in the middle of class after we already have begun our lesson.At that point such questions are a distraction from our facilitated classroom discussion and you will be asked to write down the question and ask me after our class ends.Furthermore, some classroom sessions we will have a lot of material to cover and I will not begin class by soliciting any question.If wish to ask a question but that classroom meeting does not begin with an opportunity to ask it, please write it down and ask it after class ends.
Finally, your odds of successfully completing the course will be improved if you take good classroom notes.There are different note-taking strategies and tactics.If you have not already developed an approach to note-taking that works for you, I recommend you begin by documenting each critically thinking term that is discussed in course.I recommend you document its definition, any examples that you think illustrate it well, and any questions you have about that concept. Such notes will help you when you are reviewing practice examples are completing our graded “homework” assignments.
Will you successfully complete this course?
The above recommendations help us understand why it’s important not to oversimplify what it means to complete our course successfully.I recommend you think of our course, in part, as an opportunity to fine-tune your study habits and classroom habits.You likely will succeed with some details to some degree, improve with some details to some degree, and discover ways you still need to improve even as the semester comes to an end.
While the above recommendations will not guarantee "success" – whether that’s measured by your course grade, how well you can think critically at the semester's completion, how well you can think critically years after the semester's completion, how much your ability to think critically has improved during the semester, or by any other means – they will improve your odds of successfully completing the course in each of these ways.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Hopefully this syllabus has provided a good introduction to our course's resources, expectations, and policies. A key to successfully completing the course will be understanding each. If, at any time during our semester, you have any questions about our course, including questions about our resources, expectations, and policies, don't hesitate to ask before class, after class, or during one of my office hours. My office is close to our classroom in Emeritus 1513A. My semester schedule is found on my Instructor Page.
Before you can participate in this class you must register with Admissions & Records. When the class actually begins, you must check in online as soon as possible. By checking in, you'll notify your instructor of your email address and you'll create your personal username and password. You'll need that username and password to access some Web-based components of your class and/or to fully participate in certain online activities. After you check in, your username and password will not be activated until your instructor accepts you into the class; acceptance might sometimes take a day or two, so don't delay! Check in as soon as class begins.
This class is configured so that you MUST go through the CATE check-in process. No username or password will be functional until you successfully complete the check-in process and your instructor accepts you into class.
Use the following link to reach the online check-in page for this class:
The check-in link is no longer available because check-in has closed. The check-in link for this section was open in this location from 14 January 2013 through 30 January 2013.
Your CATE username and password are case-sensitive. Username is not the same as username which is not the same as USERNAME. Password is not the same as password
which is not the same as PASSWORD. You must enter your username and password correctly in order for them to work.
Still have questions? Consult with your instructor!
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