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ENGL 1050 Argumentative Writing and Critical Thinking

ENGL 1050 Announcement banner, book laying on keyboard

Catalog Description

Prerequisite: ENGL 1005B, ENGL 1010, or equivalent. Instruction in argumentation and critical writing, critical thinking, analytical evaluation of texts, research strategies, information literacy, and proper documentation. GE A3

Course Description

ENGL 1050 integrates writing and other critical thinking activities to increase students’ learning while teaching them thinking skills for posing questions, proposing hypotheses, gathering and analyzing data, and making arguments, applicable to any discipline or interest. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to distinguish between knowledge and belief, facts and values, and identify faulty reasoning through an understanding of the formal and informal fallacies of language and thought, through writing, reading, and research.
  2. Analyze and evaluate a range of evidence used to support various types of claims.
  3. Recognize, respond to and use common techniques of persuasion.
  4. Understand the fundamentals of logic and critical thinking and the relationship of logic to language.
  5. Use inductive and deductive reasoning to reach well-supported conclusions.
  6. Identify the assumptions upon which particular conclusions depend.
  7. Refine fundamental rhetorical strategies used to produce university-level writing, especially
    1. modify content and form according to the rhetorical situation, purpose, and audience
    2. incorporate textual evidence through quotation, summary, and paraphrase into their essays and appropriately cite their sources
    3. evaluate the relevance, validity, and authority of information, and ethically use and cite that information in their own writing
  8. Develop cogent arguments for views on theoretical and practical matters
  9. Exhibit knowledge of genre conventions ranging from structure and paragraphing to voice, tone and style
  10. Control such surface features as syntax, grammar, punctuation, and spelling

Course Outline

  • Learn about the difference between knowledge and belief, facts and values, and formal and informal fallacies of language and thought.
  • Learn about the range of evidence used to support various types of claims, and common techniques of persuasion.
  • Learn the fundamentals of logic and critical thinking and the relationship of logic to language.
  • Learn about inductive and deductive reasoning.
  • Develop writing and reading skills for logical reasoning and argumentation.
  • Use critical reading strategies to understand a range of public and academic writing.
  • Practice strategies for meaningful revision and recognize that writing is a recursive process.
  • Prewrite, draft, write, and revise a minimum of 6000 words of formal writing. The writing will be in a variety of genres, assume a variety of rhetorical approaches, respond to a rhetorical situation, address a specific audience, address a variety of viewpoints, and articulate a stance. Some of the essays will incorporate outside texts.
  • Incorporate textual evidence in writing, when appropriate, through the use of paraphrase, summary, and quotation.
  • Investigate the relationships between stylistic options and audience response.
  • Discuss ideas and motives in culture.
  • Learn about the resources available through the University Writing Center, University Library, and other centers of information.

Course design might take a number of forms to achieve the above course content. Listed below is one schematic representation of course content as based on Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters, Everything’s an Argument (6th edition, 2013).

  1. Reading and Understanding Arguments
    1. Occasions for Argument
    2. Kinds of Argument
    3. Stasis Questions at Work
    4. Audiences for Arguments
    5. Appealing to Audiences: Pathos, Ethos, Logos, Rhetorical Situations
      1. Arguments Based on Emotion: Pathos
      2. Arguments Based on Character: Ethos
      3. Arguments Based on Facts and Reason: Logos
    6. Fallacies of Argument
      1. Fallacies of Emotional Argument (i.e. Scare Tactics, Either-Or Choices, Slippery Slope, Overly Sentimental Appeals, Bandwagon Appeals
      2. Fallacies of Ethical Argument (i.e. Appeals for False Authority, Dogmatism, Ad Hominem Arguments, Stacking the Deck)
      3. Fallacies of Logical Argument (i.e. Hasty Generalization, Faulty Causality, Begging the Question, Equivocation, Non Sequitur, Straw Man, Red Herring, Faulty Analogy)
    7. Rhetorical Analysis
  2. Writing Arguments
    1. Prewriting and invention strategies
    2. Classical Oration
    3. Toulmin Argument
    4. Reasoning inductively and deductively
    5. Drafting and revision
    6. Types of Arguments
      1. Arguments of Fact
      2. Arguments of Definition
      3. Evaluations
      4. Causal Arguments
      5. Proposals
    7. Style and Presentation in Arguments
      1. Style in Arguments (i.e. diction, figurative language, etc.)
      2. Visual and Multimedia Arguments
  3. Research and Arguments
    1. Developing an Academic Argument
    2. What Counts as Evidence
    3. Evaluating Sources
    4. Using Sources
    5. Academic Integrity
    6. Documenting Sources