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10/02/2013

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Rachel

This is roughly exactly how I've structured my writing assignments in the past. I break it down into three parts: summarize one central argument from the relevant readings; offer one powerful objection to that argument (doesn't have to be the student's own, but it can be and often is); adjudicate between the two views (which is the strongest)? The structure helps them, too.

David Morrow

Yes! This is a big problem! (Incidentally, I don't think it stops with undergrads....)

One useful resource here is Anthony Weston's Rulebook for Arguments. Chapters 6-8 provide a useful guide to the process of writing a paper. It's cheap enough (less than $10) to require as a secondary textbook, too. (Full disclosure: Anthony and I have a full-length critical thinking textbook based on his Ruleboo, so I'm not quite a neutral party. But his Rulebook is enough to communicate the basic process, and when I used his textbook to teach courses, students regularly said that they wished they'd learned about the process sooner.)

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