Length: 5–7 pages, 7–9 paragraphs, 1250–1600 words
This writing project includes a comprehensive application of the elements of critical reasoning that we are studying in this course. The main objective is to use the critical thinking strategies described in the course to analyze and evaluate contrasting arguments. You can preview the requirements for the final paper in the Week 8 assignment below.
This is not an opinion piece or persuasive essay. The goal is to present contrasting arguments using information from credible sources and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these positions using content from the course.
As you put this together, are you following the critical analysis process that we emphasize in critical reasoning? This means fairly considering all research equally before reaching a conclusion.
Choose from these topics:
Topic Selection: Students should select a topic they are very interested in that has academically legitimate research that supports a two-sided argument. Suggested topics include:
- Gender neutral bathrooms
- Police brutality/excessive force
- Sex education in school
- Immigration reform
- Taxpayer-funded health care
- Refugees seeking asylum
- Physician‐assisted suicide
- Gun laws
- Marijuana legalization (specify medical vs. recreational use)
- Spanking to discipline children
- Organic vs. non-organic foods
- E‐cigarettes vs. tobacco cigarettes
- Human-caused climate change (check with your professor on specifics)
- Effects of social media
Your rough draft should include 1–2 paragraphs for each of the following elements:
- Introduction: Identify the issue/topic. Provide the necessary background and important recent developments. Define key terms and concepts.
- Arguments and Counterarguments: Summarize the best arguments on both sides of the issue. Include relevant research from credible sources used to support each conclusion.
- Evaluation of Critical Thinking: Assess the strength of the arguments and the quality of thinking surrounding this issue.
- Identify weaknesses in critical thinking such as fallacies, rhetorical devices, vague language, and cognitive biases. Provide specific examples of how these weaknesses appear in arguments, using terminology and definitions from the course
- Evaluate the quality of scientific and anecdotal evidence using the standards of inductive and deductive reasoning described in the course. Consider the quality of causal relationship, analogies, generalizations, and/or moral reasoning.
- Conclusion: Analyze the totality of research and offer a critical thinker’s response to the issue. Identify your own position and experience with the issue and explain how your thinking of the subject has evolved as a result of your analysis.
You must use a minimum of 5 research references in APA Style and include in-text citations in your paragraphs. Include a minimum of 3 academic peer-reviewed books or journal articles. Other sources may be used as supplemental sources, such as journalistic, government, web-based, or media sources. Sources should not include dictionaries, encyclopedias, or general information websites like Wikipedia. Consult your instructor regarding any source of which you unsure. Use the WCU Library as your best resource.
MORE Information so you don’t have to look for it:
The goal of this paper is to construct a fair-minded, unbiased, analytical analysis of a topic in a comprehensive essay.
This is not an opinion piece or a persuasive essay that simply aims to prove or reinforce what you already believe. This would be confirmation bias, and bias must be avoided in this project.
This project needs to avoid harsh rhetoric or language that is harmful and hurtful in nature. The point is to be objective and unemotional in your approach.
This essay should be written in a fair, academic, respectful, and analytical manner regardless of any of your opinions, feelings, or preconceived notions about the topic.
Both sides of your topic must be treated with equal attention, both in terms of the number and quality of sources and in the depth and breadth of their presentation in your essay. Both sides should be addressed in the same number of paragraphs in roughly equivalent detail, and should be supported by the same number of quality sources.
You must identify and define rhetorical devices and logical fallacies on both sides of the argument. Be sure you indicate which specific rhetorical device and fallacy you have found, and there is evidence in your sources of these course concepts in practice that is cited in your paper.
You will present statements and claims for analyzing both sides of the topic. Only then should you state you own conclusion as an objective, critical thinker given the information presented.