Diversity and Ethical Considerations Assignment
We now have had some experience with summarizing an argument—charting out schematically the process by which an author has attempted to persuade us of their stance on an issue. Now, we will take the next step in the reading process, by making (and documenting) judgments about the effectiveness of the author’s argumentation.
This is called critical analysis.
Critical analysis involves breaking down the author’s argument into its component parts—this is the literal meaning of the word analysis—and then questioning whether the components actually support one another as they are supposed to. Does the evidence supplied by the author support their claims? Do the claims, even if they are supported by evidence, actually lead to the argument?
Provide a summary of the distributed article, and then a critical analysis of the quality and persuasiveness of its argumentation.
Your summary (5 marks) should:
• Restate (in your own words) the author’s argument (first sentence)
• Identify (in your own words) the major claims the author provides to support their argument
• Briefly identify (in your own words) the major pieces of evidence, or major kinds of evidence (be specific), that the author provides in support of their claims
• SEE in-class summary assignment sheet FOR FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT SUMMARIZING!
Your critical analysis (10 marks) should:
• Assess whether the evidence provided by the author for their claims is successful at supporting those claims, and whether their claims support their argument as a whole. Be sure to explain why you think the author’s logic is persuasive or unpersuasive. Some questions to consider in critical analysis:
o Does the author’s argument rely on logical fallacies or red herrings?
See my handout, Analysis foundations: spotting logical fallacies on the course website, under Learning Materials -> Course Readings, for a list of common logical fallacies.
o Does the author provide sufficient (enough) evidence for their claims? (Are they perhaps relying on hasty generalizations, appeals to the majority, appeals to emotion, etc.?) Where?
o Could any of the author’s evidence be interpreted differently, or used to support different claims or a different argument? (Have they fallen victim to confirmation bias?) How so?
o Is the logic leading from a particular piece of evidence to the claim it supports reasonable? Is the logic leading from the author’s claims to their larger argument reasonable? Be specific!
REMEMBER: Be specific about which logical fallacies the author’s argument relies on, and where in their argument they occur! Alternatively, you must point to specific examples of claim-evidence relationships (or claim-argument logic relationships) in order to assess whether the author’s argumentation holds up!
ONE LAST NOTE: You can present your summary and critical analysis as separate sections, or use an alternating structure (e.g., Claim 1 -> Evidence for claim 1 -> Critical analysis of claim 1 -> Claim 2, etc.). Whichever structure you use, remember to provide an accurate APA-style citation of the source essay.
First grading category: SUMMARY (5 marks)
[_] 5 marks: Accurately and fully articulates the author’s central argument, major claims, and types of supporting evidence, in own words (without overreliance on quotation or close paraphrase). Demonstrates solid reading comprehension and clear expression.
[_] 4 marks: Communicates aspects of the author’s argument, major claims, and supporting evidence, but not completely accurately or fully. Demonstrates either [_] solid reading comprehension or [_] clear expression, but needs improvement on the other one. Potentially [_] misrepresents or [_] omits one or more of the author’s major claims. [_] Could communicate more clearly the supporting ideas’/claims’ relationship to the argument.
[_] 2 or 3 marks: Communicates aspects of the author’s main argument, major claims, and/or supporting evidence, but significantly misrepresents them—perhaps due to [_] serious omissions. [_] Needs to communicate more clearly supporting ideas’/claims’ relationship to the argument. [_] Needs to distinguish more carefully between claims and the evidence supporting them. Needs improvement in [_] reading comprehension, [_] clarity of expression, or [_] both. Student is strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the campus Writing Centre.
[_] 0 or 1 mark: Does not articulate the author’s argument, major claims, and/or supporting evidence. Serious problems with reading comprehension and clarity of expression.
Second grading category: CRITICAL THINKING (10 marks)
[_] 9 or 10 marks: Rigorously examines the sufficiency, quality, and logic of the author’s use of evidence to support their claims and argument. Demonstrates active, thoughtful, and accurate critical reading, as well as clear expression. Clearly attributes ideas to the person who originated them (i.e., the author), distinguishing own views from others’.
[_] 7 or 8 marks: Demonstrates serious effort to examine the validity and sufficiency of the author’s argumentation—but [_] overlooks some important strengths or weaknesses of the author’s use of evidence, or [_] mischaracterizes some aspects of how the author makes or supports their claims, or [_] could express more clearly why the author’s use of particular pieces of evidence or logic are persuasive or unpersuasive. [_] Needs to take greater care in explicitly attributing ideas to author, and distinguishing own ideas from others’.
[_] 3, 4, 5 or 6 marks: [_] Demonstrates some effort to examine the validity of the author’s argumentation, but makes some questionable assertions—perhaps [_] because of lack of clarity about what evidence-claims relations are being assessed or [_] based on misrepresentation of the author’s argument (see summary grade, above). [_] Needs to express more clearly why, and on what basis, the author’s use of evidence or logic is persuasive or unpersuasive. [_] Needs to explicitly attribute ideas to the author, and thus distinguish own ideas from others’. Potentially, [_] problems of expression make it hard to assess the student’s critical logic (Writing Centre visit is advised).
[_] 0, 1, or 2 marks: Either [_] little effort to examine the validity of the author’s evidence or the conclusions drawn from it is apparent, or [_] serious problems of reading comprehension and/or expression make it difficult to determine if critical analysis has been attempted. Student may not be ready for this course.
[_] -1 mark or [_] -2 marks: Deviation from instructions (see below); -2 if serious
[_] -1 mark: Serious APA citation error or [_] APA citation absent
[_] -1.5 marks/day: Late penalty in effect – [_] x1 (-1.5) [_] x2 (-3) [_] x3 (-4.5) [_] x4 (-6)
TOTAL / 15: [ ] (see additional comments, if any, below)
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