CRITICAL THINKING

Formal paper assignment
In this paper you are asked to apply the techniques of critical thinking to a “real life” example:
you should identify a controversial topic currently under discussion in your local or wider
community. Your local community in this case could be SU, the city of Salisbury, Wicomico
County but also neighborhood associations, K-12 schools, faith-based communities,
fraternities/sororities or sports teams to name a few. You can identify a topic by attending
meetings, e.g. County Council, City Council, SGA, Faculty Senate or other group meetings. You
could also gain information from websites and news outlets.
Your task will be to describe and evaluate the different positions within a given topic and
analyze the arguments used for these positions using the techniques of critical thinking in
your evaluation. This means, for example, that you explain what type of arguments (e.g.
deductive/inductive; specific argument names, such as “argument from analogy”) are used;
you should decide whether the arguments are valid/invalid or strong/weak and whether any
of these arguments are fallacies. Finally, you should decide which position is the most
reasonable position to take and provide reasons for your decision. These reasons must comply
with the standards of critical thinking. You should think of your paper as making a
contribution to the debate. It should be written in such a way that it could be used as an
unbiased submission for a particular position.
Some guiding questions for your project should be:
• Should the community continue to do more of the same? Should they do something
different? Should they stop doing something?
• Who are the people who might support or oppose possible change?
• Is there a fair compromise that can be reached?
This paper involves researching the topic you are going to write about. It is important that you
conduct your research carefully and make sure that your sources are reliable. Sources can
include newspaper articles, opinion papers, interviews, or academic articles. You should use at
least 5 different sources. At least one of these sources should be in the form of an interview
(either in person, via telephone or e-mail). The best way to ensure that you write a good paper
is to follow the “Critical Thinking and Writing Appendix” in the textbook (Appendix E in the
latest edition, Appendix D in the 4th and 5th editions; in the 3rd edition this appendix appears as
appendices to chapters 1-5). You should also come to my office hour or make an appointment
with me to talk about your paper and your progress. There will also be SI sessions devoted to
discussing paper topics.
Plagiarism means that you present ideas or sentences used by other people as if they were
your own or that you submit the same paper (or substantial portions thereof) more than once.
Plagiarism is an academic offense and will result in an F for the paper and a citation on your
academic record.
Your paper should be 6-7 pages long (double-spaced). It will count for 25% of your final grade.
Please submit an electronic version (Word document) through the TurnitIn function in
MyClasses by 1pm on December 6th, 2019. Make sure you refer to the syllabus before writing
your paper. I encourage you to make use of the facilities of the University Writing Center.

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