Forming Arguments

In her article Are We Making Students Argue Too Much?”Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui describes the moment she realized that simply teaching students to find evidence to support a claim was not effectively preparing them to be objective evaluators of information. To avoid confirmation bias (described in this article as “finding evidence to support a pre-formed opinion”), she suggests looking deeply at issues by gathering data, reading journal articles, conducting interviews, and making observations. We agree with Gardoqui that only finding evidence to confirm one’s existing beliefs is insufficient and problematic. We would add to her suggestions the practice of critical evaluation. By looking at the pros and cons of one’s position as well as the pros and cons of an alternative position, students are forced to remove themselves from the shackles of their confirmation bias, facilitating more objective and productive evaluation and argument. It’s not how much we argue; it’s how we form our arguments.

– Reed Kendall

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