Course Description

The Thinker by Rodin located at the Musée Rodin in Paris

The aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to acquire critical thinking tools to analyze and evaluate knowledge claims. Students will acquire the skills to develop a critical attitude to cultural stereotypes and biases through readings, web resources journal assignments, and self-check assessments.

Critical reasoning tools are crucial to making informed decisions so that when students are faced with difficult situations in their professional or private lives, they will be able to make appropriate reasoning choices. The skills and knowledge students obtain in the course, Critical Reasoning, can also assist them with studies of other disciplines, such as Psychology, History, English, Political Science, Communication Science, Health Care, Development Studies, Sociology and Public Administration.

Course Topics

Learning Pathway 1 – Introduction to Critical Reasoning

  • Critical reasoning
  • Thinking for yourself
  • Informed thinking
  • Critical self-reflection

Learning Pathway 2 – Identifying and Analyzing Arguments

  • What is an argument
  • Analyzing arguments
    • Identifying premises and conclusions
  • The structure of arguments

Learning Pathway 3 – Obstacles to Clear Thinking

  • Preconceived ideas
    • Social Conditioning
    • Labeling
    • Stereotypes
  • Fallacies
    • Slippery slope argument
    • Straw man argument
    • Begging the question
    • Equivocation
    • Complex question
    • Faulty analogy
    • Ad hominem argument
    • False appeal to authority
    • False dilemma
    • Hasty generalisation

Learning Pathway 4 – Evaluating Arguments

  • Different types of arguments
  • Applying your knowledge and skills to argument evaluation

Learning Pathway 5 – Constructing and Reflecting on Arguments in Different Kinds of Writing

  • Different kinds of writing
    • Expressive writing
    • Journals
    • Communicative writing
  • Writing argumentative essays
  • The philosophical attitude

Course Objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • CO1 Identify assumptions, reasons, claims and their interaction
  • CO2 Make informed logical decisions that are based on facts and substantiated claims
  • CO3 Critically evaluate your own personal biases, misconceptions and preconceived ideas
  • CO4 Identify and critically evaluate the ideas and beliefs of others
  • CO5 Analyze information and knowledge claims critically
  • CO6 Apply the key concepts of critical reasoning to constructing arguments and writing critical essays.

Course Materials

There are no commercial textbooks required for this course. You will be provided all of the readings and resources required in the course materials themselves. However, you will need Internet access for research.

Course Structure

Critical Reasoning is a self-paced, non-credit course, consisting of five learning pathways. Each learning pathway includes an overview, a list of topics, learning objectives, study materials, and assessments. Learning pathways are listed below.

  • Learning Pathway 1: Introduction to Critical Reasoning
  • Learning Pathway 2: Identifying and Analyzing Arguments
  • Learning Pathway 3: Obstacles to Clear Thinking
  • Learning Pathway 4: Evaluating Arguments
  • Learning Pathway 5: Constructing and Reflecting on Arguments in Different Kinds of Writing

Assessment Methods

A “hands-on” approach is used in the course. Students are expected to actively participate in the learning process by answering questions, participating in activities. In this way, they will develop the competencies needed by an initiate into the community of critical thinkers.

Such competencies will help them not only to understand what critical reasoning is about, but also to apply their knowledge and skills to make and to justify choices in difficult situations they may encounter in their work environment, their home life and in interaction with their community. The skills and knowledge students obtain in the course, Critical Reasoning, can also assist them with their studies of other disciplines, such as Psychology, History, English, Political Science, Communication Science, Health Care, Development Studies, Sociology and Public Administration.

Journal Assignments

You will need to keep a hard copy or a digital journal. This journal will serve as proof of your progress towards becoming a critical thinker.


There is a quiz in each learning pathway to test and apply your knowledge in preparation for the TECEP©.


Once you have successfully completed this course, if you choose, you should be prepared to take the Critical Reasoning TECEP©. Before you register, please review the test description, and attempt the practice questions. Passing this TECEP© exam will satisfy your General Education requirement in Critical Thinking, and earn you three credits. You can register for the exam by clicking here.

Academic Integrity

Thomas Edison State College is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The College expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State College are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the College community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct in the College Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State College expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the College insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:

  • Cheating
  • Gaining or providing unauthorized access to examinations or using unauthorized materials during exam administration
  • Submitting credentials that are false or altered in any way
  • Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  • Forgery, fabricating information or citations, or falsifying documents
  • Submitting the work of another person in whole or in part as your own (including work obtained through document sharing sites, tutoring schools, term paper companies, or other sources)
  • Submitting your own previously used assignments without prior permission from the mentor
  • Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others (including making tests, papers, and other course assignments available to other students, either directly or through document sharing sites, tutoring schools, term paper companies, or other sources)
  • Tampering with the academic work of other students


Thomas Edison State College is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

  • Lower or failing grade for an assignment
  • Lower or failing grade for the course
  • Rescinding credits
  • Rescinding certificates or degrees
  • Recording academic sanctions on the transcript
  • Suspension from the College
  • Dismissal from the College