Learning Pathway 5 has three activities. Each of the Journal activities is accompanied by a self-assessment rubric. The quizzes have an answer key. Once you have completed the journal entry, you can use the rubric to evaluate how successful you were in meeting the learning objectives. While the assessments are optional, and the grades will not be directly related to whether or not you receive credit for this course, completing them will help you gauge your progress and prepare for the TECEP© exam.

Journal Assignment 8

Write an argumentative essay on a topic of your own choice by applying the key rules of writing argumentative essays. Your essay need not be longer than 600 words. We will give you examples of argumentative themes but the choice of topic is entirely yours. Have fun and enjoy writing in order to understand yourself better!:

  1. When, in your opinion, is euthanasia legally and morally acceptable?
  2. Do you think cloning human beings should be allowed? Why? Why not?
  3. Give an informed opinion on the looming threat of bioterrorism.
  4. Is affirmative action, according to you, justifiable? Give reasons for your answer.
  5. Express an informed opinion on the moral permissibility of the death penalty.
  6. What is your opinion on human trafficking?
  7. Give an informed opinion on the issue of xenophobia.

So, what do you write about? Pick a well defined, controversial issue. (Spend some time with the latest copies of several news magazines, watch 60 minutes, or listen to National public Radio to generate ideas.) Readers should understand what the issue is and what is at stake. The issue must be arguable, as noted above. After stating your thesis, you will need to discuss the issue in depth so that your reader will understand the problem fully.

  1. A clear position taken by the writer. In your thesis sentence, state what your position is. You do not need to say: “I believe that we should financially support the space station.” using the first person weakens your argument. Say “funding for the space station is imperative to maintain America’s competitive edge in the global economy.” The thesis can be modified elsewhere in the essay if you need to qualify your position, but avoid hedging in your thesis.
  2. A convincing argument. An argumentative essay does not merely assert an opinion; it presents an argument, and that argument must be backed up by data that persuades readers that the opinion is valid. This data consists of facts, statistics, the testimony of others through personal interviews and questionnaires or through articles and books, and examples. The writer of an argumentative essay should seek to use educated sources that are non-biased, and to use them fairly. It is therefore best to avoid using hate groups as a source, although you can use them briefly as an example of the seriousness of the problem. Talk shows fall into the same category as they are frequently opinionated or untrue.
  3. A reasonable tone. Assume that your reader will disagree with you or be skeptical. It is important, therefore, that your tone be reasonable, professional, and trustworthy. By anticipating objections and making concessions, you inspire confidence and show your good will.

Rubric: Journal Assignment 8

Journal Assignment 9

Turn back to Learning Pathway 1 and reflect critically on the following:

At the beginning of this course, we said that the aim of this course is to equip you with the necessary critical thinking tools to critically analyse and evaluate knowledge claims and provide you with the skills to develop a critical attitude towards cultural stereotypes, biases and preconceived ideas. We also said that these tools are vitally important for making informed, rational and responsible decisions so that, when you are faced with ethical dilemmas in your professional or even private lives, you will have the tools that will enable you to make the appropriate choice. Now take your journal and write reflective answers to the following questions:

  1. What did you gain from your studies in critical reasoning?
  2. How did critical reasoning help you to make responsible decisions and to justify choices in difficult situations you encountered in your work environment, your home life and interaction with your community?
  3. Did critical reasoning assist you with your studies of other disciplines, such as Psychology, History, English, Political Science and Health Care?
  4. What, according to you, does it mean to think critically about the world?

The point of this exercise is to make you aware that our worldviews colour our perception of the world, other people and ourselves. People differ in their approach and views on issues because they see things differently. That is, their understanding and interpretation of issues differ. The way a person sees things is fundamentally influenced by his or her worldview. A worldview is the comprehensive framework of a person’s basic beliefs about gender, race, religion, life and death, the meaning of human life, and so on. In turn, these beliefs influence our values, attitudes, assumptions and emotional experiences. Fortunately, our worldviews are not static but they change as we go through life, encountering a variety of experiences.

Reflecting on your own thinking about these issues might give you the opportunity to “dig a little deeper” to uncover your framework of basic beliefs and see how these beliefs influence your attitude and behaviour. A further point of this exercise is to share with you the idea that a critical attitude calls for an openness (which is not the same as blind acceptance) to the viewpoints of other people.

Rubric: Journal Assignment 9

Quiz 11

Identify the kind of writing required by the following scenarios:

ER = Essay/Report
DW = Descriptive writing
CCW = Comparative and contrast writing
NW = Narrative writing
AW = Argumentative Writing
J = Journal
CW = Communicative writing

  1. ____ You have a summer job as an intern for your local congressman who is running for reelection in the fall. He asks you to research information on various forms of alternative energy that might work in your state.
  2. ____ You are planning to appear at a public hearing to represent the Sierra Club. They have assigned you the task of defending their position on building an offshore wind farm in your state.
  3. ____ Your boss asks you to produce a marketing report for the development of a new design for an ergonomic computer keyboard.
  4. ____ Your economics professor asks you to research the relative merits of buying free trade coffee.
  5. ____ Jane works as an assistant in a doctor’s office. She has been asked to prepare information for a brochure for patients with high cholesterol.
  6. ____ You have begun researching the genealogy of your father’s family. In the process you have discovered that some of his ancestors migrated from Ireland to America in the 1840’s during the Great Irish Famine. You decide to write a brief account of that period to share with the extended family.
  7. ____ You are making a long dreamed of tour of Italy this summer and want to record your impressions for yourself and for posterity.
  8. ____ Isabelle wants to entertain her grandchildren with stories she has been telling for years. In order to preserve the stories for them to pass on, she creates a book for each of them, illustrated with her own watercolor illustrations.
  9. ____ You are taking your cousins sailing for the first time. You want to send them instructions about the basics to read before they arrive.
  10. ____ You are a new parent and want to preserve the memory of every new event in your child’s life.
  11. ____ You are about to go on trial for theft. You need to explain all the facts of the situation to your lawyer so he can prepare your case.
  12. ____ You are outraged that American college students pay such a high interest rate on student loans. You decide to write to your congressmen as well as to the editors of your local newspaper.
  13. ____ You have been asked by your boss to write instructions on how to troubleshoot problems for new user’s of the company’s latest computer printer.
  14. ____ You are planning to attend a writing conference in which everyone is asked to present the story of their life.
  15. ____ You are a member of your local beach town’s land use planning board. They have asked you to prepare information on the history of lighthouses along the shore.
  16. ____ You are a soldier and responsible for writing details of what your unit experiences out on a mission.
  17. ____ You are a soldier and want to write home to your family to let them know what you are experiencing and how you are.

Answer Key – Quiz 11