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Critical Reasoning

Course Description

The aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to acquire critical thinking tools to critically 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 even 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

  1. Module 1 - Introduction to Critical Reasoning
    • Critical reasoning
    • Thinking for yourself
    • Informed thinking
    • Critical self-reflection
  2. Module 2 - Identifying and Analyzing Arguments
    • What is an argument
    • Analyzing arguments
      • Identifying premises and conclusions
    • The structure of arguments
  3. Module 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
  4. Module 4 - Evaluating Arguments
    • Different types of arguments
    • Applying your knowledge and skills to argument evaluation
  5. Module 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: Demonstrate independent thinking, that is, thinking for themselves.

CO2: Show the ability to make informed decisions that are based on facts and substantiated claims.

CO3: Reflect on own thinking and develop a critical attitude to cultural stereotypes and biases.

CO4: Analyze and evaluate information and knowledge claims critically.

CO5: Apply the key concepts of critical reasoning to constructing own 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 modules. Each module includes an overview, a list of topics, learning objectives, study materials, and assessments. Modules are listed below.

  • Module 1: Introduction to Critical Reasoning
  • Module 2: Identifying and Analyzing Arguments
  • Module 3: Obstacles to Clear Thinking
  • Module 4: Evaluating Arguments
  • Module 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 Module 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 [link].

Academic Integrity

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.

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 takes the following forms:

  • Cheating
  • Plagiarizing (including copying and pasting from the Internet without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources)
  • Fabricating information or citations
  • Facilitating acts of dishonesty by others
  • Unauthorized access to examinations or the use of unauthorized materials during exam administration
  • Submitting the work of another person or work previously used without informing the mentor
  • Tampering with the academic work of other students

Academic dishonesty will result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal from the College. Students who submit papers that are found to be plagiarized will receive an F on the plagiarized assignment, may receive a grade of F for the course, and may face dismissal from the College.

A student who is charged with academic dishonesty will be given oral or written notice of the charge. If a mentor or the College official believes the infraction is serious enough to warrant referral of the case to the academic dean, or if the mentor awards a final grade of F in the course because of the infraction, the student and the mentor will be afforded formal due process.

If a student is found cheating or using unauthorized materials on an examination, he or she will automatically receive a grade of F on that examination. Students who believe they have been falsely accused of academic dishonesty should seek redress through informal discussions with the mentor, through the office of the dean, or through an executive officer of Thomas Edison State College.


Using someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism. Although it may seem like simple dishonesty, plagiarism is against the law. Thomas Edison State College takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. 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, 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 the 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.