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"I've been looking for an effective way to teach critical thinking for 10 years - Rationale is far and away the most promising option I've ever seen." Dr. Steve Crowley, Boise State University

"I like your argument graphics for their simplicity, their clarity, and aesthetic design, and above, all I believe that students or corporate folks would feel inspired to use them." Marlys Mayfield, College of Alameda, California

Dear Critical Thinker,

Welcome to Ratatouille, your monthly serve of RationaleTM news and tips.

Last month we released another update. With some powerful new features, version 1.4 is the most significant step forward since the release of Rationale a year ago.

New features include:

- Images in maps and on workspace
- Dialogue mapping 
- Additional essay templates

v1.4.2 is now available for download (direct link)

The number of schools using Rationale continues to grow.  Schools in Australia who have begun on the Rationale path include the Heights School, Mount Scopus Memorial College, Notre Dame College, Luther College, The Hutchins School, Strathcona and Mt Waverly Secondary College. Schools abroad included The Warwick School in the UK, and Muriel Brand School in South Africa. New tertiary users include Griffith University and The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, and Truman State University and Villanova University in the US.

See who else is using Rationale

"Argument Mappers for Hire"

Austhink Consulting is offering a new service for professionals who don’t have the time to master a new technique, yet want to “see the whole picture at once” when making or recommending major decisions.  Expert argument mappers work side-by-side with clients, to:

- neatly capture the logic of the case
- act as a sounding board
- plan the compelling presentation, document, or executive summary 

A Global Technology Manager in a major mining corporation recently remarked, “That was the most useful exercise I’ve done in ten years.”

For these and other services, go to or contact Jane Lewis on 061 (3) 9348 1013 or

Corporate and Professional Users. How are you using Rationale? What would you like to see in Rationale?  Please let us know.

We have completed preparations for Rationale to be translated into languages other than English. Dutch and Romanian are on the way, Spanish and Hungarian will be coming, and we are seeking potential translators for other languages. If you are interested email us.

Is your map taking up too much space? Here are two ways to shrink them down. 

Trim Button - This nifty button removes all excess white space from all nodes on your map. It is found in the edit section of the home panel.

Compact - This button, found in the view panel, creates more compact view of your map, by arranging the boxes to take up less space.

"One of the biggest difficulties I have teaching in the Human Science field (Sociology & Criminology) is making student aware where they gain their knowledge of some social reality. Quite often the WWW, television & newspapers being the source of all knowledge! The challenging part, for first year undergraduates, was to get them to think about the source and validity of the knowledge/information, then use that in an essay correctly referenced.

I use Rationale for much of my own work, as a framework for logical & critical thinking, whilst using simple Rationale template screen shots in lectures to show the logic behind a concept e.g. broken window theory. Clearly the basis boxes are vital to this framework.

Now this is where the inspiration came, I put 10  of the basis boxes on separate cards (business card size) so the students can carry them around. (I did not use 'basis' as I felt that would open Pandora's box.) They are encouraged to use them as prompts when reading a book, WWW or creating an essay. To further reinforce the behaviour of thinking about the basis of claims, I use the cards myself in both my lectures & seminars. I tell students they must bring them with them to every one of me lectures & seminars often prompting students to show me the card that shows the basis of the claim they may make."

- Lionel Cox, BCUC

 Let us know how you are using Rationale to teach critical thinking skills.


Rationale Stuff, the wiki for everything Rationale related, is up and running.  

Ashley Barnett has added some notes on argumentation schemes, which give good examples of how to show different argumentation schemes using analysis mode.

If you would like to contribute to the wiki, just contact us and we'll send you the password. 

  Performance improvements are coming.  In a forthcoming release:

  • Rationale will load much more quickly
  • The Templates and Essay Planning panes will also load swiftly
  • Working with big maps will be smoother


As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please let us know.


--The Team at Austhink Software

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