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Critical Thinking: The Art of Reasoning

Austhink/Trinity College one-day intensive training in reasoning skills

Background

A constant challenge for large organizations in a knowledge economy is to maintain the highest levels of thinking and communication ability among their employees.  While every position requires job-specific skills, almost everyone also needs general reasoning and argument capacities. They must be able to think critically and communicate their thinking effectively.

Austhink has developed world-leading new methods for enhancing general reasoning skills. In research at the University of Melbourne, students using the approach having been showing record improvements. The approach is based on a technique known as "argument mapping," a process in which complex reasoning is laid out in a simple graphical format. In Austhink training, argument mapping is supported by innovative new software tools, and makes use of state-of-the-art computer-assisted training facilities.

Austhink is now collaborating with Trinity College to offer a version of this approach suitable for training in professional, business and government organisations.  In an intensive one-day session, participants will cover the fundamentals of reasoning and argument, and learn new techniques which will significantly enhance their on-the-job abilities.

Goals

The workshop is designed so that participants will be better able to

  • Recognize or identify reasoning.  This will help them understand and respond critically to proposals, reports, discussions, and the like.
     
  • Evaluate reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses.  This will help them assess whether to accept or reject any particular piece of reasoning.
     
  • Produce sound arguments.  Participants will be better able to support their opinions with solid evidence.
     
  • Present arguments clearly and persuasively in written prose.  This will help them prepare written memos, reports or presentations.

Program

The workshop has four main sessions, with sessions usually consisting of three half-hour units.  Each unit includes a suitable mix of presentation, large-group exercises, and small-group exercises.

1. Simple arguments
  • The structure of simple arguments.  These are the most basic kinds of arguments commonly encountered in discussions and simple written communications
     
  • Premises and co-premises - the building blocks of all reasoning
     
  • Producing simple arguments. How to generate solid reasoning.

Morning Tea

2. Complex Arguments
  • The structure of complex arguments - commonly used in substantial reports or presentations
     
  • Argument mapping - laying out complex arguments in simple visual diagrams so they can be understood more easily
     
  • Producing complex arguments.  Organising a mass of evidence into a well-ordered structure.

Lunch

3. Evaluating Arguments
  • Premises, truth and grounds.  How to tell if the building blocks are OK.
     
  • Strength of reasons and objections.  Not all arguments are equal!
     
  • Systematically evaluating complex arguments.  Assessing whether complex arguments have any holes in them.

Afternoon Tea

4. Identifying and Communicating Arguments
  • Identifying arguments in prose - indicators.  What is the author really saying?
     
  • Mapping arguments into structured prose.  How to produce a document which clearly lays out your reasoning.
     
  • Writing 100% effective prose (team challenge).  This game teaches how to ensure your colleagues understand exactly what you're saying. 

Conclusion

Workshop Leader

Dr. Tim van Gelder, Austhink principal, and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. Tim is the developer of the Reason! method and the Reason!Able software.

Location & Facilities

Workshops take place in the Multimedia Classroom, Burge Building, Trinity College Royal Parade Parkville. Trinity College is a short tram trip from the centre of Melbourne.

The Multimedia Classroom is an advanced learning environment allowing computer-based methods to be seamlessly integrated into traditional group instruction. 

Background Material

  • Bob Holmes, Beyond Words from New Scientist
     
  • Mapping the Future of Argument by Austhink associate Dr. Paul Monk, from the Australian Financial Review.
     
  • How to Improve Critical Thinking Using Educational Technology, by Tim van Gelder. Forthcoming in Proceedings of ASCILITE 2001 (PDF file)

Fee

$2000 plus $100 per participant, with a minimum of 5 and maximum of 20 participants. Price includes instruction, facilities, materials, refreshments, and a light lunch.

Evaluation

By default Austhink workshops are evaluated via written feedback from participants (Kirkpatrick level 1).
We would be pleased to discuss additional levels of evaluation. 

Contact

For further information, or to arrange a demonstration, please contact Tim van Gelder - 03 9225 5218 - fax 03 9347 1504

Other Training

This only one form of training Austhink/Trinity can provide in the general area of reasoning and argumentation skills.  Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.

 

Copyright © Austhink 2000-2003
Last updated:05 Jun 2003