Critical Thinking: The Art of Reasoning
Austhink/Trinity College one-day intensive training in reasoning skills
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- Premises and co-premises - the building blocks of all reasoning
- Producing simple arguments. How to generate solid reasoning.
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.
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
- Systematically evaluating complex arguments. Assessing
whether complex arguments have any holes in them.
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
Dr. Tim van Gelder, Austhink
principal, and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of
Melbourne. Tim is the developer of the
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
Multimedia Classroom is an advanced learning environment allowing
computer-based methods to be seamlessly integrated into traditional
- Bob Holmes,
from New Scientist
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
$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.
By default Austhink workshops are evaluated via written feedback from
We would be pleased to discuss additional levels of evaluation.
For further information, or to arrange a demonstration, please contact
Tim van Gelder - 03 9225
5218 - fax 03 9347 1504
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