ERIC Number: EJ891913
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Gateways to Writing Logical Arguments
McCann, Thomas M.
English Journal, v99 n6 p33-39 Jul 2010
Middle school and high school students have a conception of what the basic demands of logic are, and they draw on this understanding in anticipating certain demands of parents and teachers when the adolescents have to defend positions. At the same time, many adolescents struggle to "write" highly elaborated arguments. Teaching students lessons in the technical aspects of syllogistic logic or the Toulmin model seems to have little effect in helping students to write logical arguments. Even among college students, exercises in logic problems and the recall of technical terms do not seem to support students in generating written arguments. In contrast, Michael W. Smith has noted that it is through the daily oral interchanges in grappling with problems and responding to the persistent questions of "Why?" "So What?" and "Who says?" that learners begin to recognize and satisfy the requirements of logic. With careful attention to a sequence of interactive experiences, a teacher can help students to develop procedures for logical argument, beginning with oral interchanges and transferring the processes at work with conversational partners to the composing of highly elaborated compositions. In this article, the author discusses sources and scenarios for designing classroom-ready writing assignments that help students develop argumentation skills.
Descriptors: Writing Assignments, Persuasive Discourse, Adolescents, Logical Thinking, College Students, Teaching Models, Writing (Composition), College Faculty, Teacher Educators, English Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A