Topic 2: Crafting logical and persuasive arguments

Expressing one’s position through carefully-crafted arguments has many benefits. In the process of crafting an argument, we can engage with key components of the critically reflective process we’ve seen in the previous unit.

It is important to remember that a well-crafted argument is not necessarily one that is combative, or one seeks to create an “argument culture” of communication between students. The argument culture, described by Deborah Tannen (1998), involves a belief that the ‘truth’ can be reached through a debate that pits two sides against each other. Accordingly, this sort of culture tends to oversimplify complexities and emphasise differences in order to “win over” the other side (Fook & Askeland).

Thus, in helping students/youth learn how to craft and develop their own arguments, we need to be mindful of this tendency of using arguments as means to be dominant over different perspectives.

For example, a different approach would be to consider how the formulation of arguments can be part of a critical thought process by:

  • Making us examine and question our own beliefs and assumptions (linked to critical reflection)
  • Challenge arguments we might encounter that might be illogical, or insufficient to describe social contexts (linked to critical thinking)
  • Collectively reaching common areas of understanding and creating new knowledge for ourselves (linked to creative dialogue)

Tools and Resources:

Below you will find a table with some key tools and resources you may use for the facilitating sessions on critical thinking and argument formulation:

Table 2.2. Resources and Tools for crafting arguments

Source Author Title Link
University of Leeds
Academic Writing: Convey your opinion
Duke University
Think Again I: How to understand Arguments
NUI Galway
Evaluating Arguments and Evidence
University of Sheffield
Reading and Writing Critically: Interactive Digital Workshop
University of Sussex
Critical thinking checklist
University of Sussex
How not to construct arguments
University of Sussex
Evaluating arguments
University of Sussex
Reading strategies