Critical Thinking College and University Education Research-Oriented Presentation
Improving Argumentative Essays with the Toulmin Method and Fallacy Repair
The argumentative essay can be a challenging assignment for Japanese students of English due to both the language proficiency and the critical thinking skills required. In comparison to native English speakers and non-native speakers of various other cultural backgrounds, Japanese students are likely to have had less practice with written argumentation and may find it difficult to choose appropriate support, explain the relevance of that support, and refute counterarguments. This presentation will discuss ways in which teachers can address these challenges by incorporating instruction and activities based on the Toulmin Model of Argument, which research has shown to be useful in improving students’ written argumentation (Qin & Karabacak, 2010; Simon, 2008; Stapleton & Wu, 2015; Varghese & Abraham, 1998; Yeh, 1998). The presentation will also examine the connection between the goals given for an argumentative essay and the effectiveness of the writing produced. In addition, the presentation will provide examples of some common logical fallacies that can weaken students’ arguments and will introduce activities designed to help students recognize and repair such fallacies.
John McCarthy teaches English and Critical Thinking Skills at Showa Women's University in Tokyo. Previously, he was director of curriculum at Showa Boston, the school's study abroad campus in the United States.