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Critical Thinking and argumentation are key concepts and skills that we wish to teach our students. Sometimes it is difficult to get students to consider evidence for arguments when their “gut” or emotions are at play. When highlighting the need for students to use rigorous evidence-based argumentation, Mindy Bradley Engen suggested a method for getting […]

people with gears imageCritical Thinking and argumentation are key concepts and skills that we wish to teach our students. Sometimes it is difficult to get students to consider evidence for arguments when their “gut” or emotions are at play. When highlighting the need for students to use rigorous evidence-based argumentation, Mindy Bradley Engen suggested a method for getting students to think about evidence over emotion.

She asks students to “imagine that you are wrong about the topic. Imagine that what you hold dear is false. How would that make you feel? Would you want to be wrong?” This gives them a change to empathize with those who disagree with them. Then she asks them to think about what would change their own mind. What evidence would convince them to shift their opinion? This allows students to start with the idea that we all want to be properly informed and rely on facts and evidence. Even though we might feel strongly about something, we should always be sure that we are not relying on emotion rather than on reasoned argumentation.