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Assumptions can sometimes be discovered in gaps in arguments about whether conditions exist to draw a specific conclusion. Identifying whether support exists in the argument for either necessary or sufficient conditions can be a useful skill for students to learn.
This activity is simple, and consists of giving students a premise and a conclusion and asking whether the premise by itself contains:
(a) a necessary condition for the conclusion
(b) a sufficient condition for the conclusion
(c) both necessary and sufficient conditions for the conclusion
(d) neither necessary sufficient conditions for the conclusion
Premise: John was driving 55mph in a 30mph zone
Conclusion: Therefore, John got a speeding ticket
Answer: This is a necessary but not sufficient condition, as there must also have been a police officer there to observe and give the ticket.
This is most effective when the premises and conclusions are generated from your course content.
Adapted from: Van Den Brinkbudgen, R. (2000). Critical thinking for students: Learn the skills of critical assessment and effective argument (3rd Edition). London: How to Books.
We all want students to carry our teachings into their lives. Often, however, we must make our intentions very plain for students to understand that an assignment will equip them with skills and empower them, and is not an arbitrary hoop through which they must jump.
For this reason, frame each activity using these four steps:
Among the most useful things we as teachers can do during class discussion is shut our mouths. In an oft-cited meta-analysis of wait-time research, Tobin (1987) described findings of greater engagement and achievement when teachers waited at least three to five seconds after asking a discussion question before speaking again. Above this threshold, higher level thinking was observed and student academic performance improved. However, teachers behaving "normally" only tend to wait about one second. Students need a few moments to digest what they have recently heard, formulate their responses, and work up the courage to speak. Slow down, and more of your students will keep up with you.
Reference: Tobin, K. (1987). The role of wait time in higher cognitive level learning. Review of Educational Research, 57, 1: 69-95.