Name: ___________________		SCI 6140: Science: Hist. & Phil. Persp.

Date : _______________________		Assoc. Prof. David W. Rudge

This handout will help you make sense of the readings outside of class and get more out of our discussion. Think of it as a review sheet for the exam. There are three things you should with it. (1) Prior to class, answer the questions under Parts I and II of this handout in a color of ink or pencil different from that you will use in class. Read Part III for suggestions on how to prepare for discussion. (2) During discussion, add to or modify what you have written. (3) After discussion, answer the questions on the last page and submit the completed handout (all four pages) at the end of class. (Click here for further directions on how to fill this handout out.)


1. Directions: Skim the article as a whole to answer the first few questions below and get a sense of the structure of the article and the author's writing style.





2.Directions: As you read the article, write down any important /unfamiliar terms and start a list of the reasons or evidence the author provides in favor of the main conclusion (next page).

TERMS: List any terms or concepts that are unfamiliar or appear to be important. If the author provides a definition, be sure to write that down too. Circle any you feel need clarification or discussion.

Important terms				Definitions

EVIDENCE: List any evidence (reasons) the author provides for the main conclusion. Each of these may appear as a subconclusion of its own argument. If you spot evidence in favor of a subconclusion, list that as well and identify which subconclusion it supports. Circle any that you feel need of clarification or discussion.



IDENTIFY OTHER PERSUASIVE ELEMENTS. Were there any other aspects of this article, such as the way it was presented, its use of examples, the author's writing style, etc., that made the article persuasive or non-persuasive? List any you find.

3.Directions: After reading the article, complete the following,.

SUMMARIZE, using the evidence you found above, the author's argument for the main conclusion. State points directly rather than "he says" or "it's about." (Don't evaluate the argument here.)

IDENTIFY the author's argument for the main conclusion by rewriting the summary you just wrote as an argument using just three or four sentences. Evidence for the conclusion should be placed in the form of premises, and the very last sentence should state the main conclusion. Your focus this time should be on the logic of the argument, i.e. how the evidence supports the main conclusion. (Again, resist the temptation to evaluate the argument here.)

PART II. - WHAT I THINK ABOUT THIS - The questions below ask you to evaluate the article. Beyond the elements of the article itself, consider whether the author has considered alternative viewpoints and what the consequences of adopting his/her position might be.

FIRST REACTIONS. List or write up any reactions you have to the article. Do you agree with the author? Why or why not? (Don't comment on everything--just the things you either strongly agree or disagree with.)

WHERE DOES THE AUTHOR GO WRONG? Remembering the argument you found for the author on page 2, identify what part of the argument, either evidence or the logic linking the premises to the conclusion, you think is mistaken. (Even if you agree with the author, play the devil's advocate by identifying what you consider to be the weakest point of the argument.)

WHAT IS THE STRONGEST PART OF THE AUTHOR'S ARGUMENT? Again, identify one part of the argument you think works well.

DEVELOP YOUR OWN POSITION - State your own position on this issue and sketch how you might argue for it. (If you find the author's argument compelling, suggest another way one might argue for the same position.)

PART III. - DISCUSSION. By the end of discussion, you should understand the author's position, its strengths and weaknesses, your own position, and how you might argue for it. Review your answers to the above sections just before class to figure out what you'd like to get out of discussion. Come prepared to volunteer your own answers and raise questions as we walk through the Parts I & II of this handout. Don't let the discussion move on until you understand that part of the author's argument.

PART IV. EVALUATE THE DISCUSSION. (Please do this at the end of class.)

Directions: For each incomplete sentence below, check (x) the column completing the thought that best describes your experience in discussion today.

A) Overall reaction:	A lot		Some		None

I learned		____ 		____		____

I participated		____ 		____		____

I enjoyed		____ 		____		____

B) Identification of author's argument: 

					Yes	?	No	Found on own

Discussion helped me identify...

the author's main conclusion   		____    ____    	_____	____

the logic of the argument   		____    ____    	_____	____

a weakness of the argument   	 	____    ____    	____	_____

my own views on this topic   		____    ____  		  ____	_____	

C) Discussion Format. Did analyzing this article using a discussion format help you? (circle) YES NO
Write below any additional comments you have on how your discussion went and how it could be improved. 

D) Handout. Did this handout help you prepare for discussion? (circle) YES NO
Write below any additional comments you have on this handout and how it could be improved. 

Modified from W. F. Hill 1969. Learning Through Discussion. Sage Publications Inc. 

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You may contact Dave Rudge either by email, by phone (616)-387-2779 or by fax (616)-387-5609.

Dave Rudge's Home Page.

The Department of Biological Sciences's Home Page.

The Mallinson Institute for Science Education's Home Page.

Western Michigan University's Home Page.

Last updated on 26 Apr 2010.