# Analyze and evaluate the arguments which matter to the adult learner

Activity 1:  to orient participants to process and reasoning behind the class

Time:  15 minutes

What you need:  agenda on flip chart paper

What to do:

Welcome the group and announce that the session is beginning.  Do a quick go-around for everyone to introduce her or himself and state their expectation for a class about  argument analysis and evaluation.  Ask for questions and comments about the pre-class reading.  Explain how expectations of participants for class will be addressed within agenda.

“We’ll learn -

1. How to construct an argument using claim, evidence and bridge.
2. How to analyze an argument and decide whether it is supported.
3. Explain whether an argument is supported with reasoning."

Activity 2:  participants will create examples of the parts of an argument (claim, evidence, bridge) which illustrate the definitions given.

Time:   35 minutes

What you need: flip chart paper, marker, and Handout 1.

What to do:

Facilitator distributes Handout 1 to the class.  Facilitator explains the definitions of the parts of an argument (claim, evidence, bridge)[1] from Handout 1. The facilitator notes the relationship of the parts to each other:  claim leads to evidence, and evidence in turn leads to bridge.  She / he discusses types of evidence which provide the strongest support for a claim in non-fiction text:  facts, statistics, and expert testimony[2][3].  The facilitator points the class to the "Example of Argument" from Handout 1.

Facilitator asks the class for two examples each of claim, evidence and bridge (writing them down on the flip chart under their respective titles).  The facilitator discusses whether the claim and bridge examples meet all the conditions in their definition.

The facilitator summarizes the activity with “we have reviewed the definitions of claim, evidence and bridge in an argument and created examples which illustrate those definitions.  Do you have any questions or comments?”

Activity 3:  participants will build arguments having claim, evidence and bridge.

Time: 1 hour

What you need: flip chart paper, marker and Handout 2.

What to do:

After distributing Handout 2 to the participants the facilitator says:

We are going to brainstorm arguments as a group.  The ideas for the parts of the argument can come from issues you’ve seen, heard or read about.   The issues may have appeared in current events or in your daily lives.  Issues arising in the sciences and social sciences may have appeared in articles, speeches, correspondence, and journal entries, through different media.  Workplace issues may have come to your attention through letters, memos, flyers, procedural documents, or change in policies at your workplace.

The first three students sitting next to each other will create a part of the first argument (claim, evidence and bridge).    The next two students will also each create a part of the first argument but only the evidence and bridge this time (in support of the claim already presented).  In this way a claim generates two different types of evidence with their respective bridges.

We will go round robin around the class in this way in order to create 5 - 10 arguments.  I will record all arguments on the flip chart for further discussion.  Please review Handout 1 for the definitions and examples of claim, evidence and bridge in an argument.”

The facilitator records each argument on a separate sheet of flip chart paper without analysis, using the template below.  Prompts in the template for evidence analysis (e. g. evidence 1 strong on criteria...) will be completed by the students in Activity 4.

Argument Template

Claim:

Evidence 1:
Bridge 1:
Evidence 1, strong on criteria…
Evidence 1, weak on criteria…

Evidence 2:
Bridge 2:
Evidence 2, strong on criteria…
Evidence 2, weak on criteria…

After recording the arguments the facilitator asks “What did you do well?   What would you have done differently?”  The facilitator summarizes the activity:  “We identified the parts of an argument (claim, evidence and bridge) and built arguments using the three parts.”

Activity 4:  participants will analyze an argument and decide whether it is supported by evidence.

Time: 1: 35 min

What you need:

Flip chart paper with arguments, markers for groups

Handout 3:  Criteria for evidence evaluation

Handout 4:  Logical fallacies and insufficient evidence in an argument

What to do:

The facilitator distributes “Handout 3:  criteria for evidence evaluation”[4] and “Handout 4:  logical fallacies and insufficient evidence in an argument” to the participants.

The facilitator introduces the handout material:  “These handouts help you to decide if the evidence in support of a claim is of good quality (Handout 3) and whether the argument makes logical sense (Handout 4).  The criteria used to evaluate the quality of evidence are currency, relevance, authority, accuracy and purpose.”  The facilitator then reviews the evidence quality criteria in Handout 3.  The facilitator also reviews the potential logical faults / insufficient evidence in an argument from Handout 4.  The facilitator asks the class for questions and comments regarding the two handouts.

The facilitator asks the students to group into two or more individuals.  The facilitator distributes the flip chart pages with arguments to be worked on from Activity 3, evenly between the groups.

The facilitator points to "Handout 2. Instructions to participants" and says:

“The groups will identify the evaluation criteria from Handout 3 and 4 which describe an argument’s evidence in a positive or negative light.  If the group decides an argument’s evidence is weak on a certain criteria they will list the criteria under the “weak” column on the flip chart with explanation.  If the group decides an argument’s evidence is strong on a certain criteria they will list the criteria under the “strong” column on the same flip chart with explanation.  Finally the group will note whether an argument is strong based on the number and quality of criteria in support of it.

A different member from each group will take turns orally presenting the group’s evaluation of an argument, until all the arguments assigned to that group are exhausted.  Each person will present the group’s evaluation of whether one of the arguments they worked on is effectively supported by evidence.

Each oral evaluation will include the following:

• Statement of whether the claim in an argument is supported by evidence in light of important quality and logic criteria.
• Paraphrasing of the evidence analyzed.
• Listing of the criteria used to analyze each argument and an explanation of why the criteria were picked as significant by the group.
• An explanation of why evidence was deemed strong or weak on criteria important to the argument.
• An explanation of whether one piece of evidence was more important than the other in evaluating the argument.

After hearing the presentations the facilitator prompts discussion with “Did you agree with what was said?   Do you have anything to add?”