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Course Number


Course Title






              Critical Thinking








Hours: lecture/Lab/Other







College ready


Implementation sem/year


Fall 2015

Catalog description (as it appears in 2014-2015 edition):




PHI 112   Critical Thinking

Theory and practice of critical thinking through examples drawn from science, business, politics, media, literature, and art. Students apply logical techniques and attitudes of analysis and communication for constructive assessment, ethical reasoning and creative problem-solving by evaluating definitions, facts, arguments, causes, rhetoric, differences, and plans while avoiding common errors and biases. 3 lecture hours


Is course New, Revised, or Modified? [Modified courses are those which have a new prefix or course number]




Required texts/other materials:


THINK Critically, 2nd edition, Peter Facione & Carol Gittens; Pearson, 2013, ISBN3:9780205490981


Critical Reasoning: A User’s Manual, 3.0, Chris Swoyer, 2002,


Revision date: 




Course coordinator:   


Ken Howarth, 609-570-3809,



Information resources:



Chaffee, John. (2006). Thinking critically. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Diyanni, Robert, , The Pearson Guide to Critical and Creative Thinking, Pearson, 2015, ISBN: 9780205928262

Ennis, Robert, Critical Thinking,  1996, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, ISBN 0-13-374711-5

Facione, Peter A. (1990). Critical thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. Newark: American Philosophical Association (ERIC Document No. ED315423).

Facione, Peter A. (1998). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts. California Academic Press.

Moore, Brooke & Parker, Richard, Critical Thinking, 8th edition, McGraw-Hill, 2007

Paul, Richard, & Elder, Linda. (2001a). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your learning and your life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

MCCC Critical Thinking Guide – Draft

Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Journal, ISSN 1093-1082

Informal Logic: Reasoning and Argumentation in Theory and Practice Journal,

Association for Informal Logic & Critical Thinking,

Critical Thinking on the Web,

American Dental Association Overview of Critical Thinking,

Practical Reason - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, First published Mon Oct 13, 2003; substantive revision Thu Nov 6, 2008,

Moral Reasoning - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, First published Mon Sep 15, 2003; substantive revision Mon Feb 11, 2013

Public Library of Critical Thinking Resources,

Washington State University Critical Thinking Project,

A Practical Guide To Critical Thinking By Greg R. Haskins,

See attached addendum of additional Source Materials


Other learning resources:  (Describe any other student learning resources that are specific to this course, including any special tutoring or study group support, learning system software, etc.)



Online resources are various, plus publishers’ resources, such as for Think Critically by Facione and Gettens. Publisher (Pearson), for instance, has developed online resources, including a module for Blackboard use.



Course Competencies/Goals: 


As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, students will be able to:

1. characterize and have begun developing the qualities, attitudes, and goals of critical thinking individuals and groups (GE Goals 1 & 6, MCCC CC Goals B, F & G);

2. identify, analyze, and evaluate situations using learned techniques and criteria in order to establish the quality, quantity and relevance of information available and needed, to justify forming new knowledge and drawing conclusions (GE Goal 4, MCCC CC Goals B, D and F) ;

3. demonstrate knowledge and practice of the principles of good reasoning, including detecting and avoiding factual errors, logical fallacies and cognitive biases (GE Goal 1, MCCC CC Goals A & B);

4. recognize, assess and synthesize the basic moral dimensions of situations, the relevant values, diverse stakeholders and ethical commitments, at issue into consistent and feasible judgment and agreement choices (GE Goal 1 & 6, MCCC CC Goals A, B, C, F and G); and

5. discover and examine the features of problems in order to offer self-consciously considered, creative and justified, solution options clearly, to effectively serve individual and collective decision-making (GE Goal 1 & 6, MCCC CC Goals A, B, F and G);


Course-specific General Education Knowledge Goals and Core Skills.


General Education Knowledge Goals


Goal 1. Communication. Students will communicate effectively in both speech and writing

Goal 6. Humanities. Students will analyze works in the fields of art, music, or theater; literature;

                  philosophy and/or religious studies; and/or will gain competence in the use of a foreign



MCCC Core Competencies


Goal A. Written and Oral Communication in English. Students will communicate effectively in speech and writing, and demonstrate proficiency in reading.

Goal B. Critical Thinking and Problem-solving. Students will use critical thinking and problem solving skills in analyzing information.

Goal C. Ethical Decision-Making. Students will recognize, analyze and assess ethical issues and situations.

Goal D. Information Literacy. Students will recognize when information is needed and have the knowledge and skills to locate, evaluate, and effectively use information for college level work.

Goal F. Collaboration and Cooperation. Students will develop the interpersonal skills required for effective performance in group situations.

Goal G. Intra-Cultural and Inter-Cultural Responsibility. Students will demonstrate an awareness of the responsibilities of intelligent citizenship in a diverse and pluralistic society, and will demonstrate cultural, global, and environmental awareness.


Units of Study


Unit One: Critical Thinking Basics:

Unit Two: Information - Sources and Relevance:

Unit Three: Argument - Reason and Rhetoric:

Unit Four: Creative & Ethical Problem-Solving :



Units of Study in Detail


Unit One: Critical Thinking Basics:


Learning Objectives


As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, students will be able to:                 


• Identify reasons for studying critical thinking, distinguishing it from mere thinking & it’s

                  importance (GE 1, 6; CC B,G; CG 1)

                  • Distinguish between the general characteristics, skills & habits that critical thinkers develop

(GE 6; CC A, B, G; CG 1.)

• Explain key critical thinking concepts such as objectivity, relevance, validity, etc. 

(GE 6; CC A, B; CG 1)

                  • Identify and use the basic principles and practices of reasoning and evincing

(GE 6; CC A, B, D; CG 1)


Unit Two: Information – Sources and Relevance:

Learning Objectives


As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, students will be able to:                 


• Identify and evaluate different sources of information, regarding issues of expertise and its

                  lack, and accuracy, including Internet material  (GE 1,6; CC B, D, G; CG 2)

                  • Understand how perception and memory function affects evidence recognition, including social

                                    factors (GE 6; CC A, B, D, F, G; CG 2)

• Explain key truth, fact, and measurement criteria for relevance and application limits   

(GE 6; CC B, D; CG 2)

                  • Apply studied cognitive tactics build more reliability to avoid biases & pitfalls and provide

                                    remedies to evincing practices (GE 6; CC A, B, D; CG 2)


Unit Three: Argument - Reason and Rhetoric:


Learning Objectives


As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, students will be able to:                 


• Identify and evaluate different forms and limits of definitions & arguments, including their

                  respective uses, strengths and weaknesses  (GE 1,6; CC A, B, D, G; CG 3)

                  • Understand how wit, irony, emotion, sarcasm, humor, error, common sense, heuristics,

                                    diversity, statistics, pseudo-reasoning and biases can thwart and serve clear conclusions

                                    (GE 6; CC A, B, D, F, G; CG 3)

• Explain how the effects, recognized and not, of context, assumptions, goal-orientation, applied

                  cognitive science and other factors can impede sound reasoning (GE 6; CC B, D; CG 3)

                  • Apply studied cognitive tactics, fallacy avoidance, precision in expression and consensus

                                    building to build more reliability into and acceptance of logical reasoning (GE 6; CC A, B,

                                    D, F, G; CG 3)


Unit Four: Creative & Ethical Problem-Solving :


Learning Objectives


As a result of meeting the requirements in this course, students will be able to:                 


• Identify and evaluate common factual and dispositional sources of errors, problems and

                  disagreements (GE 1,6; CC A, B, D, G; CG 5)

                  • Understand the difference between conditioned felt morality and deliberated ethics, the diverse

                                    familial and cultural backgrounds, and the major values & approaches to moral reasoning

                                    to specify the differences and commonalities between people and groups (GE 6; CC A, B,

                                    F, G; CG 4)

• Explain how establishing priorities, risks, tradeoffs, necessary vs, merely preferred means and

                  ends, conformity and obedience patterns, and other factors can preempt moral and

                  practical agreement (GE 6; CC B, C, D; CG 4, 5)

                  • Apply studied cognitive tactics, to creatively brainstorm to open possibilities, uncover shared

purposes, commitments and concerns, bridge needs to opportunities and other ways to

build consensus, compromise and agreements (GE 6; CC A, B, C, D, F, G; CG 4, 5)



Methods of Instruction and Evaluation of Student Learning:   In pursuit of the foregoing objectives, the course is primarily suited for at least a modified ‘flipped’ classroom.  Based upon the reading and exercise work by students out of class, discussion, exercise review and individual and group exercises in class will serve to reinforce the critical thinking knowledge and methods the course covers.  Liberal use of timely, germane handouts articles, news reports, and literature and other materials from various sources representing fields across the curriculum will be used to supplement the course’s main texts and online exercises. Students are required to do a substantial amount of critical reading and writing both on their own and in class. Student learning of relevant materials and methods will be assessed in two general areas: content knowledge and applied techniques. A range of different assessments is employed to measure each of the four course objectives, particularly #4. The small group work will contribute to the student's ability and competence to work with others on practical knowledge building, and general and ethical decision-making matters.


Citizenship:           Course-long assessment of how students contributions to the class learning

environment, that may include such factors as attendance (which will be in strict

accordance with college policies), the amount and manner of class participation,

helpfulness to other students’ understanding, groupwork contributions, and oral presentations

(may be broken out as a separate grading category), etc.

Homework:          6 or more short assignments aimed at having the student demonstrate that they did the

assigned reading assignment and can address the issues covered in their own words and as

exposed in their exercise work both online and not.

Quizzes:                 8 or more brief assessments to allow students to demonstrate basic understanding of

course content knowledge in a specific unit of instruction

Tests:                        2 or more class-length assessments to allow students to demonstrate mastery of course

content knowledge in covered units of instruction; Includes established & vetted national CT

assessment instruments

Examinations:      1 or more class-length assessments to allow students to demonstrate content knowledge

                                    and philosophical reasoning as applied to units of instruction; includes one comprehensive

                                    final exam.

Essays:    1 or more assessments to allow students to demonstrate critical  reasoning and content knowledge as

                                    applied to units of instruction. Well-argued papers are the first goal

                                    here, as a demonstration of reasoning informed by the ways and means of Eastern

                                    philosophy, though assigning and assessing in part a research dimension to the

                                    assignment is integral.


Course Grade Breakdown:           

                                                                        Citizenship            10-15% (includes participation & presentations)

                                                                        Homework           10-30%

                                                                        Quizzes                                    10-30%

                                                                        Tests/Exams        30-50% (no one test/exam worth more than 20%)

                                                                        Essays     30-50% (no one paper worth more than 25%)

                                                                        Course =                100%


The particular grading breakdown is to be determined by each instructor and listed clearly in her/his syllabus.


Academic Integrity Statement:  [As found @]


MCCC      ACADEMIC INTEGRITY POLICY                                                                                                                  OMB 210


Mercer County Community College is committed to Academic Integrity – the honest, fair and continuing pursuit of knowledge, free from fraud or deception. This implies that students are expected to be responsible for their own work, and that faculty and academic support services staff members will take reasonable precautions to prevent the opportunity for academic dishonesty. The college recognizes the following general categories of violations of Academic Integrity, with representative examples of each. Academic Integrity is violated whenever a student:


A. Uses or obtains unauthorized assistance in any academic work.

• copying from another student's exam.

• using notes, books, electronic devices or other aids of any kind during an exam

when prohibited.

• stealing an exam or possessing a stolen copy of an exam.


B. Gives fraudulent assistance to another student.

• completing a graded academic activity or taking an exam for someone else.

• giving answers to or sharing answers with another student before, during or after

an exam or other graded academic activity.

• sharing answers during an exam by using a system of signals.


C. Knowingly represents the work of others as his/her own, or represents previously completed academic

work as current.

• submitting a paper or other academic work for credit which includes words, ideas,

data or creative work of others without acknowledging the source.

• using another author's words without enclosing them in quotation marks, without

paraphrasing them or without citing the source appropriately.

• presenting another individual's work as one's own.

• submitting the same paper or academic assignment to another class without the

permission of the instructor.

• falsifying bibliographic entries.

• submitting any academic assignment which contains falsified or fabricated

data or results.


D. Inappropriately or unethically uses technological means to gain academic advantage.

• inappropriately or unethically acquiring material via the Internet or by any

other means.

• using any electronic or hidden devices for communication during an exam.


Each instructor and academic support service area is authorized to establish specific guidelines consistent with this policy.


Students with Disabilities:


Any student in this class who has special needs because of a disability is entitled to receive accommodations.  Eligible students at Mercer County Community College are assured services under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. If you believe you are eligible for services, please contact Arlene Stinson, the Director of Academic Support Services at LB221,  (609) 570-3525,

 Academic Dishonesty will result in failure of this course.

Equal Opportunity Policy

Mercer County Community College is committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action. Discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, affectional or sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, nationality, political views, religion, disability unrelated to job or program requirements or any other characteristic protected by law is prohibited.

Questions regarding the equal opportunity policy and compliance statement may be directed to the Affirmative Action Officer, West Windsor Campus, (609)