Computer-Aided Argument Mapping and the Teaching of Critical Thinking (Part 1)

Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 27 (2):15-30 (2012)
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This paper is in two parts. Part I outlines three traditional approaches to the teaching of critical thinking: the normative, cognitive psychology, and educational approaches. Each of these approaches is discussed in relation to the influences of various methods of critical thinking instruction. The paper contrasts these approaches with what I call the “visualisation” approach. This approach is explained with reference to computer-aided argument mapping (CAAM) which uses dedicated computer software to represent inferences between premise and conclusions. The paper presents a detailed account of the CAAM methodology, and theoretical justification for its use, illustrating this with the argument mapping software Rationale™. A number of Rationale™ design conventions and logical principles are outlined including the principle of abstraction, the MECE principle, and the “Holding Hands” and “Rabbit Rule” heuristics. Part II of this paper outlines the growing empirical evidence for the effectiveness of CAAM as a method of teaching critical thinking.

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Martin Davies
University of Melbourne


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