Introduction: Connecting Your Learning
"Thinking while you are reading"
Lesson Four begins the focus on the analytical skills that are essential to the critical reading and thinking
process. We are using a specific approach to help you develop analytical skills. We will be studying argument.
We define argument as a message that is being sent (spoken or in print) with its primary purpose being to
persuade us to accept certain information or beliefs, by appealing to reason. It is characterized by a logically
connected series of statements, one of which should be supported or proven by the others.
In this lesson we will look at argument identification and analysis. This means that you need to be able to
analyze that you are, indeed, reading, or listening to, an argument. Then, as a critical reader you will analyze
the argument. The goal is to better understand and remember the key points in the argument, and then to
decide if you want to actually accept the information or the beliefs.
This has been the goal throughout this first half of the course. We are going to be concentrating on the critical
thinking skills of analysis and evaluation specifically in the upcoming lessons. It is important for you to
realize that you are adding to your list of critical reading questions. You will be making more decisions and
adding additional questions to ask, with each lesson, not "working" only on the skills in the specific lesson.
This is a good time to ask you to, once again, consider the three primary purposes for a writer or speaker to
communicate. These are: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain.
If you use the critical reading questions, and identify that an author’s purpose is to persuade, that there is bias
and connotation, and persuasive devices, then you are reading an argument. Analysis of an argument includes
a three-step strategy: location of signal words, location of premises, and location of the conclusion (or main
point of persuasion). After an argument is identified, then it can be evaluated by an examination of the
support offered. If the support is conclusive, then the argument is considered logical, or believable to a