Course Syllabus

PHIL 3: Critical Thinking
Section 5468-online, SPRING 2019 Course Syllabus

AS SOON AS YOU ARE ENROLLED IN THIS CLASS, ***CLICK ON YOUR CANVAS ACCOUNT (just under SRJC logo in the top left), click "NOTIFICATIONS," and make sure "ANNOUNCEMENT" is turned ON. You may select others if you choose***

MOST OF OUR ONLINE COMMUNICATION WILL BE ASYNCHRONOUS (not live online at the same time). I prefer this as it accommodates our varied schedules. I will be available for live online chat during my office hours, TTh 9:30-10:20.

Special Needs

Every effort is made to conform to accessibility standards for all instructor-created materials. Students should contact their instructor as soon as possible if they find that they cannot access any course materials. We can ALWAYS find a way to make it work! Students with disabilities who believe they need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disability Resources (527-4278).


  1. Critical Thinking: A Student's Introduction, by Gregory Bassham et al. 5th OR 4th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013 (5th ed.), 2011 (4th ed.) -- If you want to use a copy from the reserve desk in the library, bring a valid SRJC student ID card. Call Number B809.2 .C745 2013 or B809.2 .C745 2011.
  2. UnSpun, by Jackson and Jamieson. New York: Random House, 2007. Reserve: BF637.D42 J33 2007
  3. Science and Religion by Thomas Dixon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Reserve: BL240.3 .D57 2008

You can locate and order textbooks online via the SRJC Bookstore or online elsewhere. Older editions can be quite cheap online at Ebay, Amazon, etc. I have had students tell me they found a FREE PDF of Critical Thinking 4th edition at: I don't know who posted it or whether it will remain there, but it's worth a try downloading it.

Course Description

This course teaches practical reasoning, argumentation and the analysis of language as useful tools for making reasonable decisions about what to do and believe.

This is an introductory course in critical thinking and critical reading skills. In this course, you will learn how to identify, construct, analyze, and evaluate ARGUMENTS. These skills will increase your comprehension of material you read in other courses and material from the media. These skills will also make your writing clearer and more persuasive. We will cover the different kinds of argument and various methods for evaluating arguments. We will also work on critically reading argumentative ("persuasive") essays and writing short argumentative passages. You will develop your ability to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments and, your ability to reason and write well. We will study fallacies, language, inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, and arguments involving probability and statistics. We will also give special attention to advertising, the news media, political rhetoric, fake news, and science vs. pseudo-science.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Analyze arguments to identify and explain the claims and premises.
2. Evaluate arguments to determine whether claims are adequately supported.
3. Compose cogent written arguments.


Class Meetings—Online, with assignments and online activities EVERY WEEK

I recommend that you think of your education as you think of athletics, working out, or musical practice. The goal is health, fitness, or musical skills, not just getting a certificate. And the fitness you get out of it depends entirely on what you put into it. You can’t get someone else to do your thinking for you, any more than you can benefit from someone else doing your exercise for you!

FINAL EXAM: Available in Canvas 5/17-20, must be completed within 4 hours once started.

Instructor Contact

Registered students must communicate through Canvas, using the "Messages" or "Inbox" icon in the left or bottom margin.

Only for those NOT enrolled in the course - Email:

Office Hours: TTh 9:30-10:20, Emeritus 1513 (*let me know ahead of time if you want a live chat or video conference, so I'm not off running errands)

I respond to messages M-Th 9:00-3:00 on the same day.

Course Web Site

Students will use the Canvas course web site for assignment instructions, submitting assignments, viewing classmates' work, sharing resources, and viewing grades.

Course Requirements

Online Participation (10 points)

You MUST be actively engaged online every week of the semester. There will be 1-3 required online activities (some graded, some mark completed/not completed) every week. These will include practice exercises, graded work, participation in an online discussion board, etc.

Class Presentation (10 points)


You will WRITE UP (required for accessibility) in CLASS PRESENTATION AND (optionally) record (audio or video) yourself (and post to a discussion board) presenting either (choose one)

A) a brief summary and explanation of an article from this SIGN-UP SHEET, on topics related to our course,


B) a brief example of a “critical thinking lapse” or a “critical thinking success” from your own experience or someone you know. It must come from something you have a personal connection with, NOT FROM ANY PUBLIC MEDIA. You can find several examples HERE.

Online Practice

There will be several online exercise sets in Canvas throughout the semester labeled "Practice." They can be repeated as often as you wish, highest score counts. SOME WILL BE REQUIRED FOR ACCESS TO GRADED EXERCISE SETS.


Regular reading assignments from the textbooks and my own online materials in Canvas must be completed by the assigned date.

There will be SEVEN (7) graded homework assignments (20 points each) online in Canvas. LOWEST GRADE DROPS (six grades will count). Open books, open notes (of course). All homework will be CUMULATIVE, but emphasizing the most recent topics.

All homework must be completed and turned in online in Canvas. No email accepted. If it's not in your Canvas account, it doesn't count.

  • Two submissions allowed; grade equals average of two scores. They will consist of short written answers (1 or 2 paragraph), fill-in the blank, multiple-choice, true-false, and matching. The material comes from the textbook, online notes and supplemental materials (videos, articles).
  • No time limit other than the due date.
  • Graded homework in Canvas will be available online for 96 hours, from Thursday noon through Monday noon. NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED. Do NOT put it off to the last minute. I will NOT accept late work just because you ran into some technical difficulties trying to submit within the last hour. I will tell you that you should have completed it early enough to deal with any technical glitches that might come up as you submit your work.


There will be two (2) online MIDTERMS (worth 35 points each) and one online FINAL EXAM (worth 40 points)

  • COMPREHENSIVE, (Open books, open notes)
  • LIMITED TIME FRAME - must be completed within four hours after beginning.
  • The material comes from the textbook, class lectures and supplemental materials.

Late Policy

All assignments are due at the designated time on the due date. Assignments will be open in Canvas for 96 HOURS, so no late work is accepted.

Late midterms are allowed ONLY IF arrangements are made PRIOR TO the opening of the midterm on Canvas.


Grading Policy

Click the “Grades” link in Canvas to keep track of your grades.

Online Participation: 10 points

Online Presentation: 10 points

6 (7-1) Graded Homeworks: 20 points each

Two midterms: worth 35 points each

Final Exam: 40 points

Total: 250 points

Grades will be assigned as follows:

A: 90-100%
B: 79-90%
C: 67-79%
D: 55-67%

If taking Pass/No Pass you need at least a 67% overall average and must complete the midterm exams and the final exam to pass the class.

Required Software

Chrome is the recommended browser for Canvas

Run this computer readiness test to check your browser for plugins and versions.

Important Dates


Dropping the Class

If you decide to discontinue this course, it is your responsibility to officially drop it. A student may be dropped from any class when that student's absences exceed ten percent (10%) of the total hours of class time. It is strongly advised that if you need to miss more than one class/homework deadline in a row that you contact the instructor to avoid being dropped from the class.


For face-to-face courses, students who fail to attend the first class meeting may be dropped by the instructor. For classes that meet online, students who fail to log on and initiate participation by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the first day of the class may be dropped by the instructor.

Instructors are required to drop all No-Show students immediately following the second class meeting. A No-Show is an enrolled student who has not attended any class meeting of the course. For classes that meet online, a No-Show is an enrolled student who has not logged on and initiated active participation by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the second day of the class.

Pass‐NoPass (P/NP)

[You may take this class P/NP. You must decide before the deadline, and add the option online with TLC or file the P/NP form with Admissions and Records. With a grade of C or better, you will get P.

You must file for the P/NP option by February 25. Once you decide to go for P/NP, you cannot change back to a letter grade. If you are taking this course as part of a certificate program, you can probably still take the class P/NP. Check with a counselor to be sure.]

Instructor Announcements and Q&A Forum

The instructor will post announcements on the Announcements page in Canvas throughout the semester. Canvas notifies students according to their preferred Notification Preferences. SET YOUR NOTIFICATION PREFERENCES TO INCLUDE ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Standards of Conduct

Students who register in SRJC classes are required to abide by the SRJC Student Conduct Standards. The exact same standards apply to ONLINE BEHAVIOR. Violation of the Standards is basis for referral to the Vice President of Student Services or dismissal from class or from the College. See the Student Code of Conduct page.

Collaborating on or copying of tests or homework in whole or in part will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and result in a grade of 0 for that test or assignment. Students are encouraged to share information and ideas, but not their work. See these links on Plagiarism:

SRJC Writing Center Lessons on avoiding plagiarism
SRJC's statement on Academic Integrity

Special Needs

Every effort is made to conform to accessibility standards for all instructor-created materials. Students should contact their instructor as soon as possible if they find that they cannot access any course materials. Students with disabilities who believe they need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact Disability Resources (527-4278).

List of assignments

Note to students: the assignments listed below do not include all course content. To view all course content, go to HOME.

Course Summary:

Date Details