Course Syllabus

PHIL 3: Critical Thinking

Sections 5238, 5468

Online, SPRING 2021
- - - COURSE  SYLLABUS - - -


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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).




    • MOST OF OUR ONLINE COMMUNICATION WILL BE ASYNCHRONOUS messaging through Canvas (not live online at the same time). I prefer this as it accommodates our varied schedules.
  • Graded exercises will be open Thursday-Sunday, but discussion boards could be open as little as 48 hours.

    • I’m available to Zoom, if you make an appointment, during the semester M-Th 9:00-2:00, excluding holidays
    • You must check in with me by Canvas Message or Zoom (within Canvas) once a week to be marked PRESENT, to say “howdy” and to let me know how you’re doing. 
    • WRITTEN COMMUNICATION is also preferable. Video lectures take loads of bandwidth and hold you captive to the video’s timetable. There are a few 3rd party videos I will have you watch online. However, written content gives you vastly more freedom to process and react to information at your own pace and in your own way. I will post only a few of my own short video introductions to material.


Course Web Site

Students will use the Canvas course web site for assignment instructions, submitting assignments, viewing classmates' work, sharing resources, and viewing grades. Always view “Home” or “Modules” to find topics, assignments, and relevant links arranged by date.


Textbooks, available in SRJC Bookstore

  1. UnSpun: finding facts in a world of disinformation, by Jackson and Jamieson. New York: Random House, 2007. Available to borrow free as a PDF online at the Internet Archive.
  2. Science and Religion: A very short introduction, by Thomas Dixon. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  3. My own online notes (free)
  4. recommended useful resource free online is A Student’s Guide to Critical Thinking. This book is authoritative and has very few errors.
  5. BEWARE searching topics in this course online!! Inaccurate information on critical thinking topics is much more common than reliable sources!

You can locate and order textbooks online via the SRJC Bookstore or online elsewhere. Used copies can be quite cheap online at Ebay, Amazon, etc.


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. Compose cogent written arguments.
  3. Evaluate arguments to determine whether claims are adequately supported.



Class Meetings— Asynchronous Online, with assignments and multiple 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 during SRJC finals week

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: Canvas messages ANY time. Available for Zoom meeting with an appointment Mon, Wed, Thur between 9:00 and Noon. Tuesday Noon-2:00.

I respond to messages M-Th9:00-2:00 on the same day.


Course Requirements

Academic Integrity. See

Online Participation (16 points: 8% of course grade)

You MUST be actively engaged online every week of the term. There will be 1-3 required online activities (some graded, some markEd completed/not completed) every week. These will include practice exercises, graded work, participation in an online discussion board, etc. Comments on discussion boards must be respectful and reasonable.

Class Presentation (16 points: 8% of grade)


You will WRITE UP (required for accessibility) in CLASS PRESENTATION either (choose ONE)

  1. a brief summary and explanation of an article from a sign up sheet on topics related to our course, OR
  2. 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.


Online Practice (required completion)

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. SEVERAL 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.  The lowest grade will drop after assignment #5, so SIX (6) will count, worth a total of 120 points: 60% of course grade) online in Canvas. 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 through Sunday. 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.


Final Exam

There will be one online FINAL EXAM (worth 48 points: 24% of course)

  • COMPREHENSIVE, (Open books, open notes)
  • The material comes from the textbooks, 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.



Grading Policy

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

Online Participation: 16 points — 8%

Online Presentation: 16 points — 8%

6 Graded Homework, after dropping one: 120 points total — 60%

Final Exam: 48 points — 24% 

Total: 200 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 all assignments and the final exam to pass the class.


Required Software

The IT Department recommends Chrome browser for Canvas, but I haven’t had any problems with other browsers.

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


Important Dates

Go to SRJC Schedule of Classes, find this term and this section, and click on the start and end dates listed.



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 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 meetingFor 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/NPby the due date. 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.


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

To view all course content, go to HOME or MODULES.