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Week 1: The Basics:
Clear Thinking and Clear Writing

I think therefore I am.

–Rene Descartes

No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.

–Voltaire

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Great philosophers throughout the ages have contemplated the effects of deep and meaningful thought. Even the average person can be heard to say, “That’s just wishful thinking,” or “Let’s think outside the box.” To understand the nature and purpose of critical thinking, it is important to first explore the concept of thinking itself. What is its nature and purpose? How does it compare to, or use, the senses? Can it be measured or improved?

Thinking is like breathing – it is just something you do. However, thinking critically is another matter. Reflect on a recent important decision that you have made. How much time did you spend considering the alternatives or consequences of the decision?

In this first week of the course, you will explore aspects of your thinking in order to begin the critical-thinking journey. You will be introduced to the basic concepts that have been developed about the thought process and the role it plays in your ability to analyze new information or to effectively communicate in both personal and professional settings. You will consider barriers to clear thinking and how they could be influencing your decision making. Thus, it is now time to put on your “thinking cap” and consider exactly how this whole process works.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Assess how critical thinking is part of the communication process.

Photo Credit: [Jarek Szymanski]/[E+]/Getty Images


Learning Resources

Required Readings

Course Text: Kirby, G., & Goodpaster, J. (2007).
Thinking (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

  • Chapter 1, “What is Thinking?”
  • In this chapter, some of the great thinkers of the past and their definitions of thinking are presented. The chapter also discusses how thinking is demonstrated through communication, through writing, and through dialogue. “Misthinking,” or confusion, is also explored.

    Focus on the definitions provided throughout the chapter. Review and think about the examples and anecdotes provided in the chapter that illustrates the major ideas being conveyed. Consider how a manager uses critical-thinking skills. Ask yourself how a manager’s writing and dialogue demonstrate his or her thinking skills to others.

  • Chapter 2, “Personal Barriers”
  • In this chapter, the personal barriers that can influence a person’s thinking process are discussed. In addition, how different types of personal barriers and factors such as religion, bias, and emotions can alter a person’s thinking – and lead to different outcomes and reactions – is examined.

    Focus on the definitions provided throughout the chapter. Review and think about the examples and anecdotes provided about the different types of personal barriers in the chapter. Consider your own personal barriers. Ask yourself which of these barriers may hinder your critical-thinking skills as a manager.

  • Chapter 3, “Sensing”
  • Chapter 3 introduces sensory perception and examines how it is the first process in thinking. How the senses can influence your thinking as well as how they can be sharpened and honed to augment the thinking process is presented. Finally, the importance of listening is explored.

    Focus on the definitions provided throughout the chapter. Review and think about some of the examples regarding how thinking is affected by senses and about the different methods of sharpening sensory perception. Consider how listening skills impact critical thinking. How might a manager improve his or her listening skills?

  • Chapter 4, “Brain and Memory”
  • Chapter 4 examines those factors that impact brain function and the thinking process, including food, drugs, and sleep. Thinking and memory are also explored, along with the changing nature of memory. Long-term and short-term memory are discussed in conjunction with forgetting. Strategies for improving memory are also presented.

    Focus on the definitions provided throughout the chapter. Review and think about some of the examples that can affect the brain and its health as well as how the memorization process works. Consider those behaviors that impact brain function and memory. Think about personal choices you make that can help, or hamper, your ability to think critically.

Course Text: Weston, A. (2009).
A rulebook for arguments (4th ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.

  • “Preface,” “Introduction,” and Chapter 1, “Short Arguments: Some General Rules”
  • The preface, introduction, and Chapter 1 introduce the topic of persuasive writing and how arguments are used to for a variety of purposes. Chapter 1 provides an overview of strategies for presenting short arguments along with the important rules for using this type of argument.

    Focus on the definitions provided throughout the chapter. Review and think about some of the examples presented for composing a short argument. Consider when a short argument is desirable. When might a manager use this type of argument?


Assignment 1: Thinking and Sensing

While thinking is an activity in which all humans participate, it is an activity that can be difficult to analyze and explain. From Socrates prodding the Athenians to think (Kirby, 2008), to having multiple people in your life telling you to ‘just think’—you may still struggle with what “thinking” means.

Based on your reading for this week:

  • In your course text, Thinking, complete Activity 1.2 (p. 8), Activity 2.1 (pp. 19-23), Activity 2.2 (p. 24), and Activity 3.3 (p.p. 58–59).
  • Develop your personal action plan on thinking using Activity 3.4 (pp. 61–62).

By Day 7

Post your action plan in this week’s Assignment 1 Forum. Submit this assignment via the Discussion. While you are not required to respond to others’ postings, you are encouraged to do so.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK1Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 1 link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK1Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Assignment 1 Rubric

Post by Day 7

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Assignment 1 Discussion

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:

Submit your Week 1 Assignment 1 draft and review the originality report.

Additionally, please paste your initial Assignment post into a Microsoft Word document, save it and submit it via the link below.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:

Week 1 Assignment 1


Discussion: The Nature of Argument

After reading the “Preface,” “Introduction,” and Chapter 1 in your course text, The Rulebook for Arguments, consider the nature and purpose of argument. Consider the different forms that arguments can take. As you prepare for this Discussion, be sure to focus on rules one through seven presented in Chapter 1.

With these thoughts in mind:

  • Select two of the rules that either you or one of your associates have broken in the past.
  • Illustrate an example of an incorrect and a correct use of each of these two rules.
  • Discuss why the rules are important in formulating strong arguments.

By Day 3

Post your response

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 5

Respond to two or more of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you learned and the insights you gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Be sure to support your work with specific citations from the Learning Resources and any additional sources.

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Discussion


Assignment 2: Reflection

Post your Reflection assignment which summarizes what you learned from the readings, research, and Discussion activities. Your Week 1 Reflection Summary should include a section on your course goals. Detailed instructions and a template are provided in the Reflection Instructions and Template document located in the Doc Sharing area. Use references with APA formatting as needed. You may also want to review the Reflection Grading Rubric located on the Course Information page before posting your assignment.

While you are not required to read and respond to your classmates’ postings, you are encouraged to do so.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK1Assgn2+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 2 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 2 link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK1Assgn2+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Assignment 2 Rubric

Post by Day 7

To participate in this Discussion:

Week 1 Assignment 2 Discussion

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:

Submit your Week 1 Assignment 2 draft and review the originality report.

Additionally, please paste your initial Reflection post into a Microsoft Word document, save it and submit it via the link below.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:

Week 1 Assignment 2

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