Syllabus for PHI-130



The aim of this course is to give students the opportunity to acquire critical thinking tools to analyze and evaluate knowledge claims. Students will acquire the skills to develop a critical attitude to cultural stereotypes and biases through readings, web resources journal assignments, and self-check assessments.

Critical reasoning tools are crucial to making informed decisions so that when students are faced with difficult situations in their professional or private lives, they will be able to make appropriate reasoning choices. The skills and knowledge students obtain in the course, Introduction to Critical Reasoning, can also assist them with studies of other disciplines, such as psychology, history, English, political science, communication science, health care, development studies, sociology, and public administration.

This course is adapted from the University of South Africa's Critical Reasoning course and is licensed under a Creative Commons

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). It can be viewed in its original format at this link:



After completing this course, students will be able to:

     CO1    Identify assumptions, reasons, claims, and their interactions.

     CO2    Make informed logical decisions that are based on facts and substantiated claims.

     CO3    Critically evaluate personal biases, misconceptions, and preconceived ideas.

     CO4    Identify and critically evaluate the ideas and beliefs of others.

     CO5    Analyze information and knowledge claims critically.

     CO6    Apply the key concepts of critical reasoning to constructing arguments and writing critical essays.


There are no commercial textbooks required for this course. You will be provided all of the readings and resources required in the course modules. You will need Internet access for research.


Introduction to Critical Reasoning is a course consisting of five modules. Each module includes an overview, a list of topics, learning objectives, study materials, and assessments. Modules are listed below.




A “hands-on” approach is used in the course. Students are expected to actively participate in the learning process by answering questions and participating in activities. In this way, they will develop the competencies needed by an initiate into the community of critical thinkers.

Such competencies will help them not only to understand what critical reasoning is about, but also to apply their knowledge and skills to make and to justify choices in difficult situations they may encounter in their work environment, their home life, and in interaction with their community. The skills and knowledge students obtain in the course, Introduction to Critical Reasoning, can also assist them with their studies of other disciplines, such as psychology, history, English, political science, communication science, health care, development studies, sociology, and public administration.

Written Assignments

You are required to complete seven written assignments. The written assignments are on a variety of topics associated with the course modules.

Discussion Forums

In addition to an ungraded Introductions Forum, you are required to participate in six graded online class discussions—one in each module.


Communication with your mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online class discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses.


All of these responses must be substantial. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate or your mentor, state and support your position.


You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation, including your use of relevant course information to support your point of view, and your awareness of and responses to the postings of your classmates. Remember, these are discussions: responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, mature, and respectful.


You are required to take two proctored online examinations: a midterm exam and a final exam. Both exams require that you use the University's Online Proctor Service (OPS). Please refer to the Examinations and Proctors section of the Online Student Handbook. (See General Information area of the course web site for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures.) You are strongly advised to schedule your exam within the first week of the semester.


Online exams are administered through the course web site. Consult the Course Calendar for the official dates of exam weeks.

Midterm Examination

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is 1½ hours long and covers material in Modules 1, 2, and 3. It consists of multiple-choice and short essay questions. If you have concerns about the format and/or content of the examination, please contact your mentor at least a week in advance of the scheduled test.

Final Examination

The final is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is 1½ hours long and covers material in Modules 4 and 5. It consists of multiple-choice and drop-down/selection questions. If you have concerns about the format and/or content of the examination, please contact your mentor at least a week in advance of the scheduled test.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:




































Below 60

 To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a non-area of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Please refer to the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at


Using someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism. Thomas Edison State University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > Citing Sources.)


Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.


Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.


Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.


For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.


Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process

First-time incidents of academic dishonesty concerning plagiarism may reflect ignorance of appropriate citation requirements. Mentors will make a good faith effort to address all first-time offenses that occur in courses. In these cases, the mentor may impose sanctions that serve as a learning exercise for the offender. These may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool including a lower grade when appropriate. The mentor will notify the student by e-mail. Decisions about the sanctions applied for subsequent plagiarism offenses or other violations will be made by the appropriate dean’s office, with the advice of the mentor or staff person who reported the violation. The student will be notified via certified mail of the decision. Options for sanctions include:


Creative Commons “Critical Reasoning"  by UNISA is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.