Name that Fallacy!
Students learn about logical fallacies through reading or in-class discussion (The Little, Brown Compact Handbook (Aaron 2011) provides a helpful list of logical fallacies). Students then play a game wherein the instructor presents an argument and asks students, individually or on teams, to determine which fallacy was committed (bandwagon, reductive fallacy, sweeping generalization, etc.). Students may then, where applicable, suggest revisions to the argument that would make it stronger. The instructor can assign points to students who correctly identify fallacies and could assign bonus points to students who improve the argument.
What is the Objective?
To evaluate students’ understanding of logical fallacies and how to remedy them.
Why is This Important?
George Hillocks recalls “one significant text of over 1,100 pages” that “devotes 45 pages to persuasive writing and only 1.5 pages to logical appeals”—the essence, he argues, of argumentation (2011, p. xvii). Argumentative writing instruction often overlooks the development of logical skills that students can use to build strong arguments and recognize weak ones. In this activity students are asked to hone their argumentative skills by identifying weak or flawed arguments and providing solutions.
What Do I Need?
Slides or examples; suggested reading: The Little, Brown Compact Handbook.
Aaron, J. E. (2011). The little, brown compact handbook (8th ed.). London, United Kingdom: Longman.
Hillocks, G. (2011). Teaching argument writing, grades 6-12: Supporting claims with relevant evidence and clear reasoning (p. xvii). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.