Posts Tagged ‘argument mapping’

A screen shot of Rationale Online

A screen shot of Rationale Online, click for a larger view.

It’s no secret to regular readers here that I’m a big fan of argument mapping. I’ve written about it several times and it’s come to be a very important component of my teaching. That’s why I’m happy to have added Rationale Online, a web-based version of the Rationale software package, to the RAIL Resources page.  Beyond merely listing it there, though, I thought I’d put up a short post about it as I think it really does represent a positive step in the evolution of argument diagramming software for the classroom.

The diagramming system used in Rationale Online is a descendant of that pioneered by Tim van Gelder (some will remember Reason!Able), wherein one can diagram both arguments and various sorts of rebuttals, with or without incorporating various sorts of argument schemes from a number of different models. (more…)

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Browsing the Argumentation Blog today turned up this announcement of an interesting website devoted to argument mapping, created by argument mapping guru Tim van Gelder.  The site is aimed at university level educators, and offers a kind of clearinghouse of information and resources on the subject of argument mapping, including links to trial versions of van Gelder’s mapping software.  I’ve added the link to the “Other Resources” section here on RAIL (see the right hand column near the end), but thought that it might be of enough interest to warrant an announcement here too given that summer is the time that many of us prepare for our Fall teaching obligations.

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I’ve recently begun experimenting with diagramming arguments in my classes–and not my Critical Thinking/Informal Logic classes, but the other more traditional philosophy classes that I teach.   I’ve tried using a few different programs to set my diagrams up (Araucaria, Carneades) but so far what works best are color-coded, free-hand “VanGelder-style” diagrams done on a transparency and projected via a document camera. (I’d love to have ReasonAble, but so far I can’t seem to talk anyone into getting it into the budget for me.)

What I’ve found is that diagramming arguments actually seems to work better than setting the arguments out in classical standard form (i.e. premises numbered sequentially with a line under the last premise as in an arithmetic problem, followed by the conclusion, etc.).  When I diagram the argument students seem to get a clearer idea of the argumentation in the text, and a better appreciation for the overall structure of the article or chapter. I haven’t been doing it long enough to back it up with trends in test scores or anything like that, but the students tell me it really helps them get a grip on what’s going on in the text. I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me that it confuses them even more.

Is anyone else using argument diagramming/mapping in this way outside of classes where a primary aim is to teach argumentation?  If so, how are you doing it and how is it working for you?

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