ELEMENTS OF REASONING

This worksheet is for use when developing a line of thought in relation to an issue, problem, or question. It has been adapted from presentations made by Dr. Richard Paul, Director of the Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique, during annual summer conferences at Sonoma State University.

The worksheet is designed such that at least one of the prompts in each category may best pertain to your topic, whether it be a question, an issue, or a problem to solve. If you find some prompts to be repetitive, move on until you find one that is relevant to you or new. If you print this form out, it can be used as scratch paper to brainstorm ideas, and the structure can be applied to composing an essay or speech. You may need to tailor the worksheet to your specific discipline.


PURPOSE

What's my purpose?

Why am I doing this?


ISSUE, QUESTION, OR PROBLEM TO SOLVE

What is the issue?

What is the precise question I'm trying to answer?

How can I define the problem?


ASSUMPTIONS

What am I taking for granted?

Should I assume or take it for granted?

Are my assumptions justifiable?


POINT OF VIEW

What is my point of view?

What are other points of view?

Do I need to consider the subject from any other perspectives?


INFORMATION

What information is necessary to answer the question?

How will I get the data?

Is the evidence laid out clearly?

Have I searched for information against my position & explained its relevance?


CONCEPTS

What ideas or concepts will help to explore the question, problem, or issue?

What concepts will guide the reasoning process?

What basic concepts do I need to clarify?

Have I defined my concepts precisely?


INTERPRETATION & INFERENCE

What conclusion, decision, judgment or belief will result from reasoning process?

What different interpretations might arise from the facts?

What do I base my conclusion on?

Is the conclusion justifiable?

Is the belief, opinion, action or policy in accord with reason and evidence?

Do my inferences follow directly from evidence to conclusion?

Are my inferences logical, consistent, and of sufficient depth?

What is actually implied and what might be carelessly inferred?


IMPLICATIONS & CONSEQUENCES OF CONCLUSION

Where does my reasoning take me?

What consequences might follow beyond the point I've taken the reasoning?

Might any false implications or undesirable consequences follow?


Self-evaluation: Check to see if I have accomplished my purpose. Is there anything I can do to improve the quality and thoroughness of my work? What did I learn? What would I do differently next time?

 

Click here to see an example lesson outline using some of the Elements of Reasoning. (The intended audience is the teacher, and it illustrates Kolb's Learning Styles.)

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