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 Critical Thinking
 Critical Thinking
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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Writing Projects
Chapter 10: Analyzing Your Beliefs About a Social or Academic Issue

Write an essay in which you consider some influences on the development of your beliefs about a social issue or an idea related to an academic field. As a college student, you receive much of your information about social or academic issues from print and electronic sources. Therefore, you should analyze at least two media sources, such as a newspaper, magazine, or journal articles; material from a web site; a film or video; a book or book chapter. In addition, think about what your teachers and other people have told you and, perhaps, about personal experiences.


Purpose: You will be analyzing, in part, the way in which you receive, evaluate, and organize information. Consider both your strengths and weaknesses as they emerge from your study.

In general, how influenced are you by what you read, hear, or watch on television? Warm up before starting the project by writing a paragraph or two about that here.

Audience: You are likely the one to be most affected by what you discover while writing this paper, although your classmates may also come to similar conclusions. How universal do you think your experience is? Write a few sentences about that here.

Subject: Your subject here will be a mix of personal beliefs and self-analysis, along with fact and opinion from outside sources.

Writer: Be sure to consider your own role in the way that your beliefs are shaped.

Generating Ideas: Be sure to consider the wide variety of sources which influence your beliefs.

Make a list of sources and the beliefs they have influenced.

Defining a Focus: As you narrow your topic, determine whether the issue you've chosen to explore is appropriately focused and specific. The same applies if you are dealing with an issue related to a particular academic field.

Narrow your topic to one or two specific ideas here.

Organizing Ideas: Pay particular attention to how you organize the sources which influence your beliefs. Do they fall into groups? Do some deserve more attention—perhaps an entire paragraph—than others?

Make a rough outline here of how you can categorize and organize these sources.

Drafting: Especially for early drafts, try to include as many examples and sources as possible. Narrow these down by grouping those that fit together as you write new drafts.

Revising: If you discover that your ideas change as you work through successive drafts, do not be afraid to go back and revise your thesis statement so that it more accurately reflects your new ideas.

Editing and Proofreading: Is there a student resource at your school that offers proofreading and editing help free of charge? Do not be afraid to enquire and make use of such a service if one exists.

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Either print your answers out for submission or email them to your instructor.