Blog Post: Evaluating Student Reasoning

Gerald Nosich
Nov 01, 2019 • 3y ago
Evaluating Student Reasoning

{"ops":[{"insert":"The following is an activity involving evaluating student reasoning. The invitation is to read each of the three short essays and evaluate the critical thinking in each of them. The advice is to evaluate the reasoning as you might if you were a teacher in this history class. You might rank them with regard to the critical thinking each shows: Which of the three shows the best critical thinking, which is second, and which is last? (With regard especially to the essays of Student #2 and Student #3, note that they were written before smartphones or e-tablets, before the active development of most social media, and even before videogames were as prominent as they are now. So in evaluating the essays you may have to overlook the fact that some of the technology discussed is outdated.)\n \n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The assignment in the history course is to write a short essay"},{"insert":": \n\t"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"“Reasoning about the Significance of Inventions.”"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"The assignment"},{"insert":": Of two inventions discussed in your textbook, which was the most important and why?\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Directions"},{"insert":": The textbook for the course describes a number of important inventions, including those of Gutenberg, Edison, and George Washington Carver. Take two inventions, wither from those mentioned in the book or some other inventions you know of, and compare their importance. Defend your answer by giving reasons in favor of your judgment.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Student #1"},{"insert":"\n\tAn invention that is very important is the printing press. It was invented by Johann Gutenberg, who was a man that lived in Germany. He invented the printing press in the Fifteenth Century. The first book ever printed by Gutenberg was the Bible. But he soon printed many other books as well. The first printing press worked by using movable type.\n           Another important invention mentioned in the textbook was the dehydration of foods. This was invented by George Washington Carver. When you dehydrate foods you take the water out of them. George Washington Carver wanted many people to use his inventions, so he did not take out patents on them. He made many other inventions besides dehydration. He even thought of more than 300 uses for the peanut, including facial cream, shoe polish, and ice cream.\n           Both inventions are very important. Many people read books that are printed on a printing press. Many people eat food that has been dehydrated. But to me the printing press was more important than dehydration.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Student #2"},{"insert":"\n           R-r-r-r-ring.\n           The first sound I hear in the morning is my alarm clock going off. It’s an invention I truly hate.\n           R-r-r-r-ring.\n           It is not a pretty sound, and as soon as I hear it I feel myself getting angry. If only I didn’t have to get up so early! All my muscles cry out that I want to sleep! Most mornings when I hear that sound, I even cover my ears with my pillow in the hope that I won’t hear it going off. \n           It is an old-fashioned wind-up alarm clock that loses ten minutes a day. It is not a digital alarm clock because all the digital alarm clocks I’ve ever tried have alarms that are too soft to awaken a really sound sleeper. And believe me I am a very sound sleeper.\n           R-r-r-r-ring. But no matter what I do, or how I feel, I end up wide awake and out of bed and getting dressed for school.\n           Once I am awake I look at my other clock, the one that is sitting on my dresser. It is a great invention too. It is a digital clock that keeps perfect time. It has a red LED display and glows in the dark. It has an emergency battery backup, so that even if the electricity cuts out in the night, my wall clock never loses a second.\n           Which of the two inventions is more important? That’s the question I ask myself as I head off for school. And then the answer comes to me. No matter how perfectly the digital clock keeps time, without the alarm clock I wouldn’t be awake to see it. So without doubt the alarm clock wins the prize as most important.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Student #3"},{"insert":"\n           Two inventions mentioned in the book are television and the dehydration of food. Each is important in different ways. The television set, for example, affects many people’s lives. I watch television almost every night and so do all my friends. But it’s not just me and my friends. The same is true for people all across the country, and in most foreign countries as well. Television allows more people to be entertained than was ever possible before. We witness world news, nature programs, comedies and many other programs. Television lets us see much of what is going on in the world.\n           Dehydration of foods is important in a different way. The main effects of dehydration are that it allows food to be kept for a long time without spoiling, and to be shipped for a lower cost. I don’t know how many people in the world today use dehydrated foods, but I’m pretty sure that it’s far smaller than the number of people that enjoy TV. So that seems to show that TV is more important.\n           And yet I don’t feel right saying that one invention is more important than another simply because it has affected more people. If dehydration is used more than it is now, it could help cut down on the number of people who are starving in the world. Saving just a few people from dying of starvation is more important than taking a lot of people and entertaining them. \n \nNext week, I will include a commentary on the three essays (adapted from one Richard Paul and I wrote a while ago). I’ll post it as a “Comment” on this blog. From that will emerge a broader discussion of some aspects of evaluating the critical thinking in a writing sample. \n       \n"}]}


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