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Crafting arguments with integrity: What does that look like?

Part 2

Karen Smith
Karen Smith
Senior Teaching and Learning Specialist

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In my previous post, I detailed why it is important and meaningful to craft arguments with integrity. For students especially, these skills go beyond the classroom and can help in job settings, relationship building, and overall communication.

In this blog, we dive into the many ways one can craft an argument that is soundly based and evidential. Our newest resource pack, Argumentation with Integrity, offers a variety of planning resources, instructional lesson presentations with accompanying handouts and worksheets, posters, and assessment tools to bring a strong focus on creating arguments centered in logic and integrity.

Educators from around the world have already explored these resources for themselves and their students, grateful for and excited by the rich set of resources available in the pack. Here’s what they have to say:

[Toby_Trewin_1:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@744fdecf

Recent changes in academic integrity policies encourage the promotion of academic integrity by means of proactive and pedagogic approaches. I am amazed to see that Turnitin’s 'Argumentation with Integrity' pack provides hints for educators to design their syllabus accordingly by giving room on 'argumentation' so that I believe they can help learners develop 'rhetorical intertextuality' which is a new phenomenon in teaching writing."

Dr. Salim Razi
Founder Director, Centre for Academic Integrity, Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Türkiye
University of Wollongong in Dubai
[Toby_Trewin_1:MEDIASTORE_LEAF]@119a511f

As an educator and scholar within learning and teaching, I find the 'Argumentation with Integrity' pack an invaluable addition to the learning armoury. It serves to remind us that writing connects ideas, judgements and arguments in a truthful and defensible manner."

Earle Abrahamson
Learning & Teaching Specialist, Learning & Teaching Innovation Centre, University of Hertfordshire, UK
University of Wollongong in Dubai

And while our resource pack goes into much greater detail, Turnitin's team of veteran educators landed on three focus areas after much discussion, in order to help educators and their students begin making arguments that are both stronger and more compelling:

  • Using credible sources is integral to making an argument with integrity. First, conduct research and identify the sources that will support the argument. Evaluating those sources for credibility is necessary no matter the genre in which one is composing, but when making an argument with the express purpose of changing an audience’s point of view, credibility is definitely at risk when not using sources that are both valid and trustworthy. This is not always easy. Statements and arguments that aren’t backed up by reliable, credible sources regularly are published in various easy-to-access media outlets. If the sources used to support the thesis aren’t credible, what sort of trust can be established with the audience? Using the newly revamped video resources in our Evaluating Source Credibility instructional resource pack can help students to determine which sources are best to build the case.
  • Avoiding a “reference dump” is equally important in creating a strong argument, but a common error that students make. Many times, a lack of confidence or technical know-how leads students to rely solely on the sources to make the argument for them. Explicit instruction in how to pause to explain how each reference supports the claim may be necessary. Strong arguments rely on the writer’s expertise in tying together the claim and the evidence and making sure the support and connections are explicit, as well as credible and logical.
  • Identifying and eliminating any logical fallacies within an argument is Argument 101, right? Still, with all the examples seen in news or social media, students have many poor examples to follow. For those unfamiliar with the idea of logical fallacies, flawed logic when used as support for argumentation erodes the trust of the reader/viewer, just as the inclusion of non-credible sources does. Learning how to recognize and eliminate logical fallacies will strengthen the argument being made. Try sharing some examples of common logical fallacies that they are likely to encounter, and then work on how to avoid them in writing altogether.

In sum, a good argument will help shift others’ thinking. But the reality is that we should seek to craft a better argument, one crafted with integrity that will shift how others think based on solid evidence and logic. These resources, coupled with explicit instruction, feedback, and practice, will help students to wholly develop skills in argumentation with integrity.