Critical Thinking Journals,

English 111, Spring 2020,
Prof. R. Dollieslager


Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, 1987

"Critical Thinking--the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself."

The Critical Thinking Journals Project

The critical thinking journals will require you to practice many of the research skills which are stipulated in the course outcomes of English 111, including paraphrasing and summarizing from sources; conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and applying information gathered from sources; direct quoting, parenthetically citing, and correctly documenting sources with MLA-style works cited; and conventional, college-level grammar and editing skills.

Instructions for completion and the grading criteria

Each journal entry will be one full page to one and a half pages in length, (250-300 words). They will not be formally graded as an essay, nor will they necessarily require positing a thesis in the formal sense. Points earned will total 4 for each journal entry (put into context, 6 points are the total possible for an essay). Below are the five critical thinking components established by The Critical Thinking Community with instructions for each journal entry, which will analyze quotes from influential people in specific ways:

  1. Research: In just a brief paragraph paraphrased from your source or sources, describe who the writer is--when and where he or she lived and what he or she is noted for.
  2. Conceptualize & Evaluate: Explain what the quote means.
  3. Analyze: Explain how this truth is reflected in the life of the writer.
  4. Apply: Give a specific and concrete example of this truth from your own experience or your own observation.
  5. Document the source with an MLA works cited entry at the end.

Documentation resource: Little Seagull Handbook. (Find models for the sources you use, and format them accordingly.)

Step-by-step instructions:

Grading Rubric

Three paragraphs:

Points, 4 possible for each entry:


ford quote
Critical thinking journal entry #1: Henry Ford wrote, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, either way you're right."
Dr. King Photo
Critical thinking journal entry #2: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
coelho quote
Critical thinking journal entry #3: Paulo Coelho has written, “The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus
Critical thinking journal entry #4: Heraclitus of Ephesus wrote, “Opposition brings concord: Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.”
william penn
Critical thinking journal entry #5: William Penn said, "Justice is the insurance which we have on our lives and property. Obedience is the premium which we pay for it."
richard taylor

Critical thinking journal entry #6: American philosopher Richard Taylor wrote, “All men are fatalists as they look back on things."

Bibliographical (works cited) information for the interview with Taylor:

The text of the interview, which was actually conducted shortly before his death in 2003, is posted in a Black Board announcement. Taylor made this statement paradoxically; be sure to discuss that.

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