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Sharon Radcliff, CSU, East Bay 
Elise Y Wong, Saint Mary’s College of California
Research questions 
How effective is the Toulmin method in the evaluation 
of sources for their accuracy, credibility, reliability, and 
bias? 
How effective are the critical thinking and argument 
analysis elements in the experimental information 
literacy session in developing students argument and 
critical thinking skills? 
Can they be adopted in different information literacy 
instructional settings?
Evaluation of sources using 
critical thinking and argument analysis 
Alfino, M., Pajer, M., Pierce, L., Jenks, K.O. (2008). Advancing 
Critical thinking and information literacy skills in first year 
college students. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15, 81-97. 
Nussbaum, E. M, & Schraw, G. (2007). Promoting argument-counterargument 
integration in students’ writing. The Journal of 
Experimental Education, 76, 59-92. 
Song, Y. & Ferretti, R. (2012). Teaching critical questions about 
argumentation through the revising process: effects of strategy 
instruction on college students’ argumentative essays. Reading 
and Writing Quarterly, 26, 67-90. 
Wolfe, C., Britt, M.A, Butler, J. A. (2009). Argumentation schema 
and the myside bias in written argumentation. Written 
Communication, 26, 183-209.
Project background 
Originated as 2013-2014 ACRL Assessment in Action project 
at Saint Mary’s College of California 
Saint Mary’s College of 
California 
California State Univ., East 
Bay 
Library instruction in 
“Argument and Research” 
course (3 sections) 
Project SAILS 
Experimental instruction 
with “Flipped” teaching 
Pre-session materials, in-class 
exercise, assignment, and 
research paper 
Hybrid two-unit Information 
literacy course 
Instruction in “Argument and 
research using Toulmin and 
images 
Pre/Post tests 
“Flipped” teaching 
Pre-session materials, in-class 
exercise, assignment, and 
research paper
Student population comparison 
Saint Mary’s College 
of California 
CSU, East Bay (undergrads) 
Female: 59%; Male: 41% 
White: 43%, Latino: 25%, 
Asian: 14%, African- 
American/Black: 2% 
87% freshmen from 
California 
99% of freshmen living on 
campus 
Tuition and fees: $39,890 
% of full-time undergraduate 
receiving financial aid: 86% 
Female: 61%; Male39% 
African American: 11%; 
American Indian/Alaskan 
Native: .2%; Asian/Pacific 
Islander: 25.6%; Hispanic: 
25.6%; White: 20.3%; 
Multiple/other/unknown: 10.5%; 
International: 6.8% 
full time: 10,505/part-time: 
1,555/ 
most students live off campus 
Tuition: $6,549 
Receiving financial aid: 74%
Saint Mary’s College of California 
Composition program 
• Develop search strategies and use library catalogs and 
databases to find relevant materials for research 
IERP 
1 
• Practice evaluating sources critically 
IERP 
2 
• Seek and identify confirming and opposing evidence 
relevant to own hypothesis 
CT 
2a 
• Evaluate and synthesize evidence for the purpose of 
drawing valid conclusions 
IERP 
3 
• Demonstrate academic honesty and safeguard the 
intellectual property of others by properly integrating 
and citing sources 
IERP 
4
Sources used in research papers 
50.00% 
45.00% 
40.00% 
35.00% 
30.00% 
25.00% 
20.00% 
15.00% 
10.00% 
5.00% 
0.00% 
EXP 
TRAD
Paraphrasing vs. Quoting 
37.34% 
43.40% 
62.66% 
(IQA 
50.26%) 
56.60% 
(IQA 
45.56%) 
100% 
90% 
80% 
70% 
60% 
50% 
40% 
30% 
20% 
10% 
0% 
EXP TRAD 
QUOTES 
PARAPHRASES
Learning outcomes 
2.69 
2.75 
2.66 
2.86 
2.3 
2.83 
2.72 
2.53 
2.77 
2.55 
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 
IERP4 
IERP3 
CT2a 
IERP2 
IERP1 
TRAD 
EXP
Student reflection on research process 
“The research portion is the hardest part & once that 
aspect is out of the way the paper comes easy.” 
“I learned that you can't just type in every little word 
into every database, like you can with Google.” 
“Using library databases was more useful than Google 
if I want to find credible sources.” 
“I searched for the information the same way I learned 
last semester (in the library).” 
“Nothing new, I used the same techniques as I've 
always done.”
The CSU East Bay Experiment: 
At CSU East Bay: Toulmin flipped classroom used with images in 
of the 2-unit quarter length (10 week) information literacy course 
required of Freshman, LIBY 1210. 
Learning outcomes: 
Determine the Extent of Information Needed 
Access the Needed Information 
Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically 
Use Information Effectively to Accomplish a Specific Purpose 
Access and Use Information Ethically and Legally and 
Understands that there are Ethical, Legal, and Socio-Economic 
Issues surrounding Information and Information Technology.
Project Design & Timeline 
The pilot study began in one section of LIBY 1210 
in Winter Quarter of 2013; of 30 students over 
half signed consent to use their work in the 
study; then continued with two sections of LIBY 1210 
in the spring of 2014, of 60 students, 50 students 
signed the consent form. 
Research questions and experimental instruction 
started out the same as Saint Mary’s College; 
additional elements were added to the experimental 
instruction by Spring of 2014 and additional research 
questions asked.
Rationale for including images: 
Hattwig, D. , Bussert, K. Medaille, A., Burgesss, J. (2013). Visual Literacy 
Standards in Higher Education: New opportunities for libraries and 
student learning. Portal: Libraries and the Academy. 13 (1) 61-89. 
Fleming, D. (1996) Can pictures be arguments? Argumentation & 
Advocacy 33(1), 11-18 
Ravas, T. & Stark, M. (2012) Pulitzer-prize-winning photographs and 
visual literacy at the University of Montana: A case study. Journal of Art 
Libraries Society of North America 31 (Spring). 34-44. 
Birdswell D. S., Groarke, L. (2007). Outlines a Theory of Visual 
Argument. Argumentation & Advocacy. 43(3-4). 103-108 
Duggan, M. (2013) Photo and video sharing grow online: additional 
analysis. Pew Research Center. 
http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/28/additional-analysis/
Use of Images in Social Media
Instructional Materials 
The following materials were used: 
(same as SMC’s) 
Topic development worksheet 
PowerPoint on Toulmin method of analyzing arguments 
with applications to evaluation of sources. 
In class group work on analyzing an argument article 
using Toulmin 
Homework assignment: finding two articles with 
different perspectives 
on student’s topic.
Design of Image-Based Instruction 
In addition to the Toulmin-based instruction already 
described, the following four image–based instruction al 
units were added on: 
Photojournalism 
Advertising 
Infographics 
Political Cartoons 
For more info go to: 
http://imagininginformationliteracy.wordpress.com/ 
These included group work and homework (research log) 
relating to the students research paper topic
Analysis 
To understand the effect of this instruction on 
students knowledge and skills in information literacy, 
building a strong argument and avoiding “Myside” 
bias, the following were collected and will be analyzed: 
Pre/post test scores on a multiple choice information 
literacy test (used by the department) 
All worksheets associated with the experimental 
instruction (homework and in class group work) 
Argument/Research essays with annotated 
bibliographies 
Reflective question responses
Section 1 Pre/Post test Scores
Section 2 Pre/Post Test Scores
Future Research Questions 
Comparison study between using Toulmin with and 
without the image component 
Comparing the instruction design using Toulmin to 
the newer Walton method which emphasizes teaching 
argument as dialogue 
Discovering if the use of images has an effect on 
motivation or level of engagement 
Exploring potential correlations between preference 
for visual learning and/or spatial ability and 
performance using image-based instruction

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Assessing Argument, Critical Thinking and Information Literacy Learning Outcomes

  • 1. Sharon Radcliff, CSU, East Bay Elise Y Wong, Saint Mary’s College of California
  • 2. Research questions How effective is the Toulmin method in the evaluation of sources for their accuracy, credibility, reliability, and bias? How effective are the critical thinking and argument analysis elements in the experimental information literacy session in developing students argument and critical thinking skills? Can they be adopted in different information literacy instructional settings?
  • 3. Evaluation of sources using critical thinking and argument analysis Alfino, M., Pajer, M., Pierce, L., Jenks, K.O. (2008). Advancing Critical thinking and information literacy skills in first year college students. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15, 81-97. Nussbaum, E. M, & Schraw, G. (2007). Promoting argument-counterargument integration in students’ writing. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76, 59-92. Song, Y. & Ferretti, R. (2012). Teaching critical questions about argumentation through the revising process: effects of strategy instruction on college students’ argumentative essays. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 26, 67-90. Wolfe, C., Britt, M.A, Butler, J. A. (2009). Argumentation schema and the myside bias in written argumentation. Written Communication, 26, 183-209.
  • 4. Project background Originated as 2013-2014 ACRL Assessment in Action project at Saint Mary’s College of California Saint Mary’s College of California California State Univ., East Bay Library instruction in “Argument and Research” course (3 sections) Project SAILS Experimental instruction with “Flipped” teaching Pre-session materials, in-class exercise, assignment, and research paper Hybrid two-unit Information literacy course Instruction in “Argument and research using Toulmin and images Pre/Post tests “Flipped” teaching Pre-session materials, in-class exercise, assignment, and research paper
  • 5. Student population comparison Saint Mary’s College of California CSU, East Bay (undergrads) Female: 59%; Male: 41% White: 43%, Latino: 25%, Asian: 14%, African- American/Black: 2% 87% freshmen from California 99% of freshmen living on campus Tuition and fees: $39,890 % of full-time undergraduate receiving financial aid: 86% Female: 61%; Male39% African American: 11%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: .2%; Asian/Pacific Islander: 25.6%; Hispanic: 25.6%; White: 20.3%; Multiple/other/unknown: 10.5%; International: 6.8% full time: 10,505/part-time: 1,555/ most students live off campus Tuition: $6,549 Receiving financial aid: 74%
  • 6. Saint Mary’s College of California Composition program • Develop search strategies and use library catalogs and databases to find relevant materials for research IERP 1 • Practice evaluating sources critically IERP 2 • Seek and identify confirming and opposing evidence relevant to own hypothesis CT 2a • Evaluate and synthesize evidence for the purpose of drawing valid conclusions IERP 3 • Demonstrate academic honesty and safeguard the intellectual property of others by properly integrating and citing sources IERP 4
  • 7. Sources used in research papers 50.00% 45.00% 40.00% 35.00% 30.00% 25.00% 20.00% 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% EXP TRAD
  • 8. Paraphrasing vs. Quoting 37.34% 43.40% 62.66% (IQA 50.26%) 56.60% (IQA 45.56%) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% EXP TRAD QUOTES PARAPHRASES
  • 9. Learning outcomes 2.69 2.75 2.66 2.86 2.3 2.83 2.72 2.53 2.77 2.55 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 IERP4 IERP3 CT2a IERP2 IERP1 TRAD EXP
  • 10. Student reflection on research process “The research portion is the hardest part & once that aspect is out of the way the paper comes easy.” “I learned that you can't just type in every little word into every database, like you can with Google.” “Using library databases was more useful than Google if I want to find credible sources.” “I searched for the information the same way I learned last semester (in the library).” “Nothing new, I used the same techniques as I've always done.”
  • 11. The CSU East Bay Experiment: At CSU East Bay: Toulmin flipped classroom used with images in of the 2-unit quarter length (10 week) information literacy course required of Freshman, LIBY 1210. Learning outcomes: Determine the Extent of Information Needed Access the Needed Information Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically Use Information Effectively to Accomplish a Specific Purpose Access and Use Information Ethically and Legally and Understands that there are Ethical, Legal, and Socio-Economic Issues surrounding Information and Information Technology.
  • 12. Project Design & Timeline The pilot study began in one section of LIBY 1210 in Winter Quarter of 2013; of 30 students over half signed consent to use their work in the study; then continued with two sections of LIBY 1210 in the spring of 2014, of 60 students, 50 students signed the consent form. Research questions and experimental instruction started out the same as Saint Mary’s College; additional elements were added to the experimental instruction by Spring of 2014 and additional research questions asked.
  • 13. Rationale for including images: Hattwig, D. , Bussert, K. Medaille, A., Burgesss, J. (2013). Visual Literacy Standards in Higher Education: New opportunities for libraries and student learning. Portal: Libraries and the Academy. 13 (1) 61-89. Fleming, D. (1996) Can pictures be arguments? Argumentation & Advocacy 33(1), 11-18 Ravas, T. & Stark, M. (2012) Pulitzer-prize-winning photographs and visual literacy at the University of Montana: A case study. Journal of Art Libraries Society of North America 31 (Spring). 34-44. Birdswell D. S., Groarke, L. (2007). Outlines a Theory of Visual Argument. Argumentation & Advocacy. 43(3-4). 103-108 Duggan, M. (2013) Photo and video sharing grow online: additional analysis. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/10/28/additional-analysis/
  • 14. Use of Images in Social Media
  • 15. Instructional Materials The following materials were used: (same as SMC’s) Topic development worksheet PowerPoint on Toulmin method of analyzing arguments with applications to evaluation of sources. In class group work on analyzing an argument article using Toulmin Homework assignment: finding two articles with different perspectives on student’s topic.
  • 16. Design of Image-Based Instruction In addition to the Toulmin-based instruction already described, the following four image–based instruction al units were added on: Photojournalism Advertising Infographics Political Cartoons For more info go to: http://imagininginformationliteracy.wordpress.com/ These included group work and homework (research log) relating to the students research paper topic
  • 17. Analysis To understand the effect of this instruction on students knowledge and skills in information literacy, building a strong argument and avoiding “Myside” bias, the following were collected and will be analyzed: Pre/post test scores on a multiple choice information literacy test (used by the department) All worksheets associated with the experimental instruction (homework and in class group work) Argument/Research essays with annotated bibliographies Reflective question responses
  • 18. Section 1 Pre/Post test Scores
  • 19. Section 2 Pre/Post Test Scores
  • 20. Future Research Questions Comparison study between using Toulmin with and without the image component Comparing the instruction design using Toulmin to the newer Walton method which emphasizes teaching argument as dialogue Discovering if the use of images has an effect on motivation or level of engagement Exploring potential correlations between preference for visual learning and/or spatial ability and performance using image-based instruction

Editor's Notes

  1. Critical Thinking: includes the processes of analysis, synthesis and evaluation necessary to understand and acquire knowledge. Students will learn to recognize, formulate and pursue meaningful questions about their own and others’ ideas, and incorporate logic, careful observation, reflection and experience in the process of developing arguments Information Evaluation and Research Practices: students will gain an understanding of the standards by which information is evaluated. Students will learn to judge the authenticity, validity, reliability, and originality of the sources of information they use. The Toulmin method: Stephen Toulmin, British philosopher, author, and educator. The Uses of Argument (1958) A systematic argument analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of an argument's claims, reasons, evidence, and the anticipated objections and rebuttals. Confirmation or myside bias: A tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true. David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue. (Baron 2000, p. 195) Baron, Jonathan (2000), Thinking and deciding (3rd ed.), New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-65030-5 Threshold concepts: The term refers to the core ideas and “ways of thinking and practicing” that are characteristic of a discipline but that students often find difficult to grasp. Once grasped, threshold concepts create a new and previously inaccessible perspective and understanding in that discipline. (Townsend, Brunetti, & Hofer, “From Stumbling Blocks to Building Blocks: Using Threshold Concepts to Teach Information Literacy,” ALA annual 2014) “5 Things You Should Read About Threshold Concepts” (ACRL Instruction Section, 2014)
  2. Students who are taught argument schema using the Toulmin model construct better arguments with more alternative viewpoints and rebuttals. (Nussbaum, 2007) Students who learn to critically analyze arguments and alternative viewpoints in dialogue can better avoid “myside” or confirmation bias. (Wolfe, 2009) Students who are also taught to generate critical thinking questions based on argument schema create better arguments. (Song, 2012)
  3. http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/about-smc/facts-figures 4 years Catholic, Lasallian, and Liberal Arts college Undergrad/grad programs Total enrollment: 4257 Total FTE students: 3746 Total full-time faculty: 213 Student-faculty ratio: 13:1 Average class size: 20Undergraduate (50 programs) , & Graduate (36 programs) California State University Total Enrollment: 13,848 Total tenured & tenure track faculty: 313/ non-tenure track: 448/coaches: 33 Class size varies: for LIBY 1210: 30 maximum
  4. Total papers collected from students who attended library sessions: 76 (37 E, 39T) Preliminary results based on 36 papers (18 E, 18T) thru blind review Popular articles from the Web: 46.78%(TRAD) over 43.53% (EXP) Popular articles from library: 9.94% (TRAD) over 5.29% (EXP) Scholarly articles from the library: 18.71% (TRAD) over 11.76% (EXP) Scholarly articles from the Web: less than 2% for both Books: 15.29% (EXP) over 8.19% (TRAD) General & authoritative Websites: 14.71% (EXP) over 9.94% (TRAD)
  5. Based on: Bibliographic analysis on the quality and the types of sources used on the work cited page Citation analysis on the quality of in-text and bibliographic citations Content analysis on the inclusion of alternative viewpoints and how well students integrate and use evidence to support their claims 1: Beginning 2: Developing: 3: Accomplished 4: Exemplary Students from traditional sessions did better in IERP1 and CT2a Students from experimental sessions did better in IERP2, IERP3, IERP4 None has achieved the “accomplished” level (based on average ratings) IERP1: Develop search strategies and use library catalogs and databases to find relevant materials for research IERP2: Practice evaluating sources critically CT2a: Seek and identify confirming and opposing evidence relevant to own hypothesis IERP3: Evaluate and synthesize evidence for the purpose of drawing valid conclusions IERP4: Demonstrate academic honesty and safeguard the intellectual property of others by properly integrating and citing sources
  6. Questions for both sessions:   6. How has the way you look for information changed after completing the work for this course? Specifically, what have you learned from conducting research for this paper/project that you will most likely use in the future? “I found good counter arguments & I discovered that I have a bias toward my argument as well.” “I found competing arguments, which helped me create a stronger argument!” “During the research I did find some articles that do compare against my article which is good because I have other things to write about such as a rebuttal.” “While working on this paper I realized some of the competing viewpoints and I actually changed my topic to side with a competing view.” “I didn't have biases. I found possible viewpoints but I didn't specifically use any of them for resources.” “The critical thinking questions were indeed helpful in looking for arguments that were being made, & alternative viewpoints in the paper itself. However, the alternative viewpoints were always more difficult.” “The topic development worksheet was very useful in teaching me how to find counterarguments and rebuttal paragraphs in long articles.” “They were somewhat useful, but I already knew some of the information before the presentation.” “I've been taught through several other library presentations to ask these questions of the articles/sources. It was a review.” “I realize that I haven't thought about this subject in depth, but now I am interested.”
  7. Students at CSU East Bay are very diverse with not one ethnic or racial group holding a majority. Many are the first student in their family to attend college. Many from lower SES (Social Economic Status) backgrounds. Many entering freshmen (about 80%) need to take basic (developmental) math and/or English courses. LIBY 121o is: An information literacy course Enrollment cap= 30 10 weeks long with possible 11th finals week Taught in both hybrid and online formats Part of freshman cluster system (other classes include GE courses such as critical thinking, English, Math.) Clusters have themes such : “Make a difference”; “Energy and the Environment”
  8. (Not in SMC’s version) Alternative perspective group & research log homework using photojournalism Appeals, Claims & Evidence Group work and research log homework using Advertisements Data analysis, perspective and bias group work and research log using Infographic Bias and alternative perspective group work using political cartoons
  9. Q 1,2,4,13are topic development related; 9,10,12 are evaluation related; 17 & 20 relate to citing and16 involves the research process