CRITICAL REFLECTION PAPER

Purpose

The purpose of this assignment is for you to critically reflect upon how your thinking on two specific issues covered in the discussions for this course developed in relation to specific intellectual standards, and to consider how questions that emerge from controversial issues can be studied scientifically.  

 

Instructions

Write a cohesive paper that follows the structure presented below.  A cohesive paper is one that is unified; the sentences and paragraphs are logically connected with transitional words and phrases.

 

Introductory Paragraph

Identify the two issues/questions that you will discuss in your paper.  You can select issues from any of the discussions covered in this course.  There were 11 discussions, one for each of the lessons.   After you identify each issue, define the central concepts in each issue/question as worded.  For example, if the issue is whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal, define “physician-assisted suicide.”  Make sure the definitions are clear and precise and provide a citation for the source you used to define the terms.  Then explain why the issue is controversial.  Why do people have different views or take different positions on the issue?

Note that the discussion instructions in the lesson folders include an introduction to the issue.  You can use that content and paraphrase it when introducing the issue.  Also, note that some discussions had more than one question to be discussed.  If this is the case, your paper can focus on one of the questions.

 

Part 1

Discuss what you learned about the first issue.  First, describe your position on the issue and your reasoning prior to engaging in the discussion with your classmates.  Paraphrase and elaborate upon what you wrote in your pre-discussion post.  Do not just copy and paste the statements verbatim.  Rephrase them.  Elaborate if needed.    

Second, read through all the pre-discussion posts, tally the number of students who took different positions on the issue, and compile a listing of the different reasons presented in support of the positions taken.  Make sure that your summary of posts includes an exact numerical tally (i.e., 3 were supportive, 2 were neutral, and 4 were against), not an approximation (i.e., about a third of my classmates. . . .).

There are many ways you could categorize positions on an issue.  It is not always as simple as “for” and “against.”  Use an approach that makes the most sense to you given the question and the similarities and differences between the conclusions presented by your classmates.  After the tally, make sure to include a listing of reasons that fall under each of the positions taken.

After you present your summary, discuss how your original position related to the views of the class taken as a whole.  Was your position in the majority?  What were some reasons presented, on a different side of the issue, that you had not considered?  

Third, identify specific points or pieces of information shared by your classmates in their Replies to your own Initial Post that impacted your thinking. Quote the relevant statements and identify the author of the post.  Then elaborate upon them in your own words. If you didn’t receive any Replies to your Initial Post, then read through Replies submitted to other Initial Posts, and discuss those have relevance to your original position on the issue.  

Fourth, identify how your thinking on the question improved by applying one or more intellectual standards (i.e., clarity, accuracy, precision, depth, breadth, logic, relevance, significance, and fairness).  For example, you could state that your thinking is broader now in that you understand the issue from more than one perspective.  Then elaborate upon that development in thinking by discussing the other perspectives that you did not previously consider.  Put the term for the intellectual standard in a bold font or different font color, so it stands out in your post.  Make sure that you explain how your thinking developed in relation to the standard.  Make the reflection specific, rather than general.

 

Part 2

Discuss what you learned about the second issue.  Complete all the steps described above (i.e., first, second, third, fourth) for the second issue.  The second issue needs to be a completely different discussion topic, not a second question for the same discussion topic.  

 

Concluding Paragraph

What more could you learn about these issues?  Select one of the issues, and then present a specific research question that could be studied scientifically.  Focus on something unknown about the issue—an implication (something that could be).  Implications are often the reason why people have different positions on an issue.  People have different ideas about what could happen, if you make this or that decision about an issue.  But we don’t know what actually will happen, unless and until a scientific study is conducted.  

After you have identified a specific question, describe a scientific study that could be conducted to address the question.  Identify the type of method (experimental or correlational) and the variables.  Then briefly describe how you could obtain participants for the study and how you could manipulate and/or measure the variables (i.e., a survey, interviews, observation, etc.).  Note that only experimental studies have a “manipulated” variable, which is the independent variable.  If you do not have a full grasp of research methods concepts, review the relevant sections from the text.  When describing the study, make sure to apply the terms for research methods concepts.  Put the terms in a bold fond.  An excellent (A level) description would apply at least 5 terms.

 

Formatting

Format your paper in 12-point Arial or Verdana font, with double spacing between lines and 1-inch margins.  There is no need to include a header or title to the paper.  Your name is included with the Blackboard submission.  Make sure to submit as a docx or pdf document, so your paper will open in the Blackboard viewer.

The recommended length for the paper is 3 ½ – 4 pages.  A paper less than 3 ½ pages in length likely has precision and thoroughness weaknesses.  Elaborate upon your explanations and present examples to attain the appropriate level of thoroughness.  If you have more than 4 pages, try to narrow it down by improving the concision of your writing.  Your paper should be carefully proofread and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  

 

What specific information (i.e., findings/conclusions from scientific research) did you learn that relates to the issue?

 

What information do you find to be most important or significant, and why?  How do your own values relate to how you view the issue and which position you side with?

What experiences have you had, or what observations have you made of others, that relate to this issue?  How do these experiences factor into how you view the issue?

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