lesson 7 critical thinking

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Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  1. Identify author’s audience and purpose.
  2. Apply strategies to determine fact and opinion.
  3. Recognize biased and/or persuasive words.

This lesson maps to the following course competencies:

  1. Determine audience, purpose, and tone in selected readings.
  2. Determine true fact and false fact (appearance of fact) from opinion in college level text and Internet websites.
  3. Navigate college Learning Management System (LMS) to succeed in web-enhanced, hybrid, and online classes.
  4. Infer meanings from context in various types of college level text selections.


Inspecting for Information – Fact and Opinion


A fact is an idea that can be proven and are objective. That means that they are not influenced by personal feelings or judgments and are observable. No matter how you feel about them, they will still be true.

Things to remember about facts:

  • can be proven
  • they are objective
  • no matter how you feel, they are still a fact

Transition Words or Phrases That May Indicate Facts:

  • The test results show…
  • Research has shown…
  • Scientists confirm…
  • Polls show…
  • Specific dates, times, names…


An opinion expresses belief or feelings. They are neither true nor false and cannot be proven. Just as facts are objective, opinions are subjective. That means that they are influenced by personal beliefs or feelings.

Opinion Transition Words or Phrases

-most -rarely -all -nearly
-worst -every -none -never
-usually -normally -sometimes
-often -a few -many
-it is likely -it is believed – seemingly
-this suggests – I believe, view -possibly
-in my opinion -according to -apparently

Things to remember about opinions:

  • cannot be proven
  • they are subjective
  • they are influenced by your personal beliefs and feelings


Reading the article below we will use two steps to determine if the article presents facts or opinions.

19.4 Trust


Trust in global virtual teams is both important and difficult to build because team members are limited in their physical interaction. In addition to the lack of social context, language barriers and a reliance on stereotypes complicate the building of trust in global virtual team.


In other cultures, relationships and trust are paramount in business. If virtual team members from the United States manage to gain the trust of foreign associates, that trust could very well translate into a lifetime of profitable business interactions.


Language: A major challenge for teams composed of speakers of different languages is that the building of trust and relationships is largely language dependent. Based on published research and illustrative empirical data, findings indicate that language diversity has a significant impact on socialization processes and team building, influencing both communication acts and mutual perceptions. Results of investigations into multilingual teams using English to communicate have shown that many obstacles are encountered by native as well as nonnative speakers (Henderson, 2005:79). “Research has shown that language-related issues can impact negatively on interpersonal relations, trust, and the working atmosphere (Henderson, 2005:67).”

Source: Managing Groups and Teams PDF

Step 1: Identify the Topic

Building trust in global virtual teams.

Step 2: Identify Transition Words or Phrases

Based on published research and illustrative empirical data, Results of Research has shown that.

Step 3: Identify the author’s position on this topic.

The author is trying to convince us that because people speak different languages it can hinder the team building process.

Step 4: Determine if the information presented in the article can be verified.

After reading the article, do you see any of these “fact finding” characteristics in the Article?

  • Yes, the article uses facts.
    • The author gives information that is based on published research.
    • They also give documentation of where you can look for this information.


Reading the article below we will use two steps to determine if the article presents facts or opinions.

The iPhone 6 Plus breaks a lot of the rules and defies a lot of the logic that Apple has stuck to for a number of years. It’s a copycat device, it chases a market that the company did not create for itself, it introduces fragmentation in a previously restrained product lineup, and it doesn’t immediately give you the sense that you need to own one. In short, it’s the most un-Apple-like Apple product we’ve seen in a very, very long time.

The famously selective company (many would call it arrogant) repeatedly dismissed and even ridiculed the idea of outsized smartphones for many years; defying industry trends and sticking with a smaller shape that was easy to use in one hand despite an obvious shift in the market. In the past, Apple has been defined by its refusal to participate in such “bubble” markets and has instead created its own – it suffered endless criticism for being the only PC manufacturer to never have offered a netbook, but then proceeded to destroy that entire product category by introducing the iPad and defining the future of touch-first portable devices.

Now, that philosophy seems to have been discarded completely. Apple has done a 180 and is now chasing a market created by one of its fiercest rivals. The iPhone 6 Plus is many years late to the phablet party – Apple couches this by saying it only makes moves when it knows it’s ready with something truly brilliant, but it isn’t hard to see this as a very reactionary product. In fact, this is one of the rare Apple products that will be defined by its competitors. Apple seems confident that the iPhone 6 Plus will work against the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, LG G3 Review Photos) and others in this size class. Let’s see if that holds true, or if Apple will come out of this battle looking like a sore loser.

Source: iPhone 6 Plus Review: Almost Too Much of a Good Thing

Step 1: Identify the Topic

Step 2: Identify Transition Words or Phrases

Step 3: Identify the author’s position on this topic.

Step 4: Determine if the information presented in the article can be verified.

Inspecting for Information – Identifying Author’s Purpose

An author has different reasons for writing. They will write to inform, to persuade, or to entertain.

  • Inform: to give the reading information, usually facts
  • Persuade: to change the reader’s thoughts so that they agree with the author
  • Entertain: to cause the reader to feel an emotion usually by using stories

Things to remember about Author’s Purpose:

  • Read the title and the headings
    – they can help you determine the author’s purpose
  • Consider the source
    – information in parts of a newspaper will give you information
    – articles printed in “letters to editor” will want to persuade
    – stories from magazines may be for entertainment
  • Do you see any words that give clues?
    – words like argue, or viewpoint would indicate persuading
    – words like facts, or reason would indicate informing


Read a passage below published by the Harvard Business School. Identify the Author’s Purpose

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles based on a Harvard Business School working paper PDF by Karen Mills that analyzes the current state of availability of bank capital for small business.

Why Small-Business Lending Is Not Recovering

During the 2008 financial crisis, small businesses were hampered in securing bank credit because of a perfect storm of their falling sales and weakened collateral, and growing risk aversion among lenders. Those days are not over. While lingering cyclical factors from the crisis may still be constraining access to bank credit, there are also structural barriers that seem to be preventing banks, both large and small, from ever fully returning to the small business market.

Cyclical Factors Linger From The Recession

In the recent recession small-business sales were hit hard and may still be soft, undermining their demand for loan capital. Income of the typical household headed by a self-employed person declined 19 percent in real terms between 2007 and 2010, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. And a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) noted that small businesses reported sales as their number one problem for four straight years during the crisis and subsequent recovery.

Source: Why Small-Business Lending Is Not Recovering

Step 1: Read the title and headings. Is there anything in them that would point to the author’s purpose?

  • Yes, “Why Small-Business Lending Is Not Recovering”: the Why tells us that the author is going to give you some reasons.
  • The heading, Cyclical Factors Linger From the Recession: the word Factors tells us that there will be some reasons stated in the article.

Step 2: What is the source of the article? Does that give you a clue?

  • It was a paper published at a well-known University.
  • Since it is part of a series of articles it might be informative

Step 3: Any words that will let you know the Author’s Purpose?

  • percentages, four years straight, the names of Federal Agencies would be clues that information is being given

Step 4: Determine the Author’s Purpose

I know from the title that reasons are going to be stated. From the subtitle I learned that I will be shown some facts. The article was published at a well-known University, Harvard. And the editor said that she was doing an analysis. So, I would come to the conclusion that the Author’s Purpose is to inform.

Specifically the article will be informing the reader as to why small businesses are not getting loans.


Read an excerpt from the article published by the Harvard Business School. Identify the Author’s Purpose.

The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Joseph B. Lassiter explains why he believes that nuclear power and shale gas are on the right side of the fight against climate change, and why markets have a better shot at winning the fight than governments do.

If you ask any given environmentalist to identify the biggest threat to the planet, you may expect to hear about man-made climate change, consumerism, or overpopulation. But if you ask Harvard Business School’s Joseph B. Lassiter, he’ll toss in another: single-issue myopia.

First, there’s the oft-discussed issue of temporal shortsightedness—the very human tendency to focus on present-day concerns without considering how our actions will affect the future. But there’s also ideological myopia—a failure to realize that compromising a little is better than staying stuck in the present path.

“Right now we’re letting the ends of the ideological spectrum and the entrenched power of legacy interests stalemate a path to the future,” Lassiter says. “That’s a thing worth fighting.


His proposed market-based solution? “I think each energy source—oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—should have a market price based not only on its production costs, but also, in part, on its unique public costs reflected by revenue-neutral taxes: a carbon emissions tax, a security-of-supply tax, a catastrophe insurance tax, and even a local emissions.

Source: The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Step 1: Read the title and headings. Is there anything in them that would point to the author’s purpose?

Step 2: What is the source of the article? Does that give you a clue?

Step 3: Any words that will let you know the Author’s Purpose?

Step 4: Determine the Author’s Purpose

Inspecting for Information – Author’s Tone

How do you know when someone is angry with you? You can hear it in their voice. Maybe they are talking louder, or exaggerating certain words. An author can do the same thing with the choice of words they write with. You may not be able to hear their tone of voice by using your ears, but you can “hear” it as you read the words and visualize what they are saying. You can infer their attitude through the words they are using. If we can determine the author’s tone in a piece of writing, then we are better able to evaluate the author’s point of view or perspective.

Questions to ask to determine the author’s tone:

  1. Is the author presenting facts without opinions?
  2. Does the author use “loaded words”? Words that create vivid images or express emotions?
  3. Does the author use faulty reasoning? Made-up reasons or even silly ones.

Transition words that show tone:

Here are just a short list of words that will help you with determining the author’s tone

Positive tone Neutral tone Negative tone
  • admiring
  • cheerful
  • joyful
  • hopeful
  • sweet
  • unconcerned
  • questioning
  • angry
  • mean
  • disgusting
  • bitter
  • annoyed


Read the article, How should I make the most of Twitter PDF and determine the author’s tone.

Read the article, How should I make the most of Twitter?

The buzz surrounding Twitter use has grown exponentially, driven by recent news stories such as then-presidential candidate Obama’s use of Twitter as a direct-to-voter communication vehicle, and earlier this year, by the story of actress Demi Moore’s Tweet-inspired intervention to save the life of a Los Angeles-area follower threatening suicide.

To be sure, within the realm of dedicated social media vehicles, Twitter enjoys a unique degree of hype, because of its quirky functionality and celebrity user base.

However, behind the hype, inclusion of Twitter as a key element within a larger social media marketing strategy provides a method for fulfilling serious and valuable communication goals for companies of all sizes. Like most media choices, strategic communication goals must be defined. A combination of communication vehicles–like Twitter–can then be aligned to achieve those goals.

Central to social media marketing tactics is need for cultivating a more direct, personalized connection with a buying audience, along with ability to quickly gather focus group-like insights to fine-tune potential offerings well before mass distribution.

Serving in this marketing-centric role, Twitter users have available a huge potential audience of “followers” for rapidly spreading word of a company’s latest news and developments. However, like so many social media vehicles, using Twitter successfully in this guise requires an investment of time to cultivate a reputation built on credibility, plus personality to attract followers, thereby growing the available audience.

Step 1 Ask if the author is presenting fact or opinions.

Step 2: Determine the evidence of fact or opinion using information from the text.

Step 3: Determine the author’s tone.

Guided Practice

Read another passage from the same article about Twitter and determine the author’s tone in this selection.

Twitter is much more than people updating what they had for lunch. It is a real time discussion on the latest trends, a place to gain market insights and a place where word of mouth rules. If you are not sold on Twitter, consider the cost of ignoring it: $1 million in sales for Dell (corporation); 200 copies of Steampotville sold in 15 hours (individual); Increased reach (by 40,000) new people in a campaign for Vignette (midsize business).

Size does not matter as much as participation. A simple Twitter evaluation formula might look something like this: Opportunity cost minus HR cost equals return on participation. As with any formula, a value must be assigned to missed opportunities. The sum of these in both hard- and soft-costs will help you realize the possibilities.

Social media cannot be automated. Twitter is about building relationships by actively listening, learning and participating with the community. To do this effectively, a person or team needs to be assigned to manage the tool.

Several tools exist for measurement. Trackable urls like bit.ly provide insight to the number of links clicked, Tweetreach measures reach of tweets, and with Web analytics you can determine how many referrals came via Twitter. This real-time feedback allows you to optimize campaigns in real time.

Twitter is great for building buzz, driving traffic and managing brand perception, but companies must be relevant or else they will be ignored.

relevant or else they will be ignored.

Step 1 Ask if the author is presenting fact or opinions.

Step 2: Determine the evidence of fact or opinion using information from the text.

Step 3: Determine the author’s tone.

Inspecting for Instruction – Identifying Bias and Persuasive Words

Bias is an inclination that you may have about something or about an issue. We all have biases. We may favor the Ford over a Chevy. We have our feelings about gun control or who should win an upcoming election. Authors can also have a bias when they write. This bias can be unconsciously or purposefully apparent in their writing.

When we read we need to evaluate bias. The words the author chooses can give us an insight into their bias. Sometimes an author will use favorable words that will show they have a favorable feeling towards the subject. If they use negative words, then their attitude may be against the issue. For example, an author who is not in favor of medical marijuana may use words like “irresponsible”, “dangerous” when discussing this issue.

Things to remember about Bias and Persuasive Words:

  • Bias is being partial towards a particular viewpoint
  • Opinions are often presented in a biased piece of writing


For this portion of the lesson we are going to look at individual sentences to decide if a bias is present. Read the following sentences and decide if they are biased or unbiased. We will also look at the reasoning behind the decision.

  1. Big businesses are guilty of not responding to the needs of their customers.
  2. Are there any words that show bias?

    • Yes, this shows bias. “Guilty” shows bias against a big business.
  3. A customer wrote a letter to customer service, but did not receive acknowledgment of the correspondence.
    • No, this is unbiased. It uses factual information which can be proven.
  4. Thanks to the encouragement of friends and family, the customer continued up the ladder by sending the correspondence to the CEO of the company.
    • Yes, this is biased. “Thanks” – denotes a bias in favor of friends and family.


Decide if the sentence below is biased or unbiased and give support for your answer.

  1. Social loafing describes the phenomenon that occurs when individuals exert less effort when working as a group than when working by themselves.
  • Research shows that there is some degree of social loafing within every group.
  • Unfortunately, team workers who are blamed for social loafing give excuses
  • Practice: Putting It All Together

    Read an excerpt from Customer Loyalty Programs That Work. Indicate where you see either positive bias, negative bias or no bias.

    Customer Loyalty Programs That Work

    Thanks to ever-improving technology, customer loyalty programs are proving extremely popular among retailers—but merchants are not getting all they should out of them. The reason? Professor José Alvarez says retailers need to see customers as partners, not transactions.

    The customer rewards cards that clutter wallets and clog key chains of many a shopper may soon be no more, as retailers move from physical to digital (read: mobile apps) forms of loyalty program member identification. It’s a smart decision. Unfortunately, it’s one of the only smart decisions retailers are making when it comes to customer loyalty schemes.

    “Most retailers are at a very basic level in how they use loyalty programs, and many customers see loyalty programs as punitive,” says Harvard Business School senior lecturer José Alvarez. “Loyalty schemes are not being used to their best advantage.”

    Fortunately, there’s hope. Retailers that do rewards programs right can see “incredible loyalty,” says Alvarez.

    Source: Customer Loyalty Programs That Work

    What sentences show negative bias?

    What sentences show positive bias?

    What is the author biased towards?

    Assessing Your Learning

    Lesson 7 Assignment

    For this assignment you will use the article How to Demotivate Your Best Employees.

    There are three questions to be answered for this assignment. Each question should be answered in a complete paragraph. Please read the questions thoroughly as they all ask you to give a reason for your answer. You need to refer to the article to show evidence.

    Please read the rubric before starting your assignment as it will tell you exactly what you will be graded on.

    1. What audience is the author addressing and what is the author’s purpose for writing the article? Do not only say “persuade”, but tell exactly what they are trying to persuade you to do. Refer to the text to show evidence for your decision.
    2. What were 2 facts and 2 opinions from the article? How do you know that they are facts and opinions?
    3. Does the author’s tone show bias? Explain your thinking with evidence from the text.

    Submit your Lesson 7 Assignment.

    Grading Criteria Points

    Author’s Purpose: Author’s purpose (to entertain, to persuade or to inform) is stated with evidence from the text.

    For example: Author’s audience and purpose (to entertain, to inform, or to persuade) is stated with evidence from the text.


    Facts: Two facts are identified with support from the text.

    10 (5 points for each fact)

    Opinions: Two opinions are identified with support from the text.

    10 (5 points for each opinion)

    Author’s Tone: Evidence supporting whether or not the author’s tone shows bias is provided.


    Application: Lesson content is applied to the assignment.


    Conventions: Writing is clear with few grammar and spelling mistakes.


    Total Possible Points


    Summarizing Your Learning

    In this lesson, methods of critically reading were identified. Effective readers distinguish between fact and opinion, identify the author’s purpose, and recognize bias.


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