Scaffolded Writing as a Tool for Critical Thinking: Teaching Beginning Students How to Write Arguments

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Department or Administrative Unit

Philosophy and Religious Studies

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In this paper I argue for the efficacy of scaffolded writing assignments in teaching critical thinking and writing in lower-division philosophy courses. Scaffolding involves converting the skills one expects students to display on a culminating assignment (in this case an argumentative paper) into a progressive series of smaller assignments, moving from papers that use relatively simple skills, such as summarizing small pieces of text, to much more complex skills, such as evaluating others’ positions, constructing their own judgments about an issue, and defending those claims. I use this technique in a course oriented around the idea of enlightenment, so that students see the writing assignments as part of the practice of intellectual maturity.


This article was originally published in Teaching Philosophy. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Teaching Philosophy


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