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COMM 3310 Principles and Practices of Argumentation


Dr. Christy-Dale L. Sims


In this course, we focus on using the theories and techniques of argumentation to (1) understand and promote differing points of view, (2) explore ideas and alternatives, and (3) convince others of the need to change or act.

Principles and Practices of Argumentation is a semester-based online course that asks you to be an active and engaged participant by keeping up with course content and textbook readings, taking quizzes, writing an analysis paper, and regularly participating in exercises and topical discussions.


  • Examine the relationship between argument and critical thought and how a deeper understanding of argumentation can help you examine and understand complex issues.
  • Define and apply discipline-specific terminology to describe elements within argumentation such as how claims, evidence, and reasoning work together to form arguments.
  • Differentiate between models of argument, identify key concepts within them, and explain how different models of argumentation can be used to both shape and criticize arguments that are pervasive in society today.
  • Evaluate arguments for soundness and effectiveness (such as exploring the role of fallacies).
  • Analyze and evaluate existing arguments about significant social issues from multiple perspectives using course concepts.
  • Investigate contemporary social issues (such as net neutrality and others you are personally interested in), and assess your ability to apply course concepts through creating arguments in support of and opposition to your personal opinion.
  • Discuss how culture and ethics shape arguments and why a greater need exists to develop cultural appreciation and sensitivity when creating arguments.


David Lapakko (2016). Argumentation: Critical Thinking in Action (4th ed). Kendall Hunt Publishing: Dubuque, IA. Hardcopy ISBN 9781524905699; E-Book ISBN 9781524905699

3rd edition is also acceptable.

You will be using the textbook right away.


The course grade is based on several “meet & greet” activities, content-based exercises of different formats, 2 content review discussions which accompany 2 content overview quizzes, and one group debate demonstrating the argumentation skills you’ve learned over the semester.

Semester activities (450 points):

  • In the first unit, “Getting Started”, we will build our “classroom atmosphere,” meet one another, and become familiar with the expectations of class by completing a range of activities, including a meet & greet discussion board and syllabus quiz.
  • Units 2 and 3 focus on acquiring and demonstrating knowledge about theories of argumentation, including finding and analyzing real life examples. Each unit features a range of exercises, including objective-style questions and discussion boards.
  • Each unit ends with a Content Review Discussion board (20 points each) and a unit quiz (50 points each). Quizzes will cover the assigned Lapakko chapters, Word lectures, exercises, video clips, and supplemental material. Each quiz may have multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, or short answer/application questions.

Final Project (250 points):

  • The purpose of the project is to design a hypothetical persuasive campaign targeted to a specific audience of your choice, including developing deliverables including campaign name, logo, slogan, color scheme, mission statement, and a complete brochure incorporating these elements.
  • Crucially, this is a semester-long group project. It requires working virtually with a team, as now happens in many workplaces. Together, you’ll develop a group contract to lay a solid foundation for your interactions, after which you’ll work together through several steps investigating the pros and cons of a social issue debate related to your interests.  This includes a research paper about the pros & cons of the topic’s arguments, and a debate with another team with each of you representing one side of the issue.
  • A grade is also assigned for your engagement within the group, recognizing your efforts working together.

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