Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Incorporating low-stakes writing into the Theory of Knowledge course

Here are two low-stakes writing assignments for the Theory of Knowledge course:

(A) First assignment:

(a) Ask the students to characterize the notion of knowledge, identifying, in particular, conditions that are necessary for something to be taken to be knowledge, and conditions that are sufficient for that. [8 minutes]

(b) The students will then exchange their writings with a classmate, and each will be asked to think of a situation in which the conditions offered by their classmate to characterize knowledge may not hold. The students will then write down a description of that situation. [8 minutes]

(c) The students will get together and discuss their examples, and will be asked to write together a third account of knowledge that incorporates what was right about the accounts of knowledge they offered. [8 minutes]

The same format can be taken to examine additional concepts in epistemology, such as, justification, truth, evidence, etc.

(B) Second assignment:

(a) Ask the students to write about how they would refute skepticism (the claim that we don't have any knowledge of the world). [8 minutes]

(b) Get the students into groups of four, and ask them to identify the similarities and differences between their responses. [12 minutes]

(c) Each student will then write his or her response to these similarities and differences. [8 minutes]


Gina said...

If you didn't want to devote as much class time to these exercises, you could do steps 1 and 2 of both via blogs. Students could be put into groups for all or part of the semester, and could be assigned to write blogs on specific topics, then read and comment on one another's blogs before class. You could then have a whole class discussion about what they had written and commented on. I used this approach this term, and students were quite good about posting and responding; they then had plenty to discuss when they came to class.

Otavio Bueno said...

Hi Gina

This is a great suggestion!

By the way, it's great to have your comments on the blog.