AP/MODR1730 6.0 A: Reasoning About Social Issues

Offered by: MODR


Fall 2019




BLEN (Blended online and classroom)


Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

This is a skills-based course focusing on critical thinking, research-based writing, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. The particular focus will be on different positions taken within the social sciences on issues such as abortion, euthanasia, pornography, immigration etc. Typical examples are to be analyzed. Course credit exclusions: AP/MODR 1760 6.00, AP/MODR 1770 6.00.

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Getting Started with your Blended online and classroom Course

Students enrolled in this course are required to review the Next Steps website.

The Next Steps website explains how to start your fully online (ONLN) & blended (BLEN) course(s) with start up information including computing requirements, course website access instructions and links to course outlines & course websites. Students are also encouraged to review the Student Guide to eLearning at York University.

Moodle course website access starts within the first week of the term. For late enrollees it takes two business days from the time of your enrolment to access the Moodle websites once the semester has started. Course materials begin to be released on the course website during the first week of the semester. Get familiar with Moodle by reviewing the Moodle Student Resources Page.

For enrolment matters and academic related questions, please contact the affiliated LA&PS School/Department. For eLearning support please contact eLearning Services, LA&PS.

Moodle and computing support can be directed to ithelp@yorku.ca or visit the Student Computing website

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Hilary E. Davis


Office Location:  S446 Ross Building

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 77543

Office hours: Monday & Tuesday (1:00-2:00pm)

    Expanded Course Description


(approximately 50% online & 50% in classroom)



(24 Class Modules in 12 weeks)


  • The overall purpose of this and all Modes of Reasoning (MODR) courses is to teach students to reason correctly and to express themselves clearly and precisely in verbal and written form. These critical thinking skills will help students not only with the remainder of their academic studies, but also in their professional and personal lives in general.


  • This course (MODR 1730) will introduce important critical thinking and analytical skills by focusing on arguments made about social issues found in the social science, pop science, ethics, and mass media. In the past these have included the refugee crisis, student debt, online dating, sexting, and Ebola screening at airports. You will learn how to distinguish between inductive and deductive reasoning and how to identify, evaluate, and construct arguments.  In addition, MODR 1730 will include a brief introduction to evaluating statistical and scientific information. As teams and as individuals you will be asked to develop arguments that arise from your personal interests and opinions as well as critical arguments that assess the writing of others.  Throughout the course our focus will include the analysis of various media such as the news and popular press, feature films, advertising and political rhetoric, blogs and websites, as well as academic writing and philosophical arguments in this field.
  • This is an approved LAPS General Education course for Social Science.
    Required Course Text / Readings

Lewis Vaughan.  Concise Guide to Critical Thinking.  (Oxford, 2017)

Mark Battersby.  Is That a Fact?  A Field Guide to Statistical and Scientific Information.  Second Edition.  (Broadview, 2016).

nal topical articles may be posted on Moodle

One copy of each course textbook will also be on 1-day reserve in the Scott Library

    Weighting of Course

Grading Breakdown:


  1. In-class Midterm = 25%


  1. Definition Argument Essay = 20%


  1. Collaborative Evaluative Critique = 10%


  1. Researched Proposal Essay Assignment = 30%


  1. In-class teamwork, online forum prep activity, & participation (weekly) = 15%

Total     100%

  • All assignments & online forum activities, and assignments are due at 11:59, EST on their respective due dates.

  • Please note that this schedule of deadlines and grading breakdown is non-negotiable. The value of assignments will under no circumstances be reweighed or redistributed.
    Organization of the Course

This course meets once a week for 3 hours.  Lecture videos and other course materials will be made available on Moodle prior to the in-class meeting.  Students are expected to come to class prepared to do teamwork and other in-class activities.   A small online exercise will be required weekly before each class.  Each week contains 2 modules and covers 2-weeks worth of course material.

Classes will focus on developing critical skills in identifying, evaluating and constructing arguments about social issues and putting those skills into practice.  The class will combine review, team work exercises and assignments, presentations, and large discussions with the entire class.

    Course Learning Objectives

By the end of this course, if you apply yourself  and do all the reading,  complete all assignments, attend all lectures, and actively participate in all teamwork, you can expect to see improvement in the following areas:


  • Reading Comprehension: You will become a more active reader which includes learning how to read between the lines and how to ask critical questions.
  • Writing: You will learn how to write two different types of arguments – a definitional essay and researched proposal essay.  Your essay planning, essay organization, and essay editing should also improve.
  • Critical Reasoning Skills: You will learn to identify and evaluate arguments in order to distinguish strong from weak arguments. This will include learning how to evaluate evidence and sources used in arguments and those you use in your own research.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Ideally, you will learn to become a 'reasonable skeptic' and able to identify and discuss the weaknesses and strengths in claims and arguments you encounter in the media, academic texts, and everyday conversation.
    Additional Information / Notes

To succeed in this class you must attend regularly and arrived prepared.  This means having viewed all the lecture videos and material posted on Moodle and having done the reading and any assigned homework.  Your textbook should be brought to each class and all notes and homework.  Organized notes are also essential as well as a willingness to participate in group work and larger class discussions.  Attentiveness in class is also a must.

    Relevant Links / Resources