Touchstone 2: thinking critically about history

 SCENARIO: Imagine you represent your company at a service organization dealing with one of these two issues:

  • Facing Economic Change
  • Engaging Civil Rights

Your supervisor has asked you to research information related to the history of one of these issues for your organization to help new employees and volunteers understand it better. Eventually, you will make an oral presentation with slides that include your findings and recommendations. Your predecessor already started a list of sample primary and secondary sources and collections of sources.

ASSIGNMENT: You’ll use the critical thinking process to investigate an issue and craft the argument you’ll be presenting in Touchstone 3.

The touchstone templates below will guide you through this process in five steps:

  • Knowledge: What are the focused questions that will help you investigate your research question?
  • Comprehension: What have you learned about your issue?
  • Application: How do your sources connect?
  • Analysis: How will you use your evidence?
  • Synthesis: What are the main points you will communicate?

For this touchstone, you will take the first step in creating your presentation to help new employees and volunteers understand how historical events can be applied to one of the issues currently affecting your organization. To do the research necessary for your presentation, you will need to choose four sources that are credible and relevant to the issue facing your organization.

You will first select the specific issue and research question you want to address. Then, from a collection of sources, you will choose two primary and two secondary sources that have relevant information for the historical events you want to include in your presentation. Finally, you will evaluate the credibility of your chosen sources by answering a set of questions.

To begin, download the touchstone template below and fill out the sections as you complete each step. When you have finished, you will submit this template to move onto the next unit.

Touchstone 2 Template

Touchstone 2 Sample

A. Directions

Step 1. Knowledge

You’ll use the Knowledge step of the critical thinking process to figure out what information will help you answer your research question. Remember, in the Knowledge step, you ask yourself these questions:

  • What are some more focused questions I can use to guide my investigation?
  • What smaller pieces of information will I need to answer the bigger research question?

By breaking your research question down into smaller pieces and writing out what information you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find the evidence you need from your sources and build your knowledge of the issue.

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