How to Argue: A Student's Guide

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9780130193247: How to Argue: A Student's Guide

One of the most difficult things students within higher education have to learn is how to argue. Indeed, if there is one key intellectual distinction between tertiary and secondary education it is that the former requires, indeed insists, that students must be able to evidence intellectual autonomy. In other words, students need to be able to argue. Yet students are usually confused and intimidated by this prospect. In many cases they are unsure what is meant when they 'must have an argument'. And since the skill of argument is something their instructors have learnt more by a kind of intellectual osmosis than formal tuition they are often ill-equipped to provide clear or coherent help. So it is that the most important intellectual characteristic of tertiary education in the social sciences and humanities is also one of the least well taught and most neglected.  How to Argue aims to address these fears. Being asked to present an argument is a challenge. It is probably the most difficult thing most students will be asked to do at university. However by applying the techniques described in this book students should find it a lot easier. Packed with exercises, examples and case studies, the chapters take students through the techniques of forming an academic argument, from contradictions and tensions, to empirical adequacy, structure and presentation.

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Review:

'I think that the remit of this proposal - to provide students with guidelines for the development of skills of academic argumentation - is a worthwhile one. That students are unable to put together an argument is a common lament amongst teaching staff in higher education establishments, and this book could make a significant contribution to correcting such a failing...the book's layout and remit is certainly basic, clear and exhaustive.' - Simon Naylor

'I think this book will sell as it fulfills a need in tertiary education which is not currently being met...I think you'd be onto a winner, and a winner which hopefully won't date.' - Sarah Holloway

'Clearly a book such as this would be appropriate for such courses. Essentially then a text geared to introductory undergraduate courses and /or Access to Higher Education type courses.' - Ian Marsh

From the Back Cover:

One of the most difficult things students within higher education have to learn is how to argue. Indeed, if there is one key intellectual distinction between tertiary and secondary education, it is that the former requires, indeed insists, that students must be able to evidence intellectual autonomy. In other words, students need to be able to argue. Yet students are often confused and intimidated by this prospect and can be unsure what is meant by 'preparing an argument'. And, since the skill of arguing is something their instructors have learnt more by a kind of intellectual osmosis than formal tuition, they are often ill-equipped to provide clear or coherent help. So it is that the most important intellectual characteristic of tertiary education in the social sciences and humanities is also one of the least well taught and most neglected.
How to Argue aims to address student fears. Being asked to present an argument is a challenge and is probably the most difficult thing most students will be asked to do at university. However, by applying the techniques described in this book, students should find the challenge easier. Packed with exercises, examples and case studies, the chapters take students through the techniques of forming an academic argument, from contradictions and tensions, to empirical adequacy, structure and presentation.
Alastair Bonnett is a Lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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