ThinkerAnalytix (TA) is a non-profit startup working with professors, teachers and policy makers to improve critical thinking skills on a broad scale. Our online course, How We Argue, teaches argument analysis and evaluation skills so that students can achieve academically and discuss current issues with precision and care. At the core of TA’s work is argument mapping: a simple, powerful tool for visually constructing and analyzing arguments. Research from universities such as Carnegie Mellon and Princeton shows that learning to map arguments significantly improves students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills, as measured by large gains on the LSAT and other standardized tests. TA is developing materials specific to Social Studies, English and Science as well as college level critical thinking and writing classes.
TA started in 2014 when a group of teachers, professors and graduate students from Harvard developed and taught a pre-college ethics course. We quickly observed how students struggled to understand and discuss ethical issues because they lack critical thinking skills, specifically, the ability to make logical arguments and understand other people’s arguments. We set out to solve this problem with argument mapping, a powerful tool for visually constructing and evaluating arguments.
2015 – 2018
TA’s team of experts in logic and reasoning, pedagogy, and digital learning built a beta version of our online course, How We Argue. We introduced and tested the course in teacher workshops, all-school presentations and classroom visits. We also trained cohorts of Instructional Coaches from local high schools who recruited and trained their colleagues. We developed more classroom resources to complement our course. Based on user feedback, we refined our course and resources.
TA distributed our course, How We Argue, to more than 35 schools, universities, enrichment programs and professional organizations. We estimate our materials reached over 2500 students. TA presented at conferences nationwide and formed partnerships with school, district, state and national educational organizations.
When COVID-19 moved students to remote settings, TA expedited development of our new digital logic and reasoning course for middle, high school and undergraduates.The course is fully asynchronous and structured like a leveled game, and thus ideal for the online environment. Each lesson uses mastery learning– a thoroughly-researched pedagogy that ensures students learn at their own pace as they work through hundreds of practice exercises to develop their skills. Harvard philosophers are available on demand to coach students and give feedback. Several local schools are piloting the course for their 9th and 10th grade students, and many other teachers and professors are using it across the country. We will have over 1,000 students taking the course this year. We continue to incorporate feedback from students, teaches and professors to make the course seamless and effective for all who use it.