ThinkerAnalytix (TA) is a non-profit startup working with professors, teachers and policy makers to improve students’ logical reasoning skills on a broad scale. Our mastery learning course, How We Argue, teaches the skills of argument analysis and evaluation so that students can achieve academically and discuss current issues with intellectual charity. Most of our work is based on argument mapping: a simple, powerful tool for visually constructing and analyzing arguments. Research from top universities shows that learning to map arguments significantly improves students’ analytical reasoning and writing skills, as measured by large gains on the LSAT and other standardized tests. Argument mapping also helps students learn the skills of charitable interpretation, and may even decrease partisan polarization.
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 that students struggled to discuss ethical issues because they lacked logical reasoning skills, specifically: the ability to analyze, evaluate, and construct arguments. Having learned of the research about argument mapping, we began to teach these skills explicitly, to great effect. Teachers were astonished by students’ enthusiasm and engagement.
2015 – 2018
TA assembled a team of experts in logical reasoning, pedagogy, and digital learning to built a beta version of what is now our online course, How We Argue. We introduced and tested our curriculum in a variety of educational settings. We also trained cohorts of Instructional Coaches: master educators who crafted materials with us, and recruited and trained their colleagues. We developed more classroom resources to complement our core curriculum, and refined our resources based on feedback from teachers and students.
TA distributed the beta version our course 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.
TA’s course is newly reformatted with mastery learning to make it fully asynchronous, and structured like a leveled game. Mastery learning is a thoroughly-researched pedagogy that ensures students learn at their own pace as they work through hundreds of practice exercises to improve their skills. Over 5,000 students have enrolled in the course, and counting. We continue to incorporate feedback from students, teachers, and professors to make the course clear and effective for all users. We are now developing materials to more explicitly teach the skills of charitable interpretation so that students can discuss controversial issues productively.