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Gary Comstock (professor of philosophy at Norh Carolina State University):

 " Before Rationale, I was only able to lecture at my students about the skill of evaluating arguments. 

After Rationale, I have the technology I need to help them actually acquire the skill." 


Kees van EE, Stafbureau O&O, Hanzehogeschool:

' Finally: a method that provides lecturers with real tools to help students getting their thinking and writing to a higher level.

And even more: the excellent Rationale program helps you making a good structure for your reasoning, arguments, analyses and evaluation.'


 More testimonials




You can download the trial version of Rationale in the Main Menu under Rationale here.


Hereunder materials connected to Critical Thinking & Critical Thinking with Rationale.

Critical Thinking: research
Critical Thinking & Argument Mapping
The method Critical Thinking with Rationale
Critical Thinking & writing essays with Rationale


On Critical Thinking: research

- Abrami PC, Bernard RM, Borokhovski E, Wadem A, Surkes M A, Tamim R, Zhang D. 2008. Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: a stage 1 meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research. 78:1102-1134.

The most recent and extended meta-analysis until now. It '...summarizes the available empirical evidence on the impact of instruction on the development and enhancement of critical thinking skills and dispositions.' . Conclusions:
1. Training in critical thinking works.
2. In regard to the question of how to plan a currciculum in such a way that students are succesfully developing their critical thinking skills:

♦ ' This is an important finding for the design of courses. Developing CT skills separately and then applying them to course content explicitly works best.'
♦ ' When instructors received special advanced training in preparation for teaching CT skills...the impacts of the interventions were greatest.'
♦ ' As important as the development of CT skills is, educators must take steps to make CT objectives explicit in courses and to integrate them into both preservice and in-service training and faculty development.' ( Abrami, p. 1121-1122).

- Davies, W.M., In Defence of Generalisation: Moore on the Critcal Thinking Debate (2004). Seealso here .

- Higgins S, Hall E, Baumfield V, Moseley D (2005) A meta-analysis of the impact of the implementation of thinking skills approaches on pupils. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

'Overall, the quantitative synthesis indicates that, when thinking skills programmes and approaches are used in schools, they are effective in improving pupils’ performance on a range of tested outcomes (relative to those who did not receive thinking skills interventions). The magnitude of the gains found appears to be important when compared with the reported effect sizes of other educational interventions.

This review found an overall mean effect of 0.62 for the main (cognitive) effect of each of the included studies, larger than the mean of Hattie’s vast database of meta-analyses at 0.4 (Hattie, 1999) but very similar to the overall figure reported by Marzano (1998, p 76) of 0.65 for interventions across the knowledge, cognitive, metacognitive and self-system domains. In particular, our study identified metacognitive interventions as having relatively greater impact, similar to Marzano’s study.'

- Marin, L.M., Halpern, D.F., Pedagogy for developing critical thinking in adolescents: Explicit instruction produces greatest gains. Thinking Skills and Creativity,Volume 6, Issue 1, April 2011.



On Critical Thinking & Argument Mapping

- Alvarez, C., Does Philosophy improve Critical Thinking Skills? 2007. A meta-analysis of rearch on the effectivity of different methods to develop critical thinking skills. Click here for a map of the conclusions. For the meta-analysis itself click here ( see especially Chapter 5).

- Butchart, S., Forster, D., Gold, I. et al., Improving critical thinking using web based argument mapping exercises with automated feedback. The Australian Jourmal for Educational Technology, 25 (2), 20-09.  

- Cahill, Ann J., Bloch-Schulman, Stephen, Argumentation Step-By-Step. Teaching Philosophy, Volume 35, issue 1 March 2012, 41-62.

- Davies, W.M., 'Not quite right' : helping students to make better arguments. Teaching in Higher Education. Vol.13, No. 3, June 2008, 327-340. (On the same topic, see the FAQ in Argunet:

- Davies, W.M., Concept Mapping, Mind Mapping and Argument Mapping: What are the differences and do they matter? 2007.

- Dwyer, C., Hogan, M., & Stewart, I. (2012): An evaluation of argument mapping as a method of enhancing critical thinking performance in e-learning environments. Metacognition and Learning, 7(3), 219-244.
doi: 10.1007 / s11409-012-9092-1

- Dwyer, C., Hogan, M., & Stewart, I. (2013): An examinnation of the effects of argument mapping on students ' memory and comprehension performance. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 8(0), 11-24. doi:

- Elsegood, S.,Teaching Critical Thinking in an English for Academic Purposes Program using a 'Claims and Supports' Approach. Refereed paper presented at the 10th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference, 2007.

- Gelder, T. van, Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Lessons from Cognitive Science. 2005. For a map of the conclusions/lessons of the article see here .

Dutch translation: Het doceren van kritisch denken. Lessen uit de cognitiewetenschap. For a map of the conclusions/lessons of the article see here.

- Gelder, T. van, What is Argument Mapping? . Blogpost on , 2009.

- Gelder, T. van, Bissett, M., Cumming, G., Cultivating Expertise in Informal Reasoning. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2004, 58:2. Research on the importance of 'dedicated practice' for the development of critical thinking skills.

- Gelder, T. van, Using argument mapping to improve critical thinking skills. The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education. M. Davies and R. Barnett, Palgrave Macmillan: 183-192, 2015.

- See Tim van Gelder Publications for more articles on critical thinking & argument mapping and for reports out of the research project Reason! that made use of Reason!Able, the first version of Rationale.

- Mara Harrell (Carnegie Mellon University) is doing research into the influence of argument mapping on the development of critical thinking skills in her own practice as a lecturer philosophy at Carnegie Mellon. See her list of publications here

- Rider, Yanna; Thomason, Neil (2008): Cognitive and Pedaggogical Benefits of Argument Mapping: L.A.M.P. Guides The Way to Better Thinking . Knowledge Cartography, Advanced Information and Knowledge Processing. Springer-Verlag London.


On the method Critical Thinking with Rationale and Rationale

- The open course Improving Reasoning is made with Rationale. It has textbooks, tons of exercises and Mastery Learning Quizzes.
This course is part of an IARPA funded research project. See for more information: Ter Berg, T., Van der Brugge, E., Teaching Critical Thinking with Rationale. INTED 2013.

- Davies, W.M., Computer-Assisted Argument Mapping: A Rationale Approach . 2009. Higher Education.

- S. van Driel & H. Prakken, Visualising the argumentation structure of an expert witness report with Rationale (extended abstract) . In A.Z. Wyner (ed.), Proceedings of the Workshop on Modelling Legal Cases and Legal Rules, in conjunction with JURIX-10, Liverpool 2010, pp. 1-8.

From the Abstract:

'This paper reports on a case study in which the use of the Rationale software was investigated to analyse the argumentation structure of a Dutch expert witness report in a criminal case. The underlying motivation of the case study was to explore the usefulness of argumentation visualisation software for increasing a judge's understanding of expert reports and for assisting him or her in asking the proper critical questions to the expert. By way of an initial exploration of this usefulness, an expert report was analysed with the Rationale software. The visualisation was informally discussed with a legal expert, who was generally positive but also expressed some concerns and expected that the main usefulness of the tool is in training and education of judges.'

For the Rationale maps that were used in this research, click here (you need Rationale to open them).

- Gelder, T. van, The Rationale for Rationale. Law, Probability and Risk, 6, 23-42. 2007.

- Twardy, C., Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking, 2004. Teaching Philosophy, 27:2.

- Some articles on Rationale on the site of Austhink (developer of Rationale and its connected materials).

- Argument Mapping in Your Subject:

'This website provides resources intended to support university-level educators incorporate argument mapping into their teaching, with a particular focus on how argument mapping can be incorporated into a standard one-semester subject in almost any discipline.'

Legal Argument Mapping Exercises : a site made by Tim van Gelder with argument mapping exercises and model answers in the legal doemain. 

- Kunsch, D., Schnarr, K., & van Tyle, R., The Use of Argument Mapping to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills in Business Education. Journal of Education for Business, November 2014.

- Lengbyer, L.A., Critical Thinking in the Intelligence Community: The Promise of Argument Mapping. Inquiry: Critical Thinking across the Disciplines. Summer 2014, Vol. 29, No.2.
An extended illustration of how you can use Rationale in analysing the issue of Iraqi nuclear activities in 2002.

- Maftoon, P., Birjandi, P., Pahlavani,P., The Impact of Using Computer-aided Argument Mapping (CAAM) on the Improvement of Writing Achievement of Iranian Learners of English. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 982-988, May 2014.

- The Wiki of Rationale. On this site you can find many argument maps (made in Rationale ) on different subjects. Especially noteworthy are the sections on patterns of argument and the section on argumentation schemes and their related critical questions (cf. the work of Walton, Pollock and Katzay & Reed).

- An example of an argument map made as the first step in writing an essay or paper. Note the ease and precision with wich a teacher can provide the student with feedback before he starts with time consuming wrestling with often badly structured text.

- Examples of and Guides for lecturers for the use of Rationale in education:

  1. in Secondary and Tertiairy education
  2. a Teachers Guide
  3. the Rationale Thinking Pack
  4. the IB Extended Essay Guide

- The Handout Critical Thinking with Rationale (an overview of the method).


In Dutch:

- A link to the laudatio that was delivered when the Foundation Kritisch Denken received the Silver Innovation Award of The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences in 2008 and a link to the ceremony itself.

- Two interviews with Timo ter Berg ( Foundation Kritisch Denken): in Hogeschoolbericht (June 2008) an one in Nieuwsbrief 33 (april 2011) of the Vakcommunity Filosofie of the Digitale School.

- An interview of Mirjam Broekhoff with Kaki Markus, lecturer CTwR in the IBMS of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam about the importance of separate training of students in critical thinking in combination with organizing transfer to the whole curriculum.



On critical thinking and writing an essay with the help of Rationale:

- A short video shows how you can make a well structured paper by using Rationale.

- 6 steps to better thinking: Rationale’s interface has been designed to provide a path for critical thinking. From gathering research, to weighing up evidence to formulating a judgement, Rationale will assist you. Here you will find 6 critical thinking steps with examples to demonstrate the path to better outcomes.

- Geoff Hyde (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore) develops an online course Scientific Writing in which Rationale is fully integrated. From the Introduction:

'Rationale is mainly focussed on teaching people how to think clearly about contentious issues, and has very successfully popularized a diagrammatic method of argument development.
My experiences in the classroom have taught me that this diagrammatic approach is also a great starting point for writing all types of scientific text. It is the most practical way to outline that I have come across. Outlining is often promoted as a writing tool because it forces the writer to focus first on organisingideas, before moving onto packaging them.'