The critical thinking paper is intended to provide the students with an exercise that will allow them to evaluate a claim made about gender in the media regarding research about gender differences and follow it up by reading the original source. For this assignment the student will evaluate and critique claims made in a popular press article (newspaper, magazine, press release) related to a “sex difference” – in other words, a recent article (published within the past 15 years) that makes claims about “differences” between the genders that are based on actual research. The student’s will then find the paper that is being cited in the article, read it and discuss the degree to which it is accurately represented. Detailed Instructions This paper is intended to reflect your critical thinking skills in a written format. It does not have to be excessively long (3-4 double spaced pages of original writing or approximately 1,000 words), but it must be direct and to the point! You are required to follow APA 6th edition guidelines when formatting your paper, and citing your references. The page limit does not include an APA formatted title page or reference section (both of which are required). Below are the steps you are expected to take when preparing and writing your paper. Step 1. Find a popular press article (from a magazine or a newspaper) or a press release published within the last 15 years that makes a strong claim about a gender or sex difference (refrain from using Wikipedia or people’s opinions on personal blog sites). If you can find a really good clip from a nationally syndicated news broadcast or news program (e.g., Good Morning America) you may also use that, http://www.prweb.com/ is a good resource for finding press releases which also may be used. Another excellent source of scientific press articles is ScienceDaily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/) but keep in mind that their articles are largely just interviews with the authors of the original study and therefore might not fit the purpose of the current assignment. This paper MUST be a popular press article and not from a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Some examples of peer reviewed scholarly journals include: Nature, Science, The Lancet, New Scientist, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Some examples of popular press sources include: New York Times, Newsweek, Psychology Today, The Guardian. Carleton University provides a useful explanation for why these sources differ (https://library.carleton.ca/help/academic-journals-vs-popular-magazines-and-newspapers). It’s important to remember the popular press articles often report findings from scholarly articles, but may sometimes get the details wrong, or give an incorrect impression of the results. Step 2. You will provide me with a summary of the content of the press-release/popular press article/news broadcast and compare it to the claims made in any original peer-reviewed academic article that was published within the last 15 years it references (yes, you will have to read the original paper which you should be able to access through the U of M’s library website). In the paper, describe the hypothesis, variables, research method and results used in that article. Step 3. Next you will critique the claims made in the popular press article and evaluate whether the claims being made are in fact realistic. What claims are they making about the “gender” or “sex” difference? Step 4. Find one different peer-reviewed article that either supports or refutes some of the claims made in the article or press release and describe it’s hypothesis, method, results and conclusions. Finally, make to format your paper in APA style (see University of Manitoba Library Style Guide Examples and the Purdue Online Writing Lab). Step 5. Write your paper making note of the criteria it will be graded on (see Marking Rubric). An example paper is provided on a separate page. Note that this is not a journaling assignment (i.e., students should refrain from providing a play-by-play about what they did). To ensure that the fidelity of your formatting is maintained (this makes up 10% of the paper’s grade), a pdf file works best. Word documents are are also accepted but only recommended if you are working directly in MS Word. The purpose of the paper is to encourage students to not simply take claims made in the popular press at face value, but to examine all claims and investigate the validity of those claims.
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