Evidence

The pages below offer an introduction and exploration of eight types of evidence. Distinguishing between types of evidence both offers a vehicle for students to evaluate inferences and a means of generating arguments during discussions, debates, in their writing. The eight types of evidence presented are from Asking the Right Questions by Neil Browne and Stuart Keeley.

Summary Points: 

1. The vocabulary of evidence allows students to actively assess claims and avoid a “multiplist” view of the world, in which all ideas are fundamentally opinions and therefore equal.

2. The pitfalls and fallacies of bad evidence offer students crucial evaluative tools. They will be much more likely to avoid sloppy thinking if they know what sloppy thinking looks like.

3. Formal essays are largely a sequence of arguments and evidence. Understanding the types of evidence allows students to see a wider range of options when supporting arguments, especially in their formal writing.

Note: “Multiplist” and “Evaluativist” are levels of epistemological understanding outlined by Deanna Kuhn in various articles and her book Education for Thinking. Scroll down in this article for a detailed chart.

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