Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Quantitative Literacy and the Humanities

aa, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

Student Learning Objective: Use Evidence to Make an Argument

The use of evidence is not exclusive to quantitative literacy, but a robust understanding of the nature and uses of evidence is essential to quantitative literacy.  And it can help us to think more carefully about how we talk about evidence of any kind with our students. 

Activity or assignment:
Locate and use evidence to make an argument.

In order to use evidence you will probably need to...

Articulate a starting question and a hypothesis.  Define parameters for the search and some search terms to get started.  In hypothesis creation, consider how the changes in one measure might affect the outcome.

Define what constitutes evidence in your field.  The standards vary for what may be used as evidence.  They might include a text, scientific evidence rigorously collected, survey data or behavioral data, a scrap of paper never intended for a later audience, an image, or a fragment of bone.

Develop techniques for locating the evidence.  How can we operationalize measures to guide data collection?  How do those measures relate to each other?  Do they add, subtract, multiply, divide?  Techniques will vary.  They might include searching in an archive, reading newspapers, using databases, running experiments, reading secondary literature, collecting surveys. 

Define how evidence can be processed and used.  The standards for using evidence differs.  In History, it is crucial to develop a sense for what is an exception and what is a pattern (in fact, this may be the essence of historical argument).  Historians articulate multiple causes of an event, and they compare and contrast evidence against earlier findings.  They use tables and charts to make sense of disparate pieces of data.

Consider how evidence fits together to form an argument.  Find the balance between judgment and evidence, between reason and emotion, between data and narrative.  Every field has different standards for how the evidence ought to fit together in an argument.  Historians use categorical analysis, narrative, juxtaposition and logic--among other tools--to craft an argument.  The evidence contributes to the development of a thesis and helps to defend against counterarguments.

Use the gaps as evidence.  Acknowledge the gaps, in the recognition that articulating and exploring the gaps is, in fact, a legitimate tool for understanding and for asking new questions.  The fact that certain gaps in the historical record exist can lead to insight about the society in which the evidence was produced.

Come to a conclusion.  In history, this may mean an interpretation or reinterpretation of the past, or a judgement between competing historical interpretations.

Recommend action based on your conclusion.  In history, this may mean a call for further research, or a recommendation about the present or future based on past events.

Comment on this page

Discussion of "Student Learning Objective: Use Evidence to Make an Argument"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...

Previous page on path Creating a QL Course, page 3 of 4 Next page on path