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Rhetorical Fallacy Bingo

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There is a shark in my roof.  Your argument is invalid.
Image Credit: 

SG Bailey

Brief Assignment Overview: 

This assignment is designed to check student comprehension of rhetorical fallacies.  It can also be used to begin to discuss rhetorical analysis of images.

Type of Assignment: 
Assignment Length: 
Additional Pedagogical Goals: 

This is a quick activity that can follow a lecture on rhetorical fallacies.  Students learn to recognize fallacies and discuss how they are operating.  Some of the images themselves are useful for analysis which is a nice transition into visual rhetoric.

Media Requirements: 
Required Materials: 

Some sort of projector & slideshow.

Copies of bingo card (attached)

Slideshow (attached as a powerpoint, but easy to print out & use with a standard projector or doc cam)

Timeline for Optimal Use: 
Full Assignment Description: 

This is an assignment that can expand or contract -- it might be as short as ten minutes or could go an entire class period (though that seems a lot of time to practice recognizing rhetorical fallacies).  I included it immediately after my lecture on rhetorical fallacies and used it to transition to visual rhetorical analysis as well.  Reviewing their notes, students were asked to copy the names of the rhetorical fallacies covered in lecture onto their bingo cards.  (I used Scare Tactics, Either/Or, Slippery Slope, Sentimental Appeal, Bandwagon, False Authority, Dogmatism, Moral Equivalence, Ad Homenim, Hasty Generalization, Faulty Causality, Begging the Question, Straw Man, Equivocation, Non Sequitur, & Faulty Analogy).  They could choose any layout they liked, and repeated two or three terms if they chose to.

As a class, we then went through the rhetorical fallacy slide show.  Students were asked to identfy the fallacy at work in the image -- some contain more than one -- and then justify their choice. This led to some useful class discussion and clarification as students advocated for an image falling into one category or another.  Once we decided what fallacy each image represented, students marked it off of their cards and we moved on to the next slide.  We stopped when someone hit bingo (it took us about ten slides).

Suggestions for Instructor Preparation: 

Print & copy cards.  The slideshow is easy to modify depending on which fallacies you want to address.  

I did made sure that my lecture contained written examples of fallacies, so students could see how fallacies work in both text and image.

Instructions For Students: 

Please fill in the squares with the names of rhetorical fallacies.

Call it when you have bingo.

Evaluation Suggestions: 

This activity itself functions as a check for understanding, so there's no real evaluation necessary (other than calling on quieter students to bring them into the conversation).

Notes on Reception, Execution, etc.: 

This went great for me -- I've found that students generally like doing fallacies anyway, but once it was a competition they got pretty serious about it.  They made some great points about why an image should qualify as a particular fallacy, and there was good back & forth as they defended their calls.

Additional Resources: 

Course Description: 

Rhetoric 306 is a course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of research and argumentation.  They are asked to research a controversy, summarize and analyze the arguments of the major stakeholders in that controversy, and then develop their own arguments.

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