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COMS 225 - Strategies of Argumentation - David Stevenson

Course:Strategies of Argumentation
Professor:David Stevenson
  • OnlineLive
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Welcome to strategies of argumentation. One of the most important class you will take as an undergraduate college student! This class meets your CSU critical thinking transfer requirement. This will meet one of the big four classes needed for transfer to the CSU's. You will learn skills that will help you interpersonally, academically, and in your career fields.

This is my 34th year of teaching human communication studies courses in college. I have taught over 13,000 students in my career. This also is my 23rd year as a full-time faculty member here at COC. I have taught at 7 institutions of higher learning, including the California State University, Chico and multiple community colleges across northern (I taught in northern California for 11 years) and southern California. I have experience teaching across the communication studies discipline. My focus in recent years is public speaking and argumentation and debate.

Like you, I attended two community colleges. Pasadena City College and Butte Community College. I finished all of my GE transfer at the community college.

I hold a B.A. in Mass Communication with a major in Radio and Television Broadcasting. I have a minor in psychology.

I hold an M.A. in Human Communication Studies with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Public Address.  I am a graduate of a master's teaching program in public speaking.  Both degrees are from California State University, Chico.

I love my work, my institution, my colleagues, but most importantly, my students. I have high expectations of you and expect you to give your best effort while being in my classes.

We always achieve great things in theses courses. You will learn, share, grow, and keep moving forward. Set high goals for yourselves. With hard work and perseverance you will achieve those goals. We also have a lot of fun.

Course Description

This is a course in rhetoric/persuasion/argumentation. As a GE logic transfer course, you will learn the basics of logic and logical argumentation from the human communication perspective. You will learn the Greek tenets of ethos, pathos, and logos. Correct persuasive message construction is emphasized. In the end, the overarching goal is for you to possess the tools necessary to be a strong critical thinker, speaker and writer. This class will help to prepare you for the next level of your education...the university.

What to Expect in this Course

First, the course is frontloaded with me instructing the first eight weeks.  There is a lot of material to cover in this short period of time. 

Second, we will have the midterm first.

Third, we will have 6-8 weeks of advocacy presentations. This is a rare opportunity for students, as each of you will have a 15-35 minute window to present your argument on a controversial social, cultural, or political issue. We do two a day, and with a usual class of 30 students this will take a large chunk of the semester.

Fourth, you will have a short 3-5 page midterm paper called the editorial critique. Due somewhere around week 9 or so.

Finally, your final exam is a essay analyzing an opinion piece of my choice. In this paper you will evidence for me your knowledge of, and application of, the concepts taught in the course.

Participation is required and there is unlimited extra credit.

The extra credit cannot be used in lieu of a missing assignment. All assignments must be completed.

The class is a marathon and not a sprint. In the beginning you will be introduced to complex subject material. But as the course progresses, the concepts and material will be become better understood as we put them into practice. When we are done you will leave with knowledge and a skill set that will set you apart from your peers.

You will need a computer(s) that are canvas/Zoom/internet ready.

In the end, we learn a lot and we have fun doing it.

Types of Assessments

See syllabus and course curriculum/catalog.
One advocacy presentation
Multiple choice midterm exam
Midterm editorial critique paper
Final opinion piece analysis (final)
Extra credit available

Textbook Information

Textbook Title: Advocacy and Opposition: An introduction to Argumentation
Rybacki and Rybacki
7th Edition Pearson/Allyn and Bacon publishers.

Reading the textbook is required. But don't buy a new copy. The concepts in the book have been with us for thousands of years. Most of the concepts used in this field come from a book written several thousand years ago, "The Rhetoric" by Aristotle. Therefore, find a used copy of the Rybacki book. I believe you can find a free pdf version of the book when doing a deep search. No sense in paying full price for a book whose concepts don't change. A 5th, 6th, or used 7th edition is just fine. There is nothing new with this subject.

The book is complex with lots of big words. If necessary, have a dictionary nearby to look up the meanings of those big words. Then build them into your vocabulary.

Other Relevant Course Information

Since this is a Remote/DE (Distance Education) course we will using Canvas and Zoom. I will create Zoom meetings daily.  This is a synchronous course. Meaning we will meet every day in the Zoom format. I will need to see you, and on your speech days, we will all need to see you deliver your speeches. Therefore, if you have tech issues you will need to address that. Our tech people are here to help you. Please take advantage of that.

I need you to communicate with me either in canvas or via email. These are very unusual times and circumstances. Keep me informed as to what is going on if issues or problems arise.

I expect you to be in class every day. If you miss a day, you will miss important class information, or miss being a part of the dialog we have in the class. Keep me informed!. The workload is not that heavy, but for you it is backloaded. Your presentations will be in the second half of the semester. The advocacy presentation is harder and more time consuming than you may think. So time management is a must.

Your presentations and papers are research based. I highly recommend you become familiar with our online databases in the library. You will more than likely be using several of them.

This sixteen week course is, as I said earlier, a marathon and not a sprint.. Stay focused and positive. This is a great way to finish one of the big 4 transfer course needed to get you into the University.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 08/06/2021 Sub#: 464