Learning Skills

Study Guides: Building in Contrast


Web Resources for This Assignment

For General Education 110

The Baghavad Gita
Ancient India
Buddhism
The Dhammapada

Contrast

   As we continue through this course, you will find that all the learning skills that you're learning are starting to come together in a more coherent whole. By this point you've been working on study guides long enough to really begin understanding how you organize information: hierarchies, secondary information, topics, significance, theses, etc. By the time you become highly advanced as a student, you'll be doing these things as if they were second nature to you. What I hope you've noticed, though, is that the critical thinking skills that you're learning apply to study skills, that is, all the things you learn about critical thinking can help you organize, remember, and use information better.
   In this exercise, we're going to make your study guides even more complete by building in analysis as you learned in an earlier exercise. In that earlier exercise, we worked on a particularly advanced form of analysis: contrastive analysis. In contrastive analysis, you explain one idea or object by taking a dissimilar idea or object and using the specific differences to explain one or the other.
   Contrastive analysis is one of the most powerful methods you can use to understand complex phenomena; it is most suitable to evolutionary or developmental processes, such as the ones you encounter in the human sciences. History and cultural history, in particular, benefit greatly from contrastive analysis. You should, then, build contrasts into the way you approach and organize a class, especially the contrasts between two phenomena that are related evolutionarily or developmentally.

The Assignment

   On this assignment, I want you to produce a study guide that only focusses on the differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. This study guide should indicate which differences are the most important, and which are secondary. I want you to strive for completeness in outlining these differences. Use both the textbook and the primary readings. Part of your contrastive analysis, however, should involve pointing out the most relevant similarities as well. For each contrastive entry in your study guide you must indicate the significance of that contrast, in other words, how that contrast can help you to understand Buddhism better or what it can be used to explain.
   You will be graded primarily on a.) how well you separate the most important differences out from the least important differences; b.) how complete your catalog of differences and important similarities is.
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