Faculty

Mara Harrell

Associate Teaching Professor

Department of Philosophy

Baker Hall 161G

412.268.8152

mharrell@cmu.edu

Mara Harrell graduated with a B.A. in Physics from Pomona College in 1992. She then received an M.S. in Physics in 1996, and a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Science Studies in 2000 from University of California, San Diego. She was the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Colorado College before coming to Carnegie Mellon University in 2003.

Mara Harrell's research interests include philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, epistemology, educational technology, and educational research.

Research Interests

My main philosophical interests are in philosophy of science, but within this discipline, there are a variety of issues and problems that capture my attention. My dissertation was entitled "Chaos and Reliable Knowledge", and used chaos theory to explore issues in reliabilist theories of knowledge.

I also have research interests in the teaching of philosophy. I have recently worked on the use of using rubrics in the grading of philosophy papers, and am currently engaged in experimentally determining the philosophical skills that our students learn in "What Philosophy Is" here at Carnegie Mellon (see papers available for dowloading below).

I also have an interest in the use of computers to teach philosophy. In the past, I have been involved in the development of an online course on Causal and Statistical Reasoning. I have published an overview of computer-assisted reasoning software, have developed argument-diagramming software, and created an online mini course which is an introduction to reconstructing and visually representing arguments.

Teaching

Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, I taught a wide variety of courses, including Introduction to Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Introduction to Epistemology, Introduction to the History of Philosophy, Philosophy and Feminism, Gender and Science, Environmental Ethics, and Introduction to Causal and Statistical Reasoning.

Here at CMU, I have taught Introduction to Philosophy, Revolutions in Science, Introductory Philosophy Honors Seminar, Arguments and Logical Analysis, Reflections on Science, Epistemology, Philosophy and The Matrix, Philosophy of Physics, Interpretation and Argument, Critical Thinking, Science Fiction & Philosophy, Empiricism and Rationalism, and Environmental Ethics.

Resources for students:

Selected Publications

The PDFs of these papers are intended for personal academic use only and should not be distributed in any way.

  • “Improving First-Year Writing Using Argument Diagramming” (2013) Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [PDF]
  • “Assessing the Efficacy of Argument Diagramming to Teach Critical Thinking Skills in Introduction to Philosophy” (2012) Inquiry, 27(2): 31-38. [PDF]
  • “Will Structuring the Collaboration of Students Improve Their Argumentation?” with Bruce McLaren, Oliver Scheuer & Armin Weinberger (2011) in Gautam Biswas, Susan Bull, Judy Kay, & Antonija Mitrovic, eds., Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Artificial Intelligence in Education—15th International Conference. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 6738: 544-546. [PDF]
  • “Scripting Collaboration: What Affects Does it Have on Student Argumentation?” with Bruce McLaren, Oliver Scheuer & Armin Weinberger (2011) in T. Hirashima et al., eds., Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Computers in Education. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. [PDF]
  • “Understanding, Evaluating and Producing Arguments: Training Is Necessary for Reasoning Skills” (2011) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34(2):80-81. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2011) “Argument Diagramming and Critical Thinking in Introductory Philosophy,” Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3): 371-385 [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2008) “No Computer Program Required: Even Pencil-and-Paper Argument Mapping Improves Critical Thinking Skills” Teaching Philosophy, 31: 351-374. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2007) “Using Argument Diagramming Software to Teach Critical Thinking Skills” Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2005) "Using Argument Diagrams to Improve Critical Thinking Skills" in 80-100 What Philosophy Is Technical report CMU-PHIL-176. Sept. 7, 2005. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2005) "Using Argument Diagramming Software in the Classroom" Teaching Philosophy, 28: 163-177. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2005) "Grading According to a Rubric" Teaching Philosophy, 28: 3-15. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell (2004) "The Improvement of Critical Thinking Skills in What Philosophy Is" Technical report CMU-PHIL-158. July 30, 2004. [PDF]
  • Maralee Harrell and Clark Glymour (2002) "Confirmation and Chaos" Philosophy of Science, 69: 256-265. [PDF]

Abbreviated CV

Academic Career
Carnegie Mellon University, Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Philosophy, 2003 to date
The Colorado College, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, 2000-2003
University of California, San Diego, Associate in Philosophy, January - June, 2000

Education
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA), Ph.D. in Philosophy and Science Studies, 2000.
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA), Visiting Scholar in History and Philosophy of Science, 1998-1999.
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA), M.S. in Physics, 1996.
Pomona College (Claremont, CA), B.A. in Physics, 1992.

Professional Presentations
“Indicators are Key in Learning Argument Analysis” International Association for Computing and Philosophy Annual Conference 2013
“Argument Diagramming Improves Critical Thinking” Annual Conference of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association 2012
“Will Structuring the Collaboration of Students Improve Their Argumentation?” with Bruce McLaren, Oliver Scheuer & Armin Weinberger. International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education 2011
“How Diagramming Arguments with Pen and Paper in a Philosophy Class Improves Critical Thinking” Conference on College Communication and Composition 2010 “Argument Mapping Improves Critical Thinking Skills” Centre for the Study of Argumentation in the School of Human Sciences and Education, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile, International Conference Logic, Argumentation and Critical Thinking 2008
“Critical Thinking and Argument Diagrams” Keynote Address at the 5th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications 2007
“Thinking Pedagogically About Argument Diagramming Software” North American Computing and Philosophy Conference 2007
“Using Argument Diagramming Software to Teach Critical Thinking Skills” 5th International Conference on Education and Information Systems, Technologies and Applications 2007
"Using Argument Diagramming Software to Teach Critical Thinking Skills" North American Computing and Philosophy Conference 2006
"Using Argument Diagramming Software in the Classroom" 16th Biennial Workshop-Conference on Teaching Philosophy 2006
"Visualizing Arguments Improves Critical Thinking Skills" Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association 2006
"Using Argument Diagramming Software in the Classroom" North American Computing and Philosophy Conference 2005
"Using Argument Diagrams to Improve Critical Thinking Skills" Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association 2005
"Conceptual Analysis and the Intuition Method: A Critique of Another Paradigm of Philosophy" Annual Conference of the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association 2003
"Logical Reliabilism" 4th Annual European Congress for Analytic Philosophy 2002
"On Chaos and Explanation" The 2002 International Congress on Causation and Explanation in the Natural and Social Sciences 2002
"Learning Chaos" invited talk at Metropolitan State College of Denver 2001
"Learning Chaos" invited talk at the Center for the Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh 2000
"Learning Chaos" invited talk at the University of Dayton 2000
"Chaos Theory and Laplacean Determinism" invited talk at the Evergreen State College 1999
"Science Education as a Practical Obstacle to Feminist Standpoint" Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting 1998

Fellowships, Awards and Grants
Systematic Improvement of Undergraduate Education in Research Universities, offered by the Spencer and Teagle Foundations, $50,000 7/1/08-6/30/11
Education Research Development and Dissemination Grant, National Center for Education Research, offered by The U.S. Department of Education (Pending)
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Assistant Professor of Philosophy 2003
Colorado College Development Blocks 2001, 2002
Colorado College Humanities Division Research Funds 2002

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