Case Study in Critical Thinking:

The Late Paper

Adapted from On Course (p. 40), by Skip Downing, 2014, Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Professor Mason announced in her syllabus for online Visual Communication 101 that final 

projects had to be posted to BlackBoard Learn by noon on December 10th

. No students, she emphasized, 

would pass the course without a completed project turned in on time. As the semester drew to a close, 

Kim had an “A” average in Professor Mason’s VC 101 class, and she began researching her project topic 

with excitement.

Arnold, Kim’s husband, felt threatened that he had only a high school diploma while his wife 

was getting close to her college degree. Tyler worked the evening shift at a bakery, and his coworker

Phillip began teasing that Kim would soon dump Arnold for a college guy. That’s when Arnold started 

accusing Kim of having an affair and demanding she drop out of college. She told Arnold he was being 

ridiculous. In fact, she said, a young man in her history class had asked her out, but she refused. Instead of 

feeling better, Arnold became even angrier. With Phillip continuing to provoke him, Arnold became sure 

Kim was having an affair, and he began telling her every day that she was stupid and would never get her 


Despite the tension at home, Kim finished her visual communication project the day before it was 

due. Since Arnold had hidden the laptop and Professor Mason refused to accept late projects, Kim 

decided to take the bus to the university and turn in the project a day early, in person. While she was 

waiting for the bus, Cindy, one of Kim’s visual communication study group members, drove up and 

invited Kim to join her and some other students for an end-of-the-semester celebration. Kim told Cindy 

that she was on her way to turn in her project, and Cindy promised she’d make sure Kim got it in on time. 

“I deserve some fun,” Kim decided and hopped into the car. The celebration went long into the night. 

Kim kept asking Cindy to take her home, but Cindy always replied, “Don’t be such a loser. Have another 

drink.” When Cindy finally took Kim home, it was 4:30 in the morning. She sighed with relief when she 

found that Arnold had already fallen asleep.

When Kim woke up, it was 11:30 a.m., just 30 minutes before her project was due. She could 

make it to the university in time by car, so she shook Arnold and begged him to drive her. He just 

snapped, “Oh sure, you stay out all night with your college friends. Then, I’m supposed to get up on my 

day off and drive you all over town. Forget it.” “At least give me the keys,” she said, but Arnold merely 

rolled over and went back to sleep. Panicked, Kim called Professor Mason’s office and told Mary, the 

administrative assistant, that she was having internet issues and couldn’t connect to BbLearn. “Don’t 

worry,” Mary assured Kim, “I’m sure Professor Mason won’t care if your project is a little late. Just be 

sure to have it here before she leaves at 1:00.” relived, Kim decided not to wake Arnold again; instead, 

she took the bus.

At 12:15, Kim walked into Professor Mason’s office with her project. Professor Mason said, 

“Sorry, Kim, you’re 15 minutes late.” She refused to accept Kim’s project and gave Kim an “F” for the 


Listed below are characters in this story. Rank them in order of their responsibility for 

Kim’s failing grade in Visual Communication 101. Give a different score to each character. 

Be prepared to explain your choices. 1=Most Responsible; 6=Least Responsible

__ Professor Mason, the instructor __ Phillip, the coworker

__ Kim, the student __ Cindy, Kim’s classmate

__ Arnold, the husband __ Mary, the administrative assistant

 DIVING DEEPER Is there someone not mentioned in the story who may also bear

 Discuss in detail 2 Critical Thinking strategies you have learned from the chapter and the videos that you will work on continuing to develop.    

Provide at least 2 personal illustrations of youre using these strategies.   


2. After reading Kim’s late paper who did you decide was most responsible for Kim’s failing grade? Please post and justify using a strong critical thinking argument for this choice.  Explain in detail. 

minimum of 250 words (2 detailed paragraphs. Each of your paragraphs must consist of at least 8-10 complete sentences

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