Teaching Critical Thinking


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  • Ellen’s design process – generate 10 solutions, select 3, work through 3 solutions for critique
  • Teaching Critical Thinking

    1. 1. August Teaching Enrichment Series Wed, Aug 28, 2013 9:00-9:45am Keller 3-111 Anita Gonzalez, Ph.D. Teaching Consultant Center for Teaching & Learning University of Minnesota-Twin Cities gonza035@umn.edu
    2. 2. Sections  What is Critical Thinking?  Teaching Critical Thinking – 2 Perspectives  Mapping Activity  Conclusion
    3. 3. What is Critical Thinking?  [C]ritical thinking consists of seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence, deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems, and so forth.  Then too, there are specific types of critical thinking that are characteristic of different subject matter: ...'thinking like a scientist' or 'thinking like a historian.’ Daniel Willingham, 2007: 8.
    4. 4. What is Critical Thinking?  From the cognitive scientist's point of view, the mental activities that are typically called critical thinking are actually a subset of three types of thinking: reasoning, making judgments and decisions, and problem solving.  [We] think in these ways all the time, but only sometimes in a critical way.  Critical reasoning, decision making, and problem solving... have three key features: effectiveness, novelty, and self-direction. Daniel Willingham, 2007: 11.
    5. 5. Questions for Reflection 1. How did you learn to think critically? 1. How long did it take you to learn to think critically?  A single semester?  A year?  A degree?  Other? 1. What range of activities supported you in developing critical thinking skills and practices over this time span?
    6. 6. Two Perspectives 1. Critical Thinking = General Skill Set  as in … general reasoning, logic, and problem solving 2. Critical Thinking = Specific Skill Set for a Discipline  as in … using specific types of problem solving
    7. 7. Research says … Both general & specific are key to critical thinking, AND for student learning linked to Bloom’s higher order thinking skills, it is more effective to build teaching and learning plans around engagement with specific critical thinking skills
    8. 8. The Case for Specific Skills Students need a knowledge base in order to work critically with that knowledge, to engage in critical thinking. In other words, the disciplinary context matters.
    9. 9. Definitions in Your Context What traits, skills, behaviors, or qualities demonstrate critical thinking in your course or discipline? NOTE: This is not asking what assignments or inclass activities you do. Rather, what are the skills or qualities of critical thinking that students will need to engage to meet course learning goals? See the following chart as a further springboard…
    10. 10. Aligning Skills, Activities, Assessments CRITICAL THINKING TRAITS TEACHING/LEARNING TESTING FOR ACTIVITIES CRITICAL THINKING See multiple viewpoints, options, solutions, etc. Use multiple examples that illustrate variation and juxtaposition Evaluate and assess concepts, plans, solutions Allow for risk (failure Offer no or low stakes from working through an assignments + feedback. idea, concept, solution) Allow students to re-do an assignment for higher stakes. Independent and creative thinking Inductive teaching rather than deductive teaching (here’s the data, what do you see?) Ask students to generate multiple viewpoints, options, solutions in an assignment Give students data or “raw materials” to work with and develop their own solution first. Then students work with theory, etc.
    12. 12. Teaching/Learning Activities  Writing activities (better when some writing is generative &       drafted with students seeking/using feedback) Demonstrations (better if students can participate in the demonstration) Problem solving (including partial solutions) “Think Alouds” (show your thinking process, have students show their thinking process) Map/diagram a concept, process, theory, solution (as individuals mapping on-going learning, in groups as part of a jigsaw learning activity) Work with data inductively (data set, scenario, case study) Problem Based Learning (PBL) & Inquiry Lerning
    13. 13. Embed Personal Reflections  Productive disagreement (with a rationale or reason)  Independent thinking (before the “lesson”)  Inductive thinking (work with “raw materials”)  Creative thinking (generate ideas)  Design thinking (process)  Logics (linear, circular, tangential, spiral, etc.)  Allow for risk and failure in your assessments
    14. 14. Resources Bloom, Benjamin S. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: Longman, 1956. Johnston. Susan and Jim Cooper. “Supporting Student Success Through Scaffolding.” Tomorrow’s Professor Posting #849. [1997?] http://cgi.stanford.edu/~dept-ctl/cgibin/tomprof/posting.php Kuncel, Nathan. Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. “Critical Thinking: Beyond Stats and Formal Knowledge.” Presentation for Early Career Teaching Program, 2011. http://mediamill.cla.umn.edu/mediamill/display/88950 Van Gelder, Tim. “Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Lessons From Cognitive Science.” College Teaching 53, Winter 2005: 41-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27559216 Willingham, Daniel T. “Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?” American Educator, Summer 2007: 8-19. http://mres.gmu.edu/pmwiki/uploads/Main/CritThink.pdf Wolcott, Susan K. “Designing Assignments and Classroom Discussions to Foster Critical Thinking at Different Levels in the Curriculum.” In Educational Innovation in Economics and Business V, L. Borghans et al. eds. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000: 231-251. http://www.springerlink.com/content/n837210g15740856/