Student-Driven Critical Thinking in Online Discussions

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Discussion forums are commonly used in online courses as a medium for students to develop critical thinking, communication, and information literacy skills. An effective way to meet these objectives …

Discussion forums are commonly used in online courses as a medium for students to develop critical thinking, communication, and information literacy skills. An effective way to meet these objectives is to use an explicit critical thinking framework, in which students are given specific instructions on how to structure their posts.

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  • 1. Fellow Chat with Dr. Kamil Hamaoui Student-Driven Critical Thinking in Online Discussions Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE) Community of Practice Speaker Series May 14, 2014
  • 2. 2 To learn more about the Open SUNY faculty center please visit the website 1 2 Learn More: ote/ Join: ote/join-community-of- practice/ FACULTY SUPPORTS 3 Submit a Proposal:
  • 3. Open SUNY Fellow Dr. Kamil Hamaoui #COTEchat – Psychology Professor Westchester Community College – Open SUNY Fellow Role: Exemplar, Coach, and Mentor – Topic: Student-Driven Critical Thinking in Online Discussions – Theme: Effective Practice 3COTE NOTE:
  • 4. Kamil Hamaoui Critical Thinking Discussion Forums Psychology Department Westchester Community College EFFECTIVE PRACTICE
  • 5. Critical thinking is the process of analyzing and evaluating thinking for the purpose of improving it. Paul, R. W., & Elder, L. (2000). Critical thinking: Basic theory and instructional structures handbook. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
  • 6. Elements of Thought  Question  Information  Assumptions  Inferences  Concepts  Implications  Point of View Intellectual Standards  Clarity  Accuracy  Precision  Depth  Breadth  Logic  Relevance  Significance  Fairness Intellectual Virtues  Intellectual Humility  Intellectual Courage  Intellectual Empathy  Intellectual Integrity  Intellectual Perseverance  Faith in Reason  Fairmindedness
  • 7. Critical Thinking Discussion Forums PARTS  Present reasoned judgment to controversial question.  Ask classmates targeted questions about their thinking.  Respond to questions asked by classmates.  Summarize forum postings and evaluate own thinking.
  • 8. Assignment Instructions The purpose of these discussions is for students to practice and develop critical thinking. You will discuss controversial psychological issues in these forums, but the critical thinking skills you develop are applicable to any topic in addition to everyday personal interactions. Critical thinking involves analyzing thinking by breaking it down into its elements (the purpose, question, information, inferences, concepts, assumptions, implications, and point of view) and then evaluating each element in accordance with standards for high quality thinking (clarity, precision, accuracy, depth, breadth, relevance, significance, logic, and fairness) for the purpose of improving it. Review the document titled “What Is Critical Thinking?” each time before participating in this discussion forum. CRITICAL THINKING
  • 9. Assignment Instructions The primary purpose of this course is to learn how psychologists think. The best way to learn how psychologists think is to practice how psychologists think. Therefore, it is expected that students will approach the questions and issues from a scientific perspective by using scientific information (that is objective observations of events as they occur in the natural world) to explain their positions on the issues rather than referring to metaphysical forces and entities (such as God or spirit). Religion and science are two different ways of understanding human experiences. Both are valuable, and these two ways of thinking are compatible. Since this is a social science course, however, the focus should be on scientific, or more specifically psychological, thinking. PSYCHOLOGICAL THINKING
  • 10. Assignment Instructions Is sexual orientation primarily due to nature (biological processes dictated by the genes) or nurture (a person's upbringing and experiences in life)? NOTE: This question is not directly about the morality (that is, the rightness or wrongness) of homosexuality. In your reflection, and in the discussion that will follow, stay focused on the question of the assignment and the information offered in support of one view or another. DISCUSSION QUESTION
  • 11. Assignment Instructions In your Initial Post, present your conclusion to the question posed above. Take a specific position on the question and present a thorough rationale (a set of reasons) in support of your position. Your rationale must incorporate specific scientific information found from an online source. Provide a reference for the online source that includes the complete web address, organization, and author (no particular format for the reference is required). You can also present specific experiences that you have had and/or specific observations you have made of others as part of your rationale. You are not required to reveal your own sexual orientation if that is a sensitive issue for you; only share personal information to the extent that you are comfortable. INITIAL POST (IP)
  • 12. Assignment Instructions Read your classmates' IPs as they are posted in the forum. By Wednesday at 11:59 PM, you are required to post replies to two IPs submitted by your classmates. These are termed Level 1 Replies (R1). Each R1 should include the following: (1) a quote of the specific statement(s) you are responding to; (2) a paraphrasing of the statement(s) to communicate to your classmate how you interpreted the statement(s); (3) an explanation of how your thinking on the question is different from your classmate’s thinking; (4) an essential question that targets a specific element of thought along with a specific intellectual standard (see the “What Is Critical Thinking?” document for examples); and (5) an explanation as to why you thought that specific intellectual standard was lacking in your classmate’s thinking. To receive full credit, each R1 must be at least 150 words in length. LEVEL 1 REPLIES (R1)
  • 13. Assignment Instructions By Thursday at 11:59 PM, you are required to reply to the two R1s submitted to your IP. These replies to R1s are termed Level 2 Replies (R2). In each R2, respond to your classmate’s essential question with further elaboration of your thinking. Explicitly acknowledge how your thinking in the quoted statement lacked the intellectual standard identified by your classmate, or explain in a polite and non-defensive way why you think your statement did not lack the intellectual standard. In addition, if you think your classmate applied the critical thinking concepts inaccurately in her/his essential question, explain why you think that is the case. To receive full credit, each R2 must be at least 100 words in length. LEVEL 2 REPLIES (R2)
  • 14. Assignment Instructions By Sunday at 11:59 PM, you are required to submit a Final Post (FP). For this post (which must be submitted as a new thread, not as a reply to your IP), complete the following: 1. Read all of your classmates’ IPs, count the number of individuals on each side of the question of the assignment, and present the exact results of your tally. Then compile and present a listing of all the reasons mentioned by your classmates on each side of the issue. 2. Was your conclusion to the question on the side of the majority of students in this class or not? Which reasons on the opposing side did you not consider or had least awareness of prior to participating in this discussion? FINAL POST (FP)
  • 15. Assignment Instructions 3. How has your thinking on this issue developed from reading the information on the website and the postings in the discussion forum? When answering this question, evaluate your own thinking in accordance with the intellectual standards and present two specific, quoted statements (one from a classmate's R1 submitted in response to your own IP and one from a classmate's R2 submitted in response to one of your R1s) that led to a development in your own thinking. Reference the quoted statements by identifying the student’s name and whether the post was an R1 or R2. For example, you can state that Statement X allowed you to develop a clearer (or deeper or broader) understanding of Issue X. The purpose of the evaluation is not to state how great your thinking (as presented in your forum postings) was but to reflect upon how it improved or could be improved. FINAL POST (FP)
  • 16. Assignment Instructions If someone writes a statement that you perceive as lacking civility (e.g., it comes across as rude, condescending, offensive, mean, angry, etc.), please point that out to your classmate in a polite and friendly way. Explicitly state that you perceived Statement X as offensive and provide a reason as to why. Then, request that your classmate present her/his thinking in a different way. If the recipient of such as a message fails to respond with a restatement of the ideas and an apology for any intentional or unintentional offense that the earlier statement(s) caused, the recipient of such as message will receive a 0 on the discussion forum assignment, despite the number or quality of any other postings submitted. IMPORTANT NOTE
  • 17. Benefits of CT Discussion Forum  Students have meaningful intellectual dialogues.  Students develop academic writing skills.  Students develop critical thinking skills.  Students learn from one another.  Instructor involvement is minimal.
  • 18. Example of Student’s R1 I found your post very informative, especially your input on how families many times attempt to save their relative's lives, not realizing that the result may be the patient living a worse, more painful life. I question the breadth of your point of view when you stated "I dont believe physicians should have that type of authority when it comes to medication. There purpose should mainly be focused on human body, that's it." Sometimes, treating the human body requires prescribing medication to comfort a patient in pain. If physicians should not be allowed to prescribe lethal doses of medication, when, then, is the line drawn between controlling a terminally ill patient's pain and going too far? Another role of the physician is to comfort their patient. If a terminally ill patient requests high doses of pain medication, and is of sound mind to do so, should they be denied medication and be allowed to suffer?
  • 19. Example of Student’s FP The vast majority of the class (12) stated that they believed physicians should be allowed to assist terminally ill patients in death, whereas 1 stated that physicians should not have this power. Those who stated this practice should be allowed to be practice mentioned reasons such as relieving the terminally ill patient of their pain, respecting patient's rights to request death, and the fact that death of the patient is inevitable, so they should have a say in when it occurs. The reasons mentioned for not allowing this practice were mainly that physicians should not have the right or power to kill another individual.
  • 20. Example of Student’s FP (cont.) My conclusions were in line with the majority of students. I had previously not considered the other individuals affected when they have a friend or family member who is terminally ill. Many would rather keep their loved ones alive and with them for as long as possible, not realizing the patient's feelings or suffering associated with keeping them alive. Friends and family members may alter the patient's opinions on requesting death which may be a factor to consider as well. I stated that certain medications may alter the patient's mental status which should be considered when deciphering whether or not patients are of sound mind to request death, but the opinions and alterations a family member or friend could make in the patient's mind should be recognized as well.
  • 21. Example of Student’s FP (cont.) When I mentioned that medications could alter someone's mental status, Crystle made the very good point that "pain changes someone's mental state as well." This made me reconsider the depth of my statement. I had previously only considered the one potential mind altering factor, pain medication, as having an effect on the patient. I did not consider how when people are in unbearable pain, they may request something that they, in the long run, wouldn't necessarily want. Which also made me think about the effects family and friends and how their opinions and requests could alter a patient's decisions.
  • 22. Example of Student’s FP (cont.) I enjoyed Christine's post which brought up the point of inmates on death row and their rights as far as the death penalty goes. Christine responded to my question regarding whether any person, terminally ill or being sentenced to death, should have to die in pain by stating "I personally think it’s a backwards way of thinking for our society as a whole that a person that is terminally ill can’t have a painless assisted death but inmates on death row can be rendered unconscious for death by lethal injection." Before reading this post, I had not even considered the fact that terminally ill, innocent people are dying in pain, whereas those who have done something to deserve being sentenced to death, get to do so in a painless way. This brought an entirely new breadth to the subject for me, causing me to take into consideration that there are people out there being painlessly killed against their will, while others are being denied an inevitable death, but to be preformed without pain.
  • 23. Formal Assessment Project How are students developing their CT knowledge and skills?  CT Knowledge Probe  CT Dispositions Scale PRE  CT Knowledge Probe  CT Dispositions Scale  Student CT Reflection POST  CT Discussions / Post-Disc Commentary  Post-Disc Student Feedback  Summary, Added Instruction, Revisions AR Intervention
  • 24. Thank You! • Join the SUNY Learning Commons for access to the COTE Community group to continue the conversation! • View a Recording of today’s Fellow Chat: • View the COTE NOTE: • Become an Open SUNY Fellow: • Submit a Proposal: 24
  • 25. Open SUNY Fellow Anne Reed #COTEchat – Instructional Designer Online Programs University at Buffalo – Open SUNY Fellow Role: Expert Instructional Designer – Topic: Approaches to Online Faculty Development – Date June 5, 2014 at 12pm 25COTE NOTE: