Minding your millenials


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An overview of the nature and needs of millenial students in college classrooms.

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Minding your millenials

  1. 1. “ Minding” Your “Millenials” Applying and Measuring Critical Thought in the Classroom Kelly McMichael, Ed.D.
  2. 2. How Do Students Learn? <ul><li>We are born learners with an insatiable childhood curiosity (Spence, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>We learn through “elaborative rehearsal”; connecting new knowledge to what is known (Tigner, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>We learn socially by constructing knowledge in a group and otherwise learn one-on-one on our own (Stage et al, 1999; Spence, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>We don’t learn well when our major learning context is “teacher centered” (Spence, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>We learn when we are actively engaged in a life experience (Bonwell and Eison, 1993; Spence, 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>We learn when that life experience evokes emotional , not just intellectual involvement. We must be inspired to want to learn certain content (Leamnson, 1999, 2000) </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Critical Thinking? <ul><li>“ Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it constitute reflective thought .” -John Dewey </li></ul><ul><li>“ Confronting questions and conclusions of fellow students, often different from one’s own, adds to the disequilibrium that helps to shake students from their egocentric perceptions of the world…students should be made to understand that being correct or incorrect is not so important as the ability to perceive a problem and wrestle with it .” -C. Meyers, 1986 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Who Is In Our Classroom? <ul><li>Generation X: “Baby Busters” </li></ul><ul><li>Born between 1965-1982 (between Boomers and their late offspring) </li></ul><ul><li>Grew up in a time of drugs, divorce, and economic strain and inherited issues of racial strife, AIDS, fractured families and federal deficits </li></ul><ul><li>Have a “survivalist” mentality due to negative messages from environmentalists, depletion of Social Security, epidemiologists, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Shaped by a disaffection with governance and positions of hierarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Shaped by inception of Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Many raised in single-parent homes (divorce, mom’s in workplace) </li></ul><ul><li>Grew up with fast food, remote control, and “quick response” devices </li></ul><ul><li>Faced with decrease in educational funding, yet educational variance </li></ul>
  5. 5. Who Else Is in our Classroom? <ul><li>Generation Y: “Millennials” </li></ul><ul><li>Born between 1982-1997 to primarily Baby Boomers (though some are of older Gen X adults) </li></ul><ul><li>Grew up in a post-Cold War era </li></ul><ul><li>Many have experienced family breakdown and more two-parent incomes </li></ul><ul><li>Changing relationships at home: leading more to be peer-oriented and contributing to premium of workplace culture </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptionally technologically-savvy : 97% own computer/ 94% own a cell phone/ 76% use IM/ 75% of college students have Facebook acct (Junco and Mastrodicasa, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Facing higher costs of education than any previous generation </li></ul><ul><li>Limited loyalty to any employer and insist on stimulating work place and a stimulating educational environment </li></ul>
  6. 6. How Do These Students Learn? <ul><li>Being used to doing things on their own, they are independent problem solvers and self-starters who want support and feedback without being controlled. </li></ul><ul><li>Being familiar with computer technology , prefer quick access to Internet, CD-ROMs, Web and other sources of information (Brown, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Crave stimulation and expect immediate answers and feedback (Brown, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Skeptical of institutions, they don’t want to waste time doing quantities of school work. They want work to be meaningful and focused . “They want to know why they must learn something before they take time to learn how” (Caudron,1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Being life-long learners, they view their job environments as places to grow and seek continuing education and training opportunities (Brown, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Tend to be ambitious and are, “founding small businesses and even taking up causes—all in their own way” (Hornblower, 1997). </li></ul><ul><li>Most believe “I have to take what I can get in this world because no one is going to give me anything” (ibid., p.62) </li></ul>
  7. 7. How do We Interface Critical Thinking with Learning Activities? <ul><li>Key Teaching Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>(B.L. Brown, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>Be alert to the need to update your teaching skills and practices to assist students in constructing their learning through processing and interpretation of new information; learning what I call , ‘tools of engagement.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on outcomes by helping students put information to work . </li></ul><ul><li>Make learning experiential by engaging students in role play and cooperative learning experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Give students control over their learning by providing options in process and methodology . </li></ul><ul><li>Respect students’ ability to use ‘parallel thinking.’ Design your approach to include a variety of information to be presented at once. </li></ul><ul><li>Give attention to format of instructional materials highlighting key points . </li></ul><ul><li>Motivate learning by giving students a role in establishing standards and evaluation criteria. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide challenges through projects that demand new skills connecting school learning to worksite applications. </li></ul>
  8. 8. How do We Interface Critical Thinking with Learning Activities? <ul><li>Self Assessment Activities </li></ul><ul><li>(Davies, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Pause and Think . Students assess their work by taking a few minutes to pause and reflect about what they are learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for Proof . One step further where they select a work sample as proof of an aspect of their learning and comment about it. When they make self-assessed choices about their learning, achievement increases. </li></ul><ul><li>Connect to Criteria . Students assess their work in relation to criteria already set for a task/project and find evidence to show they met criteria. Mistakes become feedback that can be used to adjust what they are doing. </li></ul>
  9. 9. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#1 Pro and Con Grid </li></ul><ul><li>A simple classroom technique of jotting down lists of pros and cons to help in thinking more clearly about a pressing issue. </li></ul>
  10. 10. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#1 Pro and Con Grid </li></ul><ul><li>Use for any course where questions are of value and an explicit part of the syllabus. This works well in humanities, social science, and policy courses. Can be used to assess awareness of potential costs and benefits or alternate solutions to a problem. </li></ul>
  11. 11. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#1 Pro and Con Grid </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on a dilemma or issue that has teaching and learning implications in your discipline and for students. </li></ul><ul><li>Write out prompt that elicits thoughtful pros and cons relative to the dilemma. You may indicate a special point of view that students should adopt. </li></ul><ul><li>Indicate how many pros and cons you expect and how they are to be expressed; parallel lists of words, phrases, or just sentences? </li></ul>
  12. 12. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#1 Pro and Con Grid </li></ul><ul><li>You have read several recent articles on the current debate about parenting human genetic material. From your viewpoint as consumers, what are the principal pros and cons of allowing the parenting of genes? Come up with about six of each. </li></ul>
  13. 13. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#2 Content, Form, and Function Outlines </li></ul><ul><li>Also called, “What, How, and Why Outlines,” these help a student analyze the content, form, and function of a particular message, written or otherwise. Brief notes are written to answer the above questions in an outline format that can be quickly assessed. </li></ul>
  14. 14. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#2 Content, Form, and Function Outline </li></ul><ul><li>This assessment is useful in courses focusing on written form such as composition, literature, technical writing, or creative writing. Can also be used in courses where communication is not exclusively written, like advertising, graphic arts, marketing, fine arts, etc. </li></ul>
  15. 15. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#2 Content, Form, and Function Outline </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a short text, passage, or film clip containing important content and is clearly structured in a form that is common to the genre. </li></ul><ul><li>Find a parallel text to use as an example and write a Content, Form, and Function Outline for that text, handing it out to students to review your step-by-step analysis and thus modeling the process you want them to use. </li></ul><ul><li>You can prepare an outline form students to use. This may help you read and compare responses more quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>After you are confident that students understand, present the message they are to analyze, giving them time to carry it out. </li></ul>
  16. 16. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking?” <ul><li>#2 Content, Form, and Function Outline </li></ul><ul><li>Two instructors analyzed a speech by a presidential candidate, emphasizing its content, form, and purpose, and outlining the analysis on the board. They passed out a copy of another candidate's speech and asked students to complete the Content, Form, Function Outline at home. Most students did well in analyzing the content and responded by agreeing or disagreeing with the content instead of analyzing the political purpose of the paragraphs. The feedback convinced the instructors to spend time in class discussing the need to separate the analysis of a message from the evaluation of that message. </li></ul>
  17. 17. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking? <ul><li>#3 Analytic Memos </li></ul><ul><li>This a simulation exercise requiring students to write a one or two-page analysis of a special problem or issue. The person for whom the memo is written is usually identified as an employer, a client, or stakeholder who needs the student’s analysis to inform decision making. </li></ul>
  18. 18. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking? <ul><li>#3 Analytic Memos </li></ul><ul><li>These are useful in disciplines that relate to policy or management, such as political science or social work. However, they can also be used in marketing, Fashion, Culinary Arts, and Interior Design. This helps students prepare for letter-graded writing assignments and best used in smaller classes. </li></ul>
  19. 19. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking? <ul><li>#3 Analytic Memos </li></ul><ul><li>1. Determine which analytic methods or techniques you wish to assess (writing skills, policy problem, business plan). </li></ul><ul><li>2. Locate or invent an appropriate, well-focused, and typical problem or situation for students to analyze. Get background information on the problem or invent some plausible information. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Specify who is writing the memo and for whom it is being written, as well as its subject and purpose. </li></ul>
  20. 20. How Do We Assess Critical Thinking? <ul><li>#3 Analytic Memos </li></ul><ul><li>During the first month of an environmental policy course, the instructor decided to find out how well her students could analyze a typical environmental policy problem. Since a story about contaminated groundwater ad recently appeared in the local newspaper, she directed her students to write an Analytic Memo about this topic. They are told to write as environmental policy analysts, to address their memos to the state’s secretary of environmental affairs, and to point out the major policy implications of the groundwater crisis. They were given three days to prepare their memos. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Critical Thinking Rubric No Knowledge 1 Emerging 2 Proficient 3 Mastery 4 Identify Problem. Asking Significant Questions Student does not know how to begin using technology sources and can not identify problem Can identify a problem, limited knowledge of how to use technology resources Can identify problem and ask questions and successfully use technology tools and resources Identifies problems and significant questions as well as teach technology tools to others Plan and manage Activities. Develop a Solution Student fails to plan or manage or develop any solutions Student makes an attempt at the project Student plans and manages to develop or completes a project Student shows well planned and managed project and can teach strategies to others Analyze Data and Make Informed Decisions Student cannot collect or analyze data or make informed decision Student able to collect and analyze data with teacher’s help Student collects and analyzes data independently and identifies a solution Student collects, analyzes, makes informed decisions, identifies solutions and teaches others Use Multiple Processes and Explore Alternatives Student cannot use multiple processes Student shows some knowledge of multiple processes Student shows proficiency using multiple processes Student shows proficiency and able to teach others
  22. 22. Final Questions <ul><li>What Implications do You See For Your Course? Program? </li></ul><ul><li>What Solutions Do You Have for the Barriers Listed Earlier? </li></ul><ul><li>What Are You Doing in This Area of Critical Thinking? </li></ul>
  23. 23. References <ul><li>Bonwell, C.C. & Eison, J.A. (1993). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1). Washington, DC: School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University. </li></ul><ul><li>Brookfield, S.D. (1987). Developing cultural thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. </li></ul><ul><li>Brown, B.L. (1997). New learning strategies for Generation X. (ERIC Digest No. 184). Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearing House on Adult Career and Vocational Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Caudron, S.(1997, March). Can Generation Xers be trained? Training and Development. 51 (3). 20-24. </li></ul><ul><li>Davies, A. (2000). Making Classroom Assessment Work . Courtenay, B.C: Connections Publishing. 7-9. </li></ul><ul><li>Hornblower, M.(1997, June 9). Great Expectations. Time. 129, No.23. 58-68. </li></ul><ul><li>Junco, R. & Mastrodicasa, J.(2007, March 29). Connecting to the Net Generation: What higher education professionals need to know about today’s students. NASPA: 1 st ed. </li></ul>
  24. 24. References <ul><li>Leamnson, R.(1999). Thinking about teaching & learning: Developing habits of learning with first year college and University students . Sterling, VA: Stylus. </li></ul><ul><li>__________(2000, Nov/Dec). Learning as biological brain change. Change . 34-40. </li></ul><ul><li>Meyers, C.(1986). Teaching students to think critically . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. </li></ul><ul><li>Spence, L.D.(2001, Nov/Dec). The case against teaching. Change . 11-19. </li></ul><ul><li>Stage, F.K. ; Kinzie, J., Muller, P., & Simmons, A.(1999). Creating learning centered classrooms: What does learning theory have to say? Washington, DC: ERIC Clearing House on Higher Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Tigner, R.B.(1999). Putting memory research to good use: Hints from cognitive psychology. College Teaching . 47(4), 149-152. </li></ul>