“ All education consists of transmitting to students two different things:
the subject matter or discipline content of the course (“what to think”), and
(2) the correct way to understand and evaluate this subject matter (“how to think”).
We do an excellent job of transmitting the content of our respective disciplines, but we often fail to teach students how to think effectively about this subject matter, that is, how to properly understand and evaluate it. This second ability is termed critical thinking”
Steven D. Schafersman, January 1991 www.freeinquiry .com
There is no secret to teaching for thinking. Students learn from what teachers do as much if not more than from what they say. To teach for thinking one must show the passionate disposition toward thinking and one must explicitly and reflectively use thinking skills to form reasoned judgments. One must express one’s thinking in multiple contexts, including those that are rich in subject matter content and problem complexity. The more the teacher is able to extend students’ thinking into new domains of learning and inquiry, demanding solid content knowledge and the correct application of standards and methods appropriate to the domain, the stronger the students’ thinking will become. . . . Students must know that teachers demand good thinking, test for good thinking, and reward good thinking in their grading practices.
1999 The California Academic Press. www.calpress.com
Assign an engineering case study to the students to read. In a in-class instructor-led discussion, or small group discussions, or individually as a homework assignment, students will analyze the case and address the following issues, orally or in writing. The instructor may want to model one case analysis before asking the students to do one.
Define the issues
Identify the stakeholders
Identify a range of reasonable options
Clarify the applicable principles and criteria for establishing priorities among the options
Assign an engineering article, or allow students to choose one from a publication in your field. In an in-class instructor-led discussion, or small group discussions, or individually as a homework assignment, students will answer the following questions, orally or in writing. The instructor may want to demonstrate thoughtful reading and discussing of an article before asking the students to do so.
Questions About an Event
What were they key events that led up to this event?
What event did this event cause?
What unintended consequences may have been brought about by this event?
Will this event change history or our profession for the better? For the worse? How and Why?
___ a. The relevant positions or arguments were accurately and comprehensively presented.
____b. There was evidence of intellectual honesty in the presentation.
____c. Reasons were given for the stance taken by the group.
____d. There was evidence that the group considered all relevant alternative positions
____e. Reasons and evidence were offered in their analysis and critique of the opposing positions.
ASSESSING CRITICAL THINKING Restructuring Multiple Choice Questions Circle the correct answer = 1 point Explain briefly why it is correct = 2 point Circle the correct answer = 1 point Explain briefly why the other choices are incorrect = 2 points
RESOURCES Resources for Critical Thinking Print Critical Thinking: Theory, research, Practice, and Possibilities . Joanne G. Kurfiss. 1997. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report Volume 17, Number 2. The George Washington University. Engaging Idea: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom . John C. Bean. 2001. Jossey-Bass. Using Journal Articles to Integrate Critical Thinking with Computer and Writing Skills . Gleichsner, Jean A. NACTA Journal 38.4 (December 1994): 34-35. Gleichsner presents an assignment of writing a critical review of a refereed journal article as a way to develop critical thinking in the classroom. She describes in detail the procedure the students follow in doing the assignment and then considers the assignment's importance for undergraduates, especially in the sciences.
RESOURCES Resources for Critical Thinking Online http://www.criticalthinking.org Critical Thinking Consortium, Foundation for Critical Thinking http://www.csuchico.edu/phil/ct/ct_assess.htm Critical Thinking Assessment Project http://www.freeinquiry.com/critical-notes.html Critical Thinking and its Relation to Science and Humanism http://www.insightassessment.com/ Evaluation of reasoning skills http://www.civeng.carleton.ca/ECL/ Case Studies in Engineering