Critical Thinking in Education Integrating Critical Thinking Into Learning Activities Across the Curriculum Eric Rusten & Susan Schuman – USAID/PAEM & MoE
Critical Thinking Activities Critical Thinking in Language Learning Critical Thinking in Math – Topology Critical Thinking in Science – How do planes, birds and insects fly?
Perspectives of Critical Thinking Critical Thinking Survey:
Defining Critical Thinking Some Attributes of a Critical Thinker: Curiosity Problem solver Evaluates statements Asking & arguments pertinent Seeks new Actively questions Willing to examine beliefs, solutions shares new knowledge assumptions & opinionsAdmits a lack ofknowledge & Distinguishes Sees critical thinking as a life-understanding between facts long process of self-assessment and opinion Seeks proof Reflective Open to changing ones mindSeeks evidence to support Accepts others beliefs Waits till all factsassumptions and beliefs and opinions before makingSeeks clarity and exactness judgments Actively enjoysCareful and active observer learning Humility
Defining Critical Thinking &Describing Critical Thinkers “Critical thinking is the disciplined mental activity of evaluating arguments [information] or propositions and making judgments that can guide the development of beliefs and taking action.” Ennis (1992) Critical thinking is both a frame of mind and a set of mental capabilities. “Critical thinkers: distinguish between fact and opinion; ask questions; make detailed observations; uncover assumptions and define their terms; and make assertions based on sound logic and solid evidence. Ellis, D. Becoming a Master Student, 1997
Perspectives on Critical Thinking Critical thinking is based on concepts and principles, not on hard and fast, or step-by- step, procedures. Critical thinking does not assure that one will reach either the truth or correct conclusions. Circuital thinking is a continuous process and often doesn’t lead to a final conclusion. Critical thinking is hard intellectual work Critical thinking is an intellectual skill that can (must) be learned and improved
Data >> Wisdom ChainData > Information > Knowledge > Wisdom
Perspectives on LearningAll reasoning/thinking/learning: starts and progresses with questions and a need to understand; occurs within points of view and frames of reference; proceeds from some goals and objectives, has an informational base; uses data/information that must be interpreted and this interpretation involves concepts, values, assumptions, past knowledge, inferences, biases, etc.
Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking,Problem Solving, Scientific Thinking,…. Critical Thinking Creative Thinking Scientific Thinking & Process Problem Solving Decision Making
Map of Thinking DomainsScientific Thinking Creative Thinking Critical Thinking•Understanding/theory •Original Product •Critical judgment•Hypothesis •Create Possibilities •Assessing information•Experiment(s) •Create Metaphors •Inference-using evidence•Observations •Testing •Deduction-if…then•Conclusion(s) •Refining •New or refined perspective Decision Making Problem Solving •Well-founded decision •Best solution •Consider options •Consider options •Predict consequences •Evaluate consequences •Select best option •Choose best solution
Problem Solving Suspend a 500 franc coin over water in a glass using a 1000 Franc note. What is the problem? (Parse into sub-problems) What do you know? What resources do you have and what can I do with them? What constraints do you face? What are some possible solutions? (brain storming) Evaluating possible solutions. Selecting best bets. Testing best-bet solutions. Assessing results. Refining solutions. Proposing final solution.
Why is Critical Thinking Important? To learn is to think. To think poorly is to learn poorly. To think well is to learn well. All content, to be learned, must be intellectually constructed. Memorizing IS NOT learning.
Why Critical Thinking is Important Underlies reading, writing, speaking, and listening . . . the basic elements of communication, learning and education Plays an important role in social change Helps us uncover bias and prejudice Is a path to freedom form half-truths, prejudice and deceptions Creates the willingness to change one point of view as we continue to examine and re-examine ideas that may seem obvious. Takes time and the willingness to say three essential words: I dont know. Enables us to distinguish between fact and opinion, ask good questions, make detailed observations, uncover assumptions and define their terms, and make assertions based on sound logic and solid evidence
Why Critical Thinking is Important“The future now belongs to societiesthat organize themselves for learning...nations that want high incomes and fullemployment must develop policies thatemphasize the acquisition of knowledgeand [thinking] skills by everyone, notjust a select few.”Ray Marshall & Marc Tucker, Thinking For A Living: Education And TheWealth of Nations, Basic Books. New York. 1992.
Questions & Critical Thinking What do you mean by_______________? How did you come to that conclusion? What was said in the text? What is the source of your information? What is the source of information in the document? What assumption led you to that conclusion? Suppose you are wrong. What are the implications? Why did you make that inference? Is another one more consistent with the data? Why is this issue significant? How do I know that what you are saying is true? What is an alternate explanation for this phenomenon?
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers CATS (Classroom Assessment Techniques): use of ongoing classroom assessment and reflection to monitor and facilitate students critical thinking. Ask students to write a "Minute Paper" responding to specific questions such as: What was the most important thing you learned in todays class? What one question related to this lesson remains uppermost in your mind? How is what you learned today relevant to other classes or life outside of school?
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Cooperative Learning: putting students in structured group learning situations (2 or more learners) is an excellent way to foster critical thinking. In cooperative learning environments, learners engage in active, critical thinking with continuous support and feedback from peers and the learning facilitator
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Use Questions: Learning to formulate a series of quality questions is key to critical thinking and becoming a good critical thinker: Reciprocal Peer Questioning: Following a lesson, present a list of question stems to guide students in writing responses in small groups. Then, the whole class discusses some of the questions from some or all of the small groups. Readers Questions: Require learners to write questions on assigned reading and turn them in at the beginning of class. Select a few of the questions as the impetus for class discussion. Blue Sky Questions: Extended Learning Questions: Learners’ exam questions: Blooms taxonomy questions:
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Writing Assignments: writing for others demands that learners think clearly to communicate clearly. can be based on questions can be done in small groups or individually can use different structures: compare & contrast, cause & effect, explanation, argument, persuasion, etc. Letter to the editors (teams of learners become editors at different news papers and readers) Lab / experimental reports
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Dialogues/Debates: stimulates useful discussions in the classroom: Written dialogues: Small groups of learners analyze written dialogues (plays, news paper articles, etc.) and identify different viewpoints in the dialogue, look for biases, presence or exclusion of important evidence, alternative interpretations, misstatement of facts, and errors in reasoning. Each group decides which view is the most reasonable and must defend this position. After coming to a conclusion, each group acts out their dialogue and explains their analysis of it. Spontaneous Group Dialogue/Debate: Students in one group are assigned roles (often what they don’t believe in) to play in a discussion (such as leader, information giver, opinion seeker, and disagreer). Observer groups must determine what roles are being played by whom, identifying biases and errors in thinking, evaluating reasoning skills, and examining ethical implications of the content.
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Experiments and Collecting Data (critical thinking in science & math) Discovering relationships in math and science – pie ∏; prime numbers; area and volume calculations; geometry; temperature and color; height, arm span and head size; genetics; flight and air pressure; etc. Statistics and presenting information
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical Thinkers Ambiguity: Rather than provide all the information as fact, produce as much ambiguity in the classroom as possible. Dont give students clear cut material. Give them conflicting information that they must think their way through. Present content as a detective story that they must solve by answering a set of questions.
Enabling Learners to BecomeQuality Critical ThinkersIDEALS -- Six Steps to Effective Thinking Identify the problem. — “What’s the real question we’re facing here?” Define the context. — “What are the facts and circumstances that frame this problem?” Enumerate choices. — “What are our most plausible three or four options?” Analyze options. — “What is our best course of action, all things considered?” List reasons explicitly. — “Let’s be clear: Why we are making this particular choice?” Self-correct. — “Okay, let’s look at it again. What did we miss?”
Critical Thinking In The Curriculum Earth & Life Sciences Physics/Chemistry Math Geography/History How does rainfall influence agriculture, history, settlements, economics, education, politics French (grammar & literature) Second languages
Participant Activities: Teams of two Prepare a 20 min. micro-learning activity that integrates elements of critical thinking
Suggested Planning TemplateA thinking activity plan would include: Activity title and summary statement Discipline/subject(s); Grade level(s) Goals, objectives & learning outcomes Methods and Materials Resource needs (including time) Thinking skills emphasized Learning strategies Critical questions Activity/Lesson Assessing learners (teacher, peer & self) Extending activity beyond the classroom