How to Teach Critical Thinking in the Online Classroom


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How can we get to students develop higher order thinking skills and think critically? And, is it even possible in an online learning space? This presentation shares a model that supports deep and meaningful learning - the Community of Inquiry model [CoI]. The CoI,(Garrison) provides a foundation for encouraging students to engage with the content & classmates and apply content in learning contexts that build higher order thinking.

Published in: Education, Technology
  • @debrabuckpierce Hi Debra,
    Thank you so much for your comments, and applying them to a real teaching context by synching how the concepts apply to your teaching and learning. I agree with you how we can learn so much for our students! I too learn a tremendous amount for other educators like yourself that share their experiences online.

    Thanks again Debra!
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  • I have taught on line for the past 6 years and have found that the best way to get nursing students to think critically is to act as a conduit and synthesizer for information. I post a recent article or other source that I have found with a pertinent question and the flurry of discussion begins. I learn more from my students then they learn from me.
    Slides 3 and 4 focus onthe promotion of critical thinking. Being that I teach nursing and nurses have great critical thinking skills. The trick is to get them to apply them to their education.
    Slide 6 addresses the methods for teaching critical thinking. In nursing we often use the 'see one, do one, teach one' scenario. I believe there are aspects of this that are applied in education. If you can apply a scenario to what you are attemtping to teach, nurses tend to retain the information and engage in discussion.
    Slides 7 and 8 address the importance of interaction through the COI. Social presence is enhanced in the online environment due to the fact that all have to participate therefore all 'voices' are present. Interaction occurs in a meaningful and structured environment.
    Slide 9 refers to teaching presence. I find myself learning a great deal from my students and the resources they bring to the discussion. Taking their thoughts and ideas a step further through additional research and locating materials to bring to the discussion further enhances their critical thinking skills. It is a constant information exchange.
    Slide 10 mentions discourse and I feel that students are able to express their thoughts and opinions in a very constructive environment. Students share their thoughts and may disagree with their peers and are able to do so without fear of repurcussion.
    Slide 11 is the responsibility of the instructor to maintain the safe and constructive environment. Off line discussion can occur if uncomfortable discussion occurs. More often then not peers within the class maintain the professionalism without the instructor.
    Slide 12. Careful consideration and monitoring regarding group discussion is vital. One person within a group cannot make the group successful.
    Slides 13-20 have some wonderful tips for online discussion. A successful moderator is the key to maintaining good, effective discussions.
    In conclusion. I found this presentation to be very helpful and appreciate the resources that were shared.
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  • To appreciate interaction and the quality of learning outcomes, one must understand how cognitive, social, and teaching presence come together to create a purposeful community of inquiry.However, interaction is not a guarantee that students are cognitively engaged in an educationally meaningful manner
  • The three main aspects of social presence, as defined here, are effective communication,open communication and group cohesionStudy: Rovai (2002) found a “positive significant relationship between a sense of community and cognitive learning” (328).
  • To appreciate interaction and the quality of learning outcomes,one must understand how cognitive, social, and teaching presence come together to create a purposeful community of inquiry.However, interaction is not a guarantee that students are cognitively engaged in an educationally meaningful manner
  • Study: Rovai (2002) found a “positive significant relationship between a sense of community and cognitive learning” (328).
  • if students are to reach a high level of critical thinking and knowledge construction, the interaction or discourse must be structured and cohesiveSimilarly, Wu andHiltz (2004) found that the quality of online discussions could be improvedwith more structure and guidance.143
  • InstructionalDesign plays an essential role in determining success of online discussions (Wang and Chen) = Essential elements in designin online discussions to promote cognitive presence
  • How to Teach Critical Thinking in the Online Classroom

    2. 2. How can Instructors promote Critical Thinking in the online classroom?
    3. 3. How to Promote Critical Thinking • Goal of this Webinar: develop instructional strategy for fostering critical thinking skills in the online classroom • Agenda : 1) theory - Define critical thinking - Review Community of Inquiry model - Identify components of critical thinking 2) application - Methods to encourage higher order thinking - Examples from online classes
    4. 4. Critical Thinking Defined… “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” It is a standard of intellectual excellence required for full participation in social, economic, and political life of a given society. A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on CriticalThinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.
    5. 5. The most influential resource for developing students’ critical thinking skills:
    6. 6. Methods for teaching critical thinking… • Numerous teaching methods contribute to intellectual growth • A combination of instructional methods are needed • Instructional methods need to encourage higher order thinking - synthesizing, summarizing, reflecting, creating, etc. (Bloom’s Taxonomy) • Several frameworks/models exist that theorize elements needed for critical thinking
    7. 7. Community of Inquiry Model (CoI) CoI framework represents a process for creating deep and meaningful online learning experiences through the development of three interdependent elements - social, cognitive and teaching presence. Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer,W. (2000)
    8. 8. Social Presence (CoI) • Student’s have a ‘voice’ and a presence • A feeling of togetherness and mutual awareness. • Three elements of social presence: 1) effective communication, 2) open communication and 3) group cohesion
    9. 9. Teaching Presence (CoI) • Students sense the instructor is ‘there’ • Teaching presence is a significant determinant of student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community • TP construct falls into three categories: 1) design 2) facilitation 3) instruction
    10. 10. Cognitive presence (CoI) • Cognitive presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct meaning through sustained communication and discourse in a community of inquiry • Critical thinking can be fostered and developed
    11. 11. “If students are to reach a high level of critical thinking and knowledge construction, the interaction or discourse must be structured and cohesive.” Facilitating Cognitive Presence in Online Learning: Interaction is not Enough, (2005) D.R. Garrison & M. Cleveland-Innes
    12. 12. Methods that support Higher Order Thinking • Online Discussion: Promote analysis, reflection via carefully constructed question(s) within asynchronous discussion forum with instructor moderating • Case Study: Promote analysis , synthesis and application of course content through responses and interaction within asynchronous discussion forum • Group Assignment: Small groups construct solution to given problem, create digital artifact to demonstrate application of course content. Group artifacts can be shared and discussed with entire class in asynchronous discussion • Debate: Promote analysis & synthesis using controversial event—teams discuss in structured forum, each taking a ‘position’ within group, or class forum • [Recorded] Live Discussion: Promote analysis of course content through small synchronous guided discussion with instructor and 3 or 4 students that is recorded for other students to view. Post session, students reflect and discuss viewpoints raised within discussion
    13. 13. Elements of Effective Asynchronous Online Discussions • Carefully constructed question(s) that support learning goals of a module, lesson etc. • Skilled moderator that guide discussions to support goals of discussion (could be course instructor or student leader(s)) • Guidelines that include concise & clear instructions for student participation, expectations, evaluation i.e. rubric • Feedback after discussion closes in form of grade, or individual or collective comment on discussion outcomes
    14. 14. Examples of effective discussion questions:
    15. 15. Moderator Behaviours that Support Asynchronous Online Discussions • Prompt further discussion by responding to student postings that encourage elaboration, further explanation and deeper analysis • Encourage students to add value by prompting them to share resources (links), ask questions, or incorporate content from course when responding to another student’s post • Let discussion flow – don’t dominate, but enhance • Summarize discussion responses at end of discussion period sharing highlights of student posts, summary of perspectives and ideas
    16. 16. Discussion Prompts • What would be an example? • Where did you get this idea? • What is your main point? • Can anyone see this from another perspective? • Could you explain further? • What assumptions are made here? • How can we find out? • What are you assuming?
    17. 17. Example: Introduction Exercise from first week o f online course designed to build Social Presence
    18. 18. Example: Discussion questions from an online course on Health Economics
    19. 19. Example: Discussion questions in response to a Case Study in an online course on Health Economics
    20. 20. Questions and Discussion
    21. 21. Resources • Teaching CriticalThinking through Online Discussions, (2000), C. MacKnight, EDUCAUSE (PDF) • Essential Elements in Designing Online Discussions to Promote Cognitive Presence – A Practical Experience,(2008) Y.Wang &V.D. Chen • CoI Model, • CriticalThinking in the Online Classroom, Online Learning Insights • College and University Faculty,The CriticalThinking Community
    22. 22. Thank you! Contact Info • Twitter: @OnlineLearningI • Blog: Online Learning Insights