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Promoting Critical Thinking. Using Active Learning Strategies. Working Assumptions. Active learning is necessary for the teaching of critical thinking. Critical thinking should be integrated into every aspect of the educational process. Students should be made aware of the thinking process.

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Promoting Critical Thinking

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promoting critical thinking

Promoting Critical Thinking

Using Active Learning Strategies

working assumptions
Working Assumptions
  • Active learning is necessary for the teaching of critical thinking.
  • Critical thinking should be integrated into every aspect of the educational process.
  • Students should be made aware of the thinking process.
  • Critical thinking must be taught explicitly.
  • Process is as important as content.
  • Teachers often confuse physical

attention for mental attention.

working definitions
Working Definitions
  • Active Learning - “students involved in doing things & thinking about the things they are doing”
  • Critical Thinking - “reasonable reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to do and what to believe” OR “interpreting, analyzing or evaluating information, arguments or experiences with a set of reflective attitudes, skills, and abilities to guide our thoughts, beliefs and actions” OR “examining the thinking of others to improve our own”
a list of processes 1
A List of Processes - 1

(per A. Aarons, 1985)

  • Consciously raising questions
  • Being aware of gaps in information
  • Distinguishing between observation & inference; fact and conjecture.
  • Recognizing that words are symbols for ideas, and not ideas themselves
a list of processes 2
A List of Processes - 2
  • Probing for assumptions
  • Appropriately drawing inferences from data
  • Performing hypothetical-deductive reasoning
  • Discriminating between inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Testing one’s own line of reasoning
  • Being aware of one’s own reasoning
operational procedures of critical thinking 1
Identifying key definitions

Identifying ambiguity

Identifying variables

Formulating questions

Defining issue or problem

Classifying information

Sequencing information

Recognizing patterns

Determining credibility

Distinguishing fact from opinion

Identifying assumptions

Identifying values

Noting missing evidence

Identifying relationships

Comparing & contrasting

Cause and effect

Summarizing information

Using analogies

Operational Procedures of Critical Thinking - 1
operational procedures of critical thinking 2
Predicting trends from data

Predicting outcomes based upon evidence

Translating between verbal and symbolic

Identifying conclusions

Identifying errors in reasoning such as:

Logical fallacies

Errors in statistical reasoning

Alternative conclusions that satisfy evidence

Operational Procedures of Critical Thinking - 2
promoting ct in phy 1
Promoting CT in PHY - 1
  • Create experimental designs:
    • Design an experiment to investigate the relationship between the length of a piece of wire and its resistance.
    • Design an experiment to determine the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration.
    • Design an experiment to determine the period of a pendulum.
promoting ct in phy 2
Promoting CT in PHY - 2
  • Assess measurement reliability.
    • The period of a pendulum is measured as a function of length. One declares, “The relationship is linear.”
    • A team measures six data points with a significant degree of scatter and states, “The relationship is a power function because it minimizes RMSE.
    • “Consistent measurements are more reliable.”
    • “The values range from 0.002 to 0.005; the dependent value is a function of the independent variable and is, therefore, not a constant.”
promoting ct in pyh 3
Promoting CT in PYH - 3
  • Evaluate viability of data-based claims:
    • The law is y=ax6+bx5+cx4+dx3+ex2+fx+g
    • The law is V=IR+0.032W
    • The resistance of a wire will increase by .003W every time its length increases by 1 cm.
    • The minimum force required to pull an object up an inclined plane will reach a maximum when the angle of the plane is between 70 and 75 degrees.
promoting ct in phy 4
Promoting CT in PHY - 4
  • Make situation-based predictions:
    • There is a lake with an iceberg floating in it. As the iceberg melts, what will the level of the lake do? Rise? Fall? Stay the same?
    • A rubber bullet and an aluminum bullet have the same size, speed, and mass. They are fired at a block of wood. Which is most likely to knock the block over? Which is most likely to damage the block?
promoting ct in phy 5
Promoting CT in PHY - 5
  • Test claim viability (misconceptions):
    • “Gravity pulls more on a heavier ball than a light ball as evidenced by their weights. Because there is a greater force on the heavy ball, it must fall more rapidly than the light ball.”
    • The seasons result from the changing earth-sun distance. Summer occurs when we are closest; winter occurs when we are farthest.
promoting ct in phy 6
Promoting CT in PHY - 6
  • Make approximations: (Fermi problems)
      • How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?
      • Estimate the number of square inches of pizza consumed by all the students at Illinois State University during one semester.
      • When it rains, water would accumulate on the roofs of flat-topped buildings if there were no drains. A heavy rain may deposit water to a depth of an inch or more. Given that water has a mass of about 1 g/cm3, estimate the total weight the roof of Moulton Hall rooms 208 and 210 would have to support if we had an inch of rain and the roof drains were plugged.
critical thinking 1
Critical Thinking - 1
  • Strongly related to developing conceptual understanding.
  • Best done when students are continuously pummeled with questions that demand a conceptual explanation.
  • Approach:
    • Present the problem
    • Let students think
    • Socratically question
critical thinking 2
Critical Thinking - 2
  • Approach assumes that students know some physics; students apply what they know.
  • Develop the intellectual muscle by exercising it.
  • Don’t let the quantitative approach supplant the qualitative understanding - both are critically important to physics.
  • Predict the answer before calculating it.
critical thinking resources
Critical Thinking Resources
  • Thinking Physics series by Epstein and Hewitt, Epstein, etc.
  • Physics Begins with an M series by John W. Jewett, Jr.
  • Numerous WWW resources “critical thinking physics” on Google, etc.
critical thinking dispositions
Critical Thinking Dispositions
  • Trying to be well informed
  • Staying focused
  • Willing to evaluate alternatives
  • Taking a supportable position
  • Seeking precision
  • Proceeding in a logical and orderly manner
  • Being sensitive to others’ positions