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Teaching Critical Thinking. Dr John Peters Academic development and practice . Session blurb.

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teaching critical thinking

Teaching Critical Thinking

Dr John Peters

Academic development and practice

session blurb
Session blurb
  • This session will share the way in we already, often implicitly, address critical thinking and offer some alternative ideas and practical exercises for embedding the teaching of critically thinking skills in subject programmes.
learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes
  • Offer definitions and models of critical thinking
  • Explore reasons for teaching critical thinking
  • Make more explicit current support for student critical thinking
  • Consider the possibilities of explicitly teaching critical thinking
  • Deploy practical exercises to support student learning of critical thinking skills
what is critical thinking
What is critical thinking?
  • Reviewing from different perspectives in order to formulate own personalised judgement / view point and to be able to apply it to the matter in hand and engage in development
  • Stepping back & recognising different perspectives
  • Comprehending & valuing different viewpoints
  • Appreciating someone else’s viewpoint and logic but not necessarily agreeing
  • Being able to underpin your argument with evidence
  • Reviewing and developing – a constant cycle of reflection and adaptation
  • Analysis – taking things to pieces
what is critical thinking5
What is critical thinking?
  • an ability to present, evaluate, and interpret data, to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements.
    • QAA, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, Certificate level
  • Requiring
  • Defining
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • What do we do already?
defining critical thinking 1
Defining Critical Thinking 1
  • Critical thinking is about uncovering the truth by attacking and removing all that is false.
  • Therefore it’s reactive, destructive and adversarial
  • It is thus a small part of thinking and too much emphasis is already placed on it
    • (De Bono, 1993)
defining critical thinking 2
Defining Critical Thinking 2
  • Critical thinking is a rational and purposeful attempt to use thought to move towards a future goal (Halpern 1984 in Brookfield, 1987)
  • Therefore it is productive, positive, open, engaged and humble (Brookfield, 1987)
defining critical thinking 3
Defining critical thinking 3
  • Four traditions of critical thinking
    • Analytical philosophy & logic
    • psycho-analytical & personal criticality
    • Ideology critique – critiquing the dominant ideology and challenging hegemony
    • Pragmatic constructivism
      • (Brookfield 2005)
components of critical thinking
Components of critical thinking
  • Identifying and challenging assumptions: notice differences between assumptions and experience
  • Awareness & exploration of context: everything is contextual
  • Imagining and exploring alternatives: divergence & diversity
  • Analysis, judgement, resolution & action
  • Reflective scepticism: particularly to claims of universal truth
    • Brookfield 1987
an example of reactive critical thinking
An example of reactive critical thinking
  • Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 – Discuss?!?
What’s so wrong with that fact?!
  • Who was Christopher Columbus?
    • Anglicized version of Latin version of Castilian name Cristóbal Colón
    • Led expedition but land sighted by one of his sailors
  • What do we mean by discovered?
    • Europeans found it [euro-centric]
    • Viking archaeological evidence
    • Indigenous population
  • Where and what is America?
    • Didn’t land on mainland until 1498 and never in North America
    • Thought it was the East Indies
    • Who called it America? Probably Martin Waldseemüller in 1507 after a later explorer Amerigo Vespucci
  • What do we mean by 1492?
    • Whose calendar? Etc. etc.
teaching critical thinking 1
Teaching critical thinking 1
  • Identifying arguments
  • Structure, logic, consistency & reasoning
  • Identifying assumptions
    • premises & connotations
  • Identifying flaws in arguments
    • False analogies, emotive, tautology, misrepresentation
  • Providing evidence
    • Authentic, valid, reliable, robust & current
      • Cottrell (2005)
ideas for teaching the application of critical thinking to the work of others
Ideas for teaching the application of critical thinking to the work of others
  • Reading texts using structured critical thinking questions
  • Analysis then evaluation
  • Assessing example assignments
  • .
so what s an argument
So what’s an argument?
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM
  • Could this be used with students?!
an example of constructive critical thinking
An Example of Constructive Critical Thinking
  • An argument: an attempt to persuade by offering reason[s] and a conclusion
  • Reason: Students are not very good at critical thinking
  • Conclusion: So we should teach critical thinking skills
  • Two key questions
    • Is the reason acceptable / valid / well-founded?
    • Does the conclusion follow logically from the reason?
  • No evidence of the assertion
  • Issue of struggling with academic critical thinking
  • It’s the context and constraints that are the problem – confidence?!
  • Reason doesn’t follow
    • We need to know why?
constructing a better argument
Constructing a better argument
  • ‘We should teach critical thinking skills because…’ or better
  • ‘Students should learn to be critical thinkers because...’ or better still, perhaps,
  • ‘We should encourage student to value and deploy critical thinking because....’
  • Because its fundamental / a good thing / makes them better professionals / learners
  • Because it’ll get them a good degree and a job
helping others think critically
Helping others think critically
  • Recognise that questioning assumptions can be threatening and emotional
  • Model assumption analysis
    • Encourage critique of assumptions in assignments
    • Encourage critique of our own work
    • Encourage self-evaluation
  • Model risk taking
  • Model openness, hold real conversations
  • Encourage divergence & creativity
    • Brookfield
ideas for teaching the application of critical thinking to own work
Ideas for teaching the application of critical thinking to own work
  • Self assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Argument construction in sessions
    • More non-team sport should be done in schools because…
    • Nurses should engage in CPD because…
    • Germany was responsible for the second world war because…
de bono 5 stage general structure
De Bono, 5 stage general structure
  • TO: focus & objectives, define the problem
  • LO: look around, explore, gather information, examine factors, assess context
  • PO: generate possibilities, speculations, options, ideas, propose alternatives
  • SO: compare, sift, check & decide
  • GO: action plan
teaching creativity
Teaching creativity
  • Sternberg, R. & Williams, W. 24 Teaching for creativity: two dozen tips
  • http://www.cdl.org/resource-library/articles/teaching_creativity.php
  • Norman Jackson, ‘Tackling the wicked problem of creativity in HE’
  • http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sceptre/documents/TACKLINGTHEWICKEDPROBLEM09.pdf
  • Allen, M. (1997) Smart thinking, Oxford UP
  • Brookfield, S. (1987) Developing critical thinkers, Open UP
  • Brookfield, S. (2005) The power of critical theory for adult learning and teaching, Open UP
  • Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical thinking skills, Palgrave
  • De Bono, E. (1993) Teach your child how to think, Penguin
  • Rubenfeld, M & Scheffer, B. (1999) Critical thinking in Nursing, Lippincott, USA
  • Thompson, A. (1996) Critical Reasoning, Routledge