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University of Louisville, Fall 2011 Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY) Teaching Critical Thinking (are we really doing it?!)

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Presentation on theme: "University of Louisville, Fall 2011 Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY) Teaching Critical Thinking (are we really doing it?!)"— Presentation transcript:

1 University of Louisville, Fall 2011 Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY) Teaching Critical Thinking (are we really doing it?!)

2 Take a minute and write: What words occur to you when you hear Critical Thinking?

3 Share your list with others at your table. Share your list with others at your table. Choose the 5 most important elements of CT from those lists. Choose the 5 most important elements of CT from those lists. Be prepared to report on your choices. Be prepared to report on your choices.

4 Learning as information-reception VS Learning as problem-solving (analyzing & using information)

5 Critical Thinking is… self-directed, self- disciplined, self-monitored, and self- corrective thinking. (Richard Paul and Linda Elder)

6 Its easy to change what people know. Its much harder to change how people think.

7 Dimensions of Critical Thinking ( its more than just reasoning skills) A self-awareness of your operating assumptions and dominant values A self-awareness of your operating assumptions and dominant values A self-awareness of your thought processof how you came up with an answer A self-awareness of your thought processof how you came up with an answer A self-awareness of change in your way of thinking A self-awareness of change in your way of thinking An attitude of inquiry (this can be learned!!!) An attitude of inquiry (this can be learned!!!) T

8 What are the conditions for teaching critical thinking? Identify and make explicit precisely how critical thinking is manifested in your discipline (goals) Identify and make explicit precisely how critical thinking is manifested in your discipline (goals) Ensure that your tests and graded assignments actually address those same targeted dimensions. Ensure that your tests and graded assignments actually address those same targeted dimensions. Ensure that lesson and course design target those same targeted dimensions (practice) Ensure that lesson and course design target those same targeted dimensions (practice) Be willing to change how you teach when students fail to develop the targeted ways of thinking Be willing to change how you teach when students fail to develop the targeted ways of thinking

9 The research problem: Which student study and preparation practices lead to highest performance on a simple test of knowledge (understanding and recall)? B

10 A formal study conducted by a professor of Psychology (McKelvie) from U Michigan …. Beginning psychology course Beginning psychology course 200 normed students 200 normed students All students covered the exact same material All students covered the exact same material All students took identical exam All students took identical exam 5 Groups of students; 5 different preps 5 Groups of students; 5 different preps

11 The Experiment _____Group A: Listened to the lecture, did not take notes, and took the exam one week later. _____Group B: Did not listen to the lecture, were given a copy of professors lecture notes, reviewed notes before taking exam one week later. _____Group C: Listened to the lecture, took notes, reviewed notes before taking exam one week later. _____Group D: Listened to the lecture, took notes, but did not review notes before taking the exam one week later. _____Group E: Did not attend lecture, did not receive a copy of the lecture notes, were not enrolled in the course, had never taken the course, and took the exam cold. (Adapted from the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, Vol. 18, no. 1) B

12 Work alone: Predict and rank the performance of the student groups from best to worst: 1 = Best5 = Worst WRITE DOWN YOUR RANKINGS for each item

13 Work in groups at your table. As a group now combine your thinking to reach consensus on your prediction. 1 = Best5 = Worst Record your teams final answers on the colored sheet of paper (one set of answers only)

14 Based on your teams answers, what are your assumptions about what students need to do to retain information? B

15 Time out!! Facilitating critical thinking 1.Task (serious but playful): Ask for a decision requiring students to work with incomplete information (e.g., interpretation; prediction; assessment of new situations) 2.Structure the decision as a choice among limited options 3.Encourage an analysis of the decision (by asking for consensus). 4. Make explicit the assumptions driving decisions. 5.Provoke reflection: Compare thinking with actual results; look at additional information T

16 The Experiment _____Group C: Listened to lecture, took notes, reviewed notes before taking exam. _____Group B: Did not listen to lecture, were given professors notes, reviewed notes before taking exam. Differences between these groups were statistically insignificant: Group A: Attended lecture, did not take notes, and took exam. Group D: Attended lecture, took notes, did not review notes before taking exam. Group E:Were not in the course, had never taken course, did not attend lecture, took the exam cold. B

17 In light of this experiment, which of the following practices proved more or less important for retaining information and performing well on exams: Listening to a lecture Attending class Taking notes Taking time off to let memory do its work Reviewing notes before an exam Having accurate notes to study B

18 Time out!! Facilitating critical thinking 1.Task (serious but playful): Ask for a decision requiring students to work with incomplete information (e.g., interpretation; prediction; assessment of new situations) 2.Structure the decision as a choice among limited options 3.Encourage an analysis of the decision (by asking for consensus). 4. Make explicit the assumptions driving decisions. 5.Provoke reflection: Compare thinking with actual results; look at additional information 6.Make explicit any changes in thinking T

19 Attitude development is the goal 1. Frequent experiences (practice) making decisions and explaining/defending them. (This takes timesee Mazur, Felder) 2. Group/Team-based tasks that allow candid analysis without the presence of an authority (see Michaelsen and Fink) 3. Public comparisons of group decisions to model critical reflective process (see Michaelsen) 4. Challenging tasks (and grading schemes) that do not overly penalize failures for experimental thinking

20 Speculative inquiries that model and foster critical thinking (educated guess BEFORE coverage) Psychology: Which of these practices aids memory? Art: Which of these 4 artists is mostly likely to have painted this picture. Why? Chemistry: If you add Ajax Detergent to this solution, which of the following is most likely to happen? Why? History: Which of the following persons is the most likely author of this document? Or, When was this document most likely to have been written? Why?

21 Critical thinking questions raised by McKelvies study 1. Whats the real function of a lecture? A reading assignment? 2. If McKelvies data is valid, and it doesnt matter much whether students read or listen to a lecture on the same content, what are the implications for the design of learning activities? 3. Whats the best use of class time? 4. How do we ensure that students cover content on their own before class, so class time can be used for more ambitious goals? 5. ???

22 The Case of the Troublesome Pit Work in groups at your table to answer the following questions about the case. 1.Given the test question, what seem to be the professors assumptions about what students should learn in this course? 2.What is the students assumption about what she should learn in this course?

23 The Case of the Troublesome Pit 3. As an instructor, what might you do to help change the thought process and learning attitude of this student?

24 A Meta-cognitive moment: Teaching with Mini-Cases: Every piece of writing is a problem if we ask good questions about it… Purpose: learn to think like a _______ (attitudinal and intellectual re-alignment) Process: questions tease students to read like experts in your discipline. For example… imagine 3 different readers with different perspectives imagine 3 different readers with different perspectives identify the assumptions at work in the piece identify the assumptions at work in the piece imagine the precedents or causes of what is described imagine the precedents or causes of what is described imagine the consequences of what is proposed imagine the consequences of what is proposed Source material: the texts of your discipline: paragraphs/images graphs, tables, spreadsheets, data sets, etc. lifted from textbooks, scholarly articles, newspapers

25 The Mini-Case Approach fosters effective assessment of critical thinking, by allowing us to observe how students function as independent thinkers in situations of complexity, ambiguity and incompleteness. T

26 The role of incomplete information Gaps in information force judgments that uncover students assumptions. Gaps in information force judgments that uncover students assumptions. Observing how students fill in gaps allows us to assess their thinking process and not merely the accuracy of their answer. Observing how students fill in gaps allows us to assess their thinking process and not merely the accuracy of their answer.

27 A mature thinker is not intimidated by ambiguity. An immature thinker expects order and certainty. So, how can we give help students become confident and skillful in dealing with the ambiguity, chaos and uncertainty of information? B

28 By giving them practice in situations of ambiguity and uncertainty By giving them practice in situations of ambiguity and uncertainty

29 Whats a concept that these seven items have in common? Adjust the temperature of your aquarium to where your fish will survive Adjust the temperature of your aquarium to where your fish will survive Play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata flawlessly from memory Play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata flawlessly from memory Underline all the adjectives in a sentence Underline all the adjectives in a sentence Reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton Reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton Knit the sweater on the cover of Octobers issue of Knitting Magazine Knit the sweater on the cover of Octobers issue of Knitting Magazine Invent a battery that can power a car for 200 miles Invent a battery that can power a car for 200 miles Shoot a 75 in golf Shoot a 75 in golf 2 items that do not share the same concept Write down your height and weight Write down your height and weight Sell more raffle tickets than the other class members Sell more raffle tickets than the other class members B

30 What is the essential idea or concept suggested by the foregoing examples?

31 What was the process you used to come to a conclusion about the concept governing these activities? What was the process you used to come to a conclusion about the concept governing these activities?

32 The role of Productive Frustration Students will be frustrated… –This can lead to some resistance from students –This will also lead to wanting to know the answer for itself!

33 Conceptual understanding in this case grows from making sequential judgments that build one upon the other. Each example invites an attempt to project the governing idea. B

34 Two modes of learning concepts 1) Global conceptualization (induction: experience and reflection accrues toward an idea, sometimes suddenly) – –Whats the idea in this example? – –How do new examples alter my idea? 2) Analytic conceptualization (deduction: idea is fixed, not initially in play) – –What s the definition/idea? – –How do examples fit the definition/idea? T

35 Making narratives that explain Global-inductive tendency: projects an evolving, open-ended narrative onto knowledge-making Analytic-deductive tendency: restricts narration- building to using prescribed schemas based on established definitions T

36 For faster cognitive engagement: Teach to relations first, rather than definitions Observe, map the relationships among ideas Observe, map the relationships among ideas Compare/Contrast Compare/Contrast Draw org charts and flow charts Draw org charts and flow charts Create a physical sketch of a complex idea Create a physical sketch of a complex idea Math: do estimations, conceptual solutions before calculations Math: do estimations, conceptual solutions before calculations

37 Beginning students need more, early and frequent practice with the ambiguity and uncertainty of situational data… …not just better explanations of theories or more complete information. (A bad textbook can be a more effective learning tool than a good textbook) B

38 University teaching methods need to reflect… Less centrality of the expert… Less centrality of the expert… (…if YOUre leading the parade, what are the students doing?) A systematic effort to change students view of information: A systematic effort to change students view of information: --from sacred to secular --from treasure to tool B

39 The primary goal for teachers focused on critical thinking: Students need to learn how to manage their encounters with what is new, unfiltered, unfamiliar, and untidy. Note: this wont happen through traditional read- lecture-test practices. 1. The students experience of this struggle will need to be carefully designed. 2. Students will need daily practice with this kind of challenge.

40 So lets practice… Make a prediction: What sort of data will be generated by a given study/experiment set- up? T

41 The case of the neo-scientists (Inhelder & Karmiloff-Smith Cognition 3, ) T

42 The case of the neo-scientists 60 Children: ages 6, 7, 8 Task: Children are asked to balance numerous wooden blocks of various shapes on a fixed, narrow, horizontal bar set just above the floor. Special conditions: some of the blocks are just plain blocks; others are conspicuously weighted off-center (i.e. with a weight in one side); others are weighted off-center, but not conspicuously (i.e. with a weight hidden inside the block) T

43 What do you think will happen? Work in groups. 1. Estimate success/failure rates for the children and be prepared to justify your predictions. Indicate whether your estimates apply to the entire group of children, or to subsets. T

44 2. Predict what you think the childrens process to balance blocks will be. In your prediction draw a flow chart showing the physical and/or mental steps of this process. T

45 Meta-Cognitive Moment Work in groups. You are no longer the participants in the discussion of the case. You are now observers visiting this workshop. Describe what just happened: What did the facilitator ask participants to do? What did the facilitator ask participants to do? How did the participants respond? How did the participants respond? Describe and characterize the interaction among participants in the groups. Describe and characterize the interaction among participants in the groups.

46 The essential role of Incomplete Information Missing information invites inquiry that simulates disciplinary thinking Missing information invites inquiry that simulates disciplinary thinking Gaps in information force judgments that reveal students understanding and assumptions. Gaps in information force judgments that reveal students understanding and assumptions. Observing how students fill in gaps allows us to assess their thinking process and not merely the accuracy of their answer. Observing how students fill in gaps allows us to assess their thinking process and not merely the accuracy of their answer. Limiting information allows the activity to focus on concepts, rather than on answers (i.e., determined by algorithm, applied formula or by calculation) Limiting information allows the activity to focus on concepts, rather than on answers (i.e., determined by algorithm, applied formula or by calculation) B

47 An expert is… …someone who attempts to give a complete explanation of reality, but never has enough information to do so. …someone who attempts to give a complete explanation of reality, but never has enough information to do so. B

48 Difficulty: Teaching through gaps in information makes students uncomfortable!!! Students say, If the teacher does not tell me the answers, shes not doing her job!!! I dont like it when the teacher answers my question with another question. B

49 Meta-cognitive moment: What I did to problematize the psychological research Removed the data: (the results of the research were stripped from the research question) Removed the data: (the results of the research were stripped from the research question) Asked participants to predict data (success rates) Asked participants to predict data (success rates) Asked participants to give reasons for their prediction (flow chart) Asked participants to give reasons for their prediction (flow chart) B

50 Why flow charts? Visual representations work best as assignments, not simply as examples. Graphs and charts Graphs and charts Illustrations, sketches Illustrations, sketches Tables Tables Equations Equations Diagrams Diagrams B

51 When students create visual representations… They develop the ability to represent concretely complex ideas and abstractions They develop the ability to represent concretely complex ideas and abstractions It helps to link different parts of the brain (visual, image-building/language, abstraction) It helps to link different parts of the brain (visual, image-building/language, abstraction) Instructors are able to measure student comprehension and level of thinking Instructors are able to measure student comprehension and level of thinking B

52 Results of the experiment (FINALLY!!!) 1. Children all began by balancing blocks at their geometric center 2. When this failed, they placed blocks more and more precisely and systematically at their geometric center 3. They were surprised when this didnt work 4. Younger children (6yrs) continued the same pattern, finally declaring the project impossible T

53 Results (cont.) Older children (7-8) –Began to de-center the blocks, beginning with conspicuously weighted blocks –Gradually and reluctantly began to make corrections on inconspicuously weighted blocks –Took more time balancing the inconspicuously weighted blocks –Finally, started pausing before each item, roughly assessing its weight distribution by lifting it, then placed the block at the point of balance without attempting to balance it at the geometric center at all T

54 The Good News Children naturally use the scientific method! (Theories-in-action) Trial = gather data to test hypothesis Error or Success = data generated New trial = statement of new or revised hypothesis etc. Surprises caused by unexpected data lead to revision of theories, even at a very young age. T

55 The Bad News Complete beginners may lack perseverance and flexibility are easily frustrated. Complete beginners may lack perseverance and flexibility are easily frustrated. New theories-in-action are only reluctantly adopted by future experts New theories-in-action are only reluctantly adopted by future experts T

56 The Really Bad news We dont need to teach students scientific thinking (reflection in action)… …BUT…many common educational practices succeed in de- activating (de-motivating) this instinct. T


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