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Helping College Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills Angela Provitera McGlynn.

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1 Helping College Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills Angela Provitera McGlynn

2 Biography Professor Emeritus of Psychology, MCCC Author of several books and numerous articles; regular contributor to The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Latest books: see slide towards end of presentation National Consultant on Teaching and Learning Issues; Trainer for Transformation Associates, LLC Web site: E-mail address:


4 Objectives Participants will learn: What critical thinking, also known as “deep” thinking, entails How to develop discussion questions that promote critical thinking How to use specific teaching strategies that promote critical thinking

5 Question What is the one thing you hope to learn from today’s webinar?

6 What is Critical Thinking? “Critical thinking describes the process we use to uncover and check our assumptions.” Stephen Brookfield, (2006, Developing Critical Thinkers, p. 11)

7 What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self- disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.  Paul and Elder, (2006, p.4)

8 What is Critical Thinking? Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it  (Paul and Elder, 2006, p.4)

9 What is Critical Thinking? The “critical” thinker Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards

10 What is Critical Thinking? The critical thinker… Thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences, and Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

11 What is Critical Thinking? There are four common threads that appear in most descriptions of critical thinking: Reasoned Thinking Problem Solving Fair-minded Evaluation Informed Judgments Nancy Halstead and Janice Tomson, (ETS Project, June 2006)

12 What is Critical Thinking? It is “deeper” than memorization and recall of factual information. When students think critically, they think deeply; they not only know the facts, but they take the additional step of going beyond the facts to do something with them. Critical thinking involves reflecting on the information received, moving away from “surface” memorization and toward deeper levels of learning. (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

13 What is Critical Thinking? It Involves a shift away from viewing learning as the reception of information from teacher or text (in pre-packaged form) to viewing learning as an elaboration and transformation of received information into a different form by the learner. (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

14 What is Critical Thinking? This broad definition of critical thinking does not equate critical thinking with the cognitive process of evaluation or critique; instead, it incorporates evaluation as one specific form or type of critical thinking. This is an important distinction, not only for the purpose of definitional clarity, but also for the practical purpose of combating the prevalent student misconception that critical thinking means being “being critical.”  (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

15 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking a) “What are the implications of ___?” (b) “Why is ___ important?” (c) “What is another way to look at ___?” Questions that ask students to reflect on their own thinking processes and to identify what particular form of critical thinking they are using – metacognition (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

16 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking “After students have communicated their ideas, either orally via group discussions or in writing via minute papers, I periodically ask them to reflect on what type of critical thinking my question was designed to promote and whether they think they demonstrated that critical thinking in their response. I typically ask them to record their personal reflections in writing, either working individually or in pairs; in the latter case, their task is to listen and record the reflections shared by their partner.” (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

17 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking …One distinguishing characteristic of high- achieving college students is that they tend to reflect on their thought processes during learning and are aware of the cognitive strategies they use (Weinstein & Underwood, 1985). (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

18 Metacognition: Thinking about Thinking…

19 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking Additional research indicates that students can learn to engage in such “meta-cognition” (thinking about thinking) if they are regularly asked self-assessment questions, which require reflection on their own thought processes. When students learn to routinely ask themselves these questions, the depth and quality of their thinking are enhanced (Resnick, 1986) (Joe Cuseo, Questions that Promote Deeper Thinking, Oncoursenewsetter)

20 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking Higher-level thinking questions Open-ended questions aimed at provoking divergent thinking Go beyond knowledge-level recall Should promote evaluation and synthesis of facts and concepts Should start or end with words or phrases such as “explain,” “compare,” “why”  (Walker, S.E. Active Learning Promotes Critical Thinking)

21 Please develop one “higher-level” thinking question in your discipline Please share with a partner Activity

22 Developing Discussion Questions to Promote Critical Thinking Socratic questioning Focuses on clarification Probes or explores the meaning, justification, or logical strength of a claim or position How is X similar or different from Y? Debate format gets students to see multiple sides of an issue  (Walker, S.E. Active Learning Promotes Critical Thinking)

23 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking Ask students to summarize in writing and orally what the teacher or another student has said Ask students to elaborate on what has been said either by giving examples and using their own words Ask students to make connections between related concepts PROMOTING ACTIVE LEARNING (How to Improve Student Learning: A Miniature Guide for those who teach) by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder

24 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking Ask students to state the most important concept of the class thus far (Angelo and Cross,1993) Ask students to state the most confusing point of the class thus far (Angelo and Cross, 1993) Ask students to discuss any of the above with a partner for 30 seconds, and then ask them to participate in a class discussion

25 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking Ask students to deliberate on real-life situations such as mock jury trials Ask students to write and/or present persuasive arguments that are data and evidence based Get students to debate content-related material (Halstead and Tomson, 2006)

26 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking Get students to keep journals on their reactions and evaluations of what they read for class Create problem-solving exercises and get students to work collaboratively Give students essays to write that ask them to interpret, synthesize, analyze, and evaluate material (Halstead and Tomson, 2006)

27 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking JiTT Just-in-Time Teaching developed at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996 and has since spread rapidly across disciplines, various types of institutions, and course levels

28 Teaching Strategies that Promote Critical Thinking According to Gregor Novak, Professor Emeritus at IUPUI, who spearheaded the development of JiTT and is now co-director of the JiTTDL (digital library) project, the heart of the JiTT approach is the “feedback loop” formed by the students’ preparation outside of class that affects what happens during the subsequent in-class session.

29 JiTT Just-in-Time Teaching JiTT incorporates web-based materials with classroom instruction to maximize the in-class and outside-of-class learning environments JiTT engages students in the course material by posting weekly questions for students that require outside of class reading and responses.

30 JiTT Just-in-Time Teaching The instructor gathers the responses prior to the class lecture/discussion period “Just-in- time” to use them to clarify any misconceptions about course content and then guides students through follow-up in- class activities What happens in class is determined by an analysis of students’ prior responses

31 JiTT Just-in-Time Teaching JiTT enhances student involvement because students come to class having recently completed their web assignment; therefore, they come ready to participate. Students typically also feel empowered since they know that what will happen in class depends in part on what they and their classmates have formulated.

32 JiTT Fosters Class Discussions

33 JiTT Just-in-Time Teaching Highly flexible, JiTT can be adapted to different disciplines, different courses and levels, varying class schedules, and different instructor preferences. The basic component is always the feedback loop between what students do during class and what they do prior to and after class.

34 Adding Tools to Your Trade/Art What can you do that you haven’t tried before to help your students develop critical thinking skills?

35 Appendix Bloom’s Taxonomy and Revision

36 Bloom’s Taxonomy Bloom, B.S. (1956) In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. During the 1990's a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom's), updated the taxonomy reflecting relevance to 21st century work (Pohl, M. Website:

37 Bloom’s Taxonomy Bloom, B.S. (1956) Bloom’s Taxonomy used the categories knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Anderson and her colleagues changed the nouns to verbs and altered the highest levels of thinking – remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating (Pohl, M. Website: htm)

38 Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised Version (Anderson, L.W. et al., 2000) 1. Remembering: can the student recall or remember the information? 2. Understanding: can the student explain ideas or concepts? 3. Applying: can the student use the information in a new way? 4. Analysing: can the student distinguish between the different parts? 5. Evaluating: can the student justify a stand or decision? 6. Creating: can the student create new product or point of view? 1. define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, state 2. classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select, translate, paraphrase 3. choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write 4. appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, examine, experiment, question, test 5. appraise, argue, defend, judge, support, evaluate 6. assemble, construct create, design, develop, formulate, write

39 Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions Bloom, B.S. (1956) Knowledge  Who, what, when, where, how...?  Describe Comprehension  Retell... Application  How example of...?  How is...related to...?  Why is...significant?

40 Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions Bloom, B.S. (1956) Analysis  What are the parts or features of...?  Classify...according to...  Outline/diagram...  How with...?  What evidence can you list for...?

41 Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions Bloom, B.S. (1956) Synthesis  What would you predict/infer from...?  What ideas can you add to...?  How would you create/design a new...?  What might happen if you combined...?  What solutions would you suggest for...?

42 Bloom’s Taxonomy Questions Bloom, B.S. (1956) Evaluation  Do you agree...?  What do you think about...?  What is the most important...?  Place the following in order of priority...  How would you decide about...?  What criteria would you use to assess...?

43 Angela’s most recent books by Atwood Publishing, 888 242-7101,

44 References Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., & Cruikshank, K.A. (2000). A Taxonomy of Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Allyn & Bacon, 2 nd. Edition. Angelo,T.A. and Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, Second Ed., San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

45 References Astin, A.W. (1993) What Matters in College? Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Bonwell C.C. and Eison, J.A. (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington DC: George Washington Univesity School of Education and Human Development

46 References Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1:The Cognitive Domain, NY: David McKay Co., Inc. The Case for Learner-Centered Education, ON Course Newsletter,

47 References Brookfield, S. (2006). Developing Critical Thinkers, from “Workshop Materials, PowerPoints, Book Extracts,” Brufee, K.A. (1993). Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the Authority of Knowledge, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

48 References Cuseo, J. (1996). Cooperative Learning: Pedagogy for Addressing Contemporary Challenges and Critical Issues in Higher Education. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press. Cuseo, J. Oncoursenewsletter, 30.htm Halstead, N. and Tomson, J. Unpublished, Critical Thinking, ETS Project June 2006.

49 References Novak, Patterson, Gavin, & Christian’s Just- In-Time Teaching: Blending Active Learning with Web Technology,(1999), Benjamin Cummings Publishers Paul, R. and Elder, L. ((2006). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, The Foundation for CriticalThinking,

50 References Paul, R., and Elder, D. (2002). How to Improve Student Learning: A Miniature Guide for those who teach: 30 Practical Ideas. The Foundation for Critical Thinking, Pohl, M. Website re Bloom’s Taxonomy, oms_taxonomy.htm).

51 References Resnick, L. B. (1986). Education and learning to think. Special Report. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Walker, S. E., Active Learning Strategies to Promote Critical Thinking, 2003 Jul–Sep, Journal of Athletic Training. 38(3): 263–267.

52 References Weinstein, C. E., & Underwood, V. L. (1985). Learning strategies: The how of learning. In J. W. Segal, S. F. Chapman, & R. Glaser (Eds.), Thinking and learning skills (pp. 241-258). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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