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Funny You Should Ask That! Official Program Title: Why? And Nine (or so) Other Questions to Enhance Critical Thinking in Even Brief Instruction Sessions.

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Presentation on theme: "Funny You Should Ask That! Official Program Title: Why? And Nine (or so) Other Questions to Enhance Critical Thinking in Even Brief Instruction Sessions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Funny You Should Ask That! Official Program Title: Why? And Nine (or so) Other Questions to Enhance Critical Thinking in Even Brief Instruction Sessions Susan Cooperstein Loyola/Notre Dame Library cooperstein@loyola.edu LOEX of the West – Calgary June 9, 2010

2 What kind of information do you need to support these statements and where will you get it?  It was a dark and stormy night.  License plates frequently give amusing advice to live by. Visualize whirled peas.  Women are smarter than men. (Used to demonstrate how to get students to determine appropriate types and sources of information. What kind of supporting information would you need? Where would you find it?)

3 It’s not what you ask; it’s HOW you ask it. Important concept: Constructivist learning moves from the action to the learning. The concept follows the action, not the other way around.

4 What is critical thinking? (There is no standard definition. Perhaps should really say we focus on higher order cognitive skills.)

5 All familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy Higher Order Cognitive Skills Analysis Synthesis Evaluation

6 Dean Cody (2006) Make them knowledgeable enough to understand why their search strategy retrieved a particular set of citations. Cody essentially said we are teaching “control.” “Students need to exhibit control over database search interfaces to attain relevant retrieval....” Instructional Objective

7 Richard Paul said “Knowledge comes from figuring things out.” Create an environment to exercise higher order skills.

8 Roughly Categorized Questions  Evaluation questions  Problem solving questions  Discrimination questions  What if questions  Challenge questions  Reflection questions

9 Evaluation Questions No real need to talk about these.

10 Problem-solving Questions  Modified problem based  Create a research question What might be a research question that you would create to look for information about “this” problem?  Take several different questions and talk about why appropriate /inappropriate (Usually focus on student responses using a biased term or question that is too broad/narrow/current. Students usually propose these.)

11 Questions that require students to discriminate  Ask the question – and ask them WHY Which are scholarly/popular  Given a list of articles –  And how did you decide? What is plagiarism/not Is this a book, chapter, article?  What are the clues? Is this a primary research article? Here are three sources for same support. Which would you choose as most useful to cite in your paper? Why?

12  Is this article relevant?  Can you use it? Does it meet the parameters of the assignment. Is it scholary? Or is it primary?  Who says so? Question authority. Mark Alfino described a Wikipedia exercise (based a Dieterling exercise) in which he had students examine the history of the article.

13 What If Questions  Show them the advantage of doing a “Subject Search” (Do it first wide open then show advantage of subject) (I usually do this with a two-sided handout – Keyword side with a very egregious false hit.) Year round schools Altruism  How can you cut this down? Narrow this search? (Add a term.)  Use a second term that doesn’t work as a subject Academic performance Gender differences  When they get zero results – What do “you” do now?

14 Lead them into deadends and ask them how to get out  Carefully designed question that won’t get them what they need  What if …? Don’t get enough – what can you do?  Or need to cover everything  They’ll propose several things  OK, let’s come up with another word  Where to put it?  What connector? What would happen if … we used all ANDs  Do the search – bad results – What happened?/Why? Is this even possible?  How to fix

15 Challenge Questions Example: Find scholarly journal articles on the validity and reliabilty of the Coopersmith Self- esteem Inventory. (Purposely misleading statement so that students need to determine that they should use “or” rather than “and.”)

16 Ask students to do something to convince others  What results did you get to the challenge question? Compare with others Convince others that you are right (Works well as a group activity. Students usually eager to figure this out.)

17 Reflection Questions  What?  So what?  Now what?

18 A Few Interesting References Spencer, J. & Millson-Martula, C. (Eds.) (2009) Critical Thinking Within the Library Program. London, England: Routledge. (Useful for ideas, though mostly for collaboration) Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Cody, D. E. Critical thoughts on critical thinking. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32, 403-407. Alfino, Mark; Pajer, Michele; Pierce, Linda; Jenks, Kelly O'Brien. (2008) Advancing critical thinking skills in first year college students. College & ndergraduate Libraries, 15(1/2) 81-98. DOI:10.1080/10691310802176871 (Also in Spencer)


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