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Teaching Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Stephen Brookfield University of St. Thomas www.stephenbrookfield.com Tweet: #tc5815 Stephen Brookfield.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Stephen Brookfield University of St. Thomas www.stephenbrookfield.com Tweet: #tc5815 Stephen Brookfield."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Stephen Brookfield University of St. Thomas Tweet: #tc5815 Stephen Brookfield University of St. Thomas Tweet: #tc5815

2 Finding a Common Language What language will communicate a commonly shared intellectual project that will communicate a shared understanding of what critical thinking entails – for both students and faculty across all disciplines? A process of APPRAISAL Appraise Accuracy / Validity of ASSUMPTIONS Explore ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES What language will communicate a commonly shared intellectual project that will communicate a shared understanding of what critical thinking entails – for both students and faculty across all disciplines? A process of APPRAISAL Appraise Accuracy / Validity of ASSUMPTIONS Explore ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES

3 A Process of Appraisal Critical thinking as a process of appraisal – we judge the accuracy & validity of assumptions by viewing them from different perspectives Appraisal means sometimes our assumptions are accurate & make sense - & here’s why Focusing on Appraisal means we avoid students thinking critical thinking is a process of always finding fault, demolition What We Appraise Is How Accurate Are Procedures We Use to Establish Valid Knowledge – thinking like a ……. ??? Critical thinking as a process of appraisal – we judge the accuracy & validity of assumptions by viewing them from different perspectives Appraisal means sometimes our assumptions are accurate & make sense - & here’s why Focusing on Appraisal means we avoid students thinking critical thinking is a process of always finding fault, demolition What We Appraise Is How Accurate Are Procedures We Use to Establish Valid Knowledge – thinking like a ……. ???

4 Someone Who Thinks Critically Can … Identify Assumptions Behind Thinking & Actions Check Assumptions for Accuracy & Validity View Ideas & Actions from Multiple Perspectives Take Informed Action Identify Assumptions Behind Thinking & Actions Check Assumptions for Accuracy & Validity View Ideas & Actions from Multiple Perspectives Take Informed Action

5 An Informed Action… One Based on Assessed Evidence or Experience One That Has Its Assumptions Known & Checked One That Stands a Chance of Achieving Its Intended Consequence One That has a Rationale that Can Be Clearly Explained One Based on Assessed Evidence or Experience One That Has Its Assumptions Known & Checked One That Stands a Chance of Achieving Its Intended Consequence One That has a Rationale that Can Be Clearly Explained

6 Why Is Critical Thinking Difficult? Because it’s hard for us to see our own assumptions without some kind of peer assistance Because we don’t want to questions assumptions – life becomes more difficult Because year olds are grappling with their intellectual development Because it’s hard for us to see our own assumptions without some kind of peer assistance Because we don’t want to questions assumptions – life becomes more difficult Because year olds are grappling with their intellectual development

7 Developmentally year olds are.. Moving to ‘Formal Operations’ Stage Starting to Think Abstractly & Conceptually Can formulate hypotheses Understand cause & effect Can apply problem-solving protocols Moving to ‘Formal Operations’ Stage Starting to Think Abstractly & Conceptually Can formulate hypotheses Understand cause & effect Can apply problem-solving protocols

8 Developmentally year olds struggle with… Dialectical thinking – holding 2 ideas in tension; i.e. good leaders should be transparent about the reasons for their actions –v- in some situations the LAST thing you want is to be transparent about your actions Contextuality/Relativism – behavior & action can only be fully understood in its historical/social/intellectual context, & context changes EVERYTHING Dialectical thinking – holding 2 ideas in tension; i.e. good leaders should be transparent about the reasons for their actions –v- in some situations the LAST thing you want is to be transparent about your actions Contextuality/Relativism – behavior & action can only be fully understood in its historical/social/intellectual context, & context changes EVERYTHING

9 Developmentally we’re headed to adulthood Post-formal Operations (Jan Sinnott): adults who can tolerate ambiguity, understand the role of context Informed Commitment (William Perry): adults who can confidently commit to a theory, explanation, or course of action – all the while acknowledging this will be changed & reframed if experience convinces us to do so Post-formal Operations (Jan Sinnott): adults who can tolerate ambiguity, understand the role of context Informed Commitment (William Perry): adults who can confidently commit to a theory, explanation, or course of action – all the while acknowledging this will be changed & reframed if experience convinces us to do so

10 Appraising Knowledge How Students Speak I assume this idea is accurate because it’s what you told me I assume this is the right action to fit this situation because my experience tells me so I assume this is the right action to fit this situation because that’s what I saw you do I assume this scholarship is legitimate because it’s in the text I am going to act this way because I assume that’s what others do in this situation I assume I have understood you correctly because here’s my precis of your point I assume this idea is accurate because it’s what you told me I assume this is the right action to fit this situation because my experience tells me so I assume this is the right action to fit this situation because that’s what I saw you do I assume this scholarship is legitimate because it’s in the text I am going to act this way because I assume that’s what others do in this situation I assume I have understood you correctly because here’s my precis of your point

11 How Students Check Assumptions 4 Typical Approaches This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by my peers (Groupthink) This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by experts (Dependence on Authority as De-Facto Correct) This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by own experience (Self-Delusion, Denial & Blind Spots) This assumption is accurate because I have tested it out (Flawed Problem Posing) This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by my peers (Groupthink) This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by experts (Dependence on Authority as De-Facto Correct) This assumption is accurate because it is corroborated by own experience (Self-Delusion, Denial & Blind Spots) This assumption is accurate because I have tested it out (Flawed Problem Posing)

12 Categories of Assumptions CAUSAL - purport to explain a sequence of events: retroactive or predictive PRESCRIPTIVE - assumptions about how things should happen, we should behave PARADIGMATIC - framing, structuring assumptions viewed as obvious, common sense, taken for granted CAUSAL - purport to explain a sequence of events: retroactive or predictive PRESCRIPTIVE - assumptions about how things should happen, we should behave PARADIGMATIC - framing, structuring assumptions viewed as obvious, common sense, taken for granted

13 A Personal Example Clinical Depression is Caused by External Circumstances The Way to Deal With It Is To Reason Through It & Tell Yourself To Snap Out of It Medications Are For Those Too Weak To Deal With The World Rooted in Ideology: PATRIARCHY (Men are to be entrusted with making decisions by virtue of their superior rationality & logic) Clinical Depression is Caused by External Circumstances The Way to Deal With It Is To Reason Through It & Tell Yourself To Snap Out of It Medications Are For Those Too Weak To Deal With The World Rooted in Ideology: PATRIARCHY (Men are to be entrusted with making decisions by virtue of their superior rationality & logic)

14 A Pedagogic Example If I get to class early & arrange the chairs in circles, students will feel respected when they walk in. This will reduce the distance between me & them, & will also create a relaxed, congenial environment for learning The Circle is an Arena of Surveillance I am being Coerced into Speech before you have earned the right to expect that If I get to class early & arrange the chairs in circles, students will feel respected when they walk in. This will reduce the distance between me & them, & will also create a relaxed, congenial environment for learning The Circle is an Arena of Surveillance I am being Coerced into Speech before you have earned the right to expect that

15 The Circle Causal: Having Chairs in a Circle creates a Relaxed, Respectful Environment for Learning Prescriptive: Good educators Create a Relaxed Environment Paradigmatic: I Have Power Over My Classroom Environment Causal: Having Chairs in a Circle creates a Relaxed, Respectful Environment for Learning Prescriptive: Good educators Create a Relaxed Environment Paradigmatic: I Have Power Over My Classroom Environment

16 TRADITIONS - ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY – logical fallacies, argument analysis – inductive, deductive, analogical, inferential A good critical thinker is someone who can spot flaws in arguments, identify illogical thought, detect correct & incorrect ladders of inference that someone has constructed, excel in debate, speak articulately, be alert to misuse of language & rhetorical tricks, and consistently identify evidence for assumptions & arguments ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY – logical fallacies, argument analysis – inductive, deductive, analogical, inferential A good critical thinker is someone who can spot flaws in arguments, identify illogical thought, detect correct & incorrect ladders of inference that someone has constructed, excel in debate, speak articulately, be alert to misuse of language & rhetorical tricks, and consistently identify evidence for assumptions & arguments

17 TRADITIONS – NATURAL SCIENCE NATURAL SCIENCE – hypothetical-deductive method, principle of falsifiability A good critical thinker is someone who can generate a plausible hypothesis to explain a sequence of events, can set up an experiment to test the validity of that hypothesis, knows how to respond if the hypothesis is disproven, and views knowledge/theories as valid only if that knowledge/theory is open to being disproved. NATURAL SCIENCE – hypothetical-deductive method, principle of falsifiability A good critical thinker is someone who can generate a plausible hypothesis to explain a sequence of events, can set up an experiment to test the validity of that hypothesis, knows how to respond if the hypothesis is disproven, and views knowledge/theories as valid only if that knowledge/theory is open to being disproved.

18 TRADITIONS – CRITICAL THEORY CRITICAL THEORY – uncovering power dynamics, identifying hegemony &pushing back against ideological manipulation A critical thinker is a student who is constantly asking questions about power dynamics in the classroom, in the wider community, and in the discipline. They question who decides what counts as legitimate knowledge & frequently challenge teachers authority & the authority of experts in the field. They consistently link classroom work to broader issues of social justice & equity CRITICAL THEORY – uncovering power dynamics, identifying hegemony &pushing back against ideological manipulation A critical thinker is a student who is constantly asking questions about power dynamics in the classroom, in the wider community, and in the discipline. They question who decides what counts as legitimate knowledge & frequently challenge teachers authority & the authority of experts in the field. They consistently link classroom work to broader issues of social justice & equity

19 TRADITIONS - PRAGMATISM PRAGMATISM – experimental pursuit of beautiful consequences (democracy) A critical thinker is someone who is always open to rethinking positions & considering new perspectives. They view their actions as contingent & open to improvement & refinement. They regard experience as an important guide to action & see the future as open. Teachers often work pragmatically PRAGMATISM – experimental pursuit of beautiful consequences (democracy) A critical thinker is someone who is always open to rethinking positions & considering new perspectives. They view their actions as contingent & open to improvement & refinement. They regard experience as an important guide to action & see the future as open. Teachers often work pragmatically

20 When Are Students Ready to Think Critically? When they have some grasp of the “Grammar” of a Subject (R.S. Peters) Content Grammar – the building blocks of knowledge, fundamental concepts Epistemological Grammar – the criteria used to judge good & bad scholarship, establish legitimate & illegitimate knowledge When they have some grasp of the “Grammar” of a Subject (R.S. Peters) Content Grammar – the building blocks of knowledge, fundamental concepts Epistemological Grammar – the criteria used to judge good & bad scholarship, establish legitimate & illegitimate knowledge

21 Question What most helps students to think critically?

22 What Students Say … By Instructors MODELING, MODELING & MODELING When It’s Sequenced – Begin by Learning Protocols & Over Time Apply These to Our Own Reasoning Social Learning Process – Peers as Critically Reflective Mirrors By Instructors MODELING, MODELING & MODELING When It’s Sequenced – Begin by Learning Protocols & Over Time Apply These to Our Own Reasoning Social Learning Process – Peers as Critically Reflective Mirrors

23 Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ) MOMENT MOST ENGAGED AS LEARNER MOMENT MOST DISTANCED ACTION MOST HELPFUL ACTION MOST CONFUSING WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST MOMENT MOST ENGAGED AS LEARNER MOMENT MOST DISTANCED ACTION MOST HELPFUL ACTION MOST CONFUSING WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST

24 HOW ADMINISTERED? Last 5 minutes of Class Anonymous Frequency Analysis of Main Themes Reported Out at Start of Next Class Disclose How Results Confirm or Challenge Your Assumptions / Provide New Perspectives Disclose Any Changes You Will Make Negotiation NOT Capitulation Last 5 minutes of Class Anonymous Frequency Analysis of Main Themes Reported Out at Start of Next Class Disclose How Results Confirm or Challenge Your Assumptions / Provide New Perspectives Disclose Any Changes You Will Make Negotiation NOT Capitulation

25 Assumptions Inventories - Teachers Here’s the Assumptions I’m Working Under (Causal, Prescriptive, Paradigmatic) Here’s Why I Think they’re Accurate & Valid – Evidence / Expert Corroboration Here’s How My Assumptions have been Confirmed / Deepened Here’s How My Assumptions have Been Challenged Here’s the New Assumptions I’ve Discovered Here’s the Assumptions I’m Working Under (Causal, Prescriptive, Paradigmatic) Here’s Why I Think they’re Accurate & Valid – Evidence / Expert Corroboration Here’s How My Assumptions have been Confirmed / Deepened Here’s How My Assumptions have Been Challenged Here’s the New Assumptions I’ve Discovered

26 Assumptions Inventories - Teachers When Constructing this Argument as a Scholar or Taking This Action as a Practitioner here’s:- The Evidence That Was Most Accessible to Me The Evidence I Took Most Seriously The Evidence Most Open to Question When Constructing this Argument as a Scholar or Taking This Action as a Practitioner here’s:- The Evidence That Was Most Accessible to Me The Evidence I Took Most Seriously The Evidence Most Open to Question

27 Assumption Inventories -Teachers In Assessing My Argument or Action: Here’s Where I Judge Further Inquiry is Needed Here’s How I Judge the Learning To Fit Clinical Practice Here’s My Assumptions That Could Not Be Checked Adequately Here’s a Different Way I Could Have Thought / Acted In Assessing My Argument or Action: Here’s Where I Judge Further Inquiry is Needed Here’s How I Judge the Learning To Fit Clinical Practice Here’s My Assumptions That Could Not Be Checked Adequately Here’s a Different Way I Could Have Thought / Acted

28 Assumptions Inventories - Students As I completed this assignment, here’s… Assumptions I held about the topic that were confirmed / strengthened / deepened Assumptions I held about the topic that were challenged / disturbed New perspectives or interpretations of the topic I considered The most pressing questions about the topic I’m left with As I completed this assignment, here’s… Assumptions I held about the topic that were confirmed / strengthened / deepened Assumptions I held about the topic that were challenged / disturbed New perspectives or interpretations of the topic I considered The most pressing questions about the topic I’m left with

29 Ending With Questions At the end of a lecture or discussion you end by asking yourself (& students via tweeting) …. What’s been missing from this analysis? What most needs further scrutiny? What are the chief critiques of what I’ve been saying? What unresolved questions am I left with? What are the most troubling questions we’ve raised today? At the end of a lecture or discussion you end by asking yourself (& students via tweeting) …. What’s been missing from this analysis? What most needs further scrutiny? What are the chief critiques of what I’ve been saying? What unresolved questions am I left with? What are the most troubling questions we’ve raised today?

30 ‘Speaking in Tongues’ 3-4 signs posted around the auditorium, each reflects a distinct theory/analytical framework When you stand under a sign you speak ONLY in the language & perspective of that theory When students ask questions you go to different stations & answer them ONLY from that perspective 3-4 signs posted around the auditorium, each reflects a distinct theory/analytical framework When you stand under a sign you speak ONLY in the language & perspective of that theory When students ask questions you go to different stations & answer them ONLY from that perspective

31 What do YOU think professor? You give 2 or 3 Answers – Only 1 Represents Your Actual Opinion Students Vote on Whether They Think Answer A), B) or C) is Correct Students Assemble in Groups Based on their Responses – all A’s, all B’s & all C’s In Answer Groups they Discuss Why They Chose Their Particular Answer Class Assembles & Groups Give their Reasons You Disclose Which Was Your Actual Opinion You give 2 or 3 Answers – Only 1 Represents Your Actual Opinion Students Vote on Whether They Think Answer A), B) or C) is Correct Students Assemble in Groups Based on their Responses – all A’s, all B’s & all C’s In Answer Groups they Discuss Why They Chose Their Particular Answer Class Assembles & Groups Give their Reasons You Disclose Which Was Your Actual Opinion

32 Instructor Point-Counterpoint Models Productive Questioning Respectful Disagreement Different Perspectives Perspective Taking Thoughtful Silence Models Productive Questioning Respectful Disagreement Different Perspectives Perspective Taking Thoughtful Silence

33 Structured Devil’s Advocacy The Clint Eastwood Chair Here’s information that’s inconvenient for your argument What about these ethical / philosophical issues you ignored? What would you say to this criticism? Here’s an assumption that bears further examination The Clint Eastwood Chair Here’s information that’s inconvenient for your argument What about these ethical / philosophical issues you ignored? What would you say to this criticism? Here’s an assumption that bears further examination

34 Chalk Talk Instructor writes a question in the middle of the board 5-10 minutes of silence is declared Students write responses to the question on the board whenever they feel ready Students & instructor draw lines between similar comments & add reactions & comments/questions Ends when board is full or posting stops Students photo board & post on Blackboard Instructor writes a question in the middle of the board 5-10 minutes of silence is declared Students write responses to the question on the board whenever they feel ready Students & instructor draw lines between similar comments & add reactions & comments/questions Ends when board is full or posting stops Students photo board & post on Blackboard

35 What Stops It? No Scaffolding Definitions, Explanations & Examples of CT Provided in the Syllabus – Same Definition Embedded in School Wide Program & Course Descriptions Assessment Rubrics Distributed Containing Examples of Critical Thinking Participation Post Examples of Good (& Bad) Student Work Where Critical Thinking is Evident Each Assignment Provides an Example of CT All Assignments Ask Students to Identify & Research Assumptions Definitions, Explanations & Examples of CT Provided in the Syllabus – Same Definition Embedded in School Wide Program & Course Descriptions Assessment Rubrics Distributed Containing Examples of Critical Thinking Participation Post Examples of Good (& Bad) Student Work Where Critical Thinking is Evident Each Assignment Provides an Example of CT All Assignments Ask Students to Identify & Research Assumptions

36 Critical Thinking Rubric To What Extent Did You…. Provide evidence to confirm or challenge your argument Identify assumptions you held about the topic that were confirmed and challenged Introduce a new idea, perspective or piece of relevant information Ask question(s) that led to a new line of analysis Provide evidence to confirm or challenge your argument Identify assumptions you held about the topic that were confirmed and challenged Introduce a new idea, perspective or piece of relevant information Ask question(s) that led to a new line of analysis

37 What Stops It? No Scaffolding Assignments Ask Students to Judge Validity of Different Sources Used – web sites, textbooks, wikipedia, etc. Assignments Ask Students to Spot the Deliberate Error (1 per unit / module) Assignments & Activities Use Common Language of Assumptions - Causal, Prescriptive, Paradigmatic Assignments Contain Example (s) of How the Instructor Has Thought Critically About the Topic Assignments Ask Students to Judge Validity of Different Sources Used – web sites, textbooks, wikipedia, etc. Assignments Ask Students to Spot the Deliberate Error (1 per unit / module) Assignments & Activities Use Common Language of Assumptions - Causal, Prescriptive, Paradigmatic Assignments Contain Example (s) of How the Instructor Has Thought Critically About the Topic

38 What Stops It? No Scaffolding Assignments Ask Students to Summarize Assumptions that Have been Confirmed &/or Challenged Asks Students to Report New Perspectives or Viewpoints End By Asking Students To Raise at least Two Questions about the Topic that the Assignment has Generated Assignments Ask Students to Summarize Assumptions that Have been Confirmed &/or Challenged Asks Students to Report New Perspectives or Viewpoints End By Asking Students To Raise at least Two Questions about the Topic that the Assignment has Generated

39 What Stops It? No Scaffolding Intro. Course for All Incoming Freshmen Begins with Generic Real-Life Scenarios (reasons for applying to the university, expectations of what it means to be a student, future goals, assumptions regarding workload, assessment etc.). Branch into Subject Specific Examples Provides Videos of Former Students Talking About How Critical Thinking Manifested Itself in Their Studies Provides Videos of Faculty Explaining How They Apply Critical Thinking in Work & Life Intro. Course for All Incoming Freshmen Begins with Generic Real-Life Scenarios (reasons for applying to the university, expectations of what it means to be a student, future goals, assumptions regarding workload, assessment etc.). Branch into Subject Specific Examples Provides Videos of Former Students Talking About How Critical Thinking Manifested Itself in Their Studies Provides Videos of Faculty Explaining How They Apply Critical Thinking in Work & Life

40 Assessing Critical Thinking Pre-test / Post test (Simulations, Scenarios) Student Critical Thinking Audits Standardized Tests (Ennis-Weir, New Jersey, California, CAAP, Watson-Glaser) Learning Journals Re. Applications in Practice Multiple Choice Questions in Each Unit Specifically on Assumptions / Evidence Pre-test / Post test (Simulations, Scenarios) Student Critical Thinking Audits Standardized Tests (Ennis-Weir, New Jersey, California, CAAP, Watson-Glaser) Learning Journals Re. Applications in Practice Multiple Choice Questions in Each Unit Specifically on Assumptions / Evidence


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