Presentation on theme: "Thinking: A Key Process for effective learning “The best thing we can do, from the point of view of the brain and learning, is to teach our learners how."— Presentation transcript:
Thinking: A Key Process for effective learning “The best thing we can do, from the point of view of the brain and learning, is to teach our learners how to think” (Jenson, 1996, p.163) “Thought is the key to knowledge. Knowledge is discovered by thinking, analyzed by thinking, organized by thinking, transformed by thinking, assessed by thinking, and, most importantly, acquired by thinking” (Paul, 1993 vii ) Thinking is the cognitive process that builds Understanding
So if we really want to develop students ability to think well, we must firstly be able to … A Big Question is similar to an “Essential Question” – a term used by Wiggins & McTighe
Problems of Definition “In schools, critical thinking has long been a buzz phrase. Educators pay lip service to its Importance, but few can tell me what they mean by the phrase or how they teach and test it...” (p.16) “For the most part, teachers haven’t been trained to teach students how to think.” (xxiv) (Wagner, T., 2010, The Global Achievement Gap) “...the heart of this problem is our failure to define such terms as critical thinking, problem solving, metacognition, reasoning, and abstract thinking. Without adequate definition and training, teachers lack the knowledge and skills to teach and test for these desirable but elusive human qualities” (Haladyna, T., 1997, Writing Test Items to Evaluate Higher Order Thinking, p.97)
I want good Thinking on this This involves Critical Thinking – have I seen this problem before, what are the likely causes, what information do I need to clearly interpret what’s occurring....? Good thinking, what’s that?
What is thinking? Thinking is goal-directed mental activity (conscious and subconscious) we do in order to solve problems Good Thinking requires a particular skill set and related ‘habits of mind’ that need cultivation and practice over time - but it is achievable and will result in better learning – as I will demonstrate
A Model of Thinking Metacognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis 6
Generating Possibilities What do we do when we generate possibilities? Generate many possibilities Generate different types of possibilities Generate novel possibilities Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis 7 All creative products involve the combining of old ideas or elements in new ways
Analysis What do we do when we analyse? Identify relationship of the parts to a whole in system /structure/model Identify functions of each part Identify consequences to the whole, if a part was missing Identify what collections of parts form important sub-systems of the whole Identify if and how certain parts have a synergetic effect Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis 8
Comparison and Contrast What do we do when we compare and contrast? Identify what is similar between things - objects/options/ideas, etc. Identify what is different between things Identify and consider what is important about both the similarities and differences Identify a range of situations when the different features are applicable Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis 9
Inference and Interpretation What do we do when we make inferences and interpretations? Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis Identify intentions and assumptions in data Separate fact from opinion in data Identify key points, connections, and contradictions in data Make meaning of the data/information available Establish a best picture to make predictions 10
Evaluation What do we do when we evaluate? Decide on what is to be evaluated Identify appropriate criteria from which evaluation can be made Prioritize the importance of the criteria Apply the criteria and make decision Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis 11
Metacognition What are we doing when we are metacognitive? Aware that we can think in an organized manner (and the barriers to it) Actively thinking about the ways in which we are thinking Monitoring and evaluating how effective we are thinking (including how our emotions and beliefs may be impacting the thinking process) Seeking to make more effective use of the different ways of thinking as well as any useful learning strategies, tools and resources Meta- cognition Comparison & Contrast Inference & Interpretation Evaluation Generating Possibilities Analysis
Metacognition plays a central role in learning by monitoring the quality of the overall (and specific aspects) of the thinking process, our emotional dispositions, as well as the choice and application of learning strategies and skills It operates at both conscious and sub/unconscious levels.
The Model of Thinking outlined here is most recently published in Chapter 2
Making Good Thinking Visible “...teachers have to make their own intellectual processes (their performances) visible. This means that the teacher-expert has to make visible to learners the otherwise invisible processes of thinking that underlie complex cognitive operations... Teachers have to articulate and demonstrate rather than assume the thought processes they want students to learn” (Sheppard et al, 2009, p.188)
Making Students Thinking Visible “We need to make thinking visible because it provides us with the information we as teachers need to plan opportunities that will take students’ learning to the next level and enable continued engagement with the ideas being explored. It is only when we understand what our students are thinking, feeling, and attending to that we can use that knowledge to further engage and support them in the process of understanding. Thus making students’ thinking visible becomes an ongoing component of effective teaching” (Ritchhart, Church & Morrison, 2011, p.27)
The Power of Questions in Promoting Thinking “Questions are the primary way we learn virtually everything” “Thinking itself is nothing but the process of asking and answering questions” (Anthony Robbins, 2001, pp.179-8) “All answers come out of the question. If we pay attention to our questions, we increase the power of meaningful learning” Ellen Langer
Strategy Remember, thinking is always thinking in relation to a topic area Be clear about the key concepts and principles that you want students to learn in a teaching session/segment Use questions to cue students thinking through the specific types of thinking that will help them to connect subject knowledge and build understanding Use an appropriate instructional strategy to fill in knowledge gaps as the learning process unfolds – this will be iterative until understanding is achieved
Example for YOU Learning outcome: Understand how major learning theories influence teaching practices Compare and contrast behaviourist and constructivist approaches to learning: What is similar between these two theories/perspectives? What is different between them? What is significant about the similarities and differences in terms of how students learn? Make inferences & interpretations from information on selected learning theories: How might this influence teaching approaches and practices? What assumptions underpin these predictions? What are possible impacts on student learning? Which approaches/practices are most appropriate for the students you teach and on what basis. What specific examples illustrate how this works?
Activity Select a topic area and a specific learning outcome(s) you intend to teach: Identify the key concepts and principles that are fundamental to understanding the structure of the topic area and meeting the specific learning outcome(s) Identify the main types of thinking involved in building understanding for the topic area and learning outcome(s) Analysis, comparison & contrast, inference and interpretation, evaluation, generating possibilities, metacognition Produce a question sequence that will structure the learning process for meeting the learning outcome(s) Note, you will need to identify appropriate instructional activities to build knowledge gaps