University of Louisville, Fall 2011 Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY )

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Teaching Critical Thinking (are we really doing it?!). University of Louisville, Fall 2011 Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY ). Take a minute and write: What words occur to you when you hear Critical Thinking?. Share your list with others at your table. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Gateway Courses and beyond

University of Louisville, Fall 2011

Tine Reimers, Ph.D. University at Albany (SUNY)

Teaching Critical Thinking(are we really doing it?!)1 Take a minute and write:

What words occur to you when you hear Critical Thinking?

2Get with your table, pick the top 5 concepts. Be ready to report. Share your list with others at your table.

Choose the 5 most important elements of CT from those lists.

Be prepared to report on your choices. Learning as information-reception

VS

Learning as problem-solving(analyzing & using information)4Critical Thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.

(Richard Paul and Linda Elder)5Its easy to change what people know.

Its much harder to change how people think.6Dimensions of Critical Thinking (its more than just reasoning skills)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 change in your way of thinking

An attitude of inquiry (this can be learned!!!)T7What are the conditions for teaching critical thinking?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 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 thinking8The research problem:Which student study and preparation practices lead to highest performance on a simple test of knowledge (understanding and recall)?

B9A formal study conducted by a professor of Psychology (McKelvie) from U Michigan.Beginning psychology course200 normed studentsAll students covered the exact same materialAll students took identical exam5 Groups of students; 5 different preps10The 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) B11Work alone:

Predict and rank the performance of the student groups from best to worst:

1 = Best5 = Worst

WRITE DOWN YOUR RANKINGS for each item12Work 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)13Based on your teams answers, what are your assumptions about what students need to do to retain information?B14Time out!!Facilitating critical thinking

Task (serious but playful): Ask for a decision requiring students to work with incomplete information (e.g., interpretation; prediction; assessment of new situations)

Structure the decision as a choice among limited options

Encourage an analysis of the decision (by asking for consensus).

Make explicit the assumptions driving decisions.

Provoke reflection: Compare thinking with actual results; look at additional information

T15The 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.B16In 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 lectureAttending classTaking notesTaking time off to let memory do its workReviewing notes before an examHaving accurate notes to study

B17Time out!!Facilitating critical thinking

Task (serious but playful): Ask for a decision requiring students to work with incomplete information (e.g., interpretation; prediction; assessment of new situations)

Structure the decision as a choice among limited options

Encourage an analysis of the decision (by asking for consensus).

Make explicit the assumptions driving decisions.

Provoke reflection: Compare thinking with actual results; look at additional information

Make explicit any changes in thinkingT18Attitude development is the goalFrequent experiences (practice) making decisions and explaining/defending them. (This takes timesee Mazur, Felder)

Group/Team-based tasks that allow candid analysis without the presence of an authority (see Michaelsen and Fink)

Public comparisons of group decisions to model critical reflective process (see Michaelsen)

Challenging tasks (and grading schemes) that do not overly penalize failures for experimental thinking

19Speculative 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?

20

Critical thinking questions raised by McKelvies studyWhats the real function of a lecture? A reading assignment?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?Whats the best use of class time? How do we ensure that students cover content on their own before class, so class time can be used for more ambitious goals????

21The Case of the Troublesome Pit

Work in groups at your table to answer the following questions about the case.

Given the test question, what seem to be the professors assumptions about what students should learn in this course?

What is the students assumption about what she should learn in this course?

22The 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?

23A Meta-cognitive moment:

Teaching with Mini-Cases: Every piece of writing is a problem if we ask good questions about itPurpose: 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 perspectivesidentify the assumptions at work in the pieceimagine the precedents or causes of what is describedimagine 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, newspapers24The 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.

T25 The role of incomplete information

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.

26A 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

27Note the position of beginner in a field: we all revert when we dont know.By giving them practice in situations of ambiguity and uncertainty Whats a concept that these seven items have in common?

Adjust the temperature of your aquarium to where your fish will survive

Play Beethovens Moonlight Sonata flawlessly from memory

Underline all the adjectives in a sentence

Reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton

Knit the sweater on the cover of Octobers issue of Knitting Magazine

Invent a battery that can power a car for 200 miles

Shoot a 75 in golf

2 items that do not share the same concept

Write down your height and weight

Sell more raffle tickets than the other class membersB29What is the essential idea or concept suggested by the foregoing examples?30What was the process you used to come to a conclusion about the concept governing these activities? 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!Answer here32Conceptual 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.

BTwo modes of learning concepts1) 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?TMaking narratives that explainGlobal-inductive tendency: projects an evolving, open-ended narrative onto knowledge-making

Analytic-deductive tendency: restricts narration-building to using prescribed schemas based on established definitionsT35For faster cognitive engagement:

Teach to relations first, rather than definitionsObserve, map the relationships among ideasCompare/ContrastDraw org charts and flow chartsCreate a physical sketch of a complex ideaMath: do estimations, conceptual solutions before calculations

36Beginning 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

37University teaching methods need to reflect

Less centrality of the expert (if YOUre leading the parade, what are the students doing?)

A systematic effort to change students view of information: --from sacred to secular--from treasure to tool

B38The 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.

39So lets practice

Make a prediction: What sort of data will be generated by a given study/experiment set-up?

T40The case of the neo-scientists

(Inhelder & Karmiloff-Smith Cognition 3,3 195-212)

T41The case of the neo-scientists60 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)T42What 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.T432. 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.

T44Meta-Cognitive MomentWork 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?How did the participants respond? Describe and characterize the interaction among participants in the groups.

45 The essential role of Incomplete Information

Missing information invites inquiry that simulates disciplinary thinking

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.

Limiting information allows the activity to focus on concepts, rather than on answers (i.e., determined by algorithm, applied formula or by calculation)B46An expert is someone who attempts to give a complete explanation of reality, but never has enough information to do so.

B47Difficulty:

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.

B48Meta-cognitive moment:

What I did to problematize the psychological researchRemoved the data:(the results of the research were stripped from the research question)

Asked participants to predict data (success rates)

Asked participants to give reasons for their prediction (flow chart)

B49Why flow charts?Visual representations work best as assignments, not simply as examples.

Graphs and chartsIllustrations, sketchesTablesEquationsDiagramsB50When students create visual representationsThey develop the ability to represent concretely complex ideas and abstractions

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

B51Results of the experiment (FINALLY!!!)Children all began by balancing blocks at their geometric center

When this failed, they placed blocks more and more precisely and systematically at their geometric center

They were surprised when this didnt work

Younger children (6yrs) continued the same pattern, finally declaring the project impossibleT52Results (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...

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