Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Critical thinking

Promoting critical thinking is the result of deliberate curriculum design. Critical thinking should be an integral part of instructional strategies. Students are presented with problems and must solve them, or arrive at a solution. They must discern accurate information and identify ways that the information provided will help them arrive at a solution. Students must “think logically … analyze and compare … question and evaluate” information presented within a course or unit or assignment (Carr, 1988, p. 69).

Critical thinking activities focus on the acquisition of skills that:

  • Encourage students to identify relevant information (Mahaffy, 2006), and learn how to “detect and avoid fallacious reasoning and … analyze deductive and inductive arguments” (Kurfiss, 1988, p. iii);
  • Encourage students to develop information literacy skills and technological literacy skills (Center for Critical Thinking, 1998);
  • Encourage students to research effectively and efficiently (Mahaffy, 2006) by supporting arguments or conclusions with research (Kurfiss, 1988) and
  • Encourage students to communicate effectively their conclusions (Mahaffy, 2006) by reading and writing (Kurfiss, 1988), speaking and listening (Center for Critical Thinking, 1998).

Critical thinking, as a curricular element, focuses on assignments, rather than content (Kurfiss, 1988). This is not a discipline specific pedagogical process, but an instructional methodology.

Carr. K. (1988). How can we teach critical thinking? Childhood Education, 65(2), 69-73.

Center for Critical Thinking. (1998). Critical thinking: Basic theory and instructional structures. Wye Mills, MD: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Kurfiss, J. (1988). Critical thinking: Theory, research, practice, and possibilities. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 2. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Mahaffy, M. (2006). Encouraging critical thinking in student library research. College Teaching, 54(4), 324-327.
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