Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’
Teaching & Assessing Soft Skills
Communication in Person & Online (available in PDF format here: Communication in Person Online Rubric)
|Limited, to no, participation in discussions.
Does not come to discussions prepared. As a result, fails to support statements with evidence from texts and other research.
Few attempts to ask questions or build on ideas shared.
Frequently violates the “dos and don’ts of online communication.”
|Limited participation in discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with various partners.
Does not consistently come to discussions prepared. Limited preparation and inability to support statements with evidence from texts and other research reflects lack of preparation.
Limited attempts to ask questions, build on ideas shared, or invite quieter voices into the conversation.
Hesitant to respond to other perspectives and fails to summarize points or make connections.
Occasionally violates the “dos and don’ts of online communication.”
|Participates in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners.
Comes to discussions prepared, having read and researched material. Draws on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic.
Attempts to drive conversations forward by asking questions, building on ideas shared, and inviting quieter voices into the conversation.
Responds to diverse perspectives, summarizes points, and makes connections.
Respects the “dos and don’ts for online communication.”
|Initiates and participates effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners.
Comes to discussions prepared with a unique perspective, having read and researched material; explicitly draws on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic.
Propels conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate to the current discussion. (Adds depth by providing a new, unique perspective to the discussion.)
Responds thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizes points of agreement and disagreement, and makes new connections. Leans in and actively listens.
Makes eye contact, speaks loud enough to be heard, and body language is strong.
Respects the “dos and don’ts for online communication.”
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, (available in PDF format here: Critical Thinking Problem Solving Rubric)
|Reflects surface level understanding of information.
Unable or unwilling to evaluate quality of information or draw conclusions about information found.
Does not try to solve problems or help others solve problems. Lets others do the work.
Does not actively seek answers to questions or attempt to find information. Does not seek out peers or ask teacher for guidance or support.
|Attempts to dive below the surface when analyzing information but work lacks depth.
Struggles to evaluate the quality of information and does not draw insightful conclusions about information found.
Does not suggest or refine solutions, but is willing to try out solutions suggested by others.
Asks teachers or other students for answers but does not use online tools, like Google and YouTube, to attempt to answer questions or find information.
|Demonstrates a solid understanding of the information.
Evaluates the quality of information and makes inferences/draws conclusions.
Refines solutions suggested by others.
Attempts to use online tools, like Google and YouTube, to seek answers and find information.
|Demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the information.
Effectively evaluates the quality of information and makes inferences/draws conclusion that are insightful.
Actively looks for and suggests solutions to problems.
Uses online tools, like Google and YouTube, to proactively seek answers and find information.
Collaboration & Contributions in a Team Dynamic (available in PDF format here: Collaboration Contributions in a Team Dynamic Rubric)
|Fails to listen to, share with, and support the efforts of team members making accomplishing a task more difficult for the team.
Frequently inattentive or distracting when team members talk. Requires frequent redirection by team members and/or teacher.
Body language does not reflect engagement in the process. Focus on leaning in, asking questions, actively listening (e.g. make eye contact).
Rarely offers feedback. Frequently becomes impatient, frustrated, and/or disrespectful.
Limited attempts to move between roles.
Does not use resources to support the team’s work.
|Attempts to listen to, share with, and support the efforts of team members are limited or inconsistent.
Does not always listen when team members talk and requires redirection by team members and/or teacher.
Body language does not reflect engagement in the process. Focus on leaning in, asking questions, actively listening (e.g. make eye contact).
Occasionally offers feedback. At times, becomes impatient or frustrated with the process making teamwork more challenging.
Limited attempts to move between roles.
Does not consistently use resources to support the team’s work.
|Listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of team members.
Listens when team members talk.
Attempts to engage in group tasks; however, body language does not consistently communicate interest or attention. Body language reflects engagement in the process, but there is room for improvement.
Offers feedback and treats team members with respect. At times, becomes impatient or frustrated with the process making teamwork more challenging.
Attempts to be flexible and move between roles; at times dominates a particular role. This is an area of potential growth.
Uses resources to support the team’s work.
|Consistently listens to, shares with, and supports the efforts of team members.
Leans in and actively listens when team members talk.
Body language communicates interest in team tasks and engagement in the process.
Offers constructive feedback, treats team members with respect, and is patient with the process.
Creates balance on the team moving between responsibilities without dominating any one role.
Uses resources effectively to support the team’s work.
more on soft skills in this IMS blog
Do critical thinking skills give graduates the edge?
It has long been claimed that critical thinking ability sets graduates apart. But are universities really preparing students for the modern workplace? David Matthews reports
what value is higher education supposed to add? And how is this different from what school or vocational education offer?
A further question is whether even the academic brand of critical thinking is being particularly well taught at university. According to Bryan Greetham, a philosopher and university researcher who has written several books on how students and professionals can improve their thinking, “We tend to want to do the simple thing – which is to teach students what to think, not how to think.”
This was most famously explored in the 2011 book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. The authors, American sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, found that 45 per cent of US undergraduates failed to significantly improve their critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills during their first two years at university. Other US-based studies have raised similar concerns. One from 2009, “Improving Students’ Evaluation of Informal Arguments”, published in the Journal of Experimental Education, warned that college and high school students have “difficulty evaluating arguments on the basis of their quality”.
But if universities don’t have the resources to offer intensive classes, could they weave the teaching of critical thinking skills into regular teaching? Britt thinks that academics can easily make time for quick “check-ins” during their lectures to ensure that their students understand what they’ve been told.
High school experience, of course, varies enormously by country. In France, studying philosophy – arguably the closest that traditional disciplines get to explicit critical thinking courses – is compulsory. In England, meanwhile, the critical thinking A level has recently been scrapped.
As well as calls for critical thinkers and smart thinkers, there are also frequent demands from politicians for more “entrepreneurial” university graduates – who, instead of joining graduate recruitment programmes at large employers, might start their own businesses.
Universities should ban PowerPoint — It makes students stupid and professors boring
An article in The Conversation recently argued universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring.
Originally for Macintosh, the company that designed it was bought by Microsoft. After its launch the software was increasingly targeted at business professionals, especially consultants and busy salespeople.
As it turns out, PowerPoint has not empowered academia. The basic problem is that a lecturer isn’t intended to be selling bullet point knowledge to students, rather they should be making the students encounter problems. Such a learning process is slow and arduous, and cannot be summed up neatly. PowerPoint produces stupidity, which is why some, such as American statistician Edward Tufte have said it is “evil”.
Of course, new presentation technologies like Prezi, SlideRocket or Impress add a lot of new features and 3D animation, yet I’d argue they only make things worse. A moot point doesn’t become relevant by moving in mysterious ways. The truth is that PowerPoints actually are hard to follow and if you miss one point you are often lost.
While successfully banning Facebook and other use of social media in our masters programme in philosophy and business at Copenhagen Business School, we have also recently banned teachers using PowerPoint. Here we are in sync with the US armed forces, where Brigadier-General Herbert McMaster banned it because it was regarded as a poor tool for decision-making.
Courses designed around slides therefore propagate the myth that students can become skilled and knowledgeable without working through dozens of books, hundreds of articles and thousands of problems.
A review of research on PowerPoint found that while students liked PowerPoint better than overhead transparencies, PowerPoint did not increase learning or grades
Research comparing teaching based on slides against other methods such as problem-based learning – where students develop knowledge and skills by confronting realistic, challenging problems – predominantly supports alternative methods.
PowerPoint slides are toxic to education for three main reasons:
- Slides discourage complex thinking.
- students come to think of a course as a set of slides. Good teachers who present realistic complexity and ambiguity are criticised for being unclear. Teachers who eschew bullet points for graphical slides are criticised for not providing proper notes.
- Slides discourage reasonable expectations
Measuring the wrong things
If slide shows are so bad, why are they so popular?
Exams, term papers and group projects ostensibly measure knowledge or ability. Learning is the change in knowledge and skills and therefore must be measured over time.
When we do attempt to measure learning, the results are not pretty. US researchers found that a third of American undergraduates demonstrated no significant improvement in learning over their four-year degree programs.
They tested students in the beginning, middle and end of their degrees using the Collegiate Learning Assessment, an instrument that tests skills any degree should improve – analytic reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving and writing.
more on [why not to use] PowerPoint in this IMS blog
NMC Releases Horizon Project Strategic Brief on Digital Literacy
Anaheim, California (October 25, 2016) — The New Media Consortium (NMC) has released Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief in conjunction with the 2016 EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.
This project was launched because there is a lack of consensus across the field about how to define digital literacy and implement effective programs. A survey was disseminated throughout the NMC community of higher education leaders and practitioners to understand how digital literacy initiatives are impacting their campuses. The NMC’s research examines the current landscape to illuminate multiple models of digital literacy — universal literacy, creative literacy, and literacy across disciplines — around which dedicated programs can proliferate a spectrum of skills and competencies.
p. 8-10 examples across US universities on digital literacy organization
p. 12 Where does support for digital literacy come from your institution? Individual people
p. 13. campus libraries must be deeply embedded in course curriculum. While libraries have always supported academic institutions, librarians can play a more critical role in the development of digital literacy skills. Historically, these types of programs have been implemented in “one-off” segments, which are experienced apart from a student’s normal studies and often delivered in a one-size-fits-all method. However, an increasing number of academic libraries are supporting a more integrated approach that delivers continuous skill development and assessment over time to both students and faculty. This requires deeper involvement with departments and agreeing on common definitions of what capacities should be achieved, and the most effective pedagogical method. Librarians are tasked with broadening their role in the co-design of curriculum and improving their instruction techniques to work alongside faculty toward the common goal of training students to be savvy digital researchers. University of Arizona Libraries, for example, found that a key step in this transition required collaborating on a common instructional philosophy.
more on digital literacy in this IMS blog:
Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Practical Points
By: Linda B. Nilson, PhD
Critical thinking scholars also agree that questions are central to students acquiring critical thinking skills. We must ask students challenging, open-ended questions that demand genuine inquiry, analysis, or assessment—questions like these:
- What is your interpretation/analysis of this passage/data/argument?
- What are your reasons for favoring that interpretation/analysis? What is your evidence?
- How well does your interpretation/analysis handle the complexities of the passage/data/argument?
- What is another interpretation/analysis of the passage/data/argument? Any others?
- What are the implications of each interpretation/analysis?
- Let’s look at all the interpretations/analyses and evaluate them. How strong is the evidence for each one?
- How honestly and impartially are you representing the other interpretations/analyses? Do you have a vested interest in one interpretation/analysis over another?
- What additional information would help us to narrow down our interpretations/analyses?
Some teaching methods naturally promote inquiry, analysis, and assessment, and all of them are student-active (Abrami et al., 2008). Class discussion may be the strongest, and it includes the debriefings of complex cases, simulations, and role plays. However, debates, structured controversy, targeted journaling, inquiry-guided labs, and POGIL-type worksheets (https://pogil.org/) are also effective.
more on critical thinking in this IMS blog
digital literacy planning tool
Digital literacy = technology use + critical thinking + social awareness
7 characteristics of a digital mindset
The digital five forces – Social Media, Big Data, Mobility and Pervasive Computing, Cloud, and AI and Robotics – are disintermediating, disrupting and deconstructing the old world order.
Comfort with Ambiguity
Scientific Studies on Literacy and Digital Literacy Indexed in Scopus: A Literature Review (2000-2013)
the study of digital tools linked to these new literacies is absolutely necessary, particularly because Web 2.0 allow users to interact and cooperate together as content creators in a virtual community. Although this concept may suggest a new version of the World Wide Web (WWW), it really does not refer to an update of the technical features, but rather to the changes concerning the use and interaction through the Web.
More on digital literacy in this blog:
the use of social media, personal versus institutional, or personal in the context of an institutional repercussions, is a complex and thorny issue. How much can one criticize the institution in their personal social media? And if the institution responds, when does it become silencing the social media as expression of free speech?
Is the article below touching only a specific [political] issue, or academia, as an institution, goes beyond this issue in imposing on freedom of speech?
Why I Was Fired
My tweets might appear uncivil, but such a judgment can’t be made in an ideological or rhetorical vacuum. Insofar as “civil” is profoundly racialized and has a long history of demanding conformity, I frequently choose incivility as a form of communication. This choice is both moral and rhetorical.
Academics are usually eager to contest censorship and deconstruct vague charges of vulgarity. When it comes to defending Israel, though, anything goes.
Students are capable of serious discussion, of formulating responses, of thinking through discomfort. They like my teaching because I refuse to infantilize them; I treat them as thinking adults. My philosophy is simple: Teach them the modes and practices of critical thought and let them figure out things on their own.
Professors are often punished for disrupting convention in informal ways, however. My case is interesting because administrators ignored the de facto standards that regulate our behavior and exercised their power directly. This should be worrisome to any scholar who isn’t a sycophant.
The coming of “academic capitalism” has been anticipated and praised for years; today it is here.
Benjamin Ginsberg points out that in the past 30 years, the administrator-to-student ratio has increased while the instructor-to-student ratio has stagnated. The rise of untenured, or non-tenure-track, faculty exacerbates the problem; a significant demographic in academe lacks job security or the working conditions that allow them to maximize their pedagogical talent. Over a recent 10-year period, spending on administration outpaced spending on instruction. At American universities, there are now more administrators and their staffers than full-time faculty. In the past 10 years, administrative salaries have steadily risen while custodians and groundskeepers suffer the inevitable budget cuts — as do the students whose tuition and fees supplement this largess.
When so much money is at stake, those who raid the budget have a deep interest in maintaining the reputation of the institution. Their privilege and the condition of the brand are causally related. The brand thus predominates. Its predominance often arrives at the expense of student well-being.
critical thinking is a terribly undesirable quality in the corporate world, much more damning than selfishness or sycophancy. Let us then be honest about critical thinking: On the tongues of cunning bureaucrats, it is little more than an additive to brand equity, the vainglorious pomp of smug, uptight automatons who like to use buzzwords in their PowerPoint presentations.
Critical thinking by faculty is even more undesirable. In research institutions, we are paid to generate prestige and to amass grant money; in teaching-centered colleges, we enjoy excess enrollments according to fine-tuned equations that maximize the student-teacher ratio. (In elite liberal-arts colleges, we pamper the kids with simulations of parental affection.) Critical thinking is especially harmful to adjuncts, reliant as they are for income on the munificence of well-paid bosses who cultivate a distended assemblage of expendable employees.
more on social media in this IMS blog:
Does social media make room for critical thinking?
social media critical thinking
Sinprakob, S., & Songkram, N. (2015). A Proposed Model of Problem-based Learning on Social Media in Cooperation with Searching Technique to Enhance Critical Thinking of Undergraduate Students. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 174(International Conference on New Horizons in Education, INTE 2014, 25-27 June 2014, Paris, France), 2027-2030. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.871
Bailey, A. (2014). Teaching Alice Walker’s The Color Purple: Using Technology and Social Media To Foster Critical Thinking and Reflection. Virginia English Journal, 64(1), 17.
Eales-Reynolds, L., Gillham, D., Grech, C., Clarke, C., & Cornell, J. (2012). A study of the development of critical thinking skills using an innovative web 2.0 tool. Nurse Education Today, 32(7), 752-756. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.05.017
Baldino, S. (2014). The Classroom Blog: Enhancing Critical Thinking, Substantive Discussion, and Appropriate Online Interaction. Voices From The Middle, 22(2), 29.
Ravenscroft, A., Warburton, S., Hatzipanagos, S., & Conole, G. (2012). Designing and evaluating social media for learning: shaping social networking into social learning?. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(3), 177-182. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00484.x
finding ways to capture meaningful informal learning experiences by explicitly linking these to formal structures, and providing frameworks within which informal learning can then be validated and accredited (Cedefop Report 2007).
Education is clearly a social process but it is probably much closer to an ongoing discussion or debate than an extended celebration with an ever-expanding network of friends (p. 179, Ravenscroft et al.)
the community of inquiry (COI) model developed by Garrison and Anderson (2003) and social network analysis (SNA). European Commission-funded integrated
project called MATURE (Continuous Social Learning in Knowledge Networks), which is investigating how technology-mediated informal learning leads to improved knowledge practices in the digital workplace
Key to using social media is the ability to stand back and evaluate the credibility of a source of information, apart from the actual content. While developing this critical attitude toward traditional media is important, the attitude is even more crucial in the context of using social media because information didn’t go through the vetting process of formal publication. Can the student corroborate the information from multiple sources? How recent is this information? Are the author’s credentials appropriate? In other words, the ability to step back, to become aware of the metatext or metacontext is more important than ever.
Coad, D. T. (2013). Developing Critical Literacy and Critical Thinking through Facebook. Kairos: A Journal Of Rhetoric, Technology, And Pedagogy, 18(1).
Many instructors believe that writing on social networking sites undermines the rhetorical skills students learn in class because of the slang and abbreviations often used on these sites; such instructors may believe that social networks are the end of students’ critical awareness when they communicate. Johndan Johnson-Eilola and Stuart A. Selber (2009) contended that electronic writing forms actually require “sophisticated skills of understanding concrete rhetorical situations, analyzing audiences (and their goals and inclinations), and constructing concise, information-laden texts, as a part of a dynamic, unfolding, social process” (p. 18). It is this dynamic process that makes social networking a perfect match for the composition classroom and for teaching rhetorical skills: It helps students see how communication works in real, live rhetorical situations. Many students do not believe that communication in these media requires any kind of valuable literacy skills because they buy into the myth of how the news media portray social networks as valueless forms of communication that are decaying young people’s minds. This is why I introduced students to the passage from Invisible Man: to get them thinking about what kinds of skills they learn on Facebook. I found the text useful for helping them acknowledge the skills they are building in these writing spaces.
Stuart A. Selber (2004) in Multiliteracies for a Digital Age criticized so-called computer literacy classes for having “focused primarily on data representations, numbering systems, operating systems, file formats, and hardware and software components” rather than on the task of teaching students to be “informed questioners of technology” (p. 74). In a time when, as Sheelah M. Sweeny (2010) noted, “the ability to stay connected with others is constant,” it is increasingly important to engage composition students in critical thinking about the spaces they write in (p. 121). It is becoming clearer, as technology giants such as Google® and Apple® introduce new technologies, that critical literacy and critical thinking about technology are necessary for our students’ futures.
Valentini, C. (2015). Is using social media “good” for the public relations profession? A critical reflection. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 170-177. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2014.11.009
p. 172 there is no doubt that digital technologies and social media have contributed to a major alteration in people’s interpersonal communications and relational practices. Inter- personal communications have substantially altered, at least in Western and developed countries, as a result of the culture of increased connectivity that has emerged from social media’s engineering sociality ( van Dijck, 2013 ), which allows anyone to be online and to connect to others. Physical presence is no longer a precondition for interpersonal communication.
(Jiping) The Pew Research Center ( Smith & Duggan, 2013 , October 21) indicates that one in every ten American adults has used an online dating site or mobile dating app to seek a partner, and that in the last eight years the proportion of Americans who say that they met their current partner online has doubled. Another study conducted by the same organization ( Lenhart & Duggan, 2014 , February 11) shows that 25% of married or partnered adults who text, have texted their partner while they were both home together, that 21% of cell-phone owners or internet users in a committed relationship have felt closer to their spouse or partner because of exchanges they had online or via text message. Another 9% of adults have resolved online or by text message an argument with their partner that they were having difficulty resolving person to person ( Lenhart & Duggan, 2014 , February 11). These results indicate that digital technologies are not simply tools that facilitate communications: they have a substantial impact on the way humans interact and relate to one another. In other words, they affect the dynamics of interpersonal relations
The 12 Characteristics of A Critical Thinker Teachers Should Be Aware of