Learn To Think Critically

Teach students to read critically by identifying problems/issues that arise out of the text and extending their reading into social understanding and/or action (see Naiditch 2017, cited below).

Incorporate group teamwork into your course, where students are presented with a problem they must solve.

For example, in a transportation geography course, you might have them examine a statement such as: "Many cities are incorporating bike lanes to encourage less reliance on cars and to increase the safety of cyclists." What questions does each group have about these goals?

Get students to ask more “Why” questions about the material being covered or that they are reading.

For example, in a class about factory farming, students might ask themselves "Why does factory farming have such a negative reputation in the public domain, even though there have been advances in animal care?

What kinds of information would the group need to assess the desirability and efficacy of bike lanes?

Have them search online resources in class to see if they can find reliable sources that would help with their assessment.

Ask students to keep a critical thinking journal, where they reflect upon their own understanding of various topics as the course progresses.

Flip your classroom, at least partially, and require students to do some short key readings on their own and/or take a short quiz before they come to class.

Lau & Chan (2015) further note that "Critical thinkers are able to deduce consequences from what they know, make use of information to solve problems, and seek relevant sources of information to inform him/herself. Although critical thinking skills can be used in exposing fallacies and bad reasoning, critical thinking can also play an important role in cooperative reasoning and constructive tasks." Currently, there is a strong academic debate about whether critical thinking is generalizable across disciplines, or whether there is a core set of critical thinking skills that can be nurtured (Schleuter, 2016).

Critical thinking should not be confused with being argumentative or being critical of other people.


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