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Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Sunday, May 17, 2015, 12:58 AM
 

Hi all,

I'm looking forward to getting the chance to work in a small group with you this week, and I know that I'll be learning a lot from you.  My discussion question is as follows:

In Stephen Brookfield’s chapter “Effective Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking” he discusses that “Meyers observes that ‘by modeling reflective thought in lectures and discussion, teachers can do much to encourage this frame of mind in their students’” (qtd. in Brookfield 85).  Based on this conclusion, as well as what we have read and discussed over the past few weeks, what is one thing that you would model in an online environment to promote learners’ critical thinking, and what would you hope learners would gain?

 
Picture of Anne Wilkinson
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Anne Wilkinson - Monday, May 18, 2015, 2:30 PM
 

Hi Lisa,

In response to your question, many students in our Nursing Program take blended courses.  The discussion board is utilized to promote the students' awareness of a topic and it is used as part of the assignments each week of the course.  Our students are often new to online learning or blended classrooms.  They tend to sign up so that they have more “free days” to work.  Students believe that the blended course will be easier just from the fact that it has fewer on campus requirements. 

So the one thing that I like to do to promote critical thinking is modeling response/discussion techniques.  Per the article from Penn State: Introduction to Crafting Questions for On-line Discussions, there are two types of critical thinking strategies and this particular strategy is part of the facilitator acting as a clearing house to sort and prioritize thoughts on the discussion board. (pg 7).    This gives the students a chance to see “how to think” and “how to reply”. 

Critical thinking is always the goal of each of our nursing courses.  This article from Advance relates teaching critical thinking and how it applies at the bedside.  A few of the attributes of the critically thinking nurse are to pose questions and seek clarification, thoroughly investigate the problem, and practice intellectual curiosity and perseverance which is in congruence with the Penn State article and the article on Stategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking.

In your work with English Literature,  how much modeling do you need to do with your students in face-to-face discussions?  Are students ready to ask deeper questions fo their peers and do they reply with any other questioning?

Anne

References

Lorenz, J. (2012). Critical Thinking at the Bedside.  Advance for  Nurses      Retrieved May 18, 2015 from http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Continuing-Education/CE-Articles/critical-thinking-at-the-bedside.asp

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:01 AM
 

Anne,

Thanks so much for directing us to the site about critical thinking for nurses; I think it's such a great idea to provide students with a sense of purpose for what they're learning, aside from the material alone; the skills they learn in your program will, no doubt, carry on far beyond the classroom/class website. 

Although teaching critical thinking is a logical part of my discipline, I, unfortunately, find that so many students are coming in lacking the needed skills.  They seem to be the products of an education that has prepared them for standardized tests--not thinking for themselves.  So, in answer to your question, yes, I have to work a lot on modeling the behaviors that will serve them well in my class, the other classes they'll take in college, as well as beyond their college experience.  I've found that since many of them lack the critical reading and thinking skills necessary for class discussion, I'll create questions that they can use to guide their reading.  These questions revolve around higher levels of thought (Bloom's Taxonomy), and it's a good place for them to start.  When we come to class, I often will group the students together and have them discuss one of the questions with a few other students, and then they can learn what others have annotated from the text.  As we discuss, I use a lot of Socratic questioning to guide students to deeper, more critical analysis. Here's an interesting article on Socratic questioning if you're interested.

 

Picture of Anne Wilkinson
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Anne Wilkinson - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 8:28 PM
 

Thanks for the link to the Socratic questioning!  I especially liked section on Endless Content:

"Feeding students endless content to remember (that is, declarative sentences or “facts” to remember) is akin to repeatedly stepping on the brakes in a vehicle that is, unfortunately, already at rest."  

Many students are more comfortable with facts but in today's world students need to know how to question and think deeply.  I like your approach of giving them questions to help with the readings and then moving them deeper in the classroom.  I think your approach would be adaptable to an online section also.  

Anne

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Thursday, May 21, 2015, 9:05 AM
 

Thanks, Anne! Your feedback about my approach being adaptable to an online class is music to my ears since I'll be starting to work on getting my first online class together once spring semester is over.

Cynthia Koons, RDH, MBA
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Cynthia Koons - Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 2:20 PM
 

Lisa,

According to the Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Programs, our graduates must be competent in the application of self assessment skills, evaluation of current literature, and problem solving strategies related to comprehensive patient care and management of patients.  Therefore, teaching critical thinking skills is a major focus for course directors and instructors.  Granted, I struggle with first year students who have been previously taught in many general education courses to memorize information long enough to take an exam.  When it comes to critical thinking, the synthesis and analysis of information and subsequent application can be a challenge for many students.  The skill is accomplished gradually, and we really get the student only to entry level competency.  So much more is gained later by experience.   My model online would be similar to face-to-face: The Dental Hygiene Process of Care.  (Assessment, Planning, Dental Hygiene Diagnosis, Implementation, Evaluation)  Case scenarios are probably best suited to following the model.  Information would be provided in the form of a Social/Medical/Dental History, along with a picture of an oral lesion or condition, for example.  I would state that the patient presents with _________ and then query the students through the first 4 phases of the Dental Hygiene Process of Care, using Strategies for Deepening Discussions according to the Penn State article, “Introduction to Crafting Questions for Online Discussions.”   This includes probing deeply and pushing students’ thinking.  Ultimately, my question will be, “What is the clinical plan of care for this patient?”

I have included below a URL for further information.

Cyndy

Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs. Chicago, Ill. Commission on Dental Accreditation, 2015.

https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7111_Dental_Hygiene_Diagnosis_Position_Paper.pdf

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:08 AM
 

Cyndy,

It's so interesting to note that even though we are in very different disciplines, we are dealing with similar problems--students not being prepared to think critically.  I think your use of scenarios that mimic the situations they'll encounter is a great way to get them comfortable with what they'll be asked to do.  Constantly pushing them to probe deeper is a great skill.

Since we seem to encounter similar problems with our students needing to hone their critical thinking skills, I'm curious if you have students who do not come prepared to class (haven't done the assigned reading).  If so, how do you address it?  

Cynthia Koons, RDH, MBA
Re: Yes. Normal Students/Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Cynthia Koons - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:32 PM
 

Lisa,

Oh, yes!  In my small class of 24 students, there are always some who are unprepared for class.  This usually occurs toward the beginning of the semester, but It doesn't take those students long to determine how important their preparation is to their group members and consequently to themselves.  When working on a patient case scenario, the students will divide responsibilities for providing input.  If they can not provide their individual input, the group suffers. In addition, each member of the group assesses the other members performance. That assessment score is included in the students' grade for the assignemnt/scenario.  That works for me in face-to-face delivery.  I have used wiki for projects, too.  When I did that, the facial and body language was absent, but the students still assessed one another's performance. That assessment was part of their wiki grade. Plus, these 24 students live with each other in their classes every day.  Same students in each course.  I think that applies a little conscious pressure. I also tell them at the beginning of the academic year that their success in the Dental Hygiene Program depends on their classmates, and that their classmates success depends on them. Having said all of that.....there are days!

Cyndy

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Yes. Normal Students/Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 5:49 PM
 

Cyndy,

I really appreciated reading about your experience; it makes me feel not so alone :)  Thank you very much for sharing your collaborative approach that makes students responsible for part of the material--what a great way to get them involved and be responsible to one other, not just themselves.

Lisa

Picture of Sharon Suchla
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Sharon Suchla - Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 2:34 PM
 

To promote critical thinking, we need to prompt our students with reflective open-ended questions.  We need to listen and not give all the (or our) answers.  If after an appropriate wait-time, we are not getting responses, we need to rework our question drilling down until we find their comfort level and then working our way back up with progressively stronger questions.  As seen on the Penn State site, we can refer to many lists to support us in this as well as Bloom's Taxonomy. Our students will learn to think more deeply and critically as well as to pose questions that will be more beneficial in their learning.

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:16 AM
 

Hi Sharon,

I like your idea of "drilling down to find their comfort level."  It's so true that students are at such varying levels and that we need to really work with them as individuals. I wonder if this idea would be even more important in an online environment where students might be under the false assumption that they are anonymous and are not required to truly participate.

Picture of Sharon Suchla
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Sharon Suchla - Thursday, May 21, 2015, 2:36 PM
 

Excellent point, Lisa!

Yellowstone
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Sheri Perez - Saturday, May 23, 2015, 12:51 PM
 

Intriguing questions Lisa…In my Intro to Economics course, we wrap up the semester with a group project explaining one economic concept of their choice.  The most difficult portion of this assignment is finding a song or TV/movie clip that is an example of their concept that the group can agree is an example of the concept they selected.  The purpose of the project is for the students to demonstrate a deeper level of understanding. 

I model the process for this assignment by telling stories from my life that are examples of the concepts under study, very simple situations that are not associated with money or business.  I also provide them a series of videos I found on YouTube; an AP high school teacher created a series of videos explaining basic economic concepts found in popular movies.  Together, the short stories and movie clips lead the students in the right direction and really fun projects for me to grade.

If you are interested in viewing a short (7 minute) video on the economics in Star Wars, here's the video.  

Picture of Lisa Fitzgerald
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Lisa Fitzgerald - Saturday, May 23, 2015, 4:51 PM
 

Sheri,

I loved the video that you attached; as someone who isn't as interested in economics as she should be, I was actually really entertained and educated by the teacher's approach and analysis--his use of critical thinking could open up an interesting assignment for students to find how other movies can be analyzed through an economic lens.

Also, I love that you use your personal examples to help students out; I think that students really enjoy hearing that their instructors are actually real people dealing with very similar issues as they.  What a great way to keep them engaged with the topics of your courses.

Lisa

Yellowstone
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Sheri Perez - Saturday, May 23, 2015, 9:46 PM
 

Thanks for watching the video Lisa!  I get it that not every student loves economics as much as me, so I'm happy to hear that the video was entertaining to a nonlover of the topic.

Sheri   

Cynthia Koons, RDH, MBA
Re: Fostering Critical Thinking Skills
by Cynthia Koons - Sunday, May 24, 2015, 2:33 PM
 

Sheri,

Often times I use life examples in my courses.  That way the students know I am for real.  I have had to apply the knowledge that they are trying to gain, but I have to admit that I have not used a movie as you have.  It works! Thanks for sharing that!

 

Cyndy