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Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Annie Mae Kingston - Friday, October 19, 2012, 2:13 PM
For a long time, I have been interested in the topic of critical thinking. In many respects, critical thinking is something that we use everyday without paying much notice. To truly be a critical thinker, takes a "conscious" effort to think purposefully about a topic, with openness and courage. As an instructor, to facilitate critical thinking effectively in the classroom, it is important to understand the definition and consequences of utilizing those skills. Your assignment is:
1. Read Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking.

2. What assumptions do you/did you have about teaching critical thinking skills in a classroom setting.

3. State the pros and cons of developing a "reflective classroom" on line.
Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Christin Hunter - Friday, October 19, 2012, 6:55 PM
Hi Annie,
One of the hardest parts for me in developing the reflective classroom online is the lack of live discussion that helps foster this kind of environment....the online discussions certainly help, but I can't help feeling like critical thinking discussion in person just feels more meaningful...it might be because my learners are so unique, and I am not sure the virtual talking is getting through the same way to them as, let's say, this level of class affords us. I am actually thinking a reflective journal may be something that helps after having started one in this class. It may be one way to help with my students and their critical thinking skills.

Christin in FL
Two little lambs
Critical thinking journal
by Sara Turansky - Friday, October 19, 2012, 8:35 PM

Your mention of the critical thinking journal reminded me of how I used to model critical thinking for my middle school students--online. I stepped outside of my comfort zone (another activity that I often ask of students) by reflecting openly with my students after a lesson. By seeing how I evaluated the strengths/weaknesses of my lesson and also what changes would benefit the lesson, students realize that there is always room for improvement. (Believe me, my students already knew that teachers, i.e., me, were not perfect, lol!)

In my developmental writing course at Ozarks Tech, I will often ask students to share one thing that could be done to improve the course and they were surprised when I wouldn't accept "nothing." I don't seem to do this open reflection with post-grad students; I wonder why not?
Picture of Annie Mae Kingston
Re: Critical thinking journal
by Annie Mae Kingston - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 4:48 PM
Hello Sara,
I really like your idea of being open with students in critiquing a class. Becoming a critical thinker involves openness and courage. We cannot be afraid of what we hear, but must look at it as a way to improve ourselves and our class. Thank you for sharing that.
Annie Mae
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Re: Critical thinking journal
by Christin Hunter - Sunday, October 21, 2012, 10:07 AM
Interesting....I, too, do a final reflection with my reading prep students and ask the same...I think it would be helpful at any level, so why not try it with post-grad?
Christin in FL
Picture of Monica McQuaid
Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Monica McQuaid - Friday, October 19, 2012, 9:32 PM
I think that having a reflective journal for your students would help improve their critical thinking skills. Sometimes seeing where you have been and comparing it to where you are can help the thinking process.

Picture of Annie Mae Kingston
Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Annie Mae Kingston - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 8:02 PM
Monica, I agree that one of the major advantages of having a reflective journal is that you can see your path. I have used journaling many times in my life to help find clarity of thinking...usually when I was upset about something. Journaling is a real help to reflective thinking which is an integral part of critical thinking. Thanks for you comments.
Picture of Annie Mae Kingston
Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Annie Mae Kingston - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 4:44 PM
Christin, I too am concerned about fostering critical thinking in a "virtual classroom". The reflective journal may be a good way to better understand students. I remember from my graduate work on campus years ago, how hard my professor worked to get me to use critical thinking skills....all the back and forth and questioning it took for me to truly examine my assumptions. I think this is possible on line, but the instructor will have to be diligent in feedback. Missing all the nuances of body language surely will make it more difficult. But, I am finding it very interesting to learn about tone and voice when using text....and very helpful in thinking purposefully about what and how I respond. Thank you for your insight.
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Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Mark Wenta - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 8:08 PM

I think most people will only employ critical thinking if they are made to. Most will answer questions as succinctly as possible. I think a good tactic is to offer up multiple questions for them to choose from, each requiring a different level of thinking. For those that answer the question with the lowest level of critical thinking, we as teachers can respond with a follow up question that makes them dig a little deeper in order to answer it. We can follow up as much as necessary until we achieve a significant level of critical thinking on their part.

- Mark in Chippewa Falls

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Re: Strategies for Facilitating Critical Thinking
by Jef Halverson - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 11:22 PM

Annie Mae,

I will respond to your second point regarding what assumptions are held about teaching critical thinking in the classroom. From my stand point as an accounting instructor I find it difficult to incorporate this into much of my curriculum, so I do not have a very positive attitude towards it. The push for teaching critical thinking is strong and as a general idea I agree that it is important. I find it hard though in a subject area where most of the content is teaching set rules that do not allow for deviation in application. I have incorporated critical thinking dvelopment skills to some degree, but at this point it is a struggle. I wonder if others have been more successful with similiar types of subject matter.

Jef @ WI