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Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to teach all students to think critically

Photo: Peter Ellerton
"All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills." reports Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland.

Something to ponder – how to teach critical thinking.  
Brittany Randolph/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

The new course would be an elective next year and mandatory in 2016 with the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for education and students Shirley Alexander saying the aim is to give students some maths “critical thinking” skills.

This is a worthwhile goal, but what about critical thinking in general?

Most tertiary institutions have listed among their graduate attributes the ability to think critically. This seems a desirable outcome, but what exactly does it mean to think critically and how do you get students to do it?

The problem is that critical thinking is the Cheshire Cat of educational curricula – it is hinted at in all disciplines but appears fully formed in none. As soon as you push to see it in focus, it slips away.

If you ask curriculum designers exactly how critical thinking skills are developed, the answers are often vague and unhelpful for those wanting to teach it.

This is partly because of a lack of clarity about the term itself and because there are some who believe that critical thinking cannot be taught in isolation, that it can only be developed in a discipline context – after all, you have think critically about something.

So what should any mandatory first year course in critical thinking look like? There is no single answer to that, but let me suggest a structure with four key areas:
  1. argumentation
  2. logic
  3. psychology
  4. the nature of science.
I will then explain that these four areas are bound together by a common language of thinking and a set of critical thinking values.
Read more... 

Related link 
Peter lectures at the University of Queensland in critical thinking.

Source: The Conversation AU

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