Owner: Paula Secondo (tentative)
"Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, or problem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them." Students will, therefore, begin to develop the ability to "raise critical questions and problems, gather and assess relevant information, think openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, and communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems".
(Adapted from Defining critical thinking, a statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction)
Should count for a minimum of 10% of the students' final grade. May be combined with other FYE elements.
The following ideas are offered as possible examples of assignments and projects across disciplines that encourage/reinforce the concepts and application of critical thinking.
- Debate an issue - students or student groups will be assigned opposing viewpoints on issues which require reflective, analytical and logical thinking to support an argument.
- Writing assignment - traditional research or response paper formats encourage the development of critical thinking skills and abilities.
- Application of a theory, synthesis of several viewpoints - students are required to assimilate appropriate information and produce a coherent analysis.
- Hypothesis testing - requires students to understand principles and methodologies and apply them.
- Experimentation based on well-established physical laws - requires understanding and application of scientific methods.
- Questioning/examining methodologies; compare with conclusions - requires students to question and interact with the processes that produce theories, laws, knowledge.
- Methodology and interpretation of results - students will understand and test various scientific and social principles and be able to determine the most appropriate for a given situation.
Faculty should establish clear criteria to evaluate student work. For example, using exams, papers, presentations, class discussions, etc. faculty could determine how successfully (e.g., 1-5 scale) students achieved each of the following criteria.
- Ability to understand complex questions and apply appropriate methods of answering.
- Ability to demonstrate analytical thinking verbally.
- Ability to construct an appropriate argument/solution in writing.
- Ability to demonstrate open-mindedness through assimilation of information and reflection.