This course provides multiple approaches to engaging students in active, critical thinking in content area study in regular classrooms. In a global society, it is imperative that students learn to base their thinking on reasoned judgment and to employ a variety of critical thinking strategies.
Critical thinking for the purposes of this course is defined through the integration of the work of several scholars. Ennis (1995) views critical thinking as "reasonable and reflective thinking focused on deciding what to do or believe". Paul & Elder (2002) define critical thinking as that mode of thinking in which the thinker improves the quality of his/her thinking about any subject, content, or problem by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. Norris (1992) adds conditions to the practice of critical thinking that form a basis for instruction in critical thinking strategies: critical thinkers are sensitive to context; critical thinkers look for reasoning behind conclusions; critical thinking requires foundational knowledge; and critical thinking is an educational ideal. Paul (2002) asserts that "developing critical thinkers is central to the mission of all educational institutions". Thinking is critical to learning; thinking well while learning results in effective learning, poor thinking in little learning. By ensuring that students learn to think critically and are fair-minded in their assessment of issues, we insure that students not only have the capacity to master essential subject matter, but they also have the foundation necessary for becoming effective citizens, capable of reasoning and acting in the public good.
This course blends theory and practical application so that teachers can prepare their students for a life of critical thinking. Engaging Students in Critical Thinking is designed with a goal of making a positive difference in academic achievement for students and is rich with material from current experts in the field of critical thinking. Works from Lauren Resnick, Arthur Costa, Robert Ennis, Robert Marzano, Robert Schwartz, Richard Paul, and Robert Sternberg are a few of the scholars who work serves as baseline resources for instructional strategies.
Students will be involved in a variety of tasks for completion of course requirements: readings, reports on readings, exams, journaland reflection entries, projects related to real world learning environments, and development of instructional strategies for specific content areas. This is an online forty five hour, three credit graduate level course completed over a fifteen-week period.
This course is offered over a period of 15 weeks. Modules are completed over the 15-week period pending length of assignments per week.
One semester credit equals fifteen (15) hours of online class time. Each course is equivalent to three (3) semester credit hours.
A minimum of one hundred thirty five (135) hours should be anticipated for completion of the course. This includes forty five (45) hours of direct contact and ninety (90) hours in preparation and study; three (3) and six (6) per week respectively.
Students may use either a Macintosh computer or a PC with Windows 2000 or higher. Students should possess basic word processing skills and have Internet access as well as an active email account. Students also are expected to have a basic knowledge of how to use a Web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, etc.
The required textbook for this course is Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking, 3rd Edition, edited by Arthur L. Costa. A variety of readings will be referenced throughout the course. Other supplemental readings will be provided.
Sample assignments are stated in the module course outline. Detailed assignments are found in the online course modules.
Assignment: Compare the delivery of the content area that you instruct to the thinking and reasoning skills identified from the McREL research. Provide a written analysis of your findings.
Assignment: You have been asked to design standards for your content area. Develop three standards related to critical thinking which need to be part of your content area.
Assignment: Target five Socratic Questions to incorporate into a lesson you will use with your students. Present the framework for the lesson with the questions. Suggest an anticipated response to each question.
Assignment: Complete the activity in the “must see” links regarding cognitive mapping and problem solving.
Assignment: Select a critical thinking skills program and discuss how you will use it in your instruction. Target end goals for the students and provide an example of the use of the program.
Assignment: Design a presentation for a group of teachers in which you target crucial points for sharing from this module. Outline your presentation.
Assignment: Develop a plan to implement the critical thinking skill strategies that you have learned through this course. Include reflections on the checklist for critical thinking programs. In your plan, describe areas you will target for year one. Also, reflect on resources that you will need to implement this plan.
Students are expected to complete all assignments. This course requires rigor and concentration on the part of the student to complete the tasks at hand.
160-148 - A
147-136 - B
135-123 - C
122-112 - D
112- 0 - F
With the course instructor's approval, student may receive an Incomplete grade if additional time is needed to complete course work or a specific assignment at the end of the course. To receive credit for the course, the Incomplete grade must be cleared within 60 calendar days from the conclusion of the semester in which the Incomplete was received. If a student does not clear their grade of Incomplete within the allotted 60 calendar days, the student will receive a letter grade based on completed assignments for that course.
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by the Teacher Education University catalog and is subject to academic disciplinary action.
Ennis, Robert. 1995. Critical Thinking.Prentice Hall
Norris, S. 1992. The Generalizability of Critical Thinking: Multiple Perspectives on an Educational Ideal.Teachers College Press.
Paul, R. and Elder L. 2002. Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life. Prentice Hall
Albrecht, K. (2002, November). Brain Power: People Can Be Trained to Use Their Brains More Effectively for Creativity, Problem Solving, and Other Thinking.
Baer, J. (1993). Creativity and Divergent Thinking: A Task-Specific Approach. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Boucher, A. C. (1998, April). Critical Thinking through Estimation. Teaching Children Mathematics, 4, 452.
Burton, C. A., & Newman, C. (2001, November). Groundworks: Algebraic Thinking-Grade 1 & Grade 2 & Grade 3 & Groundworks Algebra Puzzles and Problems-Grade 4 & Grade 5. Teaching Children Mathematics, 8, 191.
English, L. (1998, January). Uncovering Students' Analytic, Practical and Creative Intelligences: One School's Application of Sternberg's Triarchic Theory. School Administrator, 55, 28.
Frisby, C. L., & Traffanstedt, B. K. (2003). Time and Performance on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 34(1).
Fritz, M. (2002). Using Learning Styles Inventories to Promote Active Learning. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 32(2).
Galotti, K. M., Mcviker Clinchy, B., H., A. K., Lavin, B., & Mansfield, A. F. (1999). A New Way of Assessing Ways of Knowing: The Attitudes toward Thinking and Learning Survey. 745.
Goff, K. G. (2000, May 7). Adding Problem-Solving Skills to Math Education Programs. The Washington Times, p. 4.
Halpem, D. F. (1996). Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Halpern, D. F. (1996). Thought and Knowledge An Introduction to Critical Thinking (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Halpern, D. F. (1997). Critical Thinking across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought and Knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
How Do You Develop Critical-Thinking Skills in Students Who Just Want 'The Right Answer'?. (2000, January). NEA Today, 18, 27.
Lamarche-Bisson, D. (2002, September). Learning Styles - What Are They? How Can They Help?. World and I, 17, 268.
Mcgrath, D. (2003, May). Rubrics, Portfolios and Tests, Oh My! Assessing Understanding in Project-Based Learning. Learning & Leading with Technology, 30.
Mullins, M. (2004). Janet E. Davidson and Robert J. Sternberg (Editors). the Psychology of Problem Solving. Personnel Psychology, 57(4).
Nickerson, R. S., Perkins, D. N., & Smith, E. E. (1985). The Teaching of Thinking. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Ruban, L. (2003). Costa, A. L. Roeper Review, 25(2).
Schaeffer, N. C., & Presser, S. (2003). The Science of Asking Questions.
Sharma, M. B., & Elbow, G. S. (2000). Using Internet Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills in Geography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Sunda, R. (2003, February). Thinking about Thinking: What Makes a Good Question?. Learning & Leading with Technology, 30.
Terry, M. (2002). Translating Learning Style Theory into Developmental Education Practice: An Article Based on Gregorc's Cognitive Learning Styles. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 32(2).
Tratton, P. R., & Midgett, C. (2001, May). Learning through Problems: A Powerful Approach to Teaching Mathematics. Teaching Children Mathematics, 7, 532.
West, T. G. (1997). In the Mind's Eye Visual Thinkers, Gifted People with Dyslexia and Other Learning Difficulties, Computer Images, and the Ironies of Creativity. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
Teacher Education University reserves the right to adjust and adapt this syllabus as necessary.