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Teaching Critical Thinking: Lessons from Cognitive Science by Tim van Gelder (pdf file)
Overview of what are (in my opinion) the most important lessons from cognitive science for people trying to teach critical thinking. [1 Sep 03]
Critical Thinking and the Scientific Method by Dany Adams
A gem. "This is a poster about how I tweak my Developmental Biology lectures so that in addition to learning facts, concepts, and certain key experiments, the students learn the principles of the scientific method, and go away able to apply the thought process in other contexts. Because the scientific method is just a formalization of critical thinking, that means that the students become critical thinkers. And that is what I most want to teach." [22 Jul 02]
UI Critical Thinking Handbook by Michael O'Rourke
A rich resource for teachers, albeit a little dry and technical. Contains theory as well as a lot of practical guidelines, examples, etc.. "This handbook is intended...to supply a single, well-developed perspective on critical thinking, one that privileges clarity, systematicity, and rigor of thought. It is a perspective grounded in the analysis of the practice of argumentation, including both its rhetoric and its logic. The primary audience for this handbook is the university-level instructor at the University of Idaho who wishes to teach critical thinking skills explicitly in the classroom...However, the materials developed within can be used by teachers at any level who wish to emphasize systematic and careful thinking about arguments in any subject field." [9 Aug 02]
GSU Master Teacher Program: On Critical Thinking. Harvey J. Brightman.
"This file briefly discusses (1) what is critical thinking, (2) general principles for teaching students to achieve the critical thinking level, (3) achieving critical thinking through the interactive lecture, (4) effective cooperative group characteristics, (5) a literature review of the effectiveness of cooperative groups, (6) the forming and norming of cooperative groups, and (7) group activities that encourage critical thinking."
Developing Thinking Skills by Roy Eichhorn, Army Management Staff College
"Abstract: Critical thinking is the ability to be in control of ones thinking. It includes the ability to consciously examine the elements of ones reasoning, or that of another, and evaluate that reasoning against universal intellectual standards - clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and logic. It also involves the structured examination of sources of information. The Army Management Staff College (AMSC) has included critical thinking in its curriculum overtly since January of 1991. Since then, it has moved from teaching "about" critical thinking to progressively embedding critical thinking into the learning process throughout the curriculum. The ultimate goal is for an AMSC student to become deeply immersed in critical thinking throughout the College curriculum, internalize it as the curriculum proceeds, and to return with that habit of thinking so firmly established that it becomes normal."
If X, then Y: Teaching Critical Thinking Skills by Gwynn M. Powell. From Camping Magazine
"It is a crazy business, summer camp. You spend nine months planning for three, while trying to keep other programs running at the same time. You seek to hire the best staff you can find; then after a week or less of orientation, you put them in positions of responsibility asking them to do what no one else can - be a friend, parent, counselor, and guardian all in one! It is impossible to teach staff everything you want them to know in terms of content, so shifting the emphasis to thinking skills may serve them better..."
Critical Thinking and Technology by Houghton Mifflin
A learning module for instructors who would like to improve critical thinking through their teaching in an IT-supported environment. Part of their "Teaching Foundations" series.
Critical Thinking Consortium
"...a non-profit association of institutional partners, school districts, faculties of education, teaching professionals, associations and other educational organizations. Our aim is to promote critical thinking from primary to post-secondary education through professional development, publications and research." [Mar 07]
Philosophy & Reasoning Network - Tibi Cogitate
A resource site for teachers of philosophy and critical thinking, particularly in the secondary school context. By teachers, for teachers. [13 Feb 07]
Thinking Skills in Primary Classrooms from the UK Department for Education and Skills
Extensive resource site intended for primary teachers. Basically a database of resources, but contains much other useful material: background (conceptual and historical), case studies, references, glossary. Well done. [9 Apr 04]
Critical Thinking Community by Richard Paul and Linda Elder
Contains many useful introductory resources. Much of what they provide however are "loss leaders" for their commercial products and services. Self-styled as "the" definitive critical thinking site, but really just one option among many.
PESTS: Psychologists Educating Students to Think Skeptically
"The PESTS web site is designed to be a resource for those with an interest in teaching about a skeptical approach to testing knowledge claims." Contains an email list, teaching materials including bibliographies and syllabuses, teaching activities, and (links to) many relevant articles. [12 Jun 02]
Education for Thinking Project by Deanna Kuhn et al.
"The Education for Thinking Project examines the development of thinking and learning skills as a goal of education." This site contains a series of short "meditations" on thinking, knowledge, argument, etc., from one of the world's leading psychologists of critical thinking. [12 May 02]
Washington State University Critical Thinking Project
Website for a fairly substantial effort to improve critical thinking in teaching at Washington State. Based around a thoughtful and useful-looking "rubric", i.e., a guide to rating critical thinking as exhibited in a piece of written work. Their efforts apparently have been yielding "significant" gains in critical thinking. [10 July 02]
Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking, by Charles Twardy.
"Computer-based argument mapping greatly enhances student critical thinking, more than tripling absolute gains made by other methods. I describe the method and my experience as an outsider. Argument mapping often showed precisely how students were erring (for example: confusing helping premises for separate reasons), making it much easier for them to fix their errors." [5 Jun 03]
Critical Thinking Programs: Why They Won't Work by Mortimer Adler, Ph.D.
"for critical thinking, devising a special program to produce the desired result [i.e., to teach it] is a chimerical effort. It cannot be done. There is no such thing as thinking in and of itself..."
I disagree with Adler, but his short essay is a clear and succinct statement of the view that there is no such thing as critical thinking and it cannot be taught.
Critical Thinking: Some Lessons Learned by Tim van Gelder
"Critical thinking (CT) is one of education's most valued outcomes, but it is also very difficult to achieve... At the University of Melbourne and at Austhink we have been developing new ways to teach CT. The lessons emerging from this multi-year project are both sobering and encouraging."
Study of 38 Public Universities and 28 Private Universities To Determine Faculty Emphasis on Critical Thinking In Instruction by Richard Paul et al.
Extraordinary. A detailed study of the extent to which people who teach teachers understand critical thinking. "Careful analysis of the interviews indicates that...the central problem is that most faculty have not carefully thought through any concept of critical thinking, have no sense of intellectual standards they can put into words, and are, therefore, by any reasonable interpretation, in no position to foster critical thinking in their own students or to help them to foster it in their future students-except to inculcate into their students the same vague views that they have." [9 May 02; link updated 22 Nov 04]
Classroom Research and Cargo Cults by E.D. Hirsch Jr.
Not on critical thinking, but has lots of insight for anyone seriously interested in the problem of how CT might be taught effectively. Basic position is that the point of educational research is to guide policy; studies of what happens in educational settings, no matter how methodologically and statistically sophisticated, are too inconclusive to identify causal factors and do not (on their own) lead to useful generalizations; educational research should focus on the "consensus" insights from cognitive science into learning; and that cognitive science and classroom research should be related as biochemistry to medical studies. Particularly useful is Hirsch's listing of the "reliable general principles" from cognitive science: e.g., "prior knowledge as a prerequisite to effective learning." [3 Nov 02]
Rethinking thinking By Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor
"College classes that make one think - it's a basic concept assumed as a given. But many grads walk away with a diploma yet still lack critical-thinking skills. That's why some educators are asking students to close their textbooks and do a little more reflecting." [15 Oct 03]
Last updated: 10 Sep 2007
Last link check: 09 Apr 2004