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Biology 21x GTA Training _amp; Development Week _8 Monday_ November

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									           Biology 21x
   GTA Training & Development
Week #5: Monday, February 2, 2009


 1.       Critical thinking
      •      Perry’s Theory of Intellectual
             Development
      •      How to “nudge” students toward
             increased critical thinking
Critical Thinking
So what is critical thinking?...
 Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking that
  is focused on deciding what to believe or do.
 A person who thinks critically can:
    ask appropriate questions
    gather relevant information
    efficiently and creatively sort through this information
    reason logically from this information
    come to reliable and trustworthy conclusions about the world that enable one to live
      and act successfully in it
 True critical thinking is higher-order thinking that enables an individual to be a
   responsible citizen who contributes to society.
Critical Thinking
 Take the position of AGREE or DISAGREE on each of the following
   statements based on your experience as a classroom instructor or
   other interactions with students. Be prepared to defend your
   position.
  Students at the undergraduate level tend to think critically in their
   academic coursework.
  Promoting critical thinking is not possible in all education
   environments.
  The classroom instructor is responsible for fostering a student’s
   critical thinking.
Critical Thinking
 Children are not born with the power to think critically, nor do
  they develop this ability naturally.
 Critical thinking is a learned ability that must be taught. Many
  individuals may never learn it.
 Critical thinking cannot be taught reliably to students by peers or
  by most parents alone. Trained and knowledgeable instructors are
  necessary to impart the proper information and skills.
Perry’s Theory of Intellectual Development
   Developed to explain how individuals interpret and make
    meaning of teaching and learning process
   Theory generally follows development of more simplistic to
    more complex ways of thinking, with positions generally
    building upon one another
   9 positions clustered in a variety of ways
Perry’s Theory of Intellectual Development
  Dualism (positions 1-2)
   The student sees the world in polar terms of right and
    wrong.
   Belief in the existence of firm “right answers,” which are
    absolutes and established by authorities.
   Learning happens for this student with little
    substantiation or question.
   Alternative perspectives are viewed as confusing and so
    rarely acknowledged.
Perry’s Theory of Intellectual Development
  Multiplicity (positions 3-4)
   The student acknowledges multiple perspectives and
    diverse views when answers are not yet known.
   Ideas are better or worse (vs. right or wrong), with
    “correct” answers being those most supported
    (“quantified”).
   Uncertainty is seen as a temporary condition; eventually
    the right answer will be found.
   This stage, for students, is the beginning of more
    independent thinking.
Perry’s Theory of Intellectual Development
 Relativism (positions 5-6)
  The student recognizes that reasonable and intelligent
   people can legitimately disagree.
  To the student, authorities are valued for their expertise,
   not infallibility.
  There is emphasis on “quality” in supporting arguments,
   rather than quantity.
  Analysis of own ideas as well as others into an individual
   truth.
“Nudging” students toward critical thinking
 Dewey (1938/1963) and Fischer (1980) both
 emphasized that development of complex thinking skills
 depends on appropriate experiences.
   What “appropriate experiences” can you offer your students to
    promote critical thinking?
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Include quiz questions that push beyond
  memorization toward higher order thinking
   Ex) Water molecules act as a filter and selectively absorb red
    wavelengths, thus explaining why water appears blue. Using this
    information, explain specifically why red seaweeds are more
    successful than green algae in deep water.
 Ask students to take a position and defend it
   Ex) In our first lab this quarter, students were asked to pick
    “good” research questions from a list. Once they decide on their
    answer, they should defend it to the class.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Facilitate discussion with questions that may
 have a number of “right” answers
   Ex) Questions on evolutionary adaptations would work nicely
   here. For example, when we studied ferns and lycophytes, we
   talked about heterospory. This has likely evolved multiple
   times. Why do you think this is advantageous for these plants?
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Facilitate activities like case studies that may
 have a number of “right” answers
   Ex) Case Study: You and a friend were walking in the Mac-
    Dunn forest and your friend asks you why much of the
    understory is covered by one species of grass. You know this is
    an invasive species, but not why it does so well in our forests.
    Propose a testable hypothesis to address why this grass
    dominates in our forests.
   Ex) Discussion: Have students discuss their hypotheses and the
    merits of each one.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Incorporate collaborative learning activities so
 that students learn to value of multiple “right”
 answers
   Ex) Give each group of lab students a tree cookie (cross
    section) and have students reconstruct the growing conditions
    the tree had. Different interpretations of the ring structure
    exist, and students can discuss how different scenarios can all be
    supported.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward
more critical thinking
 Utilize electronic group discussions—even if
 not teaching at a distance—to help students
 develop written argumentation
   Ex) On blackboard, post a discussion question or a controversial
    statement and require students to weigh in during the week and
    defend their position to their classmates.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Teach students to read required course material
 critically by asking them to identify
 inconsistencies or incomplete evidence
   Ex) Have students read corresponding material in the textbook
    and lab manual (or another source) and identify places where
    the sources are inconsistent.
 Intentionally offer conflicting information that
 challenges or refutes “facts” when appropriate;
 play devil’s advocate
   Ex) In many of our in-class experiments, you can propose
    alternative results to those recorded in class. Sometimes this
    will even be what they should have seen. Have students explain
    why one set of results might be more accurate than the other.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Ask students to leave each class with a question
 that still remains or has emerged
   Ex) As each student finishes, give them a notecard to write
    down a question that has emerged during the lab. At the
    beginning of the next class, address a few of the common or
    more intriguing questions with the class.
Tips on ‘nudging’ students toward more
critical thinking
 Role model what it is like to wrestle with
 inconsistencies, uncertainties, and
 contradictions
   Ex) Scenario: There has been an increasing amount of research
    on climate change and different projections of future CO2
    levels, temperature, sea level rise, etc. Given the uncertainty in
    our projections, how do you interpret the impact of these
    changes our food production system?
   Ex) Discussion: With the given scenario, you can discuss how
    to interpret the data from multiple perspectives. Also, you can
    discuss how we can move forward either as researchers or
    concerned scientists despite knowing exactly what will happen.
Mid-course Feedback
 On the index card provided, please share the following
  thoughts regarding the course so far:
   On one side: Things that are working well for you
   On the other side: Things that are not working as well/could
    use improvement (include concepts that remain unclear, future
    class topics, etc.)
Next week:
 Topics:
  Technology in the classroom: Using clickers
   as a teaching tool


 Assignment Due:
  None

								
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