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1. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Frank Fair From the Editor’s Desk
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2. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Donald Hatcher Critical Thinking Instruction: A Realistic Evaluation The Dream vs. Reality
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Since the 80s, educators have supported instruction in critical thinking (CT) as “an Educational Ideal.” This should not be a surprise given some of the more common conceptions, e.g., Ennis’s “reasonable reflective thinking on what to believe or do,” or Siegel’s “being appropriately moved by reasons,” as opposed to bias, emotion or wishful thinking. Who would want a doctor, lawyer, or mechanic who could not skillfully evaluate arguments, causes, and cures? So, educators endorsed the dream that, through proper CT instruction, students’ critical skills and “rational passions” could be greatly improved. In spite of the dream’s appeal, the reality is, after 30+ years, there is little reason to think the dream resembles reality. After describing what I take to be an adequate definition of CT, such a depressing conclusion will be supported by CT assessment scores from across academe, the continued widespread disagreement among experts in nearly all fields, including CT, and the abundant psychological research on rationality and decision making. And finally, while the ideal extols the value of objectivity, I shall argue that bias may be unavoidable because personal values play a vital role in the evaluation of many arguments.
3. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
David Wright Are We Asking the Right Questions about Critical Thinking Assessment?: A Response to Hatcher
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This is a response essay to Donald Hatcher’s (2015), “Critical Thinking Instruction: A Realistic Evaluation: The Dream vs. Reality.” Hatcher argues that critical thinking (CT) instruction seriously falls short of the ideal of honestly evaluating alternative evidence and arguments. This failure is apparent, he argues, when one surveys student performance on a variety of CT assessment tests. Hatcher reviews the current CT assessment data, which includes an extensive pool of results collected from Baker University where Hatcher oversaw a sophisticated and well-funded CT program for about two decades. Hatcher also argues that evidence from the philosophical and psychological literatures on disagreement and judgment suggests even CT experts fail to model the ideal and that CT has suffered from an unrealistic conception of rationality and human decision-making. I reply by arguing that, by putting the CT assessment data in a different context and asking an alternative set of questions, one can justifiably derive a more positive evaluation of the future of CT instruction in light of the CT ideal. Instead of focusing on whether students are achieving the CT ideal by the time of the post-test, instructors should ask whether they are making the kind of progress that there is good reason to expect. I close by challenging the soundness of the proposed implications of Hatcher’s arguments.
4. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Donald Hatcher Effect Size and Critical Thinking Assessment: A Response to Wright
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This is a brief response to David Wright’s commentary on my paper, “Critical Thinking Instruction: A Realistic Evaluation: The Dream vs. Reality.” Wright claims that if one looks more closely at the literature on critical thinking (CT) assessment that the reported effect sizes for CT instruction are quite respectable and my standards are too high. My comments will focus is on whether effect size is both problematic and an adequate measure for assessment.
5. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Ada Haynes, Elizabeth Lisic, Kevin Harris, Katie Leming, Kyle Shanks Using the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) as a Model for Designing Within-Course Assessments: Changing How Faculty Assess Student Learning
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This article provides a brief overview of the efforts to develop and refine the Critical thinking Assessment Test (CAT) and its potential for improving the design of classroom assessments. The CAT instrument was designed to help faculty understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses using a short answer essay format. The instrument assesses a broad collection of critical thinking skills that transcend most disciplines. The questions were deliberately designed around real-world scenarios that did not require specialized knowledge from any particular discipline. Various faculty who collaborated in the national dissemination of the CAT instrument found that it was a helpful model for designing better course assessments to grade student work. Classroom assessments modeled on the CAT emphasize more critical thinking within the discipline and less rote retention of factual information. We describe the ongoing work to help faculty successfully adapt the CAT to applications that can be used in each discipline’s courses to evaluate and encourage students’ critical thinking.
6. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Pauletta G. Baughman, Gustavo M.S. Oliveira, Elizabeth M. Smigielski, Vida M. Vaughn Evidence-Based Critical Thinking Exercise: Shaping Tomorrow’s Dental Choices
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The objective was to educate first-year dental students on how to appraise new dental treatments by applying critical thinking (CT) and evidence-based dentistry (EBD) skills. To facilitate this task, we utilized a learning exercise involving a simulated office visit by a dental pharmaceutical representative. The simulated office sales call was conducted after instruction by dental school faculty and clinical librarians on EBD and CT principles. Students’ critical thinking and evi­dence-based practice skills were tested using a validated critical thinking assessment tool and a rubric-based written assignment. Results showed that ninety-one percent of students demonstrat­ed a high/positive response. Students agreed that the exercise helped them to consider multiple perspectives in subject matter. The majority of students also scored high/positive in understand­ing the components of a clinical question employing the PICO format. Students agreed that the instruction received supported their ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills. Eighty percent indicated instruction as having a high/positive impact on navigating complex clinical questions. The authors concluded that simulated office visit plus explicit instruction in EBD principles im­proved first year dental students’ CT skills.
7. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 3
Michael Lively Critical Thinking and the Pedagogy of Music Theory
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Students of music theory are often challenged by both the complexity of the concepts that they are expected to learn and by the abstract nature of these ideas. For many students, their direct experience with music, acquired during the study of skills associated with musical performance, does not directly translate into the intellectual environment of traditional music theory classes. The difficulty derives from the gap between the students’ perception of musical structure and the understanding of these concepts generally held by composers and music theorists. In this study, I suggest that in addition to systematically teaching the content of the established music theory curriculum, instructors have more success when developing instructional material and determining the design of their courses by considering higher-level critical thinking skills
8. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Frank Fair From the Editor’s Desk
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9. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Stephen Brookfield Developing a Critical Consciousness
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In this piece of extended self-reflection (what some might see as extended self-obsession or self-aggrandizement) I’m going to adopt a largely narrative approach by locating my develop­ment of critical consciousness in my childhood and adolescence in England and then moving to my attempt to integrate a critical approach into my practice and my personal life. Along the way I deal with the distinction between critical and more routinized forms of thinking and with the different intellectual traditions that inform its practice. Consequently, I’ve departed from the traditional academic protocol of providing citations and instead chosen to write pretty much in the same way I’d speak.
10. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Peter A. Facione, Carol Ann Gittens Mapping Decisions and Arguments
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As a learning tool, argument and decision maps enable students to hone their interpretive and analytical skills. This paper illustrates one effective approach to teaching the diagrammat­ic conventions used in a powerful decision and argument mapping methodology. The twenty example maps included begin with a configuration illustrating one reason offered in support of a conclusion, and build to highly complex maps illustrating the analyses of real world decisions as recorded in interviews and official documents. Using their interpretive and analytical skills, and the simple conventions taught and illustrated here, students and researchers are able to build and to refine maps that show simple arguments, lines of reasoning, unspoken but implicit as­sumptions, pro and con argumentation, individual and group decision making, the influences of reactive cognitive heuristics on decision making, the use of various familiar valid and fallacious inference patterns, and the bolstering phenomenon associated with the use of multiple arguments in support of a given option.
11. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
David Wright Review of The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education Part V “Critical Thinking and the Cognitive Sciences”
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This review essay discusses three articles from the Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education (eds. Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett) concerned with outlining the connection between cognitive science and critical thinking. All of the authors explain how recent findings in cognitive science, such as research on heuristics and cognitive biases (e.g. framing effects, the availability heuristic) might be incorporated into the critical thinking curriculum. The authors also elaborate on how recent findings in metacognition can reshape critical thinking pedagogy. For instance, the essays articulate how critical thinking instructors would be wise to broaden the scope of traditional critical thinking content by instructing students in the metacognitive strategies of self-regulation, cognitive monitoring, and evaluation in order to encourage better decision making both inside and outside the classroom.
12. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 2
Benjamin Hamby Review of Stephen Brookfield‘s Teaching for Critical Thinking
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Stephen Brookfield offers a distinctive conceptualization of and approach to teaching critical thinking. In this review I highlight some major aspects of his approach, and critique his baseline conception. I conclude that, while evaluating assumptions is an important aspect of critical thinking, it is not as important as Brookfield maintains. Instructors of critical thinking should read his book, but they should remain skeptical of its major substantive theoretical commitments.
13. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Frank Fair From the Editor’s Desk
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14. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Trudy Govier Reflections
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This essay discusses some developments in informal logic and argumentation theory since 1980, commenting briefly on positive aspects and areas of disappointment.
15. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Mark Battersby, Sharon Bailin Fallacy Identification in a Dialectical Approach to Teaching Critical Thinking
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The dialectical approach to teaching critical thinking is centred on a comparative evaluation of contending arguments, so that generally the strength of an argument for a position can only be assessed in the context of this dialectic. The identification of fallacies, though important, plays only a preliminary role in the evaluation to individual arguments. Our approach to fallacy identification and analysis sees fallacies as argument patterns whose persuasive power is disproportionate to their probative value.
16. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Nancy Burkhalter A Dialectical Approach to Critical Thinking Through Writing
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Students often struggle with writing thesis statements. But without a narrow, focused thesis, the essay is often too general and scattered, resulting in an unconvincing and confusing product. This article offers a formula that not only helps writers devise a sharply focused thesis and controlling idea but also gives them a touchstone to help provide relevant, convincing support, as well as create topic sentences and transitions that anchor readers. The formula fosters students’ critical thinking because it helps them proceed dialectically between thesis formulation and the devel­opment of the essay to write with logic, relevance, depth, precision, and clarity, five of the nine standards for critical thinking outlined by Paul and Elder (2012).
17. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Charles E. Galyon, Carolyn A. Blondin, Robert L. Williams A Historical Analysis of the Relationship between Critical Thinking and Exam Performance
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This study determined the historical relationship between critical thinking and performance on multiple-choice exams in a large entry-level educational psychology course. The correlations be­tween critical thinking as assessed by scores on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal-S and exam scores ranged from .29 to.44 over a 12-year period (N of 4933). The critical thinking distribution was heavily skewed toward the lower end of the percentile range when compared to normative data for college graduates. The relationship between critical thinking and exam performance approximated a linear relationship, with periodic plateaus in exam scores. Com­parison of exam performance for students scoring at the 1st versus the 99th percentile revealed a letter-grade difference. Additionally, students scoring at the 75th percentile on critical thinking achieved exam scores that did not differ significantly from those of students scoring at the 95th and 99th percentile on critical thinking. Critical thinking predicted exam scores better at higher than lower levels of Grade Point Average.
18. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Ilan Goldberg, Justine Kingsbury, Tracy Bowell, Darelle Howard Measuring Critical Thinking About Deeply Held Beliefs: Can the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory Help?
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The California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI) is a commonly used tool for measuring critical thinking dispositions. However, research on the efficacy of the CCTDI in predicting good thinking about students’ own deeply held beliefs is scant. In this paper we report on our study that was designed to gauge the usefulness of the CCTDI in this context, and take some first steps towards designing a better method for measuring strong sense critical thinking.