D R. R O B E R T S M A R T Q U I N N I P I A C U N I V E R S I T Y 3 J U N E S O U T H E R N C O N N E C T I C U T S T A T E U N I V.

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1 The Double Helix: WAC and Critical Thinking, A History D R. R O B E R T S M A R T Q U I N N I P I A C U N I V E R S I T Y 3 J U N E S O U T H E R N C O N N E C T I C U T S T A T E U N I V.

2 Critical Thinking History The phrase critical thinking was first circulated in print by Dr. Edward Glaser (Columbia Teacher s College) in 1941, in a text benignly titled An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking. Glaser s work had been funded in part by the Department of Defense in the hope that he could find a means to teach military professionals to countermand the broadly accepted principles of warfare taught in the world s war colleges.

3 Here is Glaser s Definition The ability to think critically [ ]involves three things: ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.

4 From the wide circulation of Glaser s ideas Grew an international movement that went through several iterations and incarnations: For example, The University of Chicago (Joe Williams, Greg Coulomb, George Hillocks) promoted a series of hands on workshops framed around Writing As Higher Order Reasoning, a powerful venue for teaching critical thinking that had an unfortunate acronym: WHOR

5 By 1970, the educational establishment caught on And the critical thinking movement was born:

6 One of the critical thinking luminaries Richard Paul from Sonoma State University, argues that the movement has had three waves or iterations since 1970, each with a slightly different epistemological aim.

7 First Wave, In the first wave of critical thinking practice, the dominant paradigm came from philosophy and logic and the dominant educational manifestation was a formal or informal logic course. The idea was to establish a basic course in critical thinking which would provide entering freshmen with the foundational intellectual skills they need to be successful in college work. This is a critical historical phase since it was when critical thinking and critical reasoning (cf. Monroe Beardsley) were conflated.

8 Second Wave, The second wave of critical thinking research and practice began when increasing numbers of educators and administrators began to recognize that one course in critical thinking at the college level does not a critical thinker make. The problem for these reformers was transformed from "How should one design an isolated critical thinking course for college students?" to "How can critical thinking be integrated into instruction across all subjects and all grade levels?" From "What is informal logic, reasoning, and argumentation?" to "What is the role of emotion or intuition or culture or gender or problem solving or creative thinking or political and ideological positioning in thinking?"

9 This second wave is the one most of us know This second wave was a bit scattered, but it did represent a clear effort to move out of the lockstep structure of the logic course into areas of language use, cognitive psychology and creative use of art as a problem solving tool.

10 Third Wave, 1990-present The third wave of critical thinking research and practice is only just now beginning to emerge. As yet there are few who see clearly the enormity of the task which the field faces. The success of the third wave can be achieved only with a growing recognition of the strengths and weaknesses of the first two waves. First wave research needs to bring its rigor and depth into a broader complex of concerns. Second wave research needs to integrate rigor and depth into its comprehensiveness. Theory of teaching and learning (based on theory of thinking, emotion, and action) need to be carefully integrated.

11 For those of us here today, The advent of a not fully realized third wave in critical thinking development will depend on how broadly we define the thinking/creative tasks that lie at the center of a critical thinking pedagogy, and on how effectively these tasks can be deployed in the service of achieving student learning objectives.

12 At QU, we have determined that a. The Key cognitive elements of critical thinking are the ability to prioritize, to translate difficult language into words of one s own, and to draw analogies between unfamiliar problems and situations. We call this constellation of critical thinking tasks concentric thinking:

13 These tasks are best deployed Using a strategy we call Thematic Triangulation: In thematic triangulation, faculty reverse engineer their lectures and lessons to provide students with 3-4 short texts that, when interrogated via concentric thinking, and then cross referenced, will produce short in-class written texts that develop the ideas and connections that would have been simply summarized and explained in the lecture. Disciplinary thinking is modeled and practiced by students working together and alone; there is increased ownership of the work and the linkages between texts and ideas are clearer.

14 Let s try it. Page 6 in your packets, the short story by Argentinean author Augusto Monterosso: Please read the short, short story in your packets, and after you ve finished, underline or highlight the most important line or phrase in the story. In the space below the story, please explain why you think the line or phrase that you underlined is the most important in the story. Be as detailed as you can.

15 Let s talk a bit about what you have by choosing a line or phrase from the story and then explaining on paper why you believe this line or phrase to be the most important, you are perched on the edge of a hypothesis. It s also important that there is no correct answer rather one answer that might be a better one than another.

16 Step Two: Gandhi s Seven Blunders In this exercise, choose the blunder that best describes the behavior and choices of Brother Arrazola in The Eclipse. Circle it and then explain why your choice of blunder (there are at least 4 that workshop participants regularly choose) best explains why Arrazola acts as he does in the story. Once you have completed this part, you have expanded your interpretation of the original story. And you have moved your understanding of the story and the proverbs closer to a better response.

17 Let s Share a bit:

18 Final Step, Leadership Qualities Look at the section from a popular text on qualities of good leadership underline the language that best explains what Arrazola failed to do in his fatal negotiations with the Mayans as with the earlier steps, explain briefly why you chose the language that you underlined.

19 Now, let s see what we (you) have: You have three vaguely connected texts that you have interrogated by using the concentric thinking model. Now they need to be put in the service of a larger purpose, a thesis, that could be expanded into a draft for a paper. Ideas from past workshops: How could you argue that Arrazola died because he failed at the most basic leadership tasks? How could you argue the opposite, that it is precisely because he applied the most essential leadership principles that he died? If you were writing a letter to a new International Business graduate preparing to work overseas, how might you use the lessons you revealed in your exercises with The Eclipse?

20 Implications for WAC We believe very strongly that the most successful WAC programs in the country have not focused solely on the particular forms and kinds of writing that we require of students in the Academy, but rather on the critical thinking that students need to master in order to do well writing those assigned forms. This is the key linkage between WAC and critical thinking, an approach which allows us to approach faculty and departments by talking about thinking.

21 In our recent survey of faculty at QU Critical thinking and writing ability were the two most important learning outcomes for all faculty:

22 School/ Rank Ranking of Learning Proficiencies Varies by School 22 Arts and Sciences Business Communications Education Health Sciences 1 Critical Thinking Critical Thinking Written Communications Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 2 Written Communications Quantitative Reasoning Critical Thinking Oral Communications Oral Communications 3 Creative Thinking Creative Thinking Creative Thinking Creative Thinking Written Communications 4 Oral Communications Written Communications Oral Communications Written Communications Information Literacy 5 Information Literacy Oral Communications Information Literacy Information Literacy Creative Thinking 6 Quantitative Reasoning Information Literacy Quantitative Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning Goal of WID: Work with individual majors to situate writing in the context of other skills and learning goals for students.

23 What About the Majors Using ungraded critical thinking assignments in class to model thinking privileged by the major or discipline allows students to learn how to think like a major in preparation for writing like a major. It also allows majors to understand why certain forms of writing are privileged by certain majors, case studies in Business, for example, or literature reviews in Social Science.

24 So, why the title, The Double Helix?

25 New Research on thinking and writing Suggests that there is a powerful interaction between the two in student learning, namely that learning to think though a variety of writing assignments increases understanding, recall and transferability of knowledge (Michael Basseches). Also, that acquiring a facility with language and thought through writing subtly and powerfully changes the way the mind works, something which is key to successful mastery of disciplinary thinking (Stephen Pinker, Maryanne Wolf)

26 Wrap Up 1. While critical thinking is a much contested term with too many varieties of meaning, it can still be framed usefully around learning objectives within the major and (more broadly) in the core curriculum. 2. Linked with a variety of writing strategies informal (low stakes) and formal or graded, scaffolded critical thinking can broaden and deepen the appeal of a WAC/WID program among faculty.

27 Thank You!! Time for Questions?

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