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rfisher
06-07-2012, 03:16 PM
I'm in the process of revising all our assessment forms. Critical thinking is a one of those new higher education buzz words that people like to throw around and which nobody seems to really be able to define. Our affiliate university has even designated several courses as CT courses, although the criteria for doing so is ambiguous. Intro to Sociology is critical thinking but Intro to Anthropology is not even though they are essentially the same. Go figure. In any event, one of my accreditation agency's pet goals along with the university is "students will develop critical thinking skills." What exactly is critical thinking and how do we know if the student has developed those skills and if they haven't how to we assure that they do? I have a PhD in anthropology and I have no idea how an introduction to sociology course would accomplish that goal. :lol: I have some idea how CT can apply to our more focused scientific curriculum, but I'd like to know what others are doing with this in terms of defining the concept, measuring and assessment. The Department of Education will be the bane of my existence. I used to think it would be the students, but they were just a warm up exercise.

PrincessLeppard
06-07-2012, 03:36 PM
Critical thinking is like pornography: I know it when I see it. :P

I realize that isn't helpful :slinkaway

numbers123
06-07-2012, 03:38 PM
Perhaps the critical thinking for sociology would include: Discuss how the sociology models affect current political parties and voting results. Determine how society attitudes towards groups of people affect perceptions of poverty.

It's been a few years since I was in college or grad school, but is sociology where one discusses ethical models?

nlyoung
06-07-2012, 03:48 PM
As a university history professor, I would argue that "critical thinking" should be an integral component of any course in any discipline (unfortunately, critical thinking tends to be missing in high school education as well which is part of the problem). Evaluation is fairly straightforward, as it is obvious in all written work as well as in group discussions. Using history as an example, at its most basic level, critical thinking requires that a student provide analysis of a question rather than a simple summary of events in either their written work or in oral discussion. One needs to be able to explain how one arrived at a conclusion, using those "facts" that support an argument as well as being able to address points that perhaps work against it. It's really the difference between "A" work and "C" work, at least in my discipline.

Aceon6
06-07-2012, 03:49 PM
To me, critical thinking is the ability to properly integrate information. Can the student apply existing knowledge and research methods to challenge new information? Can the student use new information to alter an approach or a way of thinking? Can the student apply knowledge to inform an area of investigation. That sort of thing.

numbers123
06-07-2012, 03:55 PM
To me, critical thinking is taking a situation and being able to debate for and against a situation and determine a choice that is found upon consequences of the action.
In high school, I thought that debate clubs provided an excellent opportunity to develop critical thinking. You needed to be prepare to argue both sides with points and the consequences of either side. Hot topics when I was going to school: military draft, voting age, legalization of certain drugs (yes, even in the late 60's and early 70's it was a debate)
Which is why I asked about ethical models - one could develop an essay requirement or even a debate in class to determine if the metric was "met"

rfisher
06-07-2012, 04:04 PM
Critical thinking is like pornography: I know it when I see it. :P

I realize that isn't helpful :slinkaway

Bint. Why yes, I'll put that in the assessment plan: I know it when I saw it--you'll just have to trust me.

Just you wait, Missy. High school teachers will have to do this soon enough and Prancer and I will laugh at you.

agalisgv
06-07-2012, 04:17 PM
Using history as an example, at its most basic level, critical thinking requires that a student provide analysis of a question rather than a simple summary of events in either their written work or in oral discussion. One needs to be able to explain how one arrived at a conclusion, using those "facts" that support an argument as well as being able to address points that perhaps work against it. Critical thinking comes from the root of critique. So basically one is asking students to be capable of engaging in critique. That means:

- being able to identify the main and subsidiary arguments being made
- what is the evidence in support of those arguments
- what is the strength of those arguments
- what are the flaws of the main and subsidiary arguments
- what is the student's independent assessment of the topic raised in the primary and subsidiary arguments
- what evidence does the student provide in support of his/her assessment
- is the student able to integrate his/her analysis with the arguments from other scholars
- what are the theoretical and practical implications of both the initial arguments raised, and in the arguments offered by the student
- how do those implications impact the scholarly discipline and larger sociopolitical debates
- how clearly expressed is all of the above by the student

Those would be the central questions and methods of evaluating critical thinking.

Artemis@BC
06-07-2012, 04:34 PM
Been there, done that! I've been working with various high school humanities curriculum development processes for years, and the issue of how we define and assess critical thinking always comes up.

One conclusion we almost always come to is that, since "critical thinking" is a somewhat amorphous concept, it's sometimes easier to think of it in the slightly more defined way of "critical thinking skills." And of course it's much easier to assess and evaluate "skills" than "thinking."

From one curriculum I worked on, critical thinking skills include:

~ demonstrating skills of critical analysis (e.g., questioning, imagining, experiencing, hypothesizing, inferring, predicting, comparing, classifying, verifying, identifying relationships and patterns, extrapolating, using analogies, creating metaphors, recognizing contradictions, identifying the use of rhetoric, summarizing, drawing conclusions, defending a position, reflecting, reassessing a position)
~ developing pertinent questions to define the topic, issue, or situation
~ identifying connections among
- their own and others’ experiences
- local and global issues and events
- past and present events and situations (e.g., causal connections, similarities)
- a range of points of view on the topic, issue, or situation
~ making reasoned judgments (e.g., logical, based on evidence) about an issue, situation, or topic
~ citing evidence to justify their position

These are all in addition to more basic research and media analysis skills, which of course are foundational to critical thinking/critical analysis (as well as being easier to define!).

PrincessLeppard
06-07-2012, 04:42 PM
Bint. Why yes, I'll put that in the assessment plan: I know it when I saw it--you'll just have to trust me.

Just you wait, Missy. High school teachers will have to do this soon enough and Prancer and I will laugh at you.

Please. We've been doing this crap the entire nine years I've been teaching. We just haven't hit critical thinking yet.

Have you had to define your essential learnings and enduring understandings yet?

:watch:

susan6
06-07-2012, 05:06 PM
Critical thinking ability is the difference between a lab tech/staff scientist/master's degree and a doctorate. A master's degree student can go into lab and collect a vast quantity of data. But they lack the critical thinking ability to determine the quality of the data, to understand how pieces of data relate to each other, how they compare/relate to other published data, and what the data indicate in terms of future experiments that will need to be carried out to support and expand upon a developing hypothesis.

rfisher
06-07-2012, 05:13 PM
Please. We've been doing this crap the entire nine years I've been teaching. We just haven't hit critical thinking yet.

Have you had to define your essential learnings and enduring understandings yet?

:watch:

Yes, only the HLC is calling them degree qualifications profiles and we have to identify the areas of learning (specialized knowledge, intellectural skills, applied learning etc.,) associate program goals to each profile, identify courses which will meet the individual program learning goals of which there has to be a minimum of two at different points in the curriculum which will allow us to assess progression of the outcome, then set benchmarks to measure that progression and develop associated rubrics for each. :lol: And that is at the program level. Each individual course now has to tie itself back into a specific program goal and establish the learning outcome, assessment tool and benchmark. We call those enduring understandings life-long learning and it's also a bitch to quantify. It's easy to write some vague goal. It's another thing to quantify it. My faculty have plenty of input on what these mean and zero input on how to assess them. I need tools and benchmarks. Exams are useless as an assessment tool because you can make the results of an exam what ever you want them to be. I can't get that point across to the faculty either. :wall:

Critical thinking is one of the program goals and it has to have a specific assessment tool and benchmark. It can't be something we know when we see it. The problem is the assessment and benchmarks. It was all well and good when it was a general concept, but now it has to be a measurable outcome. There are no "arguments" for the student to debate or select a side in medical imaging. This is a very defined science. It's a challenge to bring evidence based practice into a discussion for my senior students that relates to the role of the radiographer. It's even difficult to do this at the level of the radiologist (physician) since it is the clinician who orders imaging studies and not the radiologist. I know because there are about two articles that even make the attempt and I have to explain them to the students because they haven't a clue what the author is trying to say. :lol:
We have to quantify the difference between students. One of our goals is that the student will be clinically competent. This is a piece of cake. I have multiple ways to assess this learning outcome. Quantifying critical thinking, and more importantly progression of critical thinking is much more challenging.

Finding a quantifiable assessment tool is the real challenge here. So far, none of you have identifed that. I can tell you these new requirements coming down from the DoE have caused havoc on our campus. At least clinical classes in the College of Health Professions have a starting point because we have to do this for our national accreditation bodies. I feel for departments like history or English who have not had to do this until now. One thing our unversity is doing is if a specific course does not tie into a specific program goal, it's likely to be eliminated. I don't have a problem, but many departments will.

Aceon6
06-07-2012, 06:12 PM
Finding a quantifiable assessment tool is the real challenge here. So far, none of you have identifed that. I can tell you these new requirements coming down from the DoE have caused havoc on our campus. At least clinical classes in the College of Health Professions have a starting point because we have to do this for our national accreditation bodies. I feel for departments like history or English who have not had to do this until now. One thing our unversity is doing is if a specific course does not tie into a specific program goal, it's likely to be eliminated. I don't have a problem, but many departments will.

One thing that might be measurable for critical thinking is the students ability to review a list of patients awaiting imaging and prioritize those patients based on specific criteria. I know in my old hospital, all the MDs ordered Stat, so everything was Stat and the Radiology manager had to prioritize the patients herself. If there was no clinical criteria for choosing patient A over patient B, she'd do it using her own twisted system that allowed her techs to know what was going on without giving it away to the docs.

rfisher
06-07-2012, 06:24 PM
One thing that might be measurable for critical thinking is the students ability to review a list of patients awaiting imaging and prioritize those patients based on specific criteria. I know in my old hospital, all the MDs ordered Stat, so everything was Stat and the Radiology manager had to prioritize the patients herself. If there was no clinical criteria for choosing patient A over patient B, she'd do it using her own twisted system that allowed her techs to know what was going on without giving it away to the docs.

Except that isn't a measurable skill. The STAT order always takes precedence. :lol: We don't really teach triage as that isn't within the radiographer's scope of practice. Your manager was actually in non-compliance with the ARRT.

numbers123
06-07-2012, 08:05 PM
Except that isn't a measurable skill. The STAT order always takes precedence. :lol: We don't really teach triage as that isn't within the radiographer's scope of practice. Your manager was actually in non-compliance with the ARRT.

Except a stat order in the ED has a higher priority than a stat order in the ambulatory care clinic. One being critical and one being a level of priority for patient and doctor (get in and out as soon as possible).

I do think the abstract courses such as literature, sociology etc. have a harder time in developing quantitative measurements. Courses that are built on qualitative designs are extremely difficult to measure.

For the DoE to expect hard data for measurement of critical thinking skills in those courses is :rolleyes: