Thinking Several years ago some teaching colleagues were talking about the real value of teaching psychology students to think critically. After some heated discussion, the last word was had by a colleague from North Carolina. That observation remains one of my favorites in justifying why teaching critical thinking skills should be an important goal in psychology.
First Wave Research Concerns: 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.
Almost from the beginning, however, there was a contradiction between the concerns and ideals that gave rise to the theory and practice and actual classroom practice. The ideals were broad and ambitious. The practice was narrow and of limited success.
For example, the State College and University System of California defined the goals of the critical thinking graduation requirement as follows: Instruction in critical thinking is to be designed to achieve an understanding of the relationship of language to logic, which should lead to the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas, to reason inductively and deductively, and to reach factual or judgmental conclusions based on sound inferences drawn from unambiguous statements of knowledge or belief.
The minimal competence to be expected at the successful conclusion of instruction in critical thinking should be the ability to distinguish fact from judgment, belief from knowledge, and skills in elementary inductive and deductive processes, including an understanding of the formal and informal fallacies of language and thought.
On the one hand, we have a global comprehensive goal and on the other hand a fairly narrow and specialized way to meet that goal.
Students do not in my experience achieve "an understanding of the relationship of language to logic" leading to "the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas"; they do not develop "the ability to distinguish fact from judgment" or "belief from knowledge" simply because they have been drilled in "elementary inductive and deductive processes" nor because they have been exposed to the theory of formal and informal fallacies.
The misfit between goal and means is obvious to anyone who takes the goals in the above paragraph seriously.
One three unit course in critical thinking can at best open the door to the beginning of critical thinking, provide an opening framework. It cannot result in the students having deep notions like "an understanding of the relationship of language to logic" or sweeping abilities like "the ability to analyze, criticize, and advocate ideas.
Furthermore, as a practical matter, many of the courses established to accomplish the objective fell far short of the best design. Often, for example, a course in formal logic was allowed to qualify as a course in critical thinking even though such courses generally are confined to teaching only the mechanical manipulation of symbols in accord with rules for such manipulation, a practice that does not result in changing habits of thought.
Students who have taken such courses demonstrate little sense of how to transfer their "manipulative" abilities with the symbols of formal logic into practical tools in everyday thought.
Substituting informal logic courses for formal ones was one of the earliest shifts in emphasis as more and more instructors recognized that the formal logic approach had little transfer effect.
The emphasis in the informal logic approach to the improvement of thinking was a giant step in the right direction. In place of highly abstract and contrived "arguments" in symbolic form, the students had to read and analyze arguments that came from editorials and everyday speech and debate.
Unfortunately, the informal logic textbooks were often rich in vocabulary and sophisticated distinctions but, unfortunately, poor in fostering deep internalization.
The distinctions were generally well thought out, but there were far too many distinctions for a one semester course, and furthermore, they were typically too narrow in their scope. Consequently, most students were rushed on to new distinctions and concepts before they had internalized the "old" ones.
There was little emphasis on the construction—as against the critique—of reasoning. There was little done with the essential dispositions and values underlying critical thinking. The goals remained broad and profound; the means narrow and unrealistic.
Furthermore, the problem of transfer remained; it was still not clear to students how to transfer their analysis of bits and pieces of argumentation into learning what they were being taught in other courses, namely, sociology, psychology, biology, etc. So most students, once their critical thinking courses were finished, reverted to their established lower-order, survival skills—principally, rote memorization and cramming—to get by.
Theoretically, little if anything was done to work out a comprehensive theory of "logic" sufficient to make sense of the logic of biology, the logic of sociology, the logic of anthropology, geography, literature, the arts, etc.
The concept of logic implicit in informal logic research is too narrow to provide the basis for transfer of critical thinking from, in fact, informal logic courses no matter how well designed to the broader curriculum, nor into the complex problems of everyday life and thought except in a narrow range of such problems.
Pedagogically, little was done to work out the practical problems of restructuring instruction and learning overall. After all, how is one to teach anyone anything in such a way as to foster their taking command of their thinking, so that they develop not only intellectual skills but the basic dispositions and values that underlie critical thinking?
How are academic subjects to be taught such that students leave school with the intellectual skills necessary to adapt to incessant and accelerating change and complexity? How are we to teach so that students explicitly recognize that the work of the future is the work of the mind, intellectual work that demands global skills of reasoning and intellectual self-discipline?
These questions must be addressed.Great piece! I am particularly interested in this phrase "These concepts include truth, nature, value, causality, complexity, morality, freedom, excellence, and—as Wittgenstein understood—language itself, as the principal medium of thought. by Desmond Painter and Martin Terre Blanche 24 Feb Also check out the critical psychology blog This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License..
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Teaching Strategies to Help Promote Critical Thinking. The , Volume 22, issue 1, of the journal, Teaching of Psychology, is devoted to the teaching critical thinking.
Nov 29, · Because people look to psychology because they want to change something. Critical analysis allows you to see what needs to change. Change is vetconnexx.com: Resolved. Higher order thinking (HOT) is thinking on a level that is higher than memorizing facts or telling something back to someone exactly the way it was told to you.
Critical thinking is considered to be essential to being an educated person, and is often a general education requirement in colleges. Psychology courses develop the critical thinking skills that.