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Critical thinking

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sally begley

on 6 January 2014

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Transcript of Critical thinking

CONTEXT
Theorists
Thinking Programmes
Improvements & Recommendations
EVALUATION
Barriers
When thinking of critical thinking, the context in which it is to be used has to be thought about.
In education, can critical thinking really encourage classroom learning, or does it overpower the lessons to be taught.
Can it be embedded into the scheme of work, or should it be a natural process.
The group that was used to probe these questions and more in general was a Level 3, BTEC National Diploma group studying Information Technology.
The diversity of the group consists of different abilities and ages, from Level 1 to Level 3, with an age range of 17 - 35.
The subject is website development, the thinking will take place in the form of the design process, to include users needs, habits, and designing of a suitable website.
So what is critical thinking?
There are many views on what critical thinking is, one which captures the essence is from the Oxford dictionary.
The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.
It was the Greeks which first introduced the idea of using critical thinking, they used the word 'Kritikos' which means to judge, discern or decide.


Socrates, would set problem solving tasks for his students, he would then support them using discussions to stimulate their interest, this would allow them to generate ideas, therefore developing thinking.
Piaget and Vygotsky were the first two psychologists that introduced critical thinking.
Piaget
His ideals were concerned with the thinking process;
How was knowledge possible
How is knowledge developed
What are the limits of knowledge
He believes all knowledge begins with experience, this experience cannot be present at birth, he calls it his epistemology.
Knowledge is gained through childhood, using cultural beliefs and norms, then by using thinking to question the why's and how's to deduce knowledge.
This is why infusing questioning into your scheme of work and lessons is paramount to experience, and finally the knowledge you want your learners to gain.
Without questions, can you gauge if they are thinking.
Vygotsky
He was concerned with these higher mental functions,
Selective memory
Decision making
Learning and comprehension of language
He like Socrates, believed, the use of scaffolding as a communication tool, promoted the 'more knowledgeable other' to offer assistance to the learner.
This 'more knowledgeable other' does not necessarily have to be adult - child, it could be a higher level to lower level learning, such ass peer to peer.
This can be used in session with group work as well as pedagogic lessons.
Grouping different abilities together can be good for all learners, it can promote learning-by-doing, and creativity.
CA
Cognitive Acceleration
This was based on a Piagetian model of cognitive development or schemata. It is a strategy that enhances thinking through questioning or practical work.
CA shows different stages of development, these stages form experiences, these experiences form knowledge.
This knowledge is tested on entry to learning, known
b
asic and
k
ey
s
kills
b
uilder.

We deal with the fourth level, also known as the formal operations stage, this happens from the age of 12, where you are able to think in an abstract manner, and have the ability to think with a higher order of reasoning.
Learners are able to show their creative side, have organised fact-finding skills, this can be stimulated by using case studies, 'knowledge backed up by practical'
ZPD
Zone of proximal development
This is related back to a Vygotskian theory and his 'more knowledgeable other', it only exists in the interaction between a child and other.
It has been described as an 'inner speech', that depends on 'outside social forces'.
The child can only understand what is in their own capabilities, and need outside forces to to advance their own development.
This is where group work, or teacher-led sessions, can be implemented into the scheme of work. Levels can be used to split learners into groups, this will make use of the more knowledgeable other, to form intuitive knowledge, which derives from accumulate experience.
Metacognition
This is concerned with the thinking behind what you are doing.
It can involve the following domains;
All of these domains have some influence on what you think, both adult and child have opinions or points of view, each is encouraged to recognise the other, although they may not agree.
It is thought to be the most important skill to be developed, it can enhance thinking and therefore intelligence.
It can be developed in the classroom by introducing facts, and getting the learner to evaluate those facts.
Creative
Affective
Cognitive
Emotional
This can be used in the classroom to make them think about their actions IE.


Would you like it if
What do you think about
How do you think they felt

The affective domain can help to focus the learners attention and motivation using positive re-enforcement, is highly linked with Emotional intelligence.
When the learner reaches the desired level of knowledge, learning can the be moved on a level.
This can be seen in lessons by using scaffolding, once the basics (or theory) has been learned, the next level of learning can be introduced.
This type of learning can be seen in Blooms taxonomy.
This is linked with the affective domain, having feelings and empathy towards others.
This cannot happen in class unless the learner and tutor has an awareness of themselves, and then each other.
Emotional intelligence has four branches, to be able to perceive, reason, understand and manage your own emotion.
This type of intelligence can only be used in class when you have got to know your learners, you have to Identify what your learners are feeling, reason and understand where they are coming from, and manage that knowledge to adjust your teaching to get the most out of them.
This is one of the harder intelligences to define, measure and facilitate.
The formal schooling of our generation favored the more analytical intelligences already seen, which can be measured by simple IQ testing. Now, values are changing, we want more alternatives, ideas, creative ways of solving problems.
This can be encouraged in the classroom by setting problem solving tasks, design tasks, tasks with multiple answers, tasks that require out the box thinking.
If creativity was not a part of intelligence, would we see interactive wipe boards, would we have improvements on our mobile phones, would we have different ways of teaching our learners to incorporate all learning styles?
Barriers can be a big issue in learning, they may impede all good intentions of learning, even if the are not known.
Brainstorming with your class could be a good way for your learners to come forward with potential problems, or setting a homework task for learners to identify their own barriers could give the tutor a good knowledge of potential problems.
Some of the more common barriers could be;

Tutor
expectations
teaching
Learners
emotional
behavioural
cognitive
technological
All of the theorists and theories that have been discussed, all have one thing in common, they all form the art known as pedagogy, this is where the methods and activities in the classroom are teacher led.
Some theorists believe things learnt in the classroom could be fraught with problems as they would not be transferable into the real world.
Others believe the pedagogies that teach critical thinking are '
a voice, a stance, family, teachers, friends and the media
', things that share common concerns and the freedom to think.
However, without the teaching of '
thinking, analysing, examining and questioning
', can we be free to examine beyond our beliefs.
All of the theories can be used within the scheme of work, whether its;
theory
fact finding
critical analysis
practical or creative
it just has to be decided where and how these could be embedded.
Before any teaching of any kind can be implemented or planned;
barriers have to be dealt with
testing must be achieved
learners must be known
environment
Improvements
Thinking skills can be improved, through adequate and appropriate teaching.
To make sure this occurs, the basics have to be adhered to.
Blooms taxonomy
Within every classroom, the basics should be taught first, how can you run, unless you can walk, how can you read, unless you know the sounds.
Teachers should incorporate scaffolding into all schemes of work, no matter the level, unless the basic knowledge is there, what is there to build upon.
Teaching
Teachers should plan, in the scheme of work they should encourage learning through problem solving, questioning, scenarios, fact finding, peer-to-peer work.

Teachers should show encouragement, belief, enthusiasm, knowledge, approachability.
They should take on board all the advice given by theorists before them, and
find their own way
.
Should never forget, these skills should be transferable, to be used in all areas of life.
PLAN, DISCUSS, INFORM, INCLUDE
Recommendations
After analysing and thinking about all of the theories and theorists within the 'critical thinking' topic, its hard to pick a few.
All have their place and time to be used, unless they're tried and tested, how would you know which was feasible at any given time.
For the aforementioned class, a mixture of Blooms taxonomy and Vygotsky's scaffolding and 'more knowledgeable other' could be used to form the basis of the topic on websites, without this basic understanding, no higher learning could take place.
Piaget's epistemology will also be infused into all sessions, because without the why, when and hows, how will curiosity arise, without curiosity, how will questioning take place, if we do not question, how will we critically analyse!!!
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