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Critical thinking seminar notes


Memo for: Record,  and my personal learning journal

Subject: Review of critical thinking workshop, 21 – 22 February 2012

Author: Ken Long

Date: 24 February 2012

 

  1. 1.       Administrative notes:
    1. presenter was Dr. Enoch Hale from the Foundation for Critical Thinking led by Paul and Elder, sponsored by School for Command Prep, featuring broad college attendance
    2. two-day seminar, 12 hours of instruction, focusing on short experiential learning lessons to introduce them apply strategies outlined in pollen elders and books.
    3. DLRO attendees: LTC Tossie Andrews, Mike Weaver, Tom Creviston, Gerry Leonard, Ken Long.
    4. Conclusion: this was an excellent experiential learning based workshop for CT using the Paul and Elder model that would be very beneficial for any ILE instructor. Two days of focused learning was just about right for both focus and endurance. The short experiential exercises were especially effective in keeping our attention and providing hands-on validation of effective classroom technique. Minimal use of slides, mostly discussion and small group experience
    5. 2.       Workshop Topic sequence:
      1. what is our background in critical thinking and how have we developed the skills we have?
      2. Critical thinking definition exercise
      3. critical thinking as an exercising in asking excellent probing questions
      4. how can we find the limits of our knowledge?
      5. Identify the intellectual moves you would like to see soldiers make or do. This is connected to defining educational outcomes in terms of observable behaviors and habits of mind. Examples: know the requirement, clarify the requirement, always consult three sources, ask for examples, provide illustrations, pose test cases, evaluate arguments, evaluate evidence, analyze chains of reasoning
      6. short discussion: how can we help students learn the skills needed to form clear probing questions? How can you key your questions to the learning level of the students? Reference Paul and Elder, “asking essential questions “, pages 5-6
      7. examine intellectual traits and virtues on page 13 of Paul and Elder critical thinking concepts and tools: where are your students strong or weak and why? Evidence?
      8. Fill in the blank: the teacher’s job is to_______? the student’s job is to___________?
      9. asking students: what was the most relevant part of the lesson? And then what is your biggest unanswered question? This is similar to our five questions
      10. reasoning by analogy to compare relationship between everyday thinking and critical thinking
      11. review poem and experience sense making individually, then discuss
      12. compared unfocused narrative of walking through a house with walking through the house adopting different perspectives: homebuyer, thief, parent
      13. deeper discussion of critical thinking definition (example: critical thinking is the intentional, structured, systematic, analytic and synthetic, evaluative process of reflective thinking in order to evaluate the quality of our thinking to improve our thinking). Now analyze for nouns verbs, adjectives, perspectives, assumptions, judgments.
      14. Thought experiment: why is CT important & why is it not important
      15. identifying intellectual moves: defined, elaborate, example, illustrate, analogy, simile, metaphor
      16. defining the principle/process of clarity: SEEI (state, elaborate, exemplify, illustrate)
      17. short discussion of activated ignorance versus activated knowledge versus static knowledge
      18. short exercise: how can your thinking trap you or free you?
      19. Short discussion: how do the following affect thinking and what can CT do about them: ego, socio-economic status, ethnicity, culture, religion, education?
      20. Dr. Hale: I have a list of 100 instructional strategies for CT, but I have about a dozen “go to” favorites
      21. examining the Logic and relationship of student thinking, content, instruction as three different areas but also connected in a larger meta-area.
      22. an exercise in sense making: what’s the relationship of education to:  socialization, indoctrination, training
      23. QAO exercise: questioner, answerer, observer, followed by feedback on each role
      24. discussion of Delphi group technique in the importance of a period of individual independent reflection
      25. the use and mutual understanding of precise language to describe CT concepts and processes, similar to the importance of doctrinal language
      26. make a list of the questions that are currently guiding your teaching
      27. list obstacles to critical thinking
      28. Dr. Hale presented research findings on retention levels and recommended the use of a 10/3 model of instruction: 10 min. discussion followed by 3 min. student experiential processing. This improves retention from 20% of and hours lecture to 85%. We could do about three chunks in each contact hour.
      29. Short discussion: searchlight versus laser metaphor to understand the type of thinking we’re engaged in at the moment.  Wide-area search versus deep understanding
      30. short discussion: “the critical mind is the questioning mind”
      31. action versus reflection: does your thinking lead to action or to reflection, then action?
      32. Describe an experience when you saw someone apply an intellectual trait that made a difference
      33. what intellectual practices prevent the application of Paul and Elder’s intellectual traits
      34. exercising the CT muscles routinely
      35. small group Socratic seminars
      36. timed writing exercise to take a snapshot
      37. short discussion: problem finding versus problem-solving
      38. timed writing, around the horn to collect insights into your important question

 

  1. 3.       Specific exercises:  experiential learning exercises in the workshop that we may be able to use in our classroom (lots of duplication with para 2, due to experiential learning mode of the workshop)
    1. reflect on your experience of critical thinking
    2. identify examples of critical thinking from your life
    3. define critical thinking and compare to expert definition
    4. identify excellent critical thinking questions
    5. identify where your students are strong or weak in questioning
    6. fill in the blank: teachers job, students job to make their beliefs explicit
    7. reasoning by analogy:->critical thinking: thinking::________: walking….(ballet?)
    8. Review poem, conduct individual sense making, then discuss compare and contrast
    9. identify what’s important in a narrative by adopting different perspectives
    10. compare and contrast competing definitions of critical thinking.
    11. Frame an argument: why is CT important/not important
    12. identifying intellectual moves: defined, elaborate, example, illustrate, analogy, simile, metaphor
    13. defining the principle/process of clarity: SEEI (state, elaborate, exemplify, illustrate)
    14. short exercise: how can your thinking trap you or free you?
    15. Short discussion: how do the following affect thinking and what can CT do about them: ego, socio-economic status, ethnicity, culture, religion, education?
    16. QAO exercise: questioner, answerer, observer, followed by feedback on each role
    17. an exercise in sense making: what’s the relationship of education to:  socialization, indoctrination, training
    18. evaluating the skill of the observer to accurately and richly described behavioral data
    19. Delphi group technique
    20. identify the important questions guiding your teaching and learning
    21. list obstacles to critical thinking
    22. 10/3 instructional model searchlight versus laser metaphor to understand the type of thinking we’re engaged in at the moment
    23. describe an experience when it intellectual traits made a difference
    24. what intellectual practices prevent the application of Paul and Elder’s intellectual traits
    25. how can we lower the transaction costs to using CT routinely?
    26. Small group Socratic seminar
    27. dialogue: why is CT relevant to me when I’m trying to master a complex body of knowledge?
    28. Timed writing to take snapshots
    29. are we problem finding or problem-solving?
    30. timed writing, around the horn to collect insights into your important question

 

  1. 4.       Personal A-Ha! Moments:
    1. the power and effectiveness of the five questions to ask students
    2. are we really a learning organization?; a critical thinking organization? How would we know? What evidence would we look for to prove it?
    3. Is the lack of critical thinking skills related to our increasingly large role as consumers of information, opinion, thinking and critical thinking from others? Have we lost the initiative on our own thinking?
    4.  QAO
    5. CT educational outcomes
    6. the questions driving your teaching
    7. 10/3 technique
    8. the importance of the Argyris “ladder of inference” and knowing where you are
    9. integrating CT into all lesson plans
    10. treating FDP2 as the most important lessons we teach rather than executive summaries to be endured
    11. professionals:

i.      know the rules

ii.      apply the rules

iii.      break the rules properly

iv.      Write good roles

v.      seek and embrace better rules

  1. can we use the equivalent of Yahoo answers to rank student answers to important questions to stimulate dialogue?
  2. Problem fighting versus problem-solving

 

  1. 5.       CT chunks: my personal answers to experiential exercises

 

  1. a.       top 10 things a major should know and be able to do:

i.      know how to estimate/analyze for requirements

ii.      identify minimum mission essential sustainment levels

iii.      identify critical sustainment tasks for an operation

iv.      evaluate options for command and support relationships and pick the best one to meet your trade-off criteria

v.      evaluate sustainment risk to a mission based on concept of support

vi.      identify infeasible solutions

vii.      know how to make a rough estimate of capabilities and requirements

viii.      know how the sustainment forces are arrayed on the battlefield

ix.      appreciate time distance factors

x.      know where I go for answers and know when those answers are good

 

  1. b.      obstacles to critical thinking

i.      time

ii.      energy

iii.      relevance

iv.      desire for certainty

v.      doctrine

vi.      interest

                                                          vii.      dull, stupid, lazy people (says more about me…)

viii.      tension between creativity and critical thinking

ix.      motivation

x.      lack of priority

xi.      different expectations

xii.      lack of imagination/understanding about the larger picture in context

 

  1. c.       evaluating the observers skill/performance:

i.      what behaviors did you observe?

ii.      What facial expressions?

iii.      what body language did you see?

iv.      where were the students focusing attention? Why do you say that?

v.      What social pressures do you think you saw?

vi.      Why would people feel social pressure in that situation?

vii.      Are you observing or inferring?

 

  1. My personal definition of critical thinking: critical thinking is the intentional, structured, systematic, analytic and synthetic, evaluative process of reflective thinking to evaluate the quality of our thinking to improve our thinking

 

  1. why CT is not important:

i.      it’s hard

ii.      it creates friction

iii.      it wastes time

iv.      it devalues what we know

v.      it’s not persuasive

vi.      it’s not relevant

vii.      it’s idealistic

 

  1. f.        what I think our students are good and bad at (skills): (says more about me them them, but that’s the purpose of this exercise)

i.      good: goals and purpose, clarification, appreciating other viewpoints

ii.      bad: inference/conclusions, analyzing assumptions, comparisons

 

  1. g.       what I think your students are good and bad at (traits): (says more about me them them, but that’s the purpose of this exercise)

i.      good: integrity, humility

ii.      bad: empathy, perseverance, confidence, autonomy

iii.      I don’t see them actively questioning to develop intellectual dispositions

 

  1. h.      my CT history:

i.      high school science teacher who demonstrated how easy it is to fool people by lying

ii.      great book series and Mortimer Adler: how do we know?

iii.      Math, trial and error, application

iv.      a stubborn streak that questions the authority and prefers the inner voice

 

  1. i.        what CT intellectual moves/techniques do I favor?

i.      Mind mapping for processes and concepts

ii.      interactive argument mapping

iii.      the use of experiential test cases/practical exercises

iv.      empathy for the underdog

v.      exploring alternate perspectives

vi.      unpacking assumptions

vii.      mapping logic chains

viii.      reflective sense making

ix.      Peter Facione & Paul and Elder

x.      don’t give advice until they have thought it through and committed their position to writing

 

  1. the Write Around answers to my posed question,.: why is CT relevant to me when I’m trying to master a complex body of knowledge?  (which is what I think is in the students had all the time, because that’s what’s always inside my head whenever somebody proposes to teach me anything; says more about me…)

i.      You must show them why it’s relevant; better yet, get them through guided dialogue to make the value connection

ii.      consider using Bloom’s taxonomy to develop interest in this from a mastery perspective. What level do you need to achieve to lead soldiers?

iii.      Show how CT dissects the thinking process and thus helps to solve complex problems and enhance learning

iv.      CT is part of the intellectual combined arms fight. It has its role in priority of effort depending on the phase of operation, like foundations, but it must be integrated into the larger whole

v.      CT provides a framework to examine separate issues using the same standards. Students understand that consistency and thought leads to better, well thought out solutions. It produces CT muscle memory.

 

  1. 6.       Action steps:
    1. share journal with department and my students
    2. post on my blog to invite comment and discussion
    3. staff idea of incorporating a CT section in each lesson plan to provide faculty a menu of choices to you CT in the: CE, P&P, apply, develop areas. (Passed initial feasibility sample of five faculty, independently)
    4. incorporate CT structure into A491 lessons carefully
    5. add personal learning Journal technique to A457 and MMAS students
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