Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Valedictory Views

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Valedictory Views

Article excerpt

Thinking Critically and Serving to Learn: New Dimensions One of the most useful and liberating teaching and learning concepts in wide currency in academic circles recently has been that of critical thinking. In a sense the phrase is a cliche, and an ancient one at that, because it identifies an intellectual process in which teachers in every progressive society in history have attempted to engage their students' minds. Some phenomena emerging from recent study and discussion of critical thinking in the classroom seem especially positive, however, with respect to their impact on teachers' thinking about themselves as providers of learning and the modalities traditionally employed in their teaching.

One of these, and perhaps in some ways the most significant, is simply that many of us have become aware of critical thinking as a practical concept having relevance and application to our own teaching, and this to such a degree that we have been willing to ask our institutions for professional development money to attend conferences and workshops on the topic. Dr. Richard Paul, of Sonoma State University, takes his show on the road regularly, with discussions of such topics as critical thinking in the disciplines, assessment, and Socratic questioning. Ashland State Community College, in Ashland, Kentucky, conducts an annual conference dealing with a range of topics related to the theory and practice of critical thinking.

Critical thinking appears regularly on the agendas of conferences addressing the work of teachers in higher education wherever they are held, but it is also increasingly in evidence in course guides and syllabi, where it is linked to specific goals, objectives, and, perhaps most importantly, student activities, and it is discussed on a daily basis in hallway conversations, on the web, and in print publications. …

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