Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education, Yearbook 18: Inquiry into Thinking

By Dohner, Ruth E. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, January 1, 1999 | Go to article overview

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher Education, Yearbook 18: Inquiry into Thinking


Dohner, Ruth E., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


THOMAS, R. G. AND LASTER, J. F. (Eds.), (1998).

Peoria IL: American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and Glencoe/Mc-Graw Hill.

This yearbook kindled my quest for ways to prepare people to solve problems in the next millennium. Whether we are teaching family and consumer sciences in secondary schools or in higher education, teaching processes of thinking to solve problems challenges us. How will we teach problem solving and how will we measure thinking processes in problem solving?

This was not a book to read cover to cover. However, once I found an interest point in the yearbook I was ready for more. I was particularly drawn to the personal stories. Four researchers use stories as a way to share their thinking and reflection processes while simultaneously informing us of the content of thinking, Other researchers in the yearbook encourage us to use stories to gain points of view that expand our practical problem solving skill.

The chapters grouped into several categories for me, which are different from the editor's categorization of manuscripts. Those were: (1) the stories as a research and teaching method; (2) practical problem solving (Martin focuses on secondary students and Fedje on teacher education students); (3) assessment of thinking and problem solving with various populations to guide the reader through the related literature (these chapters are dense and reflect the complexity of inquiry into thinking); (4) different types of family problems and skills needed to solve them (delineated by Rettig); and (5) helping professionals to transform practice.

The stories show how the power of critical reflection enables us to reach a new understanding of our own learning. As the reader, I was engaged in the story; my own reflections about similar situations pushed me to new personal understanding, struggle, or awareness. The stories enable the researcher to share experiences that illustrate some aspect of the study of thinking and developing our own and others' thinking skills. Researchers Knippel, Martin, Fedje, and Vail use elements of Stephen Brookfield's Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, in which he discusses four lenses we might use in our journey to become more effective teachers and more informed practitioners. Brookfield describes the four lenses of critical reflection as autobiography, expert literature, student's eyes, and peer feedback.

Knipple's story uses experience with practical reasoning in her family to think about the disorganization in their home. She uses practical reasoning questions of context, valued-ends, means, and consequences, along with autobiography, to gain understanding of family members' perspective. Martin and Fedje share stories of teaching practical reasoning along with formal and informal action research outcomes. The stories report the expert literature that guided the instructional planning and problem solving of experiences in teaching practical problem solving.

These stories enlighten our own teaching. Vail shares an autobiography that enhances feedback from "students' eyes" and informs teacher educator practice. Brookfield discusses the use of learning journals and Critical Incident Questionnaires to explore issues of power. This thoughtful and sensitive story of Vail's youth and the insight gained from this autobiographical experience will encourage us to use this critical reflective lens. …

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