It starts with a story:
How would one define critical thinking? There are a lot of definitions out there, but I would define it as applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information, all objectives from the higher levels of Bloom´s taxonomy. What I have found over the years, as my own use of case studies in the classroom has evolved, is that students hunger for opportunities to perform at this level. I have been using case studies for quite some time and in fact my Human Genetics class is built entirely around a once a week analysis of a case study relevant to the topic we have been covering. Initially I chose simple straightforward case studies with mostly closed ended questions and a few scattered questions dealing with ethics. I have branched out over the years to longer, more complex case studies where the resolution to the case is not necessarily straight forward. To my surprise and delight, when I ask students at the end of each semester to tell me their favorite cases we have covered, nearly all of them choose the most complex. Why? They tell me it´s because it makes them think, see things in a new way, and apply their book knowledge to real world scenarios. What makes me happier still is many of these students are not science majors. They range from history, to art therapy, to criminal justice majors. They come out of this class actually liking science and having the global skill of being able to think critically. Who could ask for more?
And leads to learning.
“One of the most important goals of higher education is to get students to think critically and constructively about evidence. Using a sophisticated case study format, “Salem’s Secrets” requires students to grapple with evidence to make sense of historical events. It should serve as a model for classroom activities that foster sophisticated thinking practices.”
We design workshops to:
- help faculty develop a working definition of critical thinking that applies to all disciplines;
- develop integrated teaching strategies to operationalize this definition in the classroom;
- discuss how a common theme can be integrated across disciplines to foster problem solving and data analysis skills.