Critical thinking should be taught in college classes is an argument

Pursuit home

The debate over whether or not general thinking skills, or GTS, actually exist is well traveled within a relatively small circle of researchers and thinkers, but virtually unknown outside of it. Given our belief in the importance of critical thinking and our assumption that students learn it, I would argue that this debate is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood issues in higher education today. As the name implies, GTS are those skills that supposedly transfer from one discipline to another. A key question in the debate, therefore, is whether thinking skills can exist independently from discipline-specific content in a meaningful way such that transfer is possible.

Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia; and, to a certain degree, Moore himself have defended the specifists' position. As educational researcher Stephen P. If anything, scientific evidence suggests that human mental abilities are content and context bound, and highly influenced by the complexity of the problems being addressed. More recent research that Moore has conducted continues to support the finding that the existence of a set of thinking skills applicable across disciplines is indeed dubious.

In Critical Thinking and Language , he explored how critical thinking is understood and taught by faculty from a range of disciplines at an Australian university. While he outlined certain relations among disciplines, he found nothing to suggest that the complexity of those relations could be reduced to a core set of cognitive skills.

Again, given the rising cost of education and the increasing accessibility of information, instructors and professors must move beyond being deliverers of content to remain relevant. Yet, what to do if the research is telling us that teaching GTS is extremely difficult, if not impossible? If higher education is to come to terms with its promise of producing critical thinkers, it must take some specific measures.

What is critical thinking, anyway?

First, no matter what they teach, professors must become much more familiar with the thinking skills debates occurring in the cognitive science, educational psychology and philosophical domains. In fact, if institutions disseminated essential readings in this area as a sort of primer to get people started, it would be time and money well spent. With a wider appreciation of the debate, faculty members must then begin to think about thinking within the context of their own disciplines.

It does not make sense to impose some set of critical-thinking skills onto a subject area independent of the content being taught. Rather, professors of literature, science, psychology, economics and so on must reflect on how they think as scholars and researchers within their own disciplines -- and then explicitly teach those cognitive processes to students. That metaphor leads us to look for a packaged set of thinking skills that apply with equal relevancy to virtually any situation or domain, when, while still debatable, it seems increasingly clear that no such skills exist.

Moreover, the metaphor of overlap -- like a Venn diagram -- makes the differences between sets of thinking skills as instructional as the similarities. So, as thinking skills become explicitly taught in different subjects, the student, proceeding through college, will gather overlapping investigative experiences based on his or her efforts to employ said thinking skills in various courses.

The student can then manage those overlapping experiences as a kind of portfolio that shows him or her how content is processed and problems are solved. If a core set of thinking skills can be distilled from this portfolio, great. If not, the student still has a rich picture of how different ways of thinking overlap, even if they are always tethered to a specific domain or problem. Join us today. She taught algebra to ninth… See Archive.

Critical Thinking Skills and Teacher Education. ERIC Digest 3-88.

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

Tech savvy teaching of critical thinking

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter. Get the best of our award-winning coverage sent to you weekly. The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education.

Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox. Sign up for Jill Barshay's Proof Points newsletter. The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country.

We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that. Twitter Facebook. One class that most likely does not appear on your radar as indispensable is introductory logic. But this is an oversight, and an illogical one at that. Taking a course in basic logic or critical thinking will yield real and immediate returns that impact your life in and out of the classroom. Here are four reasons why you should sign up for an intro to logic course sooner rather than later. Logic can be a highly specialized field that deals in weird, arcane symbols.

Critical thinking should be taught in college classes is an argument - HausamseeAt

This might give the mathematically disinclined the heebie-jeebies. But, at its most basic level, logic is all about arguments. An argument—not the kind you have with your roommate over what to eat for dinner—is a chain of reasoning that connects certain claims to certain conclusions. Whether you're an astrophysicist, a moral philosopher, a web designer, a baseball pitcher, a social worker, a parent, or a panhandler, you make or make use of arguments all the time.

Logic helps to render these arguments transparent; it uncovers their strengths and flaws.


  • master thesis on international business?
  • paralegal help with divorce papers.
  • Critical thinking for college, career, and citizenship.
  • What is critical thinking? And do universities really teach it?.

The foundational character of logic makes it a great exercise for the development of what researchers call metacognition , i. Since this kind of thinking is about the process of thinking itself and not about any specific task or topic, practicing it in the relatively sterile confines of the logic classroom will only serve to sharpen your reasoning for other, less abstract applications.

Thus, the skills you take away from a semester of introductory logic, you can bring with you to literally every other class of your college career. Considering law school, grad school, or an MBA program? Knowing whether your beliefs are "valid" or not—if your reasons really buy you what you think they do—is an invaluable skill.


  • cset social science essay questions.
  • 33 Digital Tools for Advancing Formative Assessment in the Classroom;
  • harvard university entry essay.
  • An old refrain;

But it's a skill that takes practice, and often more than a little guidance. Most introductory logic courses offer such metacognitive guidance as their primary goal. Need to reassess the premises behind your support for political candidate X? Want to make sure the interpretive paper you're working on for a freshman literature class stands up to logical scrutiny?

Are you now vaguely uncertain about religious convictions that formerly seemed obviously true? The principles and habits exercised in an elementary logic class apply equally well to academic and extra-academic problem-solving pursuits.

admin