critical thinking

The Necessary Intellectual Skills for Academic Writers

To some degree or another, many educators rely on traditional taxonomies or curricular clusters to help them explain, prompt, and assess student work. Perhaps they use terms from Bloom’s Taxonomy (“applying,” “analyzing,” “evaluating,” and so forth) when crafting learning objectives. If they teach writing, they also likely incorporate discussion of rhetorical modes such as classification, comparison/contrast, or narration. They also will address rhetorical aims such as explaining and solving. However, these usual taxonomies may overshadow a sizable range of other teachable and vital skills that are crucial for succeeding in academic life. In the webinar “Crucial Thinking: The Read More…


Evaluating a Website’s Appropriateness for Scholarly Research

If you’ve spent any time on the Web, you know that the quality, credibility, and reliability of available information varies greatly. Though you may not be concerned about the academic credentials of someone who’s writing restaurant reviews or sports commentary, you do recognize that it’s critical to diligently vet the sources you rely upon for your research projects. However, this reality may come as a surprise to some of today’s students who are used to typing a few words into a search engine and choosing the first few results as their sole sources of information on any given topic. Given Read More…


Encouraging Students to Develop Critical Minds

Most of us have a wealth of information readily available to us. Thanks to the Internet and other media sources, we receive news and entertainment all day, every day, at a rapid pace. And if you don’t receive the information, it’s relatively easy to seek it out; enter a query into a search engine, and within seconds you’ll receive millions of results that provide you with links to articles that address your topic from differing perspectives—and varying levels of relevance, accuracy, and authority. It is indeed fairly easy to get information that is somewhat related to the matters that Read More…


Gathering Data to Support Informed Decisions

Some decisions—such as where to go to lunch, or what to wear to a work function—may require a bit of deliberation, but can ultimately be made relatively quickly. Yet if you are faced with a challenge that carries a heftier commitment of resources and has a greater impact on a larger number of people, you may find yourself seeking input from other sources. Indeed, when making an important decision, it is wise to gather and analyze information that could have an impact on your ultimate course of action. To start your information-gathering endeavor, consider the guidelines that author Jeff Butterfield presents in Read More…


Conquering Distraction In and Out of the Classroom

For all its benefits, our use of technology has introduced certain challenges into our modern lives, including an increased sense of distraction and information overload. Of course, technology in and of itself is not the problem. In order to keep from feeling overwhelmed, we must master technology, rather than allowing it to master us. Many of the students who enter your classroom are “digital natives” quite accustomed to communicating and finding information online — and also quite attached to their technology devices. Fortunately, you as an instructor can play a role in raising these students’ awareness of how they can use this Read More…


Tips for Students: Exploring a Research Topic

What advice do you share with your students when assigning a research paper or project? Share your thoughts on helping learners focus on a topic of research in the comments section below. So you’ve been assigned a research paper, and you have a pretty good idea of what you’d like to write about (or maybe not quite yet). What’s next? Rather than just diving in and committing to writing about a topic, Susan Miller-Cochran and Rochelle Rodrigo, authors of The Wadsworth Guide to Research, recommend that you take some time to explore it more fully to ensure that Read More…


Helping Students Master Challenging Concepts

Guest Contributor: Melisa “Joey” Bryant, Forsyth Technical Community College. In today’s post, Melisa “Joey” Bryant, program coordinator in the Thomas H. Davis iTEC Center at Forsyth Technical Community College, discusses how getting students involved with teaching your class can enable them to tackle challenging concepts and better understand tough material. How do you help your learners conquer difficult topics in your courses? Share your ideas and teaching tips in the comments section below. One of the most frustrating experiences as a student is going into a class and feeling like you are the only one who doesn’t understand what the teacher is saying. Read More…


What Activities Work to Achieve Learning? Merrill’s First Principles

It’s likely that you encourage learners in your classroom to connect the material you’re covering to examples from their own lives. How do you then take it a step further and get them to think critically and apply what you’ve taught them to solve a problem? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. Guest Contributor: Erin Doppke, Senior Instructional Designer, Cengage Learning Custom Solutions As you approach your courses for next semester, consider incorporating an instructional model on which many instructional designers rely: Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction (Merrill, 2002). Instructional designers think of Merrill’s First Read More…


Designing a Framework for Critical Thinking

A, well, critical part of ensuring that students reach a higher level of understanding is by promoting critical thinking in your course. By challenging students to tap into higher-order thinking skills, you’re not only working to help them fully understand a topic or an idea, you’re training them to think critically about the world around them. It’s with this in mind that we’re revisiting the article below, written by Cengage Learning Instructional Designer Jason Lancaster, that provides some tips for you to remember when designing with critical thinking in mind. Following Jason’s article, check out five tips from Connie Read More…


Five Habits of a Critical Thinker

Critical thinking skills don’t just “happen.” Just like brushing your teeth, those skills need to be practiced on a regular basis before they can become a more natural part of your learning processes. In her book FOCUS on College Success, Constance Staley offers students five tips for honing their critical-thinking skills. Encourage your students to reflect on these points, and they will reap the benefits! If you don’t know something, admit it.Then, endeavor to learn more.
Acknowledge your “hot buttons.”It’s normal to have strong feelings about particular issues. When you know which issues those are, you can make a Read More…