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The lessons are: acquiring expertise in critical thinking is hard; practice in critical-thinking skills themselves enhances skills; the transfer of skills must be practiced; some theoretical knowledge is required; diagramming arguments (“argument mapping”) promotes skill; and students are prone to belief preservation.The article provides some guidelines for teaching practice in light of these lessons.
Critical thinking is generally accepted as a primary goal of higher education (Mason 2007, Abrami et al. As educators, it is our responsibility to build these skills in our engineering students, or we will produce engineers who can pass courses but who cannot function in the workplace.
Therefore, both the teaching and evaluation of critical thinking skills are very important in an engineering curriculum (Douglas, 2012).
Here is an excerpt from a paper that I have published on the topic (if I don't remember to put the link in, please leave a comment to remind me).
Excerpt from It can be said that the most important quality in an engineer is the ability to think critically—to analyze a given proposition from a variety of angles and determine its strengths and weaknesses.
The next challenge, once you’ve defined it, is to teach it.
If critical thinking is such an essential academic standard in our society, as the Australian Curriculum and Common Core websites suggest, then we need clear examples of how to help our students meet it. But it most often shows up in three contexts: essay writing, class discussions, and assessment.Recently, the 2012 Texas Republican platform voiced the party's opposition to the teaching of critical thinking skills in public schools.This stance raises many controversial questions on the GOPs motivation, but also a fundamental question: are public schools in the US successfully teaching critical thinking?Getting this meta-level perspective clashing with hardcore research somehow enables healthy, critical, creative distance towards empirical studies. Without a concise definition, it is difficult to answer the question (see the last paragraph below).From a purely anecdotal perspective of a teacher though: when you see students come into an engineering program as freshmen and leave as seniors, you have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that critical thinking, in every sense, can most definitely be taught.Among influences mentioned are statistics, logic training, and debiasing.There's also a book that summarized findings: Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Lessons From Cognitive Science Tim van Gelder College Teaching Vol. 1, 2005 ABSTRACT: This article draws six key lessons from cognitive science for teachers of critical thinking.In the West, critical thinking descends from the Socratic method and is a central tenant of the tutor system at the earliest institutions of higher learning (Oxford and Cambridge, for example).This historic dedication of the top institutions to teaching critical thinking suggests that the method is effective.Therefore, it can be argued that there needs to be an engineering-specific definition of what comprises critical thinking, and that this specific skill can be taught in the classroom.This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s at least a start at trying to define critical thinking in concrete terms.