In the third module, the students post their assignments online and provide feedback to each other.
“By the third module, I expect them to have some skills for looking at a theme and analyzing how the facts support that theme.
Each element of the modules contains some unique material, and Armstrong encourages students to use them all to enhance their understanding of the content.
“If you address enough learning styles and you’ve got students engaged and able to learn according to how their brains work, then critical thinking is easy to approach.
In addition to engaging students, offering course materials in multiple formats gets at different learning styles.
For each module, Armstrong tries to include text, visual, and auditory elements.For example, she has students rate various course elements according to a five-star restaurant rating system and explain why they gave the sites the ratings they did.“By asking why, they have to substantiate their answers, and any time they do that, they’re thinking critically,” Armstrong says.Armstrong uses incremental assignments that lead to students being able to write a thematic critical essay.“Writing a thematic critical essay is a tremendous way to teach critical thinking because any time a student has to write an introductory paragraph for a theme and analyze how the data is presented and substantiate that theme and make a concluding paragraph, you have a tremendous amount of critical thinking going on.So Armstrong asked each student to find a website that accomplished what she had originally intended.This activity simultaneously engaged students, helped them develop their critical thinking skills, and improved the course.But you just can’t expect students to be able to do that right away,” Armstrong says.In the first module, Armstrong provides an outline that student fill in, which teaches them how to find the unit’s theme rather than just the specific details or facts.Online courses offer several advantages over face-to-face courses when it comes to teaching critical thinking (analysis, evaluation, and deduction), according to according to Linda Armstrong, science professor at Sullivan County Community College in New York.The challenge is to engage students by addressing various learning styles and to find ways to build in critical thinking throughout the course.