Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking Alicia Juarrero, PhD Professor of Philosophy Prince George’s Community College Largo, Maryland 20774

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Formal and Informal Logic Formal logic = deduction Induction Informal logic

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Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking Alicia Juarrero, PhD Professor of Philosophy Prince Georges Community College Largo, Maryland Association of American Colleges and Universities Conference on Pedagogies of Engagement April 15, 2005 Historical Background BC Socrates BCAristotle Francis Bacon Rene Descartes John Dewey Scientific Method Formal and Informal Logic Formal logic = deduction Induction Informal logic 1940s Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Assessment (CTA) Drawing Inferences Recognizing Assumptions Argument Evaluation Deductive Reasoning Logical Interpretation From Why Johnny Cant Read to Critical Thinking 1976 (paperback edition) Rudolf Fleschs Why Johnny Cant Read 1983 Why Johnny Still Cant Read National Institute of Education Study The Standardized Test Scores of College Graduates (Released in January 1983) -- Cliff Adelman, Report Author Prompted by overall decline in college students scores on the major tests used for admission to graduate and professional schools NIE Study consisted of: 550,000 students who took LSAT, GMAT, GRE (both verbal and quantitative) Students who major in a field characterized by formal thought, structural relationships, abstract models, symbolic language, and deductive reasoning consistently outperform others on these examinations. (LSAT, GMAT, GRE) Cliff Adelman, The Standardized Test Scores of College Graduates, (ED ) Complete report available through ERIC Document Reproduction Service Professional/occupational disciplines do not require the rigorous exercise of analysis and synthesis that is so often reflected on the tests. Cliff Adelman, The Standardized Test Scores of College Graduates, (ED ) Complete report available through ERIC Document Reproduction Service AND THEYRE OFF!!!! 1940s Watson-Glaser CTA Test Drawing Inferences Recognizing Assumptions Argument Evaluation Deductive Reasoning Logical Interpretation Post 2000 Definitions of Critical Thinking Is open-minded and mindful of alternatives Tries to be well informed Cares to get it right Cares to present a position honestly and clearly Cares about the dignity and worth of every person Has the ability to focus on a question from More characteristics of Critical Thinking (so-called) Includes lateral creative thinking Critico-creative thinking Imagining and evaluating alternative scenarios Looking at issues from different points of view Efficacy of Undergraduate Critical Thinking Courses Tim van Gelders (Melbourne, Australia) 2000 work-in-progress Conclusions: Difficult to make a convincing case that these one-semester CTA courses (versus a traditional formal logic course)make an appreciable difference Serious need for more and better research on this issue K-12 Science & Math Education Conventional wisdom on teaching Science: Best way to give K-12 a deep and enduring understanding of science is through discovery learning (as opposed to direct instruction) 7 th grade Math Visual math: imagine squares and cubes of different sizes the better to grasp number systems not based on 10 Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2004 Lack of controlled (clinical) studies David Klahr of Carnegie Mellon University on discovery-based learning: Studies showing that students in active, discovery- based learning classes do better than kids in a drill-and-memorize class do not include controls Teachers assigned to discovery-based classes are usually creative and very knowledgeable. If you had the same teacher do traditional instruction, might the students do just as well? NO STUDIES DONE! Needed: An educational FDA! WSJ Dec 17, 2004 Neurological research & learning Initially research was mostly about learning disorders, or brain development in general US Congress declares 1990s The Decade of the Brain 1996 Conference co-sponsored by the Charles A. Dana Foundation and Education Commission of the States:There is a chasm between what scientists accept as proven fact and what the public, teachers and administrators believe. 1997 National Research Council Report Mainly focused on math & science education US Spends $400 billion a year on K-12 education but Education does not rest on a strong research base In no other field are personal experience and ideology so frequently relied on to make policy choices, and in no other field is the research base so inadequate and little used. Quote from Sharon Begleys column Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2004 Neurological Research on Memory Procedural Learning at the basis of skills and habits -- Declarative Memory hippocampus and entorhinal and perirhinal cortices implicated Hippocampus combines information coming from all sensory modalities Short vs long-term memory Working memory over tens of seconds prefrontal cortex involved Central executive + visual buffer & phonological loop for language Long-term memory converts chemical memory to structural memory When an axon of cell 1 is near enough to excite a cell 2 and repeatedly and persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place in one or both cells such that 1's efficacy, as one of the cells firing 2, is increased. Cells that fire together wire together Donald Hebb (1949) More on Neurology Its not just the cortex emotions play a crucial role (thalamus and hypothalamus) Antonio Damasio Descartess Error (1994) Role of emotional arousal and attention (information has to be perceived as something that matters) Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky Reasoning involving risk very different when it involves losses than when it involves gains Neuroeconomics Caudate Nucleus (where trust is located) Nucleus Accumbens (where error prediction is) Walter Freemans How Brains Make up their Minds (2001) Neurological encoding of the meaning of the stimulus incorporates both the history of learner and his/her previous experience with the stimulus Pseudoscience: What you dont want Neurological studies taken out of context Right brain/left brain Emotional Intelligence Brain-based learning Blink Still too early Cognitive Science National Science Foundation Initiatives: Integrative Cognitive Science launched Oct 2, 2003 Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Science Centers for Learning Research Interdisciplinary Neil Postmans 1985 Amusing Ourselves to Death Focused on impact of television on public discourse Main point applies to the effect of image- based culture on critical thinking The Trouble with Information Technology Written texts come with habits of critical readership built in to centuries of civilization -versus: Rules of the programmed world, which are clearcut, offering constrained choices. How Computers Change the Way we Think Sherry Turkle Ideas being carried from information technology are not ideas from computer science like procedural thinking, but more likely to be embedded in productivity tools like Power Point presentations Central project for higher education should be creating programs in information-technology literacy, with the goal of teaching students to interrogate stimulations in much the same spirit, challenging their built-in assumptions Sherry Turkle How Computers change the way we Think Chronicle of Higher Education Jan 30, 2004 Problems with Power Point! The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch. Edward Tufte (Yale) The Cognitive Style of Power Point The truth is that we know very little about reasoning and how to teach it. The one thing we thought we knewnamely, that formal discipline is an illusionseems clearly wrong. Just how wrong, and therefore just how much we can improve reasoning by instruction, is now a completely open question. Lehman, D.R., Lempert, R.O., & Nisbet, R.E. (1988) The effects of graduate training in reasoning: Formal discipline and thinking about everyday-life events. American Psychologist