Must have skills: Quantitative Reasoning & Critical Thinking

Believe it or not, the end of the semester is the ideal time to think about course design and re-design. You are in a position to take advantage of your recent teaching experience, feedback from students and new ideas that have emerged during the past months.

One of the goals for your work on course development might be to include more Quantitative Reasoning and Critical Thinking activities.  The development of these skills helps students to be strong consumers of information, do better in coursework (now and in the future) and be prepared to meet workplace demands. If you are unsure where to start, consider attending the AMCOA Region 1 Faculty Workshop  right here at GCC on June 5th.   Stipends are available and lunch will be provided. Register here.

At this workshop you will learn the fundamentals of creating assignments that grow reasoning and thinking skills in your discipline and across disciplines.  Just as important, you will be able to assess these skills and your students’ progress toward learning goals.

If you cannot attend the workshop, you might use the resources provided by the Carnegie Mellon Eberly Center for teaching to examine effective teaching approaches. There are ideas about how to craft learning objectives and assignments that will help students achieve these objectives.

For more on Critical Thinking in the Classroom, review resources on the T & L site.

For more on Quantitative Reasoning, visit the Brown University Center for Teaching.


Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking involves the application of reasoning and logic to new ideas, information and situations. Good critical thinking skills prepare students for life in the “real” world and allow them to be smart consumers of everything from education to media to health and career decisions. Critical thinking skills are important for the workplace, too. Employers continually rate the ability to think critically as a skill they seek in their workers. The question is, “How do we foster these skills in our students in any discipline and at every academic level?”

Critical thinking starts with an open-minded approach that allows students to gather information and then make a judgment about what to do with that information. Refraining from an initial reaction allows students to apply reasoning based on facts rather than an emotional response. Critical thinking revolves around this deliberate process of reflection and consideration. Activities that involve the use of empathy provides student with an opportunity to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and experience a problem from a new perspective and see sides of an issue that might be hidden under normal circumstances.

All disciplines can benefit from having students engaged in critical thinking in the classroom. Students should be encouraged to challenge their own assumptions as well as those of their classmates and instructors in ways that are thoughtful and consistent with classroom decorum.  When students become critical thinkers they assess what they know and what they need to know to draw a conclusion about new ideas and information. Individuals with critical thinking skills are better at negotiating school, work and life challenges. They begin to question why the world is the way it is, and what needs to happen in order for it to change.




Communication and Writing Resources

Using Motivational Interviewing to Communicate with Students

Teachers and advisors who use motivational interviewing (MI) enhance their listening and problem-solving skills to become more effective communicators and create better rapport with students. MI has been shown as an effective method for creating dialogue, rapport and ultimately helping to motivate students. Following specific techniques and a methodological approach, motivational interviewing can help students move forward, see alternative paths toward their goal and take ownership.

Motivational Interviewing Thought & Action

WAC:  Writing Across the Curriculum