5: College Level Critical Thinking and Reading - Mathematics

5: College Level Critical Thinking and Reading - Mathematics

Three Levels of Critical Thinking Skills

Defining critical thinking and classifying “levels” of critical thinking is a curious endeavor. Critical thinking in its purest sense grapples with the preoccupations of how we use our mind to approach the world around us. It involves such things as comprehension, evaluation, judgment, creativity, decision making, and problem solving. Critical thinking is meant to evolve and relies on logic and reason. Yet, a few conversations with different people will make it apparent that critical thinking is not the same for everyone and sometimes, the evolutionary process has abruptly halted -- leading some critical analysts to examine and conclude different levels of critical thinking.

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The Reading Apprenticeship (RA) Approach to Comprehension

Now to some strategies to help you with some typical college-level comprehension challenges as well as some of your specific challenges identified in the previous exercise.

This lesson focuses on a method called Reading Apprenticeship. It is based on the premise that people who have become expert readers can assist learners by modeling what they have learned to do. As explained in the text, Reading for understanding, How Reading Apprenticeship Improves Disciplinary Learning in Secondary and College Classrooms, “One literacy educator describes the idea of the cognitive apprenticeship in reading by comparing the process of learning to read with that of learning to ride a bike. In both cases, a more proficient other is present to support the beginner, engaging the beginner in the activity and calling attention to often overlooked or hidden strategies.”

This is a strategy that takes a metacognitive (how we think about how we think) approach to comprehension, utilizing various strategies readers may already know they know how to do, then adding even more. For example, most readers have learned to make predictions (think ahead to the next stage of a plot in a mystery, for example), ask questions concerning meanings (“I wonder about…”), visualize a scene being described, associate the material being read to some other material, and, at the end, summarize the material (particularly if required to do so by an instructor or for a paper).

I like to call these our “hard drive” skills. Like a computer hard drive always humming in the background doing its thing behind the scenes, our metacognitive skills have already been assisting us as readers. We just don’t usually talk about what we are doing, for example, “Well, by golly, now I’m predicting what Godzilla will do to the poor villagers in about two scenes from now,” we just automatically predict, especially if we are familiar with characters and plot lines. For another example, “I am now going to visualize this scene in graveyard when Hamlet comes across the deceased court jester’s skull in Act V, Scene 1.” We just see it in our mind’s eye.

Just now, however, as a reminder, a review, and an affirmation of important comprehension skills you already possess, complete exercise 3.2, below.

Go back through the excerpt, above, on reading comprehension and THIS time, write marginal notes where you used any of the comprehension tools listed below:

The State of Critical Thinking Today


The question at issue in this paper is: What is the current state of critical thinking in higher education?

Sadly, studies of higher education demonstrate three disturbing, but hardly novel, facts:

    Most college faculty at all levels lack a substantive concept of critical thinking.

These three facts, taken together, represent serious obstacles to essential, long-term institutional change, for only when administrative and faculty leaders grasp the nature, implications, and power of a robust concept of critical thinking — as well as gain insight into the negative implications of its absence — are they able to orchestrate effective professional development. When faculty have a vague notion of critical thinking, or reduce it to a single-discipline model (as in teaching critical thinking through a “logic” or a “study skills” paradigm), it impedes their ability to identify ineffective, or develop more effective, teaching practices. It prevents them from making the essential connections (both within subjects and across them), connections that give order and substance to teaching and learning.

This paper highlights the depth of the problem and its solution — a comprehensive, substantive concept of critical thinking fostered across the curriculum. As long as we rest content with a fuzzy concept of critical thinking or an overly narrow one, we will not be able to effectively teach for it. Consequently, students will continue to leave our colleges without the intellectual skills necessary for reasoning through complex issues.

Part One:
An Initial Look at the Difference Between a Substantive and Non-Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking

Faculty Lack a Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking

Studies demonstrate that most college faculty lack a substantive concept of critical thinking. Consequently they do not (and cannot) use it as a central organizer in the design of instruction. It does not inform their conception of the student’s role as learner. It does not affect how they conceptualize their own role as instructors. They do not link it to the essential thinking that defines the content they teach. They, therefore, usually teach content separate from the thinking students need to engage in if they are to take ownership of that content. They teach history but not historical thinking. They teach biology, but not biological thinking. They teach math, but not mathematical thinking. They expect students to do analysis, but have no clear idea of how to teach students the elements of that analysis. They want students to use intellectual standards in their thinking, but have no clear conception of what intellectual standards they want their students to use or how to articulate them. They are unable to describe the intellectual traits (dispositions) presupposed for intellectual discipline. They have no clear idea of the relation between critical thinking and creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, or communication. They do not understand the role that thinking plays in understanding content. They are often unaware that didactic teaching is ineffective. They don’t see why students fail to make the basic concepts of the discipline their own. They lack classroom teaching strategies that would enable students to master content and become skilled learners.

Most faculty have these problems, yet with little awareness that they do. The majority of college faculty consider their teaching strategies just fine, no matter what the data reveal. Whatever problems exist in their instruction they see as the fault of students or beyond their control.

Studies Reveal That Critical Thinking Is Rare in the College Classroom

Research demonstrates that, contrary to popular faculty belief, critical thinking is not fostered in the typical college classroom. In a meta-analysis of the literature on teaching effectiveness in higher education, Lion Gardiner, in conjunction with ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education (1995) documented the following disturbing patterns: “Faculty aspire to develop students’ thinking skills, but research consistently shows that in practice we tend to aim at facts and concepts in the disciplines, at the lowest cognitive levels, rather than development of intellect or values."

Numerous studies of college classrooms reveal that, rather than actively involving our students in learning, we lecture, even though lectures are not nearly as effective as other means for developing cognitive skills. In addition, students may be attending to lectures only about one-half of their time in class, and retention from lectures is low.

Studies suggest our methods often fail to dislodge students’ misconceptions and ensure learning of complex, abstract concepts. Capacity for problem solving is limited by our use of inappropriately simple practice exercises.

Classroom tests often set the standard for students’ learning. As with instruction, however, we tend to emphasize recall of memorized factual information rather than intellectual challenge. Taken together with our preference for lecturing, our tests may be reinforcing our students’ commonly fact-oriented memory learning, of limited value to either them or society.

Faculty agree almost universally that the development of students’ higher-order intellectual or cognitive abilities is the most important educational task of colleges and universities. These abilities underpin our students’ perceptions of the world and the consequent decisions they make. Specifically, critical thinking – the capacity to evaluate skillfully and fairly the quality of evidence and detect error, hypocrisy, manipulation, dissembling, and bias – is central to both personal success and national needs.

A 1972 study of 40,000 faculty members by the American Council on Education found that 97 percent of the respondents indicated the most important goal of undergraduate education is to foster students’ ability to think critically.

Process-oriented instructional orientations “have long been more successful than conventional instruction in fostering effective movement from concrete to formal reasoning. Such programs emphasize students’ active involvement in learning and cooperative work with other students and de-emphasize lectures . . .”

Gardiner’s summary of the research coincides with the results of a large study (Paul, et. al. 1997) of 38 public colleges and universities and 28 private ones focused on the question: To what extent are faculty teaching for critical thinking?

The study included randomly selected faculty from colleges and universities across California, and encompassed prestigious universities such as Stanford, Cal Tech, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the California State University System. Faculty answered both closed and open-ended questions in a 40-50 minute interview.

By direct statement or by implication, most faculty claimed that they permeated their instruction with an emphasis on critical thinking and that the students internalized the concepts in their courses as a result. Yet only the rare interviewee mentioned the importance of students thinking clearly, accurately, precisely, relevantly, or logically, etc. Very few mentioned any of the basic skills of thought such as the ability to clarify questions gather relevant data reason to logical or valid conclusions identify key assumptions trace significant implications, or enter without distortion into alternative points of view. Intellectual traits of mind, such as intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual responsibility, etc . . . were rarely mentioned by the interviewees. Consider the following key results from the study:

    Though the overwhelming majority of faculty claimed critical thinking to be a primary objective of their instruction (89%), only a small minority could give a clear explanation of what critical thinking is (19%). Furthermore, according to their answers, only 9% of the respondents were clearly teaching for critical thinking on a typical day in class.

A Substantive Conception of Critical Thinking

If we understand critical thinking substantively, we not only explain the idea explicitly to our students, but we use it to give order and meaning to virtually everything we do as teachers and learners. We use it to organize the design of instruction. It informs how we conceptualize our students as learners. It determines how we conceptualize our role as instructors. It enables us to understand and explain the thinking that defines the content we teach.

When we understand critical thinking at a deep level, we realize that we must teach content through thinking, not content, and then thinking. We model the thinking that students need to formulate if they are to take ownership of the content. We teach history as historical thinking. We teach biology as biological thinking. We teach math as mathematical thinking. We expect students to analyze the thinking that is the content, and then to assess the thinking using intellectual standards. We foster the intellectual traits (dispositions) essential to critical thinking. We teach students to use critical thinking concepts as tools in entering into any system of thought, into any subject or discipline. We teach students to construct in their own minds the concepts that define the discipline. We acquire an array of classroom strategies that enable students to master content using their thinking and to become skilled learners.

The concept of critical thinking, rightly understood, ties together much of what we need to understand as teachers and learners. Properly understood, it leads to a framework for institutional change. For a deeper understanding of critical thinking see The Thinker’s Guide Series, the book, Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life, and the Foundation For Critical Thinking Library.

To exemplify my point, The Thinker’s Guide Series consists in a diverse set of contextualizations of one and the same substantive concept of critical thinking. If we truly understand critical thinking, for example, we should be able to explain its implications:

  • for analyzing and assessing reasoning
  • for identifying strengths and weaknesses in thinking
  • for identifying obstacles to rational thought
  • for dealing with egocentrism and sociocentrism
  • for developing strategies that enable one to apply critical thinking to everyday life
  • for understanding the stages of one’s development as a thinker
  • for understanding the foundations of ethical reasoning
  • for detecting bias and propaganda in the national and international news
  • for conceptualizing the human mind as an instrument of intellectual work
  • for active and cooperative learning
  • for the art of asking essential questions
  • for scientific thinking
  • for close reading and substantive writing
  • for grasping the logic of a discipline.

Each contextualization in this list is developed in one or more of the guides in the series. Together they suggest the robustness of a substantive concept of critical thinking.

What is Critical Thinking (Stripped to its Essentials)?

The idea of critical thinking, stripped to its essentials, can be expressed in a number of ways. Here’s one:

Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking, in three interrelated phases. They analyze thinking. They assess thinking. And they up-grade thinking (as a result). Creative thinking is the work of the third phase, that of replacing weak thinking with strong thinking, or strong thinking with stronger thinking. Creative thinking is a natural by-product of critical thinking, precisely because analyzing and assessing thinking enables one to raise it to a higher level. New and better thinking is the by-product of healthy critical thought.

A person is a critical thinker to the extent that he or she regularly improves thinking by studying and “critiquing” it. Critical thinkers carefully study the way humans ground, develop, and apply thought — to see how thinking can be improved.

The basic idea is simple: “Study thinking for strengths and weaknesses. Then make improvements by building on its strengths and targeting its weaknesses.”

A critical thinker does not say:

“My thinking is just fine. If everyone thought like me, this would be a pretty good world.”

A critical thinker says:

“My thinking, as that of everyone else, can always be improved. Self-deception and folly exist at every level of human life. It is foolish ever to take thinking for granted. To think well, we must regularly analyze, assess, and reconstruct thinking — ever mindful as to how we can improve it.”

Part Two:
A Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking Reveals Common Denominators in all Academic Work

Substantive Critical Thinking Can be Cultivated in Every Academic Setting

By focusing on the rational capacities of students’ minds, by designing instruction so students explicitly grasp the sense, the logicalness, of what they learn, we can make all learning easier for them. Substantive learning multiplies comprehension and insight lower order rote memorization multiplies misunderstanding and confusion. Though very little present instruction deliberately aims at lower order learning, most results in it. “Good” students have developed techniques for short term rote memorization “poor” students have none. But few know what it is to think analytically through the content of a subject few use critical thinking as a tool for acquiring knowledge.(see Nosich)

We often talk of knowledge as though it could be divorced from thinking, as though it could be gathered up by one person and given to another in the form of a collection of sentences to remember. When we talk in this way we forget that knowledge, by its very nature, depends on thought. Knowledge is produced by thought, analyzed by thought, comprehended by thought, organized, evaluated, maintained, and transformed by thought. Knowledge exists, properly speaking, only in minds that have comprehended it and constructed it through thought. And when we say thought we mean critical thought. Knowledge must be distinguished from the memorization of true statements. Students can easily blindly memorize what they do not understand. A book contains knowledge only in a derivative sense, only because minds can thoughtfully read it and, through this analytic process, gain knowledge. We forget this when we design instruction as though recall were equivalent to knowledge.

Every discipline — mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and so on — is a mode of thinking. Every discipline can be understood only through thinking. We know mathematics, not when we can recite mathematical formulas, but when we can think mathematically. We know science, not when we can recall sentences from our science textbooks, but when we can think scientifically. We understand sociology only when we can think sociologically, history only when we can think historically, and philosophy only when we can think philosophically. When we teach so that students are not thinking their way through subjects and disciplines, students leave our courses with no more knowledge than they had when they entered them. When we sacrifice thought to gain coverage, we sacrifice knowledge at the same time.

In the typical history class, for example, students are often asked to remember facts about the past. They therefore come to think of history class as a place where you hear names and dates and places where you try to memorize and state them on tests. They think that when they can successfully do this, they then “know history.”

Alternatively, consider history taught as a mode of thought. Viewed from the paradigm of a critical education, blindly memorized content ceases to be the focal point. Learning to think historically becomes the order of the day. Students learn historical content by thinking historically about historical questions and problems. They learn through their own thinking and classroom discussion that history is not a simple recounting of past events, but also an interpretation of events selected by and written from someone’s point of view. In recognizing that each historian writes from a point of view, students begin to identify and assess points of view leading to various historical interpretations. They recognize, for example, what it is to interpret the American Revolution from a British as well as a colonial perspective. They role-play different historical perspectives and master content through in-depth historical thought. They relate the present to the past. They discuss how their own stored-up interpretations of their own lives’ events shaped their responses to the present and their plans for the future. They come to understand the daily news as a form of historical thought shaped by the profit-making motivations of news collecting agencies. They learn that historical accounts may be distorted, biased, narrow, misleading.

Every Area or Domain of Thought Must Be Thought-Through to Be Learned

The mind that thinks critically is a mind prepared to take ownership of new ideas and modes of thinking. Critical thinking is a system-opening system. It works its way into a system of thought by thinking-through:

  • the purpose or goal of the system
  • the kinds of questions it answers (or problems it solves)
  • the manner in which it collects data and information
  • the kinds of inferences it enables
  • the key concepts it generates
  • the underlying assumptions it rests upon
  • the implications embedded in it
  • the point of view or way of seeing things it makes possible.

It assesses the system for clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and (where applicable) fairness. There is no system no subject it cannot open.

There is a Necessary Connection Between Critical Thinking and Learning

The skills in up-grading thinking are the same skills as those required in up-grading learning. The art of thinking well illuminates the art of learning well. The art of learning well illuminates the art of thinking well. Both require intellectually skilled metacognition. For example, to be a skilled thinker in the learning process requires that we regularly note the elements of our thinking/learning:

  • What is my purpose?
  • What question am I trying to answer?
  • What data or information do I need?
  • What conclusions or inferences can I make (based on this information)?
  • If I come to these conclusions, what will the implications and consequences be?
  • What is the key concept (theory, principle, axiom) I am working with?
  • What assumptions am I making?
  • What is my point of view?

There is a Necessary Connection Between Critical Thinking and Skilled Reading and Writing

The reflective mind improves its thinking by reflectively thinking about it. Likewise, it improves its reading by reflectively thinking about how it is reading. It improves its writing by analyzing and assessing each draft it creates. It moves back and forth between thinking and thinking about thinking. It moves forward a bit, then loops back upon itself to check its own operations. It checks its inferences. It makes good its ground. It rises above itself and exercises oversight on itself.

One of the most important abilities that a thinker can have is the ability to monitor and assess his or her own thinking while processing the thinking of others. In reading, the reflective mind monitors how it is reading while it is reading. The foundation for this ability is knowledge of how the mind functions when reading well. For example, if I know that what I am reading is difficult for me to understand, I intentionally slow down. I put the meaning of each passage that I read into my own words. Knowing that one can understand ideas best when they are exemplified, then, when writing, I give my readers examples of what I am saying. As a reader, I look for examples to better understand what a text is saying. Learning how to read closely and write substantively are complex critical thinking abilities. When I can read closely, I can take ownership of important ideas in a text. When I can write substantively, I am able to say something worth saying about something worth saying something about. Many students today cannot.

Part Three:
We can Get Beyond Non-Substantive Concepts of Critical Thinking

Fragmentation and Short-Term Memorization Are Predictable Outcomes of a Non-substantive Concept of Critical Thinking

Students in colleges today are achieving little connection and depth, either within or across subjects. Atomized lists dominate textbooks, atomized teaching dominates instruction, and atomized recall dominates learning. What is learned are superficial fragments, typically soon forgotten. What is missing is the coherence, connection, and depth of understanding that accompanies systematic critical thinking.

Without the concepts and tools of substantive critical thinking, students often learn something very different from what is “taught.” Let us consider how this problem manifests itself in math instruction. Alan Schoenfeld, the distinguished math educator, says that math instruction is on the whole “deceptive and fraudulent.” He uses strong words to underscore a wide gulf between what math teachers think their students are learning and what they are actually learning. (Schoenfeld, 1982) He elaborates as follows:

All too often we focus on a narrow collection of well-defined tasks and train students to execute those tasks in a routine, if not algorithmic fashion. Then we test the students on tasks that are very close to the ones they have been taught. If they succeed on those problems, we and they congratulate each other on the fact that they have learned some powerful mathematical techniques. In fact, they may be able to use such techniques mechanically while lacking some rudimentary thinking skills. To allow them, and ourselves, to believe that they “understand” the mathematics is deceptive and fraudulent. (p. 29)

Schoenfeld cites a number of studies to justify this characterization of math instruction and its lower order consequences. He also gives a number of striking examples, at the tertiary as well as at the primary and secondary levels:

At the University of Rochester 85 percent of the freshman class takes calculus, and many go on. Roughly half of our students see calculus as their last mathematics course. Most of these students will never apply calculus in any meaningful way (if at all) in their studies, or in their lives. They complete their studies with the impression that they know some very sophisticated and high-powered mathematics. They can find the maxima of complicated functions, determine exponential decay, compute the volumes of surfaces of revolution, and so on. But the fact is these students know barely anything at all. The only reason they can perform with any degree of competency on their final exams is that the problems on the exams are nearly carbon copies of problems they have seen before the students are not being asked to think, but merely to apply well-rehearsed schemata for specific kinds of tasks.

Tim Keifer and Schoenfeld (Schoenfeld, 1982) studied students’ abilities to deal with pre-calculus versions of elementary word problems such as the following:

An 8-foot fence is located 3 feet from a building. Express the length L of the ladder which may be leaned against the building and just touch the top of the fence as a function of the distance X between the foot of the ladder and the base of the building.

Keifer and Schoenfeld were not surprised to discover that only 19 of 120 attempts at such problems (four each for 30 students) yielded correct answers, or that only 65 attempts produced answers of any kind (p. 28).

Schoenfeld documents similar problems at the level of elementary math instruction. He reports on an experiment in which elementary students were asked questions like, “There are 26 sheep and 10 goats on a ship. How old is the captain?” Seventy-six of the 97 students “solved” the problem by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing 26 and 10. And that is not all, the more math they had, the greater was the tendency.

Schoenfeld cites many similar cases, including a study demonstrating that “word problems,” which are supposed to require thought, tend to be approached by students mindlessly with key word algorithms. That is, when students are faced with problems like “John had eight apples. He gave three to Mary. How many does John have left?,” they typically look for words like ‘left’ to tell them what operation to perform. As Schoenfeld puts it, “… the situation was so extreme that many students chose to subtract in a problem that began ‘Mr. Left’.” This tendency to approach math problems and assignments with robotic lower order responses becomes permanent in most students, killing any chance they had to think mathematically.

Habitual robotic learning is not, of course, peculiar to math. It is the common mode of learning in every subject area. The result is a kind of global self-deception that surrounds teaching and learning, often with the students clearer about what is really being learned than the teachers. Many students, for example, realize that in their history courses they merely learn to mouth names, dates, events, and outcomes whose significance they do not really understand and whose content they forget shortly after the test. Whatever our stated goals, at present, students are not learning to think within the disciplines they “study.”

Establishing General Education Courses in Critical Thinking Will Not Solve the Problem

There are a number of reasons why establishing general education courses in critical thinking will not, of itself, solve the problem. The first is that most such courses are based in a particular discipline and, therefore, typically teach only those aspects of critical thinking traditionally highlighted by the discipline. For example, if these courses are taught within Philosophy Departments, the course will typically focus on either formal or informal logic. If the English Department teaches sections, the course will probably focus on persuasive writing and rhetoric. Though good in themselves, none of these focuses comes close to capturing a substantive concept of critical thinking. The result is that instructors in other departments will not see the relevance of the “critical thinking” course to their discipline, and therefore the course will be ignored. It will do little to help students become skilled learners.

Establishing General Education Courses In Study Skills Will Not Solve the Problem

There are a number of reasons why establishing courses in study skills will not, of itself, solve the problem. The first is that most such courses are not based on a substantive concept of critical thinking. Indeed, most lack any unifying theory or organizing concept. They do not teach students how to begin to think within a discipline. They do not typically teach students how to analyze thinking using the elements of thought. They do not typically teach students intellectual standards, nor how to assess their own work. What is missing is the coherence, connection, and depth of understanding that accompanies systematic critical thinking.

A Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking Leads to Deep Learning
& to the Acquisition of Substantive Knowledge

Substantive knowledge is knowledge that leads to questions that lead to further knowledge (that, in turn, leads to further knowledge and further vital questions, and on and on). Acquiring substantive knowledge is equivalent to acquiring effective organizers for the mind that enable us to weave everything we are learning into a tapestry, a system, an integrated whole. Substantive knowledge is found in that set of fundamental and powerful concepts and principles that lie at the heart of understanding everything else in a discipline or subject. For example, if you understand deeply what a biological cell is and the essential characteristics of all living systems, you have the substantive knowledge to ask vital questions about all living things. You begin to think biologically.

Teaching focused on a substantive concept of critical thinking appeals to reason and evidence. It encourages students to discover as well as to process information. It provides occasions in which students think their way to conclusions, defend positions on difficult issues, consider a wide variety of points of view, analyze concepts, theories, and explanations, clarify issues and conclusions, solve problems, transfer ideas to new contexts, examine assumptions, assess alleged facts, explore implications and consequences, and increasingly come to terms with the contradictions and inconsistencies of their own thought and experience. It engages students in the thinking required to deeply master content. (See Learning to Think Things Through)

Conclusion: Take the Long View

Critical thinking is not to be devoured in a single sitting nor yet at two or three workshops. It is a powerful concept to be savored and reflected upon. It is an idea to live and grow with. It focuses upon that part of our minds that enables us to think things through, to learn from experience, to acquire and retain knowledge. It is like a mirror to the mind, enabling us to take ownership of the instruments that drive our learning. Not only to think, but to think about how we are thinking, is the key to our development as learners and knowers.

Short-term reform can do no more than foster surface change. Deep change takes time, patience, perseverance, understanding, and commitment. This is not easy in a world saturated with glossy, superficial, quick-fixes, a world plagued by a short attention span. Nevertheless it is possible to create a long-term professional development program that focuses on the progressive improvement of instruction and learning. (See Elder)

But this can only happen when those designing professional development have a substantive concept of critical thinking. Only then will they be able to guide faculty toward a long-term approach. Only then will they be able to provide convincing examples in each of the disciplines. Only then will they see the connection between thinking and learning, between understanding content and thinking it through, between intellectual discipline and education. Only then will the “learning college” become what it aims, all along, to be.

Developmental Reading

Reading courses at JJC are designed to promote your success in academic reading by increasing your efficiency with textbook and learning strategies, improving your perception of key elements of text, expanding your vocabulary through application of word parts, and by improving your ability to construct meaning through direct instruction with reading comprehension practice with traditional and digital texts.

Students enrolling in any of the English department’s reading courses will learn how to critically read by focusing on such skills as understanding inferences, patterns of organization, supporting details, and reading comprehension strategies of expert readers.

Proficient reading skills support life-long learning for both work and personal development. Enrolling in any of the developmental reading courses offered at JJC will help students form the foundations to develop these sought-after skills. Successful completion of these courses will lead students toward the college’s composition sequence (ENG 101 and 102).

Developmental Writing

Developmental Writing courses introduce students to fundamental English writing skills, including composition, and critical thinking. Emphasis is placed on effective sentence skills, paragraph development, and essay-level skills, as well as rhetorical and mechanical proficiency.

Students enrolling in courses in the developmental writing sequence (ENG 098 and ENG 099) will develop skills in sentence, paragraph, and essay writing. ENG 098 introduces students to the basics of sentence skills and paragraph development, while ENG 099 focuses on paragraph and essay development. Upon successful completion of these courses, students will be eligible to pursue the college’s composition sequence of courses.

Students enrolling in any of the English department’s developmental writing courses will learn grammatical accuracy, the steps of the writing process, close reading skills, and presentation of writing to college audiences. In addition, students will begin to develop skills in rhetoric, analysis, organization, grammar and style, voice, tone, and audience awareness.

Written communication skills are generally at or near the top of every list of the most desirable skills employers seek in new employees. Enrolling in any of the developmental writing courses offered at JJC will help students form the foundations to develop these sought-after skills. Successful completion of these courses will lead students toward the college’s composition sequence (ENG 101 and 102), where they will further develop their writing and critical thinking abilities.


Composition courses introduce students to college level critical thinking, reading, and writing. Emphasis is placed on comprehension, argument, and analysis, as well as rhetorical and mechanical proficiency.

Students enrolling in courses in the composition sequence (ENG 101 and ENG 102) will develop skills in argument and analysis. ENG 101 introduces students to the foundations of rhetoric and argument, while ENG 102 focuses on advanced argument and research skills, as well as information literacy. In addition to this sequence of courses, the English department also offers additional writing courses to satisfy Humanities electives.

Students enrolling in any of the English / World Languages Department’s composition courses will learn critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. In addition, students will develop skills in rhetoric, analysis, organization, grammar and style, voice, tone, and audience awareness.

In addition to our sequence of ENG 101 and ENG 102, the English department offers ENG 130 and 230 (Technical Writing and Advanced Technical Writing) for students pursuing either A.A. or A.S. degrees, but especially for the A.A.S. degree. Also offered are several courses in creative writing, including ENG 120 (Introduction to Creative Writing), ENG 231 (Fiction Writing), and ENG 232 (Poetry Writing).

Written communication skills are generally at or near the top of every list of the most desirable skills employers seek in new employees. Enrolling in any of the writing courses offered at JJC will help students develop these sought-after skills. In addition, the course work in analysis, research, and critical thinking will make students ideal candidates for careers in several fields, including (but certainly not limited to)

Evaluating Information with Critical Thinking

Evaluating information can be one of the most complex tasks you will be faced with in college. But if you utilize the following four strategies, you will be well on your way to success:

  1. Read for understanding by using text coding
  2. Examine arguments
  3. Clarify thinking
  4. Cultivate “habits of mind”

Read for Understanding Using Text Coding

When you read and take notes, use the text coding strategy. Text coding is a way of tracking your thinking while reading. It entails marking the text and recording what you are thinking either in the margins or perhaps on Post-it notes. As you make connections and ask questions in response to what you read, you monitor your comprehension and enhance your long-term understanding of the material.

With text coding, mark important arguments and key facts. Indicate where you agree and disagree or have further questions. You don’t necessarily need to read every word, but make sure you understand the concepts or the intentions behind what is written. Feel free to develop your own shorthand style when reading or taking notes. The following are a few options to consider using while coding text.

Shorthand Meaning
! Important
L Learned something new
! Big idea surfaced
* Interesting or important fact
? Dig deeper

Examine Arguments

When you examine arguments or claims that an author, speaker, or other source is making, your goal is to identify and examine the hard facts. You can use the spectrum of authority strategy for this purpose. The spectrum of authority strategy assists you in identifying the “hot” end of an argument—feelings, beliefs, cultural influences, and societal influences—and the “cold” end of an argument—scientific influences. The following video explains this strategy.

Clarify Thinking

When you use critical thinking to evaluate information, you need to clarify your thinking to yourself and likely to others. Doing this well is mainly a process of asking and answering probing questions, such as the logic questions discussed earlier. Design your questions to fit your needs, but be sure to cover adequate ground. What is the purpose? What question are we trying to answer? What point of view is being expressed? What assumptions are we or others making? What are the facts and data we know, and how do we know them? What are the concepts we’re working with? What are the conclusions, and do they make sense? What are the implications?

Cultivate “Habits of Mind”

“Habits of mind” are the personal commitments, values, and standards you have about the principle of good thinking. Consider your intellectual commitments, values, and standards. Do you approach problems with an open mind, a respect for truth, and an inquiring attitude? Some good habits to have when thinking critically are being receptive to having your opinions changed, having respect for others, being independent and not accepting something is true until you’ve had the time to examine the available evidence, being fair-minded, having respect for a reason, having an inquiring mind, not making assumptions, and always, especially, questioning your own conclusions—in other words, developing an intellectual work ethic. Try to work these qualities into your daily life.

Promoting Creative and Critical thinking in Mathematics and Numeracy

Numeracy is often defined as the ability to apply mathematics in the context of day to day life. However, the term ‘critical numeracy’ implies much more. One of the most basic reasons for learning mathematics is to be able to apply mathematical skills and knowledge to solve both simple and complex problems, and, more than just allowing us to navigate our lives through a mathematical lens, being numerate allows us to make our world a better place.

The mathematics curriculum in Australia provides teachers with the perfect opportunity to teach mathematics through critical and creative thinking. In fact, it’s mandated. Consider the core processes of the curriculum. The Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2017), requires teachers to address four proficiencies: Problem Solving, Reasoning, Fluency, and Understanding. Problem solving and reasoning require critical and creative thinking (). This requirement is emphasised more heavily in New South wales, through the graphical representation of the mathematics syllabus content , which strategically places Working Mathematically (the proficiencies in NSW) and problem solving, at its core. Alongside the mathematics curriculum, we also have the General Capabilities, one of which is Critical and Creative Thinking – there’s no excuse!

Critical and creative thinking need to be embedded in every mathematics lesson. Why? When we embed critical and creative thinking, we transform learning from disjointed, memorisation of facts, to sense-making mathematics. Learning becomes more meaningful and purposeful for students.

How and when do we embed critical and creative thinking?

There are many tools and many methods of promoting thinking. Using a range of problem solving activities is a good place to start, but you might want to also use some shorter activities and some extended activities. Open-ended tasks are easy to implement, allow all learners the opportunity to achieve success, and allow for critical thinking and creativity. Tools such as Bloom’s Taxonomy and Thinkers Keys are also very worthwhile tasks. For good mathematical problems go to the nrich website. For more extended mathematical investigations and a wonderful array of rich tasks, my favourite resource is Maths300 (this is subscription based, but well worth the money). All of the above activities can be used in class and/or for homework, as lesson starters or within the body of a lesson.

Will critical and creative thinking take time away from teaching basic concepts?

No, we need to teach mathematics in a way that has meaning and relevance, rather than through isolated topics. Therefore, teaching through problem-solving rather than for problem-solving. A classroom that promotes and critical and creative thinking provides opportunities for:

  • higher-level thinking within authentic and meaningful contexts
  • complex problem solving
  • open-ended responses and
  • substantive dialogue and interaction.

Who should be engaging in critical and creative thinking?

Is it just for students? No! There are lots of reasons that teachers should be engaged with critical and creative thinking. First, it’s important that we model this type of thinking for our students. Often students see mathematics as black or white, right or wrong. They need to learn to question, to be critical, and to be creative. They need to feel they have permission to engage in exploration and investigation. They need to move from consumers to producers of mathematics.

Secondly, teachers need to think critically and creatively about their practice as teachers of mathematics. We need to be reflective practitioners who constantly evaluate our work, questioning curriculum and practice, including assessment, student grouping, the use of technology, and our beliefs of how children best learn mathematics.

Critical and creative thinking is something we cannot ignore if we want our students to be prepared for a workforce and world that is constantly changing. Not only does it equip then for the future, it promotes higher levels of student engagement, and makes mathematics more relevant and meaningful.

How will you and your students engage in critical and creative thinking?

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Registered Nursing: LVN to ADN

The AS in Registered Nursing: LVN to ADN program prepares LVNs for licensure as RNs at the Associate Degree level (ADN). Training as a vocational nurse and prerequisite courses count as the first year of a traditional two-year Associate Degree registered nursing program. The two semesters of clinical nursing provide the additional nursing content required for a registered nursing licensure.

Upon completion of the program the student will be eligible for the national/state licensure examination for registered nurses. A registered nurse can seek employment in a variety of settings: acute hospital care, community/home health care, skilled and long term care, clinics, physician's offices, as well as private industries that interface with health care delivery. A national shortage of registered nurses is predicted for the next two decades.

Program Requirements

Associate in Science Degree in Registered Nursing: LVN to ADN

Program Code: 01339.00AS

Type: Career

General Education: Butte Local

Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this program, the student will be able to:

Adhere to standards of professional practice, and practice within legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks.

Demonstrate effective verbal, non-verbal, and written communication using compassion and cultural awareness resulting in trusting relationships.

Provide comprehensive assessments with a holistic view of the client using the functional health assessment.

Demonstrate evidenced-based practice and the use of critical thinking based on the nursing process to provide the foundation for appropriate clinical decision making.

Adapt care when providing nursing interventions to assist the clients in achieving desired outcomes.

Develop individualized teaching plan based on assessed needs.

Demonstrate decision-making coordination with the client, significant support person(s), and members of the healthcare team.

Demonstrate effective management through gathering information, planning, and directing in collaboration with the health care team to assist the client to move toward positive outcomes in an efficient and cost effective manner.

Prerequisite(s): ENGL 118, ENGL 119 or Equivalent

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course develops college-level critical reading and writing practices. Students will critically read expository, argumentative, and fictional texts and develop expository, persuasive, and argumentative academic writing. Essays will demonstrate reading comprehension, analysis, critique, academic research, and synthesis. (C-ID ENGL 100).

Prerequisite(s): ENGL 219 or, ENGL 119 or Equivalent

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course builds on literacy practices by developing expository and argumentative writing, awareness of audience, purpose and appropriate and effective use of language, close reading, cogent thinking, research strategies, information literacy, and documentation. Students will critically read and write primarily expository and argumentative texts that respond to a variety of rhetorical situations and contexts and incorporate college-level research. (C-ID ENGL 100)

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course provides an introduction to the principles of psychology by surveying the basic theories,¬oncepts and research in the science of human behavior and cognitive processes. Topics include the science of psychology, the biological bases of behavior, ethics, sensation and perception, learning and memory, development, cognition, motivation and emotion, sexuality and gender, stress and health, personality, social psychology, psychological disorders and therapies, and applied psychology. (C-ID PSY 110).

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 110 or, CHEM 1 or, CHEM 51 and one year high school biology, or, BIOL 1 or, BIOL 2 or, BIOL 20 or, BIOL 21

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV Math Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

51 hours Lecture / 102 hours Lab

This course includes the study of the structure and function of viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa, with emphasis on the predominant pathogenic members of those groups. Study of basic organic chemistry, genetics, metabolism, microbe-host interactions, the immune response and etiological factors involved in disease are also included. Methods of detection, identification, isolation, culture, enumeration, and control of microbes are provided. Consideration is also given to applied and environmental microbiology, as well as biotechnology techniques.

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV Math Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

51 hours Lecture / 51 hours Lab

Structural organization of the human body: gross and microscopic structure of the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, sensory, endocrine, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems, from cellular to organ system levels of organization. This course is primarily intended for nursing, allied health, kinesiology, and other health related majors. (C-ID BIOL 110B).

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 20 and CHEM 110 or, CHEM 1 or, CHEM 51

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV Math Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

51 hours Lecture / 51 hours Lab

Study of the physiological principles, function, integration and homeostasis of the human body at the cellular, tissue, organ, organ system and organism level: integumentary system, bone, skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles, nervous system, sensory organs, cardiovascular system, lymphatic and immune systems, respiratory system, urinary system, digestive system, endocrine system, and reproductive system. This course is primarily intended for Nursing, Allied Health, Kinesiology, and other health related majors. (C-ID BIOL 120B).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course is the study of the fundamentals of public speaking with an emphasis on extemporaneous style delivery. Focus is placed on critical thinking including: the organization of ideas, the use of research, the development of critical analysis in the construction and consumption of messages and the practice of ethical and mindful communication. (C-ID COMM 110).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This is an Honors level introductory Public Speaking course. Through a process of thorough analysis, critical thinking, extended discussions, and original oral and written responses, students will study the fundamentals of extemporaneous public speaking. Emphasis is placed on the organization of ideas, the use of research techniques, and the development of critical analysis for problem solving. (C-ID COMM 110).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course is the study of theory and research findings and their application to communication in small group contexts. It emphasizes group discussion for problem solving, leadership, listening, information gathering, analysis and public speaking. This class is designed to be experiential and exposes students to small group communication theory and public speaking fundamentals within the context of their own small group interactions, activities and presentations in classroom settings and real-world environments. (C-ID COMM 140).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course is the study of theory and research findings and their application to communication in interpersonal relationships in personal and professional contexts. It examines effective and appropriate uses of verbal and non-verbal messages in the initiation, development, maintenance, and termination of interpersonal relationships. Emphasis is placed on the psychological, social, cultural and linguistic factors that affect person-to-person communication. (C-ID COMM 130).

Prerequisite(s): Currently licensed as a Licensed Vocational Nurse

Transfer Status: CSU

This course assists the LVN in acquiring nursing skills and processes necessary for functioning in the second year of an associate degree-nursing program. The course introduces the philosophy and conceptual framework of the program and the roles of the registered nurse as a care provider. The course content will focus on competencies expected of the graduate ADN, communication and critical thinking skills, legal and ethical role, RN role development, math computations in dimensional analysis format and nursing assessment and documentation.

Prerequisite(s): Currently licensed as a Licensed Vocational Nurse

Transfer Status: CSU

34 hours Lecture / 51 hours Lab

This course builds on the knowledge and skills acquired in NSG 64. The course expands the student's understanding of the registered nurse's role as part of the health care team. Course content emphasizes medical/surgical knowledge, competencies and skills essential for successful performance in the second year of the ADN program. Clinical application of the registered nurse's role will be incorporated within the simulation environment.

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course explores how anthropologists study and compare human culture. Cultural anthropologists seek to understand the broad arc of human experience focusing on a set of central issues: how people around the world make their living (subsistence patterns) how they organize themselves socially, politically and economically how they communicate how they relate to each other through family and kinship ties what they believe about the world (belief systems) how they express themselves creatively (expressive culture) how they make distinctions among themselves such as through applying gender, racial and ethnic identity labels how they have shaped and been shaped by social inequalities such as colonialism and how they navigate culture change and processes of globalization that affect us all. Ethnographic case studies highlight these similarities and differences, and introduce students to how anthropologists do their work, employ professional anthropological research ethics and apply their perspectives and skills to understand humans around the globe. (C-ID ANTH 120).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level III English Level II

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

This course introduces students to the sociological perspective. Students will gain an understanding of the external social forces that guide human action and how the wider society influences individual and¬ollective experiences. The course will cover the basic concepts, theoretical approaches, and research methods of sociology. Topics may include the analysis and explanation of social structure, group dynamics, socialization and the self, social stratification, culture and diversity, social change, human impact on the environment, and global dynamics. (C-ID SOCI 110).

Recommended Prep: Reading Level IV English Level IV

Transfer Status: CSU/UC

An identification and analysis of contemporary social problems including (1) the role of power and ideology in the definition of social problems, (2) their causes and consequences, (3) evaluations of proposed solutions, and (4) methods of intervention. Topics will vary. (C-ID SOCI 115).

Prerequisite(s): Admission to ADN Program

Transfer Status: CSU

This course addresses the nursing of adult and geriatric clients with acute and chronic illnesses. Students study common chronic and acute illnesses, adaptation to, and acute episodes of these illnesses in the acute hospital setting. Physical assessment of the adult, normal development and physiology, nutrition, pharmacology, sexuality, cultural factors, and prevention and early detection measures appropriate to the various nursing problems are discussed. Nursing process to promote adaptation is stressed throughout the course.

Prerequisite(s): Admission to ADN Program

Transfer Status: CSU

0 hours Lecture / 272 hours Lab

This course provides students with directed clinical experiences in hospitals, community health agencies and agencies that provide services to the acutely ill adult, to the elderly or those having disabilities/chronic conditions. Through the use of the nursing process, the student will provide care, teaching, support, and rehabilitation to individuals who have acute or chronic illness, disabilities, or are elderly in the hospital or in the community. Emphasis will be upon the role of the registered nurse to promote illness prevention, community health, and positive aging and client independence.

Prerequisite(s): Admission to ADN Program

Transfer Status: CSU

This course focuses on the needs of the older adults and the disabled/chronically ill older adult in the community, home health, and dementia care settings. Course content builds on the student's knowledge of the aging process by the study of dynamics, etiology, and treatment of the rapidly growing aging population. Emphasis is placed on assisting client adaptation to normal age-related changes and chronic aging conditions as well as healthy/robust aging practices. Course content includes geriatric nursing, management of chronic illness, and healthy aging. The nursing process is utilized to assist the student in the planning of goal directed care for this client population.

Prerequisite(s): NSG 61, NSG 67, NSG 68, NSG 69

Transfer Status: CSU

This course provides an opportunity for students enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program to develop skills in leading and managing patient care and prepare for passage of the licensure examination. Content includes presentation of the registered nurse's role in planning, organizing, staffing and directing safe patient-centered care. Professional and social issues in leadership and management will also be discussed.

Prerequisite(s): NSG 61, NSG 67, NSG 68, NSG 69

Transfer Status: CSU

This course covers the nursing care of adult clients with high risk, complex, and critical health care problems and adaptation to these problems. Students will study the nursing process related to the care of patients with multiple system disorders, unstable medical conditions, and critical health care disorders. This course is a continuation of topics addressed in NSG 67 and emphasizes pathophysiology, complex issues in nursing process and professional and advocacy nursing roles.

Prerequisite(s): NSG 61, NSG 67, NSG 68, NSG 69

Transfer Status: CSU

0 hours Lecture / 272 hours Lab

This course is an exploration of the various preventive and treatment methods used within interdisciplinary settings for persons experiencing various psychosocial/development disorders. Observation and participation in a variety of community mental health settings allows the student to use the theory in supervised practice. In addition, students will utilize the nursing process to generate nursing decisions in providing care in the hospital setting for adult clients with multiple system disorders, unstable medical conditions, and critical health care disorders.

Prerequisite(s): NSG 61, NSG 67, NSG 68, NSG 69

Transfer Status: CSU

This course is designed to enable the student to acquire knowledge and skills in the systematic observation of patients with psychopathologic syndromes and developmental disabilities. Students will also increase their general knowledge of the dynamics, etiology, and treatment of psychopathology. Emphasis is placed on further development of the nurse's therapeutic self, and the utilization of the nursing process. This course is specifically directed toward the identification of nursing care goals, approaches, and interventions which are applicable to any patient experiencing psychological distress.

Prerequisite(s): Admission to ADN Program

Transfer Status: CSU

This course is a study of the fundamental concepts of pharmacology, with a focus on pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and related nursing implications for the major drug classes. Nursing process and cultural implications will be discussed for the basic drug classifications.

Bring an ordinary light bulb to class. Hold the light bulb in your hand so that everyone can see it. Ask students to close their eyes and see if they can still visualize the light bulb in their minds. Ask students to raise their hands if they can see the light bulb in their imagination. Then ask them to visualize the following:

Change the color to yellow.

Change the color to green.

Change the color to orange.

Make the light bulb bigger.

Change the light bulb into a television screen.

See your favorite program on the screen.

Turn it into a flashlight.

Shine the flashlight on a dog.

Put a light bulb in each hand.

Pretend that your light bulbs are jet engines and run down the street for a take-off.

Zoom away and look at the mountains.

Throw the light bulbs away and open your parachute.

Float down into your back yard and tell someone that you are home.

I&rsquoll bet that you never thought that you could make a jet plane out of a light bulb!

You can if you use your imagination.

The above exercise was adapted from Robert F. Eberle, &ldquoDeveloping Imagination Through Scamper&rdquo printed in Sidney J. Parnes, Ruth B. Noller and Angelo Biondi, Guide to Creative Action, (New York: Charles Scribner&rsquos Sons, 1977).

The Tomatoes Exercise

Bring two tomatoes to class. Hold up the tomatoes and ask the students to come up with as many different words or proper nouns as possible using only the letters in the word &ldquotomatoes.&rdquo After five minutes, write the numbers 10-20 on the board. Ask how many students came up with 20 words or more. Tally the result. Then list the number of people who were able to write 19 words and so on down the list to 10 words.

Then ask students to join together with three other students. Using the word, &ldquotomatoes,&rdquo see how many words the group can come up with in 5 minutes. Again tally the results. Usually the groups are able to come up with many more ideas than individuals. You can make this exercise more interesting by offering a prize to the group that comes up with the most words. When the exercise is complete, discuss the idea of synergy. When two or more people work together and share ideas, the result is greater than any one person could produce.

Online Discussion Question

Here is a link to a Word document with all my online discussion questions: Online Discussion Questions

The topic for this week's discussion is critical and creative thinking. For the critical thinking part, give an example of a fallacy in reasoning. Here are some examples: 1. When my children were very young, I would tell them to brush their teeth in the evening. I told them that if they did not brush their teeth, the sugar bugs would eat their teeth all night and eventually their teeth would turn green and fall out. By predicting dire consequences, we try to influence behavior. This is an example of using slippery slope. Maybe some of you child development majors would have a better way of getting children to brush their teeth, but this worked for me. Here is another example: When my daughter was in middle school, she died her blond hair black. I asked her why she did it and she said that she was tired of blond jokes. She was the victim of the stereotype that all blondes are dumb.

For the creative thinking part, read about creativity and brainstorming and have a little fun with this exercise. Provide at least 3 answers to these questions: 1. How is a peanut like you? Here are my answers. 1. A peanut is wrinkled, like me. 2. A peanut is curvy like me. 2. I have a hard outer shell and a soft inner shell. How is a peanut like going to college? In every classroom there are at least 2 nuts, the instructor and at least one student. The squares on the peanut remind me of rows of chairs in the classroom. 3. There is usually something good on the inside.

Watch the video: τηλε. διαγώνισμα σε περιόδους. τηλε. εκπαίδευσης ?Σκοπός μας η κριτική σκέψη και όχι η βαθμοθηρία (November 2021).