AN INTRODUCTION TO CRITICAL THINKING
Steven D. Schafersman
Introduction to Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is an important and vital topic in modern education. All educators are interested in teaching critical thinking to their students. Many academic departments hope that its professors and instructors will become informed about the strategy of teaching critical thinking skills, identify areas in one's courses as the proper place to emphasize and teach critical thinking, and develop and use some problems in exams that test students' critical thinking skills. This critical thinking manual has been prepared to inform and aid you to accomplish these things, and it has been kept brief and straightforward so that all faculty members will have the time and opportunity to read it and follow the suggestions it contains.
Purpose and Rationale of Teaching Critical Thinking
The purpose of specifically teaching critical thinking in the sciences or any other discipline is to improve the thinking skills of students and thus better prepare them to succeed in the world. But, you may ask, don't we automatically teach critical thinking when we teach our subjects, especially mathematics and science, the two disciplines which supposedly epitomize correct and logical thinking? The answer, sadly, is often no. Please consider these two quotations:
"It is strange that we expect students to learn, yet seldom teach them anything about learning." Donald Norman, 1980, "Cognitive engineering and education," in Problem Solving and Education: Issues in Teaching and Research, edited by D.T. Tuna and F. Reif, Erlbaum Publishers.
"We should be teaching students how to think. Instead, we are teaching them what to think." Clement and Lochhead, 1980, Cognitive Process Instruction.
Perhaps you can now see the problem. All education consists of transmitting to students two different things: (1) the subject matter or discipline content of the course ("what to...