Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity

Howard Rheingold wants to address how to “impart to young people the always useful but now essential skills of how to question, investigate, analyze and judge that link they just got in email or the factual claim they just found through a search engine.”  In his video interview with me, I emphasize the “challenge of… get[ting] students to take themselves seriously — not to perform according to some standards of mastery of content, but to identify projects that are really important to them to advance in the program and to continue afterward.”

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

5 Responses to Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity

  1. Teryl Cartwright says:

    It is interesting to consider the means, purpose and the choice of what to learn as critical thinking exercises. The problems with critical thinking in the age of digital credulity are that we don’t know what we don’t know (curse of knowledge) and we don’t know what others don’t know (curse of Dunner Kruger effect). We also may not know what to ask or how. From our digital resources, we can sometimes be influenced by search engine predictions and then ironically add to that assumption bias from the easiest or most common terms we use to research our questions. We can be tempted to take the easy way out with our research, looking for shortcuts in work and that includes shortcuts in thinking.

    Perhaps the other factors that can address taking yourself and others seriously aren’t just focusing on our interests and ways of paying attention but also how the tensions of these interactions can challenge or divert one’s thinking. In an online environment video introductions do help establish trust and connections–a bonus is that some nonverbal learning is practiced in a texting culture. By listening without automatically comparing and contrasting someone to ourselves, we are able to acknowledge learning more about the whole person. Being objective and reflective about ourselves helps to change our patterns of thinking too. I like Collaborative Explorations as critical thinking in practice around a scenario-they’re flexible for individual pursuits but have built in accountability for the group’s learning outcome. As critical thinking moves into more collective dialogues and sharing experiences I hope we will develop tools to mutually and in nonthreatening ways assess understanding. What if critical thinking about collaborative exploration extended into the traditional classroom–how can we get learners past the goal of doing as little thinking/work as possible to “succeed?”

  2. CEs in the classroom was the structure of the course http://crcrth602.wikispaces.umb.edu in Fall 2013. For 3 students it worked well; for 3 it didn’t.

    • Teryl Cartwright says:

      What were the underlying factors for working well and not? Did everyone agree on the definition of working well (terminology)? Was it the group, topic, individual needs, interactions, motivation, self-serving bias or even that there were four CEs in a row (fatigue)? In the CEs themselves did the structures adapt/change and were the successes more for onliners versus face to face (looking at within group versus across)?
      I am very glad to have a list of the readings that went with those CEs for the class taking them as compared to the independent sources brought to our CEs–yet that is also a factor–how much facilitators create the path and how much is co-created. Although it is not necessarily good to make comparisons across groups to come up with predictions or hypotheses, I can say that the amount of work I did for myself or to encourage others to get as involved was equally a “success/fail” for each CE– so I guess I am talking more about taking the CE mindset into the classroom over the structure. I like the partnership learning aspect but know that its often unevenness is inherent in all collaborative work. How do we measure CE success versus our goals–qualitatively only or with some quantitative?
      Thanks for sharing the link! I was thinking that a CE embedding CCT teaching into fiction would be fun (if one could get past detective stories and sci fi), but maybe if you don’t want to write stories a CE looking for the gaps or beyond the regular self-directed versus guided learning or the online versus f2f debates (renaming nature nurture in a way) might be a way to reuse those eight principles in your book.

  3. Teryl Cartwright says:

    Thank you for the link–hybrid classes do have dynamics that interfere with outcomes. It’s funny how some try to solve the engagement issue with more isolating/edutainment technology (such as the latest fad app Aurasma) instead of developing more self-awareness and collaboration skills as the solutions.
    I was surprised and appreciative to still be able to access the wiki to see the changes to the CE format but had a technical problem with the guided tour page. Thanks again for the reply!

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