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Tip 5: Tips on Teaching for Critical Thinking in your Courses
This Teaching Tip has been developed by Geraldine Hamilton Van Gyn, PhD, Professor Emerita, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
Most instructors will agree that, in every course that they teach, they expect that students will think critically about the content and processes in the course. This does not happen unless instructors are intentionally explicit about their expectations, design instruction to evoke critical thinking (CT), and provide meaningful opportunities for its practice. As well, a plan for assessment of CT is significant in promoting effort to engage in CT. The basic assumptions that underlie deliberate instructional design for CT are:
Learning to think critically is hard
As with any difficult concept or process, most students will benefit from guidance to learn to think critically.
Learning to think critically requires effortful practice.
What is Critical Thinking?
There is no universal definition of CT and, of course, there are differences in CT among disciplines and epistemologies. Ennis (2015) provides a general description of CT as "reasonable reflective thinking that is focused on what to believe or do. " This a good starting point in developing a more comprehensive description to guide students in the ways that they will engage in CT in your course and discipline. For more details on Considerations in Teaching for Critical Thinking and further reading please click here
Tip 4: Teaching Tips on Active Learning Strategies
Photo/Image courtesy of Steelcase Inc.
A. Teaching Tip on Active Learning Strategies adapted from UBC Faculty of Medicine// Faculty Development Resources and https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching- tips/educational-technologies/all/activities-large-classes. To access the tip please click here
B. Teaching Tip on Active Learning using Quescussion
Quescussion, as the name indicates, is the union of questions and discussion blended into an activity. The teacher/discussion leader asks a question or makes a statement to the class (preferably displayed on the board or slide). The model of discussion is informal and once a question comes, participants shout out. To view how it works please click here to view the Teaching Tip
Tip 3: Flipped Classroom
What is the Flipped Classroom?
Flipping the classroom is a blended learning approach that places the lecture (or core learning content) outside of class time so that the teacher can spend more time in class interacting and working with students. Refer to this article
How does it work?
“Flipped learning is an approach where students gain necessary knowledge before class, and instructors guide students to actively and interactively clarify and apply that knowledge during class.” Refer to this article
The common flipped learning practice is for lectures or core course content to be provided to students as video for self-review. However, the content can be presented in various ways such as: interactive tutorials, screencast mini-lectures (e.g. short narrated presentations), audio clips, and even traditional textbook readings and articles. Students review content out-of-class, as preparation for in-class learning activities.
For further reading download Tip Sheet for Flipped Classroom.
Tip 2: Using Your Course Syllabus for Learning
A course syllabus is more than a simple document that students refer to once or twice at the beginning of the course. Rather, it should be considered as a learning resource used by teachers regularly to ensure student engagement.
Walk through it
At the beginning of your course, thoroughly review the syllabus with your students. Explain how each class is linked to the central themes, objectives and learning outcomes of the course. Allow time for students to pose general or specific questions related to the course.
Frequently refer to it
Whether it is the third or tenth class, take advantage of the syllabus to guide students through their learning. You can use it to introduce new subjects and themes, or assign relevant readings and homework. You should be able to link activities in the syllabus to the course learning outcomes.
Wrap it up
Once the class is ending or nearing its end, use your course syllabus to reinforce what has been learned. Review each theme or section, and take this opportunity to allow students to pose questions and reflect about what they have learned.
Further Reading: Crossman, J.E.(2014). “Using Your Syllabus as a Learning Resource.” Faculty Focus.
Tip 1: Lecturing for Learning
Lecturing is probably the most popular teaching method. It has certainly received a lot of negative attention, especially from students. However with these DOs and DONTs you can turn your lecture into a positive learning experience for your students!
Get students’ attention!
Before students engage with new ideas and information they must be engaged by their teacher.
Connect with students through expressiveness which includes strong eye contact, movement, gestures, varied facial expressions and even humour.
Direct students’ attention Consider using a framework for the lesson or a handout with the main points from the lesson which the students can have. This will ensure that students can follow the lecture and relate topics to central themes.
Treat student like sponges Overloading students with too much information will overwhelm them and lose their attention. Consider allotting time for breaks, simple activities, questioning, student presentations or opportunities for them to summarize what has been learned so far.
Rely completely on notes or slides If you only read your lesson from a book or notes, students will not see the purpose in listening to you when they can do much of the same. Instead consider how you deliver your lesson and try to relate the subject matter to relevant aspects of the students’ life (e.g., current events, issues, culture etc.).
For further reading download Tip Sheet for Lecturing and Learning.