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To promote critical thinking in class, provide opportunities for students to relate the material to their life experiences and to evaluate and question what is said, rather than immediately accepting it as truth. When we promote critical thinking skills, we teach students to argue both sides of an issue, compare answers and judge the “best” answer based on evidence.
Summarize major points at the end of class or ask students to do so. Immediately after class, write comments on your class notes about what didn’t seem clear to students. Then use the notes as guides for the revision of content for the next class session or the next time you offer the course.
It can be difficult for experts to recognize how they organize their own knowledge, which makes it difficult to communicate this organization to students. One way to make your knowledge organization apparent is to create a concept map. Concept mapping is a technique that helps instructors understand their knowledge organizations visually. Concept maps are particularly helpful to visual learners.
Due to the expert blind spot, instructors may have minimal conscious awareness of all the skills and knowledge required for complex tasks. Consequently, when teaching students, instructors may inadvertently omit skills, steps, and information students need in order to learn and perform effectively. To determine whether you have identified all the component skills relevant for a particular task, ask yourself, "What must students have to know in order to achieve what I am asking of them?"
Compose test questions immediately after you address the material in class. The material and cognitive levels at which you taught are fresh in your mind and should match the session’s learning objectives. This strategy ensures a supply of questions to use when you develop a quiz or exam. Alternatively, you can have your students develop these questions at the end of class or as homework and modify them as appropriate.
Bring in the outside world when relevant to demonstrate your own active interest in the class topics and involve the students. For example, an instructor could inform the class, "don’t know if any of you have seen the news today about the economic stimulus plan, but it highlights the importance of our current discussion concerning that issue.
A helpful way to teach students to understand structural functions in a text is to show them how to write “what it says” and “what it does” statements. A “what it says” statement is a summary of the paragraph and a “what it does” statement describes the paragraph’s function within the essay. Asking students to write these type of statements for a scholarly article in their career field will ensure careful reading and increased awareness of paragraph structure.
A good way to fine-tune an assignment is to ask a colleague to read it and role-play a student’s reaction to the instructions. Follow-up questions for your colleague could include:
For example, an instructor could inform the class, “we are now entering the 7th week of the course, I am pleased that so many of you are participating in the weekly discussion forums and that the quality of those conversations is so evident. Nearly all of you have tuned in your journal entries for week 6. You can expect to receive your grade and comments from me during the next week. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about how I determined your grade.”
For example, an instructor could inform the class, “as we start week 5, all of you should now have chosen your topics for the final essay. It’s a good idea to start outlining your ideas now for the rough draft that will be due at the end of week 6.”
Ko, S., Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide (p. 305-309). New York: Routledge.
Reinert-Alumni Library: LB 2395.7 .K67 2010