What is critical thinking?
We define critical thinking as a purposeful, self-directed process in which
- we take charge of knowledge
- use reason to propel our scholarship and solve problems, and
- integrate these skills into intellectual endeavors or actions.
This definition was developed through research looking at several models of critical thinking and is based, in part, on the work of Drs. Linda Paul and Richard Elder.
Where did the name PRISM come from?
The PRISM Experience stands for Purposeful Reasoning, Inquiry and Scholarship at Meredith.
Given Meredith’s use of the motto LUX, or light, in the official seal of the College and the suitability of viewing critical thinking “through the looking glass” (our long-standing tradition with Alice in Wonderland), critical thinking shares several characteristics of a prism:
- knowledge can be focused and filtered
- a specific discipline can be magnified and appreciated through a diversity of perspectives
- a Meredith College education should be illuminating and multi-faceted.
What is the PRISM Experience?
The PRISM Experience is made up of the following components:
- The PRISM Freshmen Seminar—a topic-driven, discipline-based seminar that focuses on depth rather than breadth; introduces students to a framework and common language of critical thinking; encourages making experiential connections to learning; and introduces students to types and ways of thinking within the various disciplines.
- The PRISM Infusion (Curricular)—Infusion in the courses and programs of the individual disciplines at the mid- and upper-levels; Critical Thinking designated courses in the discipline that deepen explicitly some aspect of critical thinking in that discipline.
- The PRISM Infusion (Co-Curricular)—Infusion in the strategies and activities of our college programs; empowering our students to connect their learning and apply critical thinking in all college activities; giving students opportunities to assess their own growth in critical thinking.
- PRISM Professional Development—Support for all faculty who create and teach seminars; competitive support for faculty to enhance current courses to achieve CT designation; Delta (Δ) Professional Learning Communities to share and support each other in teaching and learning in new ways; professional development seminars and stipend support to learn about critical thinking and strategies to implement CT on campus; limited travel funds for faculty to seek more extensive or more targeted professional development opportunities appropriate to their discipline.
Why is critical thinking important?
In order to succeed in today’s world, our students need skills in critical thinking and active reflection. We have wonderful academic programs already in place on campus that we need to encourage and support, yet we still see trends in our student population that demonstrate a need for critical thinking. The PRISM Experience will enrich our students’ learning in important ways:
- Enable our students to handle collegiate-level thought and study
- Establish common language and framework for thinking and reasoning clearly
- Empower students to engage in higher levels of complexity and reflection
- Equip women to excel in a global society in the 21st century