What is the definition of critical thinking used by Meredith College?
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.
What are the student learning outcomes for improving critical thinking?
As a result of the PRISM Experience students at Meredith will:
- Apply skills of reason, critique and creative thought through reading, writing and speaking
- Integrate and evaluate knowledge from a variety of sources and disciplines
- Raise important questions and formulate solutions to complex problems
- Develop intellectual curiosity by thinking independently and being active in the learning process
- Practice meta-cognition by analyzing, assessing and reconstructing their ways of thinking
- Exercise open-mindedness to new ideas or ways of thinking
How will Meredith College accomplish its goal of improving students’ critical thinking skills?
The Meredith College PRISM Experience seeks to improve students’ critical thinking skills throughout their four-years at Meredith. A discipline-focused freshmen seminar, followed by infusing critical thinking tools and strategies into existing courses and experiences, will provide multiple opportunities for reflection, intellectual engagement and action.
Thinking about …
Starting fall semester 2010, freshmen entering Meredith College may participate in one of several discipline-based seminars. Students will begin to develop essential critical thinking skills within a course that encourages them to think about a specific topic or issue. Students will also reflect on their own thinking and assess their development. The freshmen seminar provides a foundation of critical thinking skills.
Thinking within …
As students move into mid- or upper-level courses in their major, they will expand their critical thinking skills within their chosen discipline. Students will learn to apply critical thinking skills in unique ways that are specific to their field of interest. Departments will identify certain courses that represent a “mid-level” application of critical thinking within the discipline. Through these upper-division courses and capstone experiences, students will develop more independent inquiry, scholarship and expression of creative thought.
Thinking beyond …
Since students learn inside and outside the classroom, they will be encouraged to apply critical thinking skills in different aspects of their lives. A series of lecture discussions and experiential components to courses will provide opportunities for intellectual engagement, while leadership and student development programs will assist students in reflecting on their learning and turning learning into action. In this way, students will think beyond the classroom, and eventually beyond their Meredith College experience.
How will critical thinking skills be assessed?
Critical thinking will be assessed with multiple measures of all learning outcomes. Some measures will rely on data already being collected (e.g., institutional tests and surveys administered through Research, Planning and Assessment, departmental assessment of outcomes that align with PRISM outcomes) and some measures will be developed as part of PRISM. Measures that will be developed include rubrics used to score samples of student works and in-depth qualitative methods such as interviews and focus groups. These measures will provide ongoing feedback that will be used to inform decisions within the structure of PRISM as it is outlined at its inception as well as feedback on whether changes are needed to the overall structure.
How can faculty and staff be involved in improving students’ critical thinking skills at Meredith?
Professional development is an important component of the program. Several opportunities will be offered to strengthen the tools and skills we all need to improve students’ critical thinking skills and to develop an engaged College community. These opportunities will include a Summer Critical Thinking Institute (3 days) and monthly, half-day professional development seminars (3 per semester) that will offer foundation, intermediate and advanced critical thinking skills development. We will also offer professional learning communities (Delta Learning Communities) for those focusing on a particular facet of the program.
Other opportunities involve participating at some level of the PRISM Experience. This includes:
- Creation of a PRISM Seminar course that focuses on building students’ critical thinking skills through a discipline-based topic or issue;
- Infusion of critical thinking tools and strategies into existing student programs, leadership opportunities, community involvement, residence life experiences, advising, and many other campus experiences across the students’ four years;
- Infusion of critical thinking tools and strategies into existing courses in the major across the students’ four years;
- Contribution to a growing body of assessment evidence that will use critical thinking rubrics to provide feedback to students and to the College; and
- Participation in the PRISM lecture series.
How can students be involved with PRISM?
At the heart of the PRISM Experience is student learning, so most Meredith students will be involved in courses that provide critical thinking skill development. Over the next five years, students will have an opportunity to enroll in a PRISM seminar (available to first year, full time students) or enroll in major courses that will be designated as a CT (Critical Thinking) course.
Upper-class student leaders can be invited by instructors to assist as student mentors for the PRISM seminar, and assist with the experiential component of the seminar. Students who serve as student advisors can encourage incoming freshmen to enroll in the three hour PRISM seminar.
In addition, students will have many opportunities outside of the classroom experience to put their critical thinking skills into action as student leaders, engaged learners and involved citizens.