EFL Resources / 勉強資料
- Reasons are Important May 13, 2012
- Academic Literacy Resources May 6, 2012
- Academic Literacy in Higher Ed. May 6, 2012
- International Students in Higher Education May 3, 2012
- Education and the Importance of Connecting April 28, 2012
- Education as it Is and as it Should be April 25, 2012
- Be Careful What You Believe April 21, 2012
- Game-based learning April 17, 2012
- Learning Styles: Fact or Fiction? April 15, 2012
Tag Archives: Critical thinking
A resource page offering advice on paragraphs, essay writing, critical reflection, referencing, writing conventions, editing and proofreading, oral presentations, effective notetaking, and active reading.
An investigation into academic literacy for Chinese students, posted on the Victoria University site, includes videos covering key theoretical concepts and interactive examples; proactive principles with student dialogue; technical / practical instruction / interactive feedback; transition and acculturation; and engagement and advertisement.
Information and additional resources for Reading, Writing, Note-taking, and Referencing.
A resource page covering: Academic Writing, Critical Thinking, Academic Integrity, Designing Assignments, and responding to students/giving feedback.
Online tutorials to assist students to develop basic communication and research skills in an academic context. Covers: Starting an Assignment, Finding Best Evidence, Writing your Assignment, Delivering your Oral Presentation, and Working in Teams.
A resource for teachers covering various topics including: Integrating Essential Skills, Encouraging Critical Thinking, Hands-On Experience and Higher Thinking, Developing Academic Skills, and Aligning Learning Objectives and Marking Effectively.
A guide for Reading and Writing covering: Understanding Essay Questions; Reading and Researching; Planning and Structure; Drafting and Editing; making an Argument; Quotes and References; Humanities vs Sciences; Seminars, Reports and Presentations; Literature Reviews; and Dissertations.
A skills page supporting students, researchers, and staff to enhance learning, teaching and research. Covers: Finding and Evaluating Information; Group Work; Listening and Interpersonal Skills; Academic Honesty; Reading, Writing and Presentation Skills; and Time Management.
An excellent academic literacy resource covering Expectations, Research, and Academic Reading and Writing over four modules. Contains useful examples, learning activities and links to more resources.
As education continues to change with the shift in emphasis away from teacher-centred approaches and toward greater understanding of and acceptance of the ideas that we learn through discovery, solving problems and by becoming engaged in what we do- not what our teachers do; and with the implications of advances in technology on old classroom models and access to information, the role of the educator must also necessarily change to that of the facilitator of learning. A critical part of the learning process is academic literacy.
Given the vast amounts of information pouring onto the internet and available on electronic databases, students need to be taught where to find, how to access, how to evaluate, and how to present that information, requiring skills in: research, critical thinking, creativity, written and oral communication, academic honesty, and of course independent learning (study). It helps also to understand certain concepts in psychology such as cognitive dissonance and learning theory, supported by findings in neuroscience. Without these skills, conclusions will be poorly thought out, lack sufficient logic and evidence, or simply be a regurgitation of others’ work and presented in a way which lacks coherence. While it’s true that many students may only be motivated to pass course requirements rather than a desire to gain a deep understanding of their subjects, the ability to build on previous knowledge, to make connections, and to form new ideas has to be an objective of higher education institutions, especially in a competitive market and in challenging economic conditions where institutions are rated on how well they are able to place their students into the workforce.
The development of academic literacy among students has become a major focus in higher education in an attempt to improve learning outcomes and retain students in an increasingly competitive international market (there clearly needs to be more attention on the development of these skills in secondary schooling). Providing accredited courses in academic literacy is not a practical solution at the tertiary level, and promotion of library services and generic academic literacy workshops, while necessary and useful, are insufficient on their own because those most in need are those who lack the motivation and perhaps discipline to make use of these resources, and also because many students are not able to transfer proficiency to different contexts.
The solution is to imbed academic literacy skills into curriculum, and as with other course objectives, ensure that the design of activities in the curriculum adequately engages students and develops the desired learning outcomes, and that assessments accurately measure these outcomes. The paper linked below gives a brief discussion on the rationale for embedding academic literacy skills into university courses.
In my last post I talked about the role of technology in education and how advancing technology has been increasing the access learners have to information resources, as well as enabling the presentation of information in innovative ways which can engage learners and improve learning outcomes. We know that it is not so much what teachers do as what students do that matters in learning, and technology is helping to push the old teacher-centred approaches out the door. As such, there is a need for teachers to be not only technology literate, but more than ever before, information literate. The role of teachers is shifting away from that of teaching content and toward using technology to enhance the learning experience and imbedding the development of academic literacy skills in curriculum and assessments.
In the age of Google, Wikipedia, social media and online news where anyone with access can post information on the internet almost as quickly as ideas pop into the mind, the rate of accumulation of freely available information is mindboggling. In recognition of the realities of this digital age, Encyclopaedia Britannica announced just this year that it was going out of print after more than two centuries to focus on online materials. Not so long ago, to get information into the public sphere much of it needed to be written and pass through the editing, publishing and printing process, and while there has always been published material of very questionable value, someone at some point at least saw enough value in it to make the investment. Additionally, librarians and educators were (hopefully) able to evaluate the worth of the published material and limit the exposure of learners to poor content. In contrast, the internet is full of unedited, unreviewed material published at the click of a button for the cost of an internet connection; some of it is good, some bad, and some plagiarised. We need to be cautious, because most of it is also accessed with the click of a button.
Diversity of opinion and ideas is healthy, but the greater the volume of information and the greater its diversity, the greater the necessity for readers to be information literate. Being able to define the subject of enquiry or understand the question being asked has always been a requirement in research, but to know where to look for good information, to critically evaluate it, and to be able to make appropriate selections and come to objective conclusions without being overwhelmed, is becoming far more challenging. Students often don’t ask for help when it’s needed. Often they don’t even know they need help and we shouldn’t assume that they have the necessary research, critical evaluation and study skills, because most of them don’t. Teachers can’t possibly provide all the information that students need, but they must be able to teach students the skills they need to learn, and guide them in their search for and use of information.
Today I’ll introduce you to Edge.org. Its mission: “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”
Each year Edge poses a question to scientists, philosophers and other thinkers, and the responses can make some very thought provoking reading. I found last year’s question and many of the responses particularly interesting: “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?”
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins suggested that a widespread lack of critical thinking or awareness of mindset/bias was a problem in society, and that people would benefit from attaching more weight to evidence based conclusions, equipping them to exercise sound judgement throughout their lives.
How would we do this? Schools should educate students in the principles of the double-blind control experiment and the reasons it is important, which include understanding the difficulty of eliminating subjective bias, and the problems of generalising from anecdotes.
For Social & Technology Network Topology Researcher Clay Shirky, an essential tool in our cognitive toolkit is understanding the Pareto Principle (also known by other names including the 80/20 rule) which originated from Vilfredo Pareto’s observation that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. It’s not really a rule because the proportions can be quite a bit more extreme than 80/20 when we look at other areas of the real world, and the areas in which it applies are far more common than many believe. Yet, when we hear these figures reported in the media, they are often treated as shocking, unexpected and unpredictable.
The problem is that we are taught that the paradigmatic distribution of large systems is the Gaussian distribution (bell curve) and that examples which display Pareto characteristics are anomalies, which prevents us from seeing the world and probability of events clearly. If you’re interested in the impact of the highly improbable I recommend a book called The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (no, not Natalie Portman’s movie).
The questions posed by Edge go back to 1998 and the responses are well worth a read.
There’s a lot of information out there, and it’s getting easier by the day to access it. In the age of Google search, Wikipedia and blogging, the critical evaluation of information and sources is as important now as ever. The following is an article by G. Randy Kasten on critical thinking skills:
“The ability to think critically is one skill separating innovators from followers. Critical thinking reduces the power of advertisers, the unscrupulous and the pretentious, and can neutralize the sway of an unsupported argument. This is a skill most students enjoy learning because they see immediately that it gives them more control…”