Posts Tagged ‘Critical Thinking’

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My High Wire Act

posted: 5.14.15 by Jack Solomon

Several weeks ago I promised in one of my blogs that I would share the results of an exercise in critical thinking that I was preparing to conduct with faculty in my role as Director of Assessment and Program Review at my university.  Since the outcome of this exercise is equally relevant to the teaching of critical reading and writing—not to mention popular cultural semiotics—I am glad to be able to keep my promise here. [read more]

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Beyond Our Classrooms

posted: 5.8.15 by Donna Winchell

All teachers hope that their students will make use of the knowledge and skills taught in their courses–in spite of the students’ protestations that “I’ll never use this after the class ends!” One example from a writing course:  “I’ll have a secretary to catch grammar and punctuation errors for me.” I must admit that I don’t see either of my sons ever using the advanced math they were learning by the end of high school. But as teachers of writing, we can rest assured that more of our students will make use of the skills we teach than will ever make use of imaginary numbers. As teachers of critical thinking, our hope is that all of them will take that skill out into the world and put it to use as workers, voters, parents, community members, and just as people alive in the world. [read more]

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Categories: Argument, Critical Thinking, Donna Winchell
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What Color is This Dress?

posted: 3.19.15 by Jack Solomon

A few weeks ago the Internet was lit up by one of the most earth shaking questions of our times:  Was a widely disseminated photograph of a woman’s dress an image of a blue- and-black or of a white-and-gold garment?  A lot of A-list celebrities weighed in on this weighty matter and the outcome was a lot of clicks on a lot of story links that certainly resulted in a lot of successful data mining.

But while a semiotic analysis of the power of celebrity Tweeters could ensue from this story, (you may find the beginning of such an analysis here) that’s not what I want to explore.  What I want to look at is a far, far deeper problem that this amusing little episode points to.  I will call this problem the question of “whatness.” [read more]

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Holiday Appeals

posted: 12.12.14 by Donna Winchell

I just read on cnn.com about the Hendersons of Hurricane, Utah, who have cancelled Christmas in an effort to teach their three children to stop being disrespectful and to stop acting entitled. They will celebrate the religious meaning of Christmas, but Santa won’t be visiting their house this year.

Ads also appeal to their audience’s values, and during the Christmas season, there is an extra push to remind people to exhibit the spirit of Christmas by sharing with the less fortunate. If you’ve ever dropped some money into a Salvation Army bucket–or felt guilty for not doing so–you have been targeted by one of the most visible of the season’s appeals to values.We all know the common complaints about the commercialization of Christmas. In fact, the Christmas season is a good time to look at the commercials that start showing up around Halloween. If we think about commercials as arguments designed to convince us to buy a product or act in a certain way, we can analyze the needs and values that they are appealing to. [read more]

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Categories: Donna Winchell
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Transfer: or, Without Which Nothing

posted: 11.16.14 by Jack Solomon

My topic this time should be a familiar one to anyone involved in composition instruction:  this is the concept of “transfer,” the notion that students should take what they have learned in their composition classes about writing and make full use of it in their subsequent university career, and beyond.  Applicable, of course, to all learning in a formal educational setting, transfer is (or at least ought to be) a fundamental concern, and goal, of all educators. [read more]

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Multimodal Mondays: Lifehacking—Trying on New Rhetorical Strategies in Student Blogs

posted: 10.27.14 by Andrea Lunsford

I have my students use blogs to shape their digital identities and provide a space for them to share their work and ideas with others. I encourage them to go out into the world and critically examine their place within it through weekly exploratory blog posts. Many of these assignments are open ended and based on their observations and perceptions. However, I like to switch it up every once in a while and ask them to use a particular style or format as a rhetorical device to shape and deliver their ideas. [read more]

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Categories: Guest Bloggers
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Why teach figurative language?

posted: 10.16.14 by Andrea Lunsford

I have followed the work of Michael Chorost for a long time, since Brenda Brueggemann introduced me to his work on disability studies back in 2001. I will never forget reading the electrifying piece he wrote on losing his hearing completely and then, after having a cochlear implant and working diligently to relearn how to hear, experiencing once again the unforgettable opening notes of his beloved Boléro. Since then I’ve read his Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World and a number of pieces he has contributed to Wired [read more]

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The Ice Bucket Challenge

posted: 9.18.14 by Jack Solomon

No, I’m not going to post a You-Tube video of myself getting doused in ice water, and, indeed, by the time this posts, the ice bucket challenge will have probably morphed into something else anyway—most likely a series of parodies.  Rather, I wish to submit this latest of virally-initiated fads to a semiotic analysis, seeking what it says about the culture that has so enthusiastically embraced it. [read more]

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Back to Critical Thinking

posted: 7.31.14 by Jack Solomon

One of the most common demands made upon colleges and universities today is that they must teach “critical thinking.”  As a great believer in the teaching of critical thinking, I feel that it is incumbent upon all of us who teach it to be very clear about just what we think critical thinking is, however.  I have offered my own semiotics-based take on the matter in this blog before and will not repeat it now.  My focus this time will be on the sorts of standardized multiple-choice tests that have been offered on critical thinking for assessment purposes. [read more]

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A Revision Plan Assignment

posted: 5.20.14 by Traci Gardner

I haven’t had the best of luck with giving students the chance to rewrite their assignments. Usually what I get back shows students fixing the errors I have marked. Rarely do they do any deep reimagining of their pieces. While I want to encourage critical thinking and engagement, what I get feels more like tedious busywork. [read more]

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