Day Two/Three Handout

CRTW 201

Dr. Fike


Reminder: Your reading assignment for our next class (Tompkins) is linked to the course calendar. You must bring a hardcopy. "I've got it on my phone" is not an acceptable excuse.


Outline for today's class

* Book check.

* Nosich, chapter 1: critical thinking in general

* Two videos: what is the point of each?

* Dr. Bird's exercise & my chart

* Paper 1 assignment: key points


Book Check (5 minutes)

Show me Nosich, chapter 1.

Turn to your most heavily marked pages in chapter 1 and show your annotations to your neighbor and to me.

"Critical reading" = marking your books.

Winthrop wants you to practice your toolbox in your other academic classes. Mark your books in those courses as well.


Exercise to generate key points in Nosich, chapter 1 (10 minutes)

This exercise has a name: "pointing": "members of a group take turns reading sentences aloud. Pointing provides a way of summarizing without generalizing, and it is one of the best ways to build community and to stimulate discussion. 1. Select sentences from a reading you are willing to voice. 2. Take turns reading aloud without raising hands. Read only one of your chosen sentences at a time. Later in the session, you may read again. No one comments on the sentences in any way during the pointing." Note: "Pointing stirs our memories about the particular language of a piece. In reading aloud and hearing others do it, you hear key words and discover questions you'd not seen before; and the range of possible starting points for getting at what is central in the reading inevitably multiplies. Pointing is an antidote for the limiting assumption that a reading has only one main idea. It also remedies the tendency of group discussion to veer into general impressions and loose associations" (WA 109).

What did you mark? In groups of 3-5 people, work through the chapter (but NOT the part about impediments, pages 16-25: that is for later) to identify the main points. Help each other mark your books. If you wish, use some of the prompts on the pages below as you mark your books (these 12 points, FYI, are a subset of those that I marked with red ink in my own book). Note that the page numbers are in the 4th edition.


2: Definition of critical thinking (CT)

8: What hinders CT; see also 27

9: Definition of good reasoning

12: CT's relation to change

13: What "critical" means

26-27: What about concepts?

28-29: What about the thinking that we do unconsciously? See also 25 and 27.

29: CT and questions

30: CT and teachers' teaching; see esp. the final bullet point

34: Difference between example and analogy

34-35: CT and cooperation

37: Diagram and relationship between analysis and evaluation


Now report back to the rest of the class. (10 minutes)

You just did pointing in small groups. Now do it as a whole class.

* Give the page number and location on the page of the point that you want to emphasize.

* Give your classmates a moment to get there.

* Read and comment on what you marked.

* Everybody, mark statements that you have not marked before.



Dr. Fike's comments (5 minutes)

* Elements: 9, 26. Nosich mentions some of the elements from chapter 2.

* Deep learning: 3, 7, 26. Nosich calls it "authentic": critical thinking is not just for school.

* Standards: 9, 13. Nosich anticipates chapter 4 (the critieria on 11, top, are the standards; see also page 153, top).

* Traits: 22. Nosich anticipates the critical thinking traits from chapter 5.

* Impediment: 30. "Feeling that your teachers are not teaching enough because they generate more questions than answers."

* Template: 34-35. Nosich gives you an outline for thinking things through: it is a linear process. See especially the top of 37.

* Belief perseverance: 5, 8, 11, 23-25, 27, and 29. We filter out information contrary to our belief system and let in only compatible information.


Discussion of the two videos (10 minutes)

* Filterbubbles

* Black leopard


Egocentrism and sociocentrism (5 minutes)


Exercise on Nosich 16-25 (10 minutes)

Now we will do a modified version of Dr. John Bird's exercise on impediments to pick up on Nosich, chapter 1, which I have extended to cover the impediments discussed in WA, chapter 2 as well. Here are the modified directions. (Note: This exercise will work best if you pick an impediment or impediments that are relevant to you.)

For each of the impediments to critical thinking, do the following:

1. Select an impediment and briefly explain what it is and why it problematic in general.

2. Rank how much this impediment is a problem for you on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "not much of an impediment" and 5 being "a very big impediment."

3. Give a specific example or two of how this particular item is (or is not) an impediment for you.

4. Think of specific ways you (and others) could help make this less of an impediment.

Do 1-4 for as many impediments as you can.

Here is Dr. Fike's chart to help you organize your answers. Work individually for 10 minutes. Start with the impediment that most affects your own thinking. Work left to right. You do not have time to fill out the whole chart, but you can do that after class if you are so inclined. Just get started thinking about your impediments.

Note the addition of several impediments from WA.

Filters, Barriers, Impediments (FBIs)

Definition/Why a problem

Ranking on 1-5 scale for YOU

Example from your personal experience

Remedy in your own case

Forming a picture of the world on the basis of the news (N 17) 





Forming a picture of the world on the basis of movies, TV, advertising, magazines (N 19)





All-or-nothing thinking (black-and-white thinking), us-versus-them thinking, stereotyping (N 20) 





Fears (N 20) 





Some educational practices discourage critical thinking (N 21) 





Egocentrism (N 22) 





Developmental patterns of thinking (N 23)





Previous commitments, previous personal experience (N 24) 





Premature leaps (WA 44)





Generalizing (WA 46)





Naturalizing our assumptions (WA 47) 







Whole-class discussion: 10 minutes.

What did you learn from doing this exercise? Any epiphanies?

From Dr. Fike: Note that impediments can be broken down into three categories: intellectual, psychological, and practical. Tart's list is psychological. The list in the above chart combines intellectual and psychological impediments. What might practical impediments be?



Paper 1 Assignment (last 5 minutes)

Understand this first paper as an opportunity to analyze the FBIs (filters, barriers, and impediments) that have influenced your thinking about an issue like gay marriage (or some other part of your world view, an issue that is important to you). In other words, WHY do you think what you think about it?

***What questions do you have about your first assignment?***

Dr. Fike's note to himself: Go over the quotations in red + "10 on 1" vs. "1 on 10" + archeology

See WA 37, 42, 48, 49, 101, 154, 173, 270-71 for relevant connections to paper 1. Note that the strategies in chapter 4 (esp. re. uncovering assumptions) could really help you as you work on paper 1.

37: "What we see as reality is shaped by the words we use." Also, "'A conviction of certainty is one of the most certain signs of ignorance and may be the best operational definition of stupidity.'"

42: "Start your thinking with the local rather than the global; trace impressions back to causes; apply the heuristics."

***48: "In fact, our opinions are never just our opinions. They are deeply embedded in the conceptual fabric of a culture, and they are always learned."*** 

***49: "We should examine our opinions, not primarily to assert and defend them, but to explore them for what they might reveal about ourselves and the communities to which we belong. Opinions as kneejerk reactions--reflexes--cannot help us. But thoughtful examination of our opinions can."***

***101: "Like the other heuristics in this toolkit, this last one, 'Seems to be about X,' prompts you to move beyond potentially superficial explanations--to go deeper."***

***154: "Strategy 1: Trace your responses back to their causes."***

155: "Strategy 2: Assume that you may have missed the point."

173: "Why did he or she consider some information more relevant than others? Are there any gaps in the information? Does the writer distinguish cases in which evidence strongly supports a claim from evidence that is suggestive of speculative? Finally, students need to be aware of the possible ideological nature of evidence. . . . They also [need to] understand that the observation and use of evidence is never completely neutral."

271-72: See the bullet points here, especially "Notice and Focus" and "Uncover the assumptions in the source."

See also WA, chapter 10 for "10 on 1" and "1 on 10." Note: "10 on 1" is also mentioned in chapter 2, pages 25-26.

Consider the writing strategy in WA, chapter 11, page 233, bottom. Here is how to adapt it to our assignment:

YOUR CONCLUSIONS ABOUT GAY MARRIAGE --> reason for believing it --> complicating evidence --> repeat the process.

Thinking in this sort of linear way will help you dig below the surface of your thought process. Think archeologically: your job is to discover the hidden layers of reasoning and FBIs on which your conclusion rests.

Why do I believe something


Why do I believe that reason?

Another reason

Repeat this process until you reach what is most fundamental for your thinking.

Go over key points in the assignment sheet.