The role of critical thinking in the online learning environment

The intended outcome of this increased IT-facilitated student engagement is to foster important skills such as critical thinking used in both academia and workplace environments. Critical thinking CT skills entails the ability ies of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation to achieve a logical understanding. Critical thinking in the classroom as well as in the workplace is a central theme; however, with the dramatic increase of IT usage the mechanisms by which critical thinking is fostered and used has changed. This article presents the work and results of critical thinking in a virtual learning environment.

The role of critical thinking in the online learning environment

Translate this page from English Print Page Change Text Size: Consequently, they assume that answers can be taught separate from questions. Hence, every textbook could be rewritten in the interrogative mode by translating every statement into a question. To our knowledge this has never been done.

That it has not is testimony to the privileged status of answers over questions in instruction and the misunderstanding of teachers about the significance of questions in the learning and thinking process.

In fact, every intellectual field is born out of a cluster of questions to which answers are either needed or highly desirable.

Furthermore, every field stays alive only to the extent that fresh questions are generated and taken seriously as the driving force in a process of thinking. To think through or rethink anything, one must ask questions that stimulate thought.

Questions define tasks, express problems and delineate issues. Answers on the other hand, often signal a full stop in thought. Only when an answer generates a further question does thought continue its life as such.

This is why it is true that only students who have questions are really thinking and learning. Moreover, the quality of the questions students ask determines the quality of the thinking they are doing.

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It is possible to give students an examination on any subject by just asking them to list all of the questions that they have about a subject, including all questions generated by their first list of questions.

That we do not test students by asking them to list questions and explain their significance is again evidence of the privileged status we give to answers isolated from questions.

That is, we ask questions only to get thought-stopping answers, not to generate further questions. Instead, students need questions to turn on their intellectual engines and they must themselves generate questions from our questions to get their thinking to go somewhere.

Thinking is of no use unless it goes somewhere, and again, the questions we ask determine where our thinking goes. It is only when our thinking goes somewhere that we learn anything of value to us.

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Deep questions drive our thought underneath the surface of things, force us to deal with complexity. Questions of purpose force us to define our task. Questions of information force us to look at our sources of information as well as at the quality of our information. Questions of interpretation force us to examine how we are organizing or giving meaning to information and to consider alternative ways of giving meaning.

Questions of assumption force us to examine what we are taking for granted. Questions of implication force us to follow out where our thinking is going. Questions of point of view force us to examine our point of view and to consider other relevant points of view.

Questions of relevance force us to discriminate what does and what does not bear on a question.

The role of critical thinking in the online learning environment

Questions of accuracy force us to evaluate and test for truth and correctness. Questions of precision force us to give details and be specific.

Questions of consistency force us to examine our thinking for contradictions. Questions of logic force us to consider how we are putting the whole of our thought together, to make sure that it all adds up and makes sense within a reasonable system of some kind.

Dead Questions Reflect Dead Minds Unfortunately, most students ask virtually none of these thought-stimulating types of questions.Central to student-centered learning and the development of critical thinking is allowing students the individualized time necessary for mastering the learning process; and, unlike the constraints of scheduled class period, online resources allow students to complete learning activities at their own pace.

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Wherever we are, we’d all like to . The Role of Instructor Interactivity in Promoting Critical Thinking in Online and Face-to-Face Classrooms strategies from the traditional classroom into the online environment.

Theoretical arguments support, and even favor, the use of asynchronous learning technologies to online learning, critical thinking, instructor interactivity.

Debate – this is another active learning technique that helps develop critical thinking and logical reasoning skills.

Suggested Readings and Resources

Present competing viewpoints in lecture and assign students to defend one, or both, of the viewpoints in a short (five-minute) written exercise or classroom debate. An Evaluation of Critical Thinking in Competency-Based and Traditional Online Learning Environment Online Learning Journal – Volume 22 Issue 2 – June 58 79 Despite the above efforts, very little empirical research has been conducted to quantify the.

Without critical thinking, collaborative learning is likely to become collaborative mis-learning. It is collective bad thinking in which the bad thinking being shared becomes validated. Remember, gossip is a form of collaborative learning; peer group indoctrination is a form of collaborative learning; mass hysteria is a form of speed.

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