Critical thinking Notes for September 4

Main points

I went over the syllabus and plans for research groups.

Then we had a quick discussion of the aim of the day in higher education: critical thinking.

Critical thinking

I had two goals for this discussion. First, I wanted to offer some explanation in advance for the occasionally vague and confusing nature of college level work. We’re trying to teach you how to work through “messy, unstructured problems”!

Second, I wanted to warn you that you have to do more than just take notes in lectures. You don’t want to be like those physics students!

But your professors are naturally attuned to lecturing. So you have to get your “active learning” through your own efforts. That is, you have to ask questions, discuss classes, put things in your own words, use concrete examples, or, really, think about and do whatever works for you. In your heart of hearts, you know the difference between learning something and memorizing it. Be honest with yourself and good things will happen.

And, finally, pick your battles. There is too much going on here to master everything.

This page was written by Michael Green for The Election, ID-1, Fall 2008. It was posted September 5, 2008.
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