Assessing Learning Outcomes: Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking and Written Communication Skills

Vera Beletzan, Melissa Gabler, Paula Gouveia, Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, Aug 29, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

When I think about my own intellectual history I can think of several keystone events in which I received explicit guidance in critical thinking (and writing) which advanced my thinking significantly. One was reading Eleanor Maclean's Between the Lines. Another was reading Darrell Huff's How to Lie With Statistics. Another was a close reading and analysis of one of my papers given to me by Jon Bordo, a philosophy professor. Another was verena Huber-Dyson's Philosophy of Mathematics class. Each of these forced me to think about thinking. And that's the point of this report from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (50 page PDF). "Students’ critical thinking and written communications skills show the most improvement when they are explicitly taught... the skills need to be taught consistently and over a longer period of time to see significant gains and these types of courses should be positioned strategically throughout each program of study."

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