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IDEA PAPER #37

Insight.Improvement.Impact.

Helping Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Cindy L. Lynch and Susan K. Wolcott • WolcottLynch Associates

Students exhibit different patterns of thinking skills and and practitioners have put forth models for thinking
respond differently to what we do in our classes. As the through problems and offered suggestions for making
following example demonstrates, even brief moments of better professional judgments. Discussions of thinking
conversation can reveal differences among students. skills can be found in the education literature, too,
including the famous work of Dewey (1933/1963) and
Ida: What did you think about the first day of Professor Bloom et al. (1956). Unfortunately, while teachers are
Jones’ class? aware of many of the skills they would like students to
exhibit, the steps between typical student performance
Forrest: Well, I was hoping to learn a lot from Professor and desirable performance often remain unarticulated or
Jones. I heard she is a good teacher, and I’m vague. This limits teachers’ capacities to understand and
disappointed that we spent so much time talking enhance skill development.
about theories and uncertainties. If experts like
Professor Jones won’t give us the right answers, In this paper, we recommend theoretically grounded and
how are we supposed to know what is going on? empirically supported strategies teachers can use to
improve the development and assessment of students’
Eric: That’s an interesting question. I’m hoping to learn thinking skills. Our transdisciplinary approach links a
from Professor Jones, too. series of increasingly complex Steps for Better Thinking
to two theories from developmental psychology: Fischer’s
Ida: I don’t think anybody knows for sure about things dynamic skill theory (Fischer, 1980; Fischer & Bidell,
like complicated theories. There are so many 1998) and King and Kitchener’s (1994) reflective judgment
factors involved; you just have to go with what model of cognitive development. We use these theories
makes sense to you. and relevant empirical data as a map for structuring our
efforts to optimize students’ thinking skills.
Eric: Well, the world certainly is complex. I need a lot
more information about different theories, First we present Steps for Better Thinking, which can be
available evidence, and how different experts conceptualized as the skills in a developmentally grounded
interpret the evidence before I can make a well- problem solving or inquiry process. Next we present and
informed decision about which theories are best. provide examples of using a rubric to examine thinking
I believe Professor Jones’ class will help me skill patterns students typically exhibit. A brief overview of
gather information and think more clearly about it. the theoretical and empirical underpinnings follows. Then
our discussion moves to the implications of this work for
Teachers strive to help students like Forrest, Ida, and assisting students as they attempt to think critically. We
Eric develop stronger thinking skills, and we’ll return to share examples of tasks that can be adapted for learning
their conversation later in this paper. Better thinking and purposes in any course or experiential setting. The tools
practical problem solving skills are promised in higher provided here can help you be more deliberate in your
education mission statements, course syllabi, and lists of efforts to understand and enhance students’ thinking skills.
desired student learning outcomes. There are many ways
to talk about thinking skills. Terms such as critical thinking, Steps for Better Thinking
scientific methods, professional or clinical judgment, Many of the tasks we assign to students require them
problem-based inquiry, decision making, information to correctly recognize, repeat, or paraphrase information
literacy, strategic planning, and life-long learning represent found in their textbooks or class notes. However, effective
thinking processes. For almost every profession, scholars personal and professional functioning requires dealing with

and Gregory E. (2001). and potential outcomes of various options. vitamin supplements should I use? Step 4: Integrate. Page  . do not • Repeat or paraphrase information from textbooks. and refine strategies for variety of points of view re-addressing the problem. interpretations of relevant information.WolcottLynch. of the problem. A. E. 2000). L. After thorough analysis. The steps (skills). time through practice in a supportive learning environment. Permission is granted to reproduce this information for noncommercial purposes. (1) Recognize and control for own biases Step 2 — explore interpretations and connections. & Huber. K. Acknowledge and explain limitations of endorsed solution • What. which can be accessed using the elevator. and Cunningham (2000). Cindy L. Huber. Step 2: Explore Interpretations and Connections (moderate cognitive complexity) The figure should be read from bottom to top.com. Steps for Better Thinking: A Developmental Problem process is like moving the elevator up to the desired step Solving Process [On-line]. Foundation: Knowledge and Skills (lowest cognitive complexity) The student can access his or her expanding foundation of ­information through the basement or foundation level ­illustrated in Figure 1. and Wolcott. relevant information. and Uncertainties (low cognitive problem solving process and (b) willingness to attempt H E R E complexity) the tasks associated with steps in the process. Identify problem and acknowledge reasons for enduring uncertainty and absence of single “correct” solution Think of the construction elevator on the right side of Step 1: Identify the Problem. A student must construct each step over • Reason to single “correct” solution. Integrate skills into on-going team work? process for generating and using information to monitor strategies and make reasonable modifications Personal problems • What should I do to optimize my career development? G. and evolved from ideas presented in King and Kitchener’s (1994) reflective ­judgment model of cognitive development and Fischer’s (Fischer & Bidell. and not been sufficiently constructed. Communicate appropriately for a given organization? audience and setting • How should I vote on a particular ballot initiative? E. (2) Articulate assumptions and reasoning Step 3 — prioritize alternatives and communicate associated with alternative points of view conclusions. Available: http://www. Wolcott (1998. and C. monitor. ©2001. etc. Look again at Figure 1.. Civic problems (highest cognitive complexity) • Should I volunteer with a particular nonprofit F. magically appear. and • What is the best way to care for my frail grandmother? Refine Strategies for Re-addressing the Problem. 1999. Monitor. each upward B. personal. and civic problems: Professional problems Figure 1 • Steps for Better Thinking: • What is the best interpretation of a piece of literature? A Developmental Problem Solving Process • What is the best way for a teacher to help students grow and learn? • How can a leader most efficiently promote effective H. Here are a few examples of open-ended professional. Wolcott. Lynch. etc. Earlier versions of this model are presented open elevator door into a space where the step (skill) has in Lynch (1996). if any. Wolcott. A thinker’s willingness to engage in a particular step in the G. Items A­_H list more specific subskills for each step. notes. Baril. imagine what would happen if someone stepped out of an 1998) dynamic skill theory. develop and • What are the most important things I can do to improve use reasonable guidelines for schools in my community? prioritizing factors to consider and choosing among solution options Figure 1 illustrates developmentally-grounded Steps for Step 3: Prioritize Alternatives and Communicate Conclusions (high ­cognitive Better Thinking that could be used to help students think complexity) about open-ended problems: D. Relevant Figure 1 as someone’s (a) awareness of a thinking or START Information. Model and opening the elevator door. Carter-Wells. Lynch.open-ended problems that are fraught with significant and dangerous fall — failure to adequately address the enduring uncertainties about such issues as the scope problem at hand. perform computations.. The thinker risks a Chambers (2000). and (3) Qualitatively interpret evidence from a Step 4 — integrate. Susan K. S. C. Identify relevant information and uncertainties step represents a “building block” of increasingly complex embedded in the information skills. range of solution options. Organize information in meaningful ways that encompass problem complexities Step 1 — identify the problem. Interpret information: uncertainties. Please cite this source: Lynch.

• Stacks up evidence • Expresses confusion • Attempts to control own • Conclusion based on long-term vision quantitatively to support or futility biases qualitative evaluation of • Spontaneously considers own view point and ignores • Uses illogical • Logically and qualitatively experts’ positions or possible ways to contrary information arguments evaluates evidence situational pragmatics generate new evidence • Confuses evidence and • Cannot evaluate or from different view points about the problem unsupported personal Common Weaknesses: appropriately apply opinion Common Weaknesses: • Conclusion doesn’t give Common Weaknesses: evidence • Inept at breaking • Reluctant to select and sufficient attention to • Not applicable • Inappropriately cites problem down and defend a single overall long-term.. C. Ida Identify. & Huber.” columns. Steps for Better Thinking Skill Patterns [On-line].” or understanding multiple solution as most viable issues definitions perspectives • Selects a solution but • Inadequately identifies • Concludes based • Insists that all opinions unable to express adequate and addresses solution on unexamined are equally valid. K. Figure 2 provides information about how people with so Skill Pattern 0 best describes Forrest. Eric Explore exhibits a more about Professor Jones’ class. sophisticated way of thinking about open-ended problems Which skill pattern best describes each of the students? (at least Skill Pattern 2) when he speaks of exploring a wide range of information and ­taking time to “think more clearly Forrest Foundation expects authorities like Professor about it. S. “facts. 1998). skills weak weak weak & 3 skills Overall Problem Approach: Overall Problem Approach: Overall Problem Approach: Overall Problem Approach: Overall Problem Approach: Proceeds as if goal is to Proceeds as if goal is to Proceeds as if goal is Proceeds as if goal is to Proceeds as if goal is to find the single. come to a well-founded construct knowledge. one finds descriptions of increasingly complex Further exploration with Ida probably would reveal that and effective approaches based on Steps for Better although she can stack up evidence to support her opinion Thinking. she has difficulty qualitatively interpreting Foundation.” even to open-ended Figure 2 • Steps for Better Thinking Skill Patterns fl Less Comlex Skill Patterns More Complex Skill Patterns ‡ Skill Pattern 0 Skill Pattern 1 Skill Pattern 2 Skill Pattern 3 Skill Pattern 4 Step 1. strategic textbook. Grounded in dynamic skill theory (Fischer & Bidell. “correct” stack up evidence and to establish a detached. G. Forrest (Skill Pattern 1). Moving from left to right across the that “you just have to go with what makes sense to you. S.Understanding Patterns of Thinking Skills problems that do not have absolutely correct answers.. Wolcott.2. consciously limitations effectively • Recasts open-ended and multiple perspectives problem and the larger prioritizes issues and • Interprets and problem to one • Reaches own conclusion context in which it is information reinterprets bodies of having a single without relying exclusively found • Articulates well-founded information systematically “correct” answer on authority • Identifies issues. support for choosing one over time as new • Insists that the assumptions. Wolcott. Available: http://www. Kitchener & P. M. and biases solution while objectively information becomes Common Weaknesses: experts should provide associated with multiple considering other viable available • Jumps to conclusions “correct” answer perspectives options • Exhibits a practical. E. They provide information from different points of view (a characteristic hints about their thinking skills patterns in the conversation of Skill Pattern 2). Let’s return to our prototypic students. (2001).2.WolcottLynch. but support for its superiority limitations and “next authorities’ views or discounts other over other solutions steps” what “feels right” opinions • Writes overly long paper • Views experts as being in attempt to demonstrate opinionated or as trying all aspects of analysis to subject others to their (problems with prioritizing) personal beliefs • Jeopardizes class discussions by ­­­getting stuck on issues such as ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ definitions ©2001. King. & 4 skills Step 3 & 4 skills Step 4 skills weak Intergrates Step 1. & 4 Step 2. to move answer ­information to support ­balanced view of evidence conclusion based on toward better conclusion conclusion and information from objective comparisons of or greater confidence in different points of veiw viable alternatives conclusions as the problem is addressed over time Common Weaknesses: Major Improvements Over Major Improvements Over Major Improvements Over Major Improvements Over • Fails to realistically Less Complex Skill Pattern: Less Complex Skill Pattern: Less Complex Skill Pattern: Less Complex Skill Pattern: perceive uncertainties/ • Acknowledges existence • Presents coherent and • After thorough • Prioritizes and addresses ambiguities of enduring uncertainties balanced description of a exploration. Ida Identify different skill patterns are likely to respond to controversial acknowledges that no one can know for sure and suggests problems and issues. and Eric Explore. In contrast. 3. Page  . Permission is granted to reproduce this information for noncommercial purposes. Cindy L. 3. Lynch and Susan K. Please cite this source: Lynch.” Jones to “give us the right answers. L. Look carefully at Figure 2.com. Based in part on information from Reflective Judgment Scoring Manual With Examples (1985/1996) by K.

the skills described in 1 are related to four of the stages: Skills associated with our Steps for Better Thinking are self-scaffolding. as well as sets of assumptions about knowledge that According to Fischer’s dynamic skill theory (Fischer. Chapter 6). King & Kitchener. Fischer personal experiences constantly confront adults with & Bidell. 6. it is very (King & Kitchener. This comprehensive open-ended problems that do not have absolutely “correct” theory of human development identifies underlying solutions. a person’s performance in a most college seniors. they are rarely able to examine an issue thoroughly from multiple points of view.300 students. Kitchener and Fischer (1990) discussed how the reflective judgment model relates King and Kitchener’s (1994) reflective judgment model conceptually to dynamic skill theory. Wolcott & Lynch. and previous experience impact The skills articulated in Steps for Better Thinking (Figure different interpretations of a body of information. data • Identify the “next steps” in building student competencies. the rubric presented sectional research with male and female college students. more complex steps. researchers have validated the reflective judgment This notion of self-scaffolding skills has important model using carefully designed longitudinal and cross. prioritize. Langer. (explore). 1998. in Figure 2 is theoretically and empirically grounded. Over the last 25 years. In recent years. skills but are still struggling with Step 2. taking into account Theoretical and Empirical Underpinnings how assumptions. 1999. sequence depicted in Figure 1. 3 (prioritize). If the thinker recognizes the development.Unlike many other assessment rubrics. and Steps 2 support for performance in later.. In this section. or stages. Reflective Judgment Stages 5. Damon. Hofer and Pintrich (1997) reported it to open-ended nature of a problem but does not adequately be the “most extensive developmental scheme with explore relevant information from multiple points of view. Step 1 skills. 1985/1996). underlie those strategies. extensively studied” (p. if an open-ended problem fraught with enduring uncertainties is mistaken for a highly structured Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) described the reflective ­problem that has a single correct answer (weak Step 1 judgment model as “perhaps the best known and most skills). Eyler skills. Like Ida Identify. how cognitive skills develop in adolescents and adults. and Wolcott and Lynch (1997) reported that more than 10% of students in an introductory master’s Figure 2 is organized based on what we have learned about level course did not consistently exhibit Step 1 skills. their opinions. • Quickly gain insights about student strengths and When certified raters evaluated Reflective Judgment weaknesses. although they rare to evaluate a performance that fits descriptors in non. of reasoning relationship between the two models. strategies that might be applied to open-ended problems. exhibit Step 1 particular setting typically spans two adjacent columns. some individuals are better prepared than others structures in human development and stresses the to deal with such issues. 1) do not develop automatically as we get older and accumulate more experience. Fischer & Bidell. W. neatly into a single column. regardless of age. and Wood (1993) supports the qualitatively different levels. 1997). 1998) dynamic skill theory. 1994. Substantial data clearly indicate necessity of collaboration between the person and his or that most college graduates exhibit very limited skills for her environment in the performance of increasingly complex effectively addressing open-ended problems (e. Using These studies offer empirical support for its use in college- this rubric helps faculty: level coursework design (King & Kitchener. very highly regarded among developmental psychologists. Lynch. 3. and 4 (integrate) are associated with When performance in one step of the process is poor. 1998). Interview data from more than 1. • Achieve high interrater reliability with other faculty 1994). The research reported describes a developmental progression of seven in Kitchener. 1994. respectively (King performance in subsequent steps is also likely to be & Kitchener. This means that. educational outcome” (pp. Research has revealed slow. 102-103). For example. This Step 1 (identify in Figure 1) are embedded in the scoring means that earlier steps in the process provide necessary rules for Reflective Judgment Stage 4. and 4 skills Because the rubric is developmentally grounded. 123) model of adult cognitive integrate) is likely to be weak. bias. we discuss very as indicated by its prominence in the most recent briefly the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the Handbook of Child Psychology (Fischer & Bidell. may be able to compile reasons and evidence to support adjacent columns. epistemological elements… It has been widely used by the thinker’s attempts to establish priorities for conclusions others interested in the construct and may be most useful and integrate strategies for further consideration of the for teachers who see reflective judgment as a desirable problem are also likely to be weak. series editor). gradual improvements in Step It is rare that all aspects of a student’s performance fit 1 skills during the undergraduate years. Although professional and Our assertions are also based on Fischer’s (1980. Fischer. 1994). in the sequence outlined in Figure 1 (King & Kitchener. Many college freshmen do not consistently exhibit members. The steps identified in Figure 1980. patterns consistently indicated that thinking skills develop • Provide students with more appropriate feedback. poor. implications for how we design learning environments and Page  . 1989. dynamic skill theory has become & Giles. and 7. ­performance in all higher steps (explore.g.

• Introduce students to Steps for Better Thinking (Figure Emphasize ­questions aimed at (a) the current ability of the 1) and ask them to explicitly use the process as they average student in the class and (b) one level higher than address open-ended problems. Consider asking students questions that are above the targeted level of development to self-evaluate their performance (see Wolcott. and be sure to include something about Step development and for optimal performance. junior/ development needs (King & Kitchener. These tools can be utilized in a variety of ways in writing samples with acceptable interrater reliability. we suggest that you incorrectly assume that students have mastered this break down assignments or discussions into a series of set of skills. Because most college students are not performing information. will provide students exhibiting more complex skill patterns opportunities to develop skills beyond the Figure 3 presents task prompts for each step in the average student. 1999). for the class. because require the support of less complex skills. relevant steps.understand student performance. It may be to all students that there are important high-level skills helpful to refer students to our free. problem solving process that can be adapted to provide students with appropriate challenge and guidance as • Pay particular attention to weaknesses in students’ they address controversial issues and construct the skill Step 1 skills — identifying the problem. It is the reason we use a questions for Step 2. and it development. Start small by assessing your students become overwhelmed and perform poorly. 1997). However. once you become aware This paper presents three primary tools for teachers: a of the developmental progression of skill development developmental problem solving process. and uncertainties. To challenge to develop skills if they understand the goals and receive students who have above average ability and to convey explicit feed-back about their performance. Page  . When students’ current performance. When professors with very complex thinking skills. 1994.com (WolcottLynch. Students are more likely the current ability of the ­average student. classroom discussions. and graduate students may be ready stair-step representation in Figure 1 — more complex skills to focus on ­questions for Steps 3 and 4. upper-class undergraduates need more focus on http://www. It may be most practical for you to take an development of complex thinking skills. Wolcott senior. visit our web site: for Step 1. Wolcott & Huber. • Gather baseline data.WolcottLynch. (b) provide develop­­­mentally other activities to follow the sequence in Figures 1 and appropriate opportunities for the individual to produce 3. and use the rubric in frustrated with students’ performance and revert to low Figure 2 to develop an understanding of their current complexity coursework that fails to encourage student thinking skills. This will allow students who exhibit less complex skill optimal performance. Design the more complex thinking skills is because their educational assignment so you will have some data about each of experiences have provided limited support for skill the steps. an assessment described in Figures 1 and 2. student confusion and poor performance tasks that address different levels in Steps for Better are inevitable. and master course levels. classes directed to freshmen and sophomores typically should focus on tasks 1 For additional information and examples. teachers must monitor student performance and adjust expectations Designing Appropriate Educational if many students seem to be struggling. assignment or discussion problem you currently use and practice writing questions/tasks aimed at different skill We believe a major reason college students fail to exhibit levels. ask one or more (Lynch. Learning to watch for clues about your students’ needs is not too difficult. In brief but carefully structured rubric. individual courses or other educational activities and in degree programs. Thinking. Use the tasks in Figure 3 as a guide. we have seen faculty rate student skills. Without adequate support. & Lynch.1 We suggest that teachers begin using Teachers who do not understand how thinking skills develop these tools as follows: may overestimate student skills and assign coursework that is unreasonably complex. of the self-scaffolding nature of these steps. 2001). Dewey 1 uncertainties. 2001). The potential value of learning on identified student developmental needs. Use at least one task aimed at the lowest expected level of performance for students in the class. Wolcott (2000) Experiences provides an illustration of how questions for an accounting Each group of students is likely to present diverse skill case could be designed for typical sophomore. Begin to experiences may be judged by the degree to which they (a) structure assignments. and tasks that require increasingly complex thinking workshop sessions. Ask students to write expectations are too complex. and build on previous experiences. Continued on page 7 Based on the research evidence. teachers often become about an open-ended problem. (1938/1963) and Fischer (1980) both emphasized that development of complex thinking skills depends on • Refine coursework slowly over several semesters based appropriate experiences. and (c) lay a foundation for further patterns to participate as actively as possible. on-line tutorial that they will eventually need to develop.

points of view • Identify and discuss the implications of assumptions and preferences related to • organize information in meaningful ways to one or more points of view about __________________________________________. support some solution or conclusion) • Create of list of different points of view related to __________________________________. • Recite the arguments about _______________________________________________________. (assuming arguments are explicitly provided in textbook. Available: http://www. & Lynch. • recognize and control for own biases • Interpret and evaluate the quality of the same body of evidence related to _______ • articulate assumptions and r­easoning associated _________________ from different points of view. and Uncertainties (low cognitive complexity tasks) • Explain why ___________ can’t be known with certainty. perform • Describe___________________________________________________________________. Steps for Better Thinking evolved from ideas presented in King and Kitchener’s (1994) reflective judgment model of cognitive development and Fischer’s (Fischer & Bidell.. • Explain why people disagree about__________________________________________________. complexity tasks) • Describe conditions under which you would reconsider your solution to _________________. • interpret information • Interpret and discuss the quality of evidence related to _______________________. notes. Step 4: Integrate. complexity tasks) • Define_________________________________________________________________________. computations. Wolcott and Cindy L. for Re-addressing the Problem (highest cognitive • Explain the implications of limitations to your proposed solution to _____________________. • Describe how you would communicate differently about ______________________________ in different settings. • List the elements of ______________________________________________________________. Monitor. K. and using information to monitor strategies and • Establish a plan for monitoring the performance of your recommended solution to make reasonable modifications ________________________________________________________________________________. with alternative points of view • Compare and contrast the arguments related to two or more solutions to ________ • qualitatively interpret evidence from a variety of ________________________________________________________________________.Figure 3 • Task Prompts for Different Levels in Steps for Better Thinking Steps for Better Thinking Task Prompts That Address These Skills (Turn Upside-Down) Foundation: Knowledge and Skills (lowest cognitive • Calculate________________________________________________________________________. and refine Strategies • Describe the limitations of your proposed solution to _________________________________. develop and use conclusion about ________________________________________________________________. L. • List the pieces of information contained in ___________ (specific narrative/paragraph/text). WolcottLynch. consider and choosing among solution options • Describe how the solution to _______________________________________________________ • communicate appropriately for a given audience might change. ©2001. etc. Task Prompts for Different Levels in Steps for Better Thinking [On-line]. • reason to single “correct” solution. Please cite this source: Wolcott. S. enduring uncertainty and absence of single • Explain why even an expert about ___________________________can’t predict with certainty “correct” solution what will happen when _____________________________. notes. and setting • Explain how you would respond to arguments that support other reasonable solutions to ________________________________________________________________________________.com. • acknowledge and explain limitations of endorsed • Explain how conditions might change in the future. C. • Identify a range of possible solutions to _____________________________________________. given different priorities on important issues. (2001). • identify problem and acknowledge reasons for • Identify aspects of ____________ in which uncertainty is a major factor. reasonable guidelines for prioritizing factors to • Explain how you prioritized issues in reaching a solution to ____________________________. resulting in a possible change in the solution most reasonable solution to _______________________________________________________. etc. Page  . • Sort pieces of information to identify reasons and evidence that support a given solution to ________________________________________________________________________________. Lynch. Conclusions (high cognitive complexity tasks) • Identify which issues you weighed more heavily than other issues in arriving at your • after thorough analysis. etc. 1998) dynamic skill theory. Step 2: Explore Interpretations and Connections • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a particular piece of evidence related to (moderate cognitive complexity tasks) ________________________________________________________________________. • repeat or paraphrase information from textbooks. Susan K. embedded in the information (may include • Consult experts and explore literature or other resources to: “stacking up” relevant reasons and evidence to • Create a list of issues related to _________________________________________________. • Explain how you designed your memo/presentation/________________________to effectively communicate to your audience. • integrate skills in on-going process for generating • Develop strategies for generating new information about ______________________________. Relevant Information. • Establish a plan for addressing the problem strategically over time. Permission is granted to reproduce this information for noncommercial purposes. Step 3: Prioritize Alternatives and Communicate • Prepare and defend a solution to __________________________________________________. • identify relevant information and uncertainties • Create a list of information that might be useful in thinking about ______________________. • Identify the most important information needs of the audience for communicating your recommendation about ___________________________________________________________. encompass problem complexities • Identify and discuss the implications of your own experiences and preferences for how you think about ______________________________________________________. • Define in your own words__________________________________________________________. • Develop one or more ways to organize information and analyses to help you think more thoroughly about ____________________________________________________.) Step 1: Identify the Problem.

contexts such as freshman orientation. (3) allowing students sufficient time substantial and enduring uncertainties that are not readily and practice to experience success in these new ways apparent.• Recognize that development of thinking skills requires performance can be achieved if teachers work students to give up their old ways and adopt new ways collaboratively within an educational program to support of thinking about the world. and other better understanding college student performance in ­practical tools can be accessed through: http://www. nursing. and citizenship. Developing effective problem solving skills that of thinking.com. students who are comfortable with their old ways of thinking. in the early 1990s. students need environments that enhance thinking skills and increase time and multiple opportunities to develop the thinking the likelihood that our students will be able to address the skills described in this paper. We can use what is known about how • Consider the curriculum-wide implications of student thinking skills develop to design assignments and learning development. gerontology. (2) helping students effectively in our complex. Through WolcottLynch Associates. through encouragement and constructive feedback. conferences. and web-based resources. that experience in a single course can produce major personal. together as part of a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of business. rapidly changing. This can be stressful for student development across the curriculum. Encourage and assist students by (1) setting Conclusion realistic expectations for student development based on The skills outlined in Figure 1 are essential for operating their current thinking skills. It is unrealistic to believe open-ended problems they will face in their professional. education. ­workshops. information- recognize the importance of developing more complex rich world — a world where information is fraught with ways of thinking. Postsecondary Education) project at the University of Denver They share their work with others through publications. When thinking skills are lacking. and across such Page  . Greater gains in student Cindy Lynch and Susan Wolcott began their work disciplines as ­communication. and legal studies. and student services. Their they produce innovative strategies for optimizing and Steps for Better Thinking: A guide for students. service learning WolcottLynch. poor decision making and planning result. changes in complex skills. and civic roles. To optimize performance. engineering. English. history. and (4) supporting students in their efforts employ a solid knowledge foundation is a lifelong endeavor.

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WolcottLynch Associates.com Page  . (1998).theideacenter.WolcottLynch. G. Educator resources.org Wolcott. Louis: E: info@theideacenter. 11(4). P. P. (1999).References continued T: 800. Available from Susan Wolcott via e-mail: swolcott@WolcottLynch. K. (2000).55. H. (1991). R.). C. Assessment ©2001 The IDEA Center Update. St. CA: Jossey-Bass. 231-251). Fetyko (Ed. Educational Innovation in Economics and Business V (pp.com. Milter. Designing assignments and classroom discussions to foster critical thinking at different levels in the curriculum. Baril. Developing and assessing critical thinking and life-long learning skills through student self-evaluations. Report submitted by the American Accounting Association Teaching & Curriculum Section Committee on Pedagogy. (1997).757 Pascarella. Changes in accounting education: Implementation Manhattan. conference handouts. K.44 Wolcott. Borghans. Critical thinking development in the accounting curriculum: Focusing on ambiguity in introductory accounting courses.org Federation of Schools of Accountancy. (2000). K. S. 1-16). Practice and Research. 2(1). T. L. E..). San Francisco. 16. S. www. 11 South Seth Child Road In D.400 students.. M. W. B. F. K. Critical thinking in the accounting classroom: A reflective judgment developmental process perspective.30. In L. Wolcott. 4-5. & Terenzini. KS 6650-3089 in specific accounting courses and subject areas (pp. Accounting Education: A Journal of Theory. Wolcott. (2001). Wolcott. C. S. Towards a developmental approach to pedagogy in accounting education. E.. Available: http://www. Stinson (Eds. & Lynch.. & Cunningham. F: 785.30. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. S. 59-78. & J. S. T. and working papers [On-line]. Gijselaers. How college affects T: 785. K.