Archive for July, 2013

July 27, 2013

Misconceptions About Critical Thinking

EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MADE AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE, BUT NOT SIMPLER.— (possibly  – sic!- Albert Einstein)

Critical thinking. It is perhaps the second most used phrase these days (first being “creativity”). Everyone uses it, especially in the context of (can I smile here?) “21st-century skills” ideology.  I am always intrigued by two categories of things: those that everyone seems to agree on – the obvious, the visible, the collective agreement, the mainstream, the trend – and the those that few seem to question – the hidden, the assumed, the overlooked, the forgotten.

As such I started reading and rereading. Among other articles, one caught my eye: Common Misconceptions of Critical Thinking. Because I do not want to simplify the issue I urge you to read it in full (and because the original PDF is quite difficult to read due to formatting I made a new one – see below).

The authors begin by deconstructing the three main views on critical thinking  – as skills (the most widely-held), as mental processes and as procedures (these found at the more pragmatic level, that is, in teaching strategies we employ).

Critical thinking

July 14, 2013

Student Motivation – Part 2

I continue the previous post with the other three theories on motivation that have relevance in the field of education.

4. Motives as attributions

Attributions are perceptions about the causes of success and failure. Students cannot escape this dimension of motivation: they do assign the result of a learning experience, wrongly or otherwise, to certain factors. Let’s assume the student fails a test: s/he may develop different attributions to explain this failure – maybe s/he did not put enough effort into the task, maybe the task was too difficult, or maybe s/he is not intelligent enough.

Not only these attributions (self-constructed explanations) may be completely wrong, but they are somewhat out of the teacher’s reach as

“they reflect (students’) personal beliefs about the sources or causes of success and failure.”

Seifert, however, recommends that teachers influence these attributions through their own feedback. This should never be framed around uncontrollable factors (such as intelligence) and gives two examples of reactions to success and failure: 

July 12, 2013

Student Motivation (part 1)

Student motivation is perhaps one of the most interesting topics in education as it has blurry intersections with psychology, cognition theories, and learning theories. Whether one chooses to ignore it or not, motivation is critical for effective learning – especially in a setting (school) where students are expected to learn.

What prompted me to reread Educational Psychology by Kelvin Seifert is the ambiguous nature of motivation. I often found that the hidden curriculum (i.e. the social structures of the classroom, the teacher’s authority and use of language, disciplinary measures, timetables etc.) as well as other psychological aspects of our profession can have a greater impact than we assume. Also, I chose to blog about it as I keep reading about student “interests” on Twitter and it seems to me that many teachers who support this view do not fully understand the complexities of motivation.