1. Goals of CT pedagogy

It’s okay if you don’t want to re-educate yourself and wish to teach mostly what you already know.  That need not entail using the same textbook you used as an undergrad; and what you already know may serve a variety of different learning goals for your students. So the first thing is to sort out the skills you wish students to acquire, vague as they may seem on first consideration. They will suggest particular ways to analyze reasoning for step 2, and also types of exercise for step 3. (See John Biggs’ Teaching for Quality Learning in Higher Education for greater analysis of the outcomes-based approach to education.)

You may aim to provide more in the way of education than you have time for, so decide which purposes are your priority. The learning objectives or learning outcomes for your department or program (“course” in the UK) may be useful in focusing your goals, and help to establish the alignment of your course/module (a Biggs term).

  • Spot errors? Avoid errors?  What type? What context?
  • Spot bias? Avoid bias?  What type? What context?
  • Write a well-argued essay?
  • Interpret and evaluate research reports, polls, and statistics?
  • Interpret and evaluate newspaper reports? Advertising? Editorials? Political speeches?
  • Debate with each other? Where? How?
  • Solve problems?  (These texts tend not to be part of the philosophy curriculum)
  • Addressing what context?
    • Democratic citizenship?
    • National concerns?
    • Global warming?
    • Social biases?
    • Specific disciplines or fields?
      • Philosophy
      • Law
      • Science

black and white image of critical thinking textbooks packed tightly on a shelf