Module 04 – Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an important part of being a scientist and being a well-informed citizen. Your understanding of the credibility of information sources is important. This can be the difference between gaining knowledge and being misled.

Critical Thinking Skills Activities

For this EmTech activity, I didn’t create an artifact, but I did investigate what seems to be a worth-while set of activities from a division of called “Common Sense Education“. I found this website via a KQED MindShift article entitled “Critical Thinking Skills to Help Students better Evaluate Scientific Claims.”

While the information and activities are geared towards K-12 students, some of the activities in the high-school grades look like they could be useful for a introductory college class. I’d recommend you use them in a first-year seminar class. You could adapt them for a flipped activity for a content course. There is an entire section based on news and media literacy. I particularly liked the Hoaxes and Fakes lesson plans aimed at 9th grade students.

Included Learning Activities

The website does require you to register to get access to the learning materials. They seem to have a reasonable privacy and data use plan. You have the choice to opt-in to several newsletters. Once you are in, you are able to see the detailed lesson plans, which include links for you about the topic, ideas for introducing the topic, videos to show, handouts, and questions for leading class discussions, and small group activities.

The Hoaxes and Fakes lesson started by having the teacher show a “viral video” about a pig that saved a goat from drowning. After viewing the lessons, you reveal that the viral video was a bit on the “Nathan for You” show on the Comedy Central cable channel. After watching the “making of” clips, there are handouts to introduce students to the idea of lateral reading. There are additional extension activities if you’d like to dive further into the topic.

I’m certain that the ideas presented in these lesson plans could be adapted for a wide variety of courses at the college level. I’d recommend that you take a look.

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