Motivating critical reasoning classes

Two things:

1. From the HBR:

If You Were a Poor Performer, You Wouldn’t Be Aware of It
The Daily Stat | January 03, 2014
In a logic test administered to people who had volunteered over the internet, a team of researchers found that the lowest scorers vastly overestimated their performance, believing, on average, that they had gotten 7 out of 10 items right, when the actual figure was 0, according to Thomas Schlösser of the University of Cologne in Germany. People who lack the skill to perform well also tend to lack the ability to judge performance (their own or others’); because of this “dual curse,” they fail to recognize how incompetent they truly are. But skills aren’t set in stone: Teaching poor performers to solve logic problems causes them to see their own errors and reduce their previous estimates of their performance.

2. According to Carol Dweck (Stanford), women are more inclined than men to believe in innate abilities. I.e., you either have it or not, and if you don’t have it, you can’t get it. The belief is incorrect, and women can be severely disadvantaged by the innateness view. It is incredibly important to know that one can get really good at something through hard work.

There are a couple of ways one could use the class to support the idea that practice brings improvement, supposing that the HBR is right. One way would just be to give a test at the beginning and a very similar one at the end.

4 thoughts on “Motivating critical reasoning classes

  1. The HBR is right– it’s a classic case of the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s really fascinating stuff that raises all sorts of interesting epistemic questions.

  2. Testing at the beginning and end of the term is also a way of trying to see if the class actually does any good– there is very little evidence that most critical thinking courses areworth the time spent on them (as my former colleague Tim Van Gelder in Melbourne loved to point out).

  3. I’ve heard this before, that CT classes don’t succeed, etc., and it astounds me every time. In my experience, the first CT class I took changed my brain so very much. I could feel the changes as I took the class, and suddenly fallacies and argument-forms were leaping out to me when I watched the news or listened to a politician. I’m not the only one who’s reported much more perceptivity of arguments during and after CT. I’m continually surprised at the shrugging response to same.

  4. I think that the idea that one can improve the students’ thinking abilities might make one a better teacher, and more likely to produce Beta’s reaction. Does anyone know of any empirical work done in this area.

Comments are closed.