Background Information
• Summary of Workshop in April 2008
• Stephen Brookfield
• Teachers College, Columbia
• Supported by CETL
How to engage students
so that critical thinking
can occur &
relationships can build
•Don’t underestimate
the classroom set up.
•How will you teach
this material best?
•Do you let students
know what to expect?
• Who are you?
•Do you like questions?
•What are their
expectations for this
•Give them a work
•It helps to connect
you with the students
in a variety of ways
that could be
• Don’t you want to see
hands flying up?
More on pre-class
•Have the best
interest of the
learner at heart
help you learn
•Model developing
relationships if
you want student
to do the same
Definition of Critical Thinking
• Reflections requires that participants
intentionally examine or evaluate their
actions or experience to uncover factor
or assumptions regarding a particular
problem or project.
• Critical refection- takes reflection to a
deeper level by “peeling the onion” on
faulty assumptions that have been
socially, culturally, and uncritically
assimilated over time.
Critical Thinking Process
• What assumptions do
learners walk into the
classroom with?
• Help them identify
their assumptions
and then ask if they
are accurate and
• Take alternative
• Take informed action
Example : those that can’t teach
Types of assumptions
• Paradigmatic (Framing and
Structuring) the dominant culture
• Prescriptive (What should happen?)
environmental accepted norms i.e.
this college will give me a good
• Causal (What does happen) i.e. if I
cheat then I will get caught.
• Explicit- what we know already
• Implicit- assumptions we are not
aware of.
How are assumptions
Our life experience
From those we come in contact with
Our peers experiences
Collogues perceptions
Examples of questions to engage
students in critical thinking:
• What information (or
evidence) do you have
to support that
statement (or fact or
• What does the problem
mean to you
• It sounds what you are
• Would it make any
difference if it were a
different time, person or
• What could you do
• What is stopping you
• Do you think that?
• What can you do to
make the problem
• What have you
learned that is
different than what
you know?
• How do you react to
Purpose of Critical Thinking
• Using reason and analysis to take
informed action to:
• Challenge Dominant ideology
• Uncover power
• Recognize and counter power
• Learn and practice democracy
• Practice liberating tolerance
• Overcome alienation and privatization
Phases of critical thinking
• Discover the assumptions that guide
our decisions, actions and choices
• Checking the accuracy of these
assumptions by exploring as many
different perspectives, viewpoints
and sources as possible
• Making informed decisions that are
based on these researched
Example of use of critical
• Critical conversation-A focused
conversation to which one person’s
experiences examined sympathetically
but critically by colleagues. An umpire
watches for judgmental comments. As
questions are asked, assumptions
reported, and alterative interpretations
proposed; learners focus on giving
descriptive feedback and on exploring
unacknowledged power dynamics.
Examples of questions
• Student telling me in Intro to Social
Work class that all people in poverty
are lazy and addicted to drugs
• Have class write questions down like:
– Asking her where did she get that
– What evidence did she have from her
personal life that had her “know” this
End of class
What was the most confusing idea
The most poorly explained idea
The least clear idea
What do you think you know now
that you didn’t know last week?
• The most important idea insight was
• The question that most needs
• Brookfield’s website:
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