Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Critical and Creative Thinking Processes

Much of the thinking done in formal education emphasizes the skills of analysis--teaching students how to understand claims, follow or create a logical argument, figure out the answer, eliminate the incorrect paths and focus on the correct one. However, there is another kind of thinking, one that focuses on exploring ideas, generating possibilities, looking for many right answers rather than just one. Both of these kinds of thinking are vital to a successful working life, yet the latter one tends to be ignored until after college. We might differentiate these two kinds of thinking like this:
In an activity like problem solving, both kinds of thinking are important to us. First, we must analyze the problem; then we must generate possible solutions; next we must choose and implement the best solution; and finally, we must evaluate the effectiveness of the solution. As you can see, this process reveals an alternation between the two kinds of thinking, critical and creative. In practice, both kinds of thinking operate together much of the time and are not really independent of each other.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Synthesis - The Ability to Put Parts Together

Some of the action verbs used to assess synthesis are the following: argue, arrange, assemble, categorize, collect, combine, compile, compose, construct, create, design, develop, devise, establish, explain, formulate, generalize, generate, integrate, invent, make, manage, modify, organize, originate, plan, prepare, propose, rearrange, reconstruct, relate, reorganize, revise, rewrite, set up, summarize.Some examples of learning outcomes that demonstrate evidence of synthesis are: 1) Recognize and formulate problems that are amenable to energy management solutions; 2) Propose solutions to complex energy management problems both verbally and in writing; 3) Summarize the causes and effects of the 1917 Russian revolutions; 4) Relate the sign of enthalpy changes to exothermic and endothermic reactions; 5) Organize a patient education program. Note that the verbs used in the above six categories are not exclusive to any one particular category. Some verbs appear in more than one category. For example, a mathematical calculation may involve merely “applying” a given formula or it may involve “analyzing” as well as ‘application’.