Search This Blog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Writing Assignment 5

Writing Assignment 5 is for each student to suggest how these writing assignments should be graded in the future.  I would like everyone to take this seriously.  Your input is important and will affect a lot of students.

Consider one or more of the following questions when you answer.  It may be helpful to go to my blog and look over some of the critical thinking rubrics (grading models).  Maybe you could even rank the importance of these items

1) Should we consider grammar and spelling, for instance?  
2) Should we consider whether information is correct or incorrect?  
3)How should we take into account commenting on other student's posts (something as yet to happen here)?
4) Did the student use vocabulary from lectures and text?  
5) Did the student make a connection between the subject matter and his or her life?  
6) Did the student exhibit an understanding of the subject matter and its importance?  
7) Did the student present information or ideas that support his or her claims?  
8) Did the student make specific references or simply write in generalities?
9) Finally, should we develop a way for students to grade or score each others' posts?

I decided to include student input in formulating a scoring rubric for critical thinking assignments.  Thus far, the answers are pretty general, either "grade strictly on participation" or "grade for effort."  I revised the prompt to try and fish for some more specific answers.  I am considering one suggestion of grading for participation and giving bonus points for doing it well.  I wouldn't do that exactly, but I may give many more and more varied assignments with values relative to the complexity of the answer required. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scoring Rubric for Critical Thinking

The rubric below came from:

And specifically from:
"Peter Facione and Noreen Facione have developed the four-level Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric to assess the critical thinking skills and some of the dispositions identified by the Delphi project as these skills are demonstrated by by students in essays, projects, presentations, clinical practices, and such. The Facione and Facione Holistic Scoring Rubric (1994) is copied below and is available free, with a page of instructions, at"

This is typical of the rubrics that I have found.  I think it is useful for the most part.  I like that it is broken down into 4 levels that easily correspond to the traditional grading scale.  One problem that I have with many of these rubrics is that they seem to be based on the Toulman method of argument.  Warrants, claims, and evidence are all the Toulman terms.   My students have not been instructed in logical argument, and I can only teach so much.  While they may get it as a kind of secondary objective, if they don't know what a "warrant" is (and it is not a simple thing to explain) then a rubric like this one cannot be used as a peer assessment or self assessment tool.

 Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Identifies the salient arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con.
Thoughtfully analyzes and evaluates major alternative points of view.
Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions.
Justifies key results and procedures, explains assumptions and reasons.
Fair-mindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead.
3  Does most or many of the following:
Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Identifies relevant arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con.
Offers analyses and evaluations of obvious alternative points of view.
Justifies some results or procedures, explains reasons.
Fairmindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead
 Does most or many of the following:
Misinterprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Fails to identify strong, relevant counter-arguments.
Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view.
Justifies few results or procedures, seldom explains reasons.
Regardless of the evidence or reasons maintains or defends views based on self-interest or preconceptions.
1  Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
Offers biased interpretations of evidence, statements, graphics, questions, information, or the points of view of others.
Fails to identify or hastily dismisses strong, relevant counter-arguments.
Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view
Argues using fallacious or irrelevant reasons, and unwarranted claims.
Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends views based on  self-interest or preconceptions.
Exhibits close-mindedness or hostility to reason

I like the following rubric from WSU because it breaks down each level as "emerging" and "mastering."  It seems more positive than the Falcione model.  I also like the "Contexts for Consideration" component.  Our Art Appreciation test, The Making and Meaning of Art by Laurie Schneider Adams, includes a chapter on "Methodologies" that discusses Formalistic, Marxist, Feminist, Structuralist, Post-Structuralist, and Psychoanalytic models of criticism.  It might be interesting to incorporate some of the methodologies as contexts for consideration.  I found this on the same site as above, Designing Rubrics for Assessing Higher Order Thinking by William Peirce.

WSU Critical Thinking Rubric
1) Identifies and summarizes the problem/question at issue (and/or the source's position).
Does not identify and summarize the problem, is confused or identifies a different and inappropriate problem.

Does not identify or is confused by the issue, or represents the issue inaccurately.
Identifies the main problem and subsidiary, embedded, or implicit aspects of the problem, and identifies them clearly, addressing their relationships to each other.

Identifies not only the basics of the issue, but recognizes nuances of the issue.

2Identifies and presents the STUDENT'S OWN hypothesis, perspective and position as it is important to the analysis of the issue.
Addresses a single source or view of the argument and fails to clarify the established or presented position relative to one's own. Fails to establish other critical distinctions.
Identifies, appropriately, one's own position on the issue, drawing support from experience, and information not available from assigned sources.

3) Identifies and considers OTHER salient perspectives and positions that are important to the analysis.
Deals only with a single perspective and fails to discuss other possible perspectives, especially those salient to the issue.
Addresses perspectives noted previously, and additional diverse perspectives drawn from outside information.

4) Identifies and assesses the key assumptions.
Does not surface the assumptions and ethical issues that underlie the issue, or does so superficially.
Identifies and questions the validity of the assumptions and addresses the ethical dimensions that underlie the issue.

5) Identifies and assesses the quality of supporting data/evidence and provides additional data/evidence related to the issue.
Merely repeats information provided, taking it as truth, or denies evidence without adequate justification. Confuses associations and correlations with cause and effect.

Does not distinguish between fact, opinion, and value judgments.

Examines the evidence and source of evidence; questions its accuracy, precision, relevance, completeness.

Observes cause and effect and addresses existing or potential consequences.

Clearly distinguishes between fact, opinion, & acknowledges value judgments.

6) Identifies and considers the influence of the context* on the issue.
Discusses the problem only in egocentric or sociocentric terms.

Does not present the problem as having connections to other contexts--cultural, political, etc.
Analyzes the issue with a clear sense of scope and context, including an assessment of the audience of the analysis.

Considers other pertinent contexts.

7) Identifies and assesses conclusions, implications and consequences.
Fails to identify conclusions, implications, and consequences of the issue or the key relationships between the other elements of the problem, such as context, implications, assumptions, or data and evidence.
Identifies and discusses conclusions, implications, and consequences considering context, assumptions, data, and evidence.

Objectively reflects upon the their own assertions.
Contexts for Consideration
  1. Cultural/Social 
    Group, national, ethnic behavior/attitude
  2. Scientific 
  3. Conceptual, basic science, scientific method
  4. Educational 
    Schooling, formal training
  5. Economic 
    Trade, business concerns costs
  6. Technological 
    Applied science, engineering
  7. Ethical 
  8. Political 
    Organizational or governmental
  9. Personal Experience 
    Personal observation, informal character
Source: Washington State University Critical Thinking Project Critical Thinking Rubric 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Critical Thinking Rubric -- How do you assess CT? -- Part I

Mind map of Bloom's Revised Digital Taxonomy

I found this map about CT based on Bloom's Taxonomy at .

I think it is useful to our discussion of assessing CT or creating a rubric.  I think it is so pertinent, in fact, that I am considering organizing each unit of my class in steps based on this map.  I like that it breaks each skill into synonymous verbs.  I also think it is useful because it illuminates the essential problem.  The essential problem is that "lower level" thinking is easy to grade.  "Higher Level" thinking is what we all profess, but it creates a lot of work for us.  The work is not in the grading, per se.  It is in the learning.  We have to learn a great deal of new skills, both critical and technological, in order to grade these Higher Level skills that we all seem to want.  We have to exhibit "Higher Level" thinking in the delivery of content and the assessment of student work.

Put simply, it is easy to grade vocabulary or arithmetic.  It is either right or wrong.  It becomes increasingly difficult to assign a grade to "Higher Level" work beyond simple participation.  In other words, it is fabulous that a student would create a video as an end result, historical document that evidences knowledge, analysis and application of the subject matter.  Does one assess the video for subject matter, effort, quality, personal development, time, participation?  Few of us know how to assess the quality of a creative product fairly (with the exception of the arts folks).  What's more, the course is not in video production or blogging, so why is production quality of a creative endeavor part of student's grade for a course in Biology or Macro-economics, for example?

My answer to that question is two-fold:  1) Production quality demonstrates effort, self-evaluation, and caring; 2) Video production, blogging, video conferencing, texting, and whatever else is out there are all pertinent skills for the 21st century work force.  Still, is it fair that someone gets an A and another student gets a C based on there artistic inclinations and prior creative skill sets?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Video About Changing Educational Paradigm

I was introduced to this video via Facebook friends.  It is entertaining, provocative, and astute.  Regarding critical thinking, I like the term "divergent thinking" addressed in the video.  Of course, I also like the tip of the hat to the arts.  We all should watch this and think about it.

Video on Changing Educational Paradigm

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Writing Assignment 4 - Researching the Renaissance

In class we discussed several factors that influenced the explosion of great art works during the period we call the European Renaissance.  Among these factors:
The Plague
The Fall of Constantinople
Maritime Improvements
Rise of the Merchant Class
The Printing Press
Collecting Classical relics
Choose one of these and find something out about it online. It may be helpful to visit one of  the sites listed under Useful Links in the left hand column of this Wiki.  Keep it simple, but keep it really specific to the Renaissance.  Share what you find and where you found it (document your source) with the class by posting a response under "Writing Assignments."

I chose "Maritime Improvements."  I found the following excerpt at

"By measuring the distance of the sun and stars above the horizon, the astrolabe helped determine latitude, an important tool in navigation. Another tool, the magnetic compass, which had been invented in the twelfth century, was improved upon during the Renaissance."

Here is another link to a site specifically about the astrolabe:

I found this image of an astrolabe on Google images:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

QEP ruminations about critical thinking

My first idea about critical thinking and the main focus of the Wiki is to get students to surmise, what does this mean for me, and how is this related to my life?

I think critical thinking is the ability to find and make use of information.  That involves a complex array of skills, the most important, perhaps, being language.  Critical thinking results in some type of articulation.  To know something is to be able to articulate it, to struggle to articulate it precisely.

I really like the ideas about truth and about confidence (self-regulation) that came out of the meetings and articles.  I hadn't fully articulated those ideas, and I am still working on it.  The value of a college education is not the diplomas and credentials; it is the self actualization that occurs.  The peaks of my own college experience always involved me (sometimes painfully) overcoming some bias or predetermination in my mind and finding truth.  Education should be about growing the mind, and it grows as painfully and slowly as the body.  We subject ourselves to this sometimes painful process so that we are not simply driven by our appetites, so that we are not merely leaves on the wind.  Even a mollusk filters something.

We are bombarded with information and facts everyday, none of which are true.  NONE.  One of the most important things we can teach is that a fact is not a truth.  We tend to say "that's a fact" to mean something is true, but the truth is that even if a fact is validated it may have little to do with the truth.  Much like the fast food industry, we are given shovel loads of substance with no nutritional value.  Furthermore, the state of mass media today seems to be completely hapless.  It is not a  "liberal media" or "Fox" conspiracy.  It is clear, though, that the historically constant unethical and unscrupulous methods of the press seem to have been accepted by the industry as the standard.  It is of upmost importance for an individual to be able to arrive at some kind of truth.  

Critical thinking, though, isn't just arriving at a truth.  It is a willingness to arrive at conclusions (deduce, infer, etc.) that challenge a truth one might be comfortable with.  A truth or some truth are very different from the notion of the Truth.  The only Truth I really understand is that there are a whole lot of constantly morphing truths out there, many of which are designed to get my money, energy, vote, or just to get me to repeat things that I hear.  Part of being an adult in the Post-modern world is understanding this.  Critical thinking is the ability to navigate these truths and adapt to the changes.  It is crucial for an individual to arrive at some kind of truth and be willing to change,  but that has to be based on some kind of discernment or objective detachment.

Seeing how something is useful, making something useful, growing mentally and/or emotionally, discerning some kind of truth, a willingness to change internally, navigating external changes.