Critical thinking skills prepare students for school, career and life

Carol’s Summary:

What is the impact of surface learning verus in-depth or higher order learning? Author and teacher, Kelly Gallagher, comments on school standards and their reflection on student and teacher adequacy in his Education Week article, “Why I Will Not Teach to the Test.” Gallagher quotes one social studies standard to illuminate his point: “Compare and contrast the Glorious Revolution of England, the American Revolution, and the French Revolution and their enduring effects worldwide on the political expectations for self-government and individual liberty.” This is a complex standard that has the potential to exercise the student’s critical thinking abilities and strengthen their problem solving skills for use in and out of the classroom. But how deep is the student required to think in their response? Most likely, the class will be taught to memorize the answer so they can move on more quickly to cover more standards and accomplish more surface learning.

A study from the journal Science Education researched high school science students to find the effects of surface learning versus more in-depth learning. The study compared two groups of students: one group spent less time on more material; the other spent more time on less material. At the end of the year, the group that spent less time on more material did score higher on state tests than those who went deeper into less material. However, the group that spent more time on less material earned higher grades than the other group when they entered college.

Students must be involved in the learning experience to succeed in higher education and the world outside of the classroom. Critical thinking gives students the ability to analyze and make connections between what they know and new information. The critical thinking skills a student acquires in school when comparing and contrasting revolutions in history will undoubtedly reappear in their life as a professional when they are required to deal with conflict, be accountable and lead a team.    There is a high cost to “surface” thinking and there is great upside to each student personally and professionally if they develop deeper and more sophisticated learning skills. LifeBound’s “Critical and Creative Thinking for Teenagers” promotes learning for school, career and life by addressing  problem solving techniques, the importance of teamwork and collaboration, risk taking and many more skills. To learn more about LifeBound’s books, please visit our website.

Article: Why I Will Not Teach to the Test

In the midst of controversy surrounding “value added” teacher assessment, which flared recently following the Los Angeles Times’ public teacher rankings, the real issue is often overlooked: The state tests being used to evaluate student progress—and, in turn, the effectiveness of teachers—virtually ensure mediocrity.

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