Developing Critical Thinking Skills through Distance Education Tiffany Wilkinson Walden University EDUC-7102 Principles of Distance Education.

Developing Critical Thinking Skills through
Distance Education
Tiffany Wilkinson
Walden University
EDUC-7102 Principles of Distance Education
What is Critical Thinking?
Schafersman (1991) describes it as:
– thinking in pursuit of relevant and reliable knowledge
– reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking
Why is critical thinking in education important?
It is our goal teach students to:
– ask appropriate questions
– gather relevant information
– sort through information
– have logical reason
(Schafersman, 1991)
William T. Daily
… general skill levels needed are going up…
…skill levels are going down…
… will remain crucial the education of the work force and the
economy’s performance…
… pressure to teach critical thinking skills…
… will fall on educational institutions…
(Schafersman, 1991)
Can Critical Thinking be Taught through Distance
“We should be teaching students how to think. Instead, we are
teaching them what to think."
Clement and Lochhead
(Schafersman, 1991)
The Educational Experience
Cognitive Selecting Teaching
Presence Content Presence
Borris & Hall, 2006
Bloom’s Taxonomy (2009)
Teaching Strategies that Support Critical Thinking
Ask questions of students and encourage students to ask questions
Expect students to formulate answers to questions in their own words
Motivate students to use effort through grading criteria for participation in discussions
Stimulate students to give examples of concepts being studied
Phrase questions to students that require additional independent research or reading
Reinforce students’ use of critical thinking through positive reinforcement
(Lunney, Frederickson, Spark, & McDuffie, n.d.)
Learning Communities involved in Critical Thinking
Members of learning communities
question one another
request, of each other, reasons for belief
build upon one another's ideas
deliberate amongst themselves
point out possible counter examples to the hypotheses of others
utilize specific criteria when making judgments
cooperate in the development of rational problem-solving techniques
(Anderson & Garrison, 1995)
Online Activities that Support Critical Thinking
• Asynchronous Learning Tools
– Threaded discussions
– Blogs
– Wikis
– Podcasts
(Mandernach, 2006)
Benefits of Critical Thinking
Less easily manipulated
Think more independently
Understand the viewpoints of others
Require high standards of thinking from ourselves as well as
(Why critical thinking?, n.d.)
Critical Thinking
for our
Anderson, T. D. & Garrison, D. R. (1995). Critical thinking in distance education: developing critical communities in an audio teleconference.
Higher education. Retrieved October 9, 2009, from
Bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains: the three types of learning. (2009, May). Big dog and little dog’s performance juxtaposition.
Retrieved October 15, from
Borris, G. & Hall, T. (2006). Critical thinking and online learning: a practical inquiry perspective in higher education. University of WisconsinExtention. Retrieved October 30, 2009, from
Lunney, M., Frederickson, K., Spark, A., & McDuffie, G. (n.d.). Facilitating critical thinking through online courses. Journal of
Asynchronous Learning Networks, Volume 12: Issue 3-4. Retrieved October 30, 2009, from
Mandernach, B.J. (2006). Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking: Integrating Online Tools to Promote Critical Thinking. InSight: A
Collection of Faculty Scholarship. Retrieved October 30, 2009, from
Schafersman, S. (1991). An introduction to critical thinking. Retrieved October 9, 2009, from
Why critical thinking? (n.d.) York University. Retrieved October 25, 2009, from

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