Reflection on the usage of an ‘engaging’ teaching method

I just came back from my first class for today…and you know what? I re-lived and re-assured myself of the importance and power of engaging teaching methods. The portion today was on ‘expertise’ (cognitive psychology class)…but instead of lecturing and presenting (in less than 5 minutes) all the characteristics of an ‘expert’…we spend 1 hour and 20 minutes doing it…hehehe. This is what we did.

I asked each student to write down an area (knowledge or skill) he/she is expert in. Then, I asked them to describe (in at least 5 sentences) their expertise. Then, I asked them to find a pair and share their expertise (and whatever they have written about their expertise). After that, I asked both to put their ‘heads together’ and identify a characteristic of an expert … seen emerging from the commonality of whatever they have shared with each other.

Then, I ask each pair to share their answers (to the whole class). Each students talks about the other person’s (partner’s) expertise. This gave each one of them to feel proud about themselves today!!! I saw smiles…many blushed…and many others were laughing away…when their expertise was shared with the whole class. Isn’t this what we call teaching for emotional intelligence? Then, I asked the pairs to share the one characteristic of an expert. We identified 12 characteristics altogether…where did all these come from? from the textbook? NO…they all come from EACH AND EVERY STUDENT who came to learn…and they took responsibility for their learning. I felt so good…coz I saw engagement throughout the class period. We had fun…at some of our friends’ expertise :p 

Of course, I also presented them with points from the textbook…but doing what I did…I related to my students that THEY TOO CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE EXISTING BODY OF KNOWLEDGE…if only they are asked and encouraged to do so. They are smart…and that’s a fact!

E.g. students’ expertise that made us laugh:

1. expert in making soup – this student is seen everywhere picking up whatever leaves she can get to cook soup…hahaha (she’s a ‘karen’ person)

2. expert in sleeping and eating – can sleep wherever and whenever; can eat 7 meals a day and still feel hungry

3. expert in physical activities (a short/chubby girl) – I teased her and asked if it is aggressive activities she is talking about (wrestling?)…!!!

4. expert in arguing for arguing sake…even when the answer is obvious

5. expert in knowing (reading) people’s heart (this was actually funny and scary at the same time)

Well, you should have been in the class to have the laughter. We had a good laughter…the class so fun. And we learned together…and we came up with our own findings. Isn’t that meaningful knowledge? Yes indeed.

Critical Thinking (Chapter 8 – Part II)

What to think?

How to think?


How is critical thinking different from problem-solving?


Critical thinking…

1. Does not aim at solving problems (although it might do so in the process) – looks at an issue from the viewpoint of several other interrelated (or un-interrelated) issues

2. Addresses internal states of the mind – values, beliefs, expectations, etc. (while problem-solving focuses on external issues)


Critical thinking is…

1. Reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do

2. Better thinking

3. Distinguishing between thinking that is directed at clarifying (expounding) a goal


Twelve Critical Thinking Abilities (Ennis, 1987):

1. Focusing on the question

2. Analyzing arguments

3. Asking and answering questions of clarification

4. Judging the credibility of a source

5. Observing and judging observational reports

6. Deducing and judging deductions

7. Inducing and judging inductions

8. Making value judgments (evaluation)

9. Defining terms and judging definitions

10.  Identifying assumptions

11.  Deciding on an action

12.  Interaction with others


Some terms clarified…

1. Knowledge – tool to think critically

2. Inference – making connection between two or more units of knowledge

3. Deduction – understanding a particular unit of knowledge by using already existing units of knowledge

4. Induction – discovering a particular unit of knowledge (often new) from the observation and gathering of different units of knowledge from a variety of settings (time and space)

5. Evaluation – decision-making – includes analyzing, judging, weighing, and making value judgments

6. Metacognition – ability to analyze one’s own decisions