To practice critical thinking, students need to
participate in the discourse of the discipline--to think,
speak, and be listened to as they participate in the
discipline'sparticular mode of inquiry. Students will
not get enough practice just by talking to the
instructor, and very little by just listening to the
instructor. Students develop competency and becomecritical thinkers in classroom that provides
opportunities for intensive, structured interaction
The principles of collaborative learning. The
most direct way to create classroominteraction is to
adopt the principles of collaborative learning. In
collaborative learning, the teacher designs a learning
problem or task, and then assigns small groups of
students to address theproblem collaboratively.
Students are typically instructed to reach a consensus
on an issue, or to create a group product. The purpose
of the collaborative learning is to enhance learning
andachievement by encouraging peer-to-peer
interaction and cooperation.
The value of group learning. Students engaged
in structured group work are typically talking,
rehearsing ideas, probing judgments,empathizing,
listening, questioning--in other words, practicing the
skills of critical thinking. Research in colleges and
universities indicates that collaborative learning
enhances the mastery ofcontent for most students.
Even more dramatically, collaborative learning
improves students' attitudes toward the course and
the discipline. They not only learn more, they like
what they arelearning more.
Designing collaborative tasks. Collaborative
tasks can range from elaborate to very simple.
Ideally, students should be given clear, explicit
instructions in writing. Teacher may havealready
modeled the task or procedure that students are asked
to perform. The task should be clearly related to the
goal of the course, and--even more effective--related
to subsequent tests....