How to help students think critically – Dr. Noreen Facione

For Dr. Facione’s presentation and for some of the other “skills” and “dispositions” their research group has identified as essential for critical thinking.  Insight Assessment states the new URL is:

You can download the pdf from the URL. You can also click on related sources from the URL. The references (such as slide 5) in the statements below are to the presentation available from the URL.


One researcher on critical thinking, Dr. Noreen Facione, was a speaker at the 2010 A&M Assessment Conference. Three of her points are particularly applicable to the thinking problems created by “half-copy” plagiarism and students’ misunderstandings about evidence.


1. What is critical thinking and when does it occur? Dr. Facione defines critical thinking as “the process for determining what to believe and what to do” (slide 5, with more explanation on slide 7). She says in most situations we don’t do critical thinking; instead “we rely on protocols and the application of well integrated responses (automaticity) that are the result of successful past problem solving.” We start thinking critically only when “we don’t already think we know what to believe or what to do” (slide 6)

To apply her research to “half-copy” plagiarism and to students’ misunderstanding of what qualifies as evidence: students are just copying along. They never have a chance to realize that they don’t know.


2. What do people need to be able to think critically? Her research shows that critical thinking requires that the person be both “willing and able” (slide 2). This means people have:

  “dispositions,” such as “truthseeking” (slide 21)

  “skills,” such as “analysis” (slide 8)


To apply her research to “half-copy” plagiarism and to their misunderstanding of what makes evidence: students are practicing neither “dispositions” nor “skills.”


3. What reveals whether people are succeeding at critical thinking? In terms of measurement of critical thinking, self-report does not work (slide 10).


To apply her research to “half-copy” plagiarism and to their misunderstanding of what makes evidence: self-evaluation does not work. Students who do “half-copy” plagiarism are not reading, not writing, and not figuring things out—but they are producing something that makes them think that they are. They are damaged in two ways:

- They get good grades for other people’s work and become falsely confident.

- They lack the methods, practice, and feedback necessary to become competent.







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