ENG 102 Intermediate College Writing
Rose Mills has been incorporating the Paul-Elder model for critical thinking into her English classes since 2009. For her Intermediate College writing course, Mills chose to combine concepts from the Paul-Elder model for critical thinking with Gerald Nosich’s SEE-I [PDF] technique into a heuristic to guide students in the writing process for the third of four essays required for her English 102 course. Specifically, Mills utilized the Elements of Thought, the Intellectual Standards and the SEE-I [PDF] technique in developing a persuasive essay assignment. This essay was to be on the same topic for which the students had already completed an annotated bibliography.
With this specific writing assignment, Mills demonstrates how instructors can use the i2a critical thinking tools in a variety of layers. At the pre-writing stage, students were asked to “go around the wheel,” using the Elements of Thought to identify their purpose and main question at issue. Working their way through all eight of the Elements of Thought, students produced a list of responses to each and submitted this in Blackboard Assignments, where Mills offered feedback. At the next stage, students identified 2-5 main points they wanted to include in their essay, and developed their working thesis. Next was the formal draft stage, where students were encouraged to use the SEE-I [PDF] technique to help them write. Mills observed that if students can State, Elaborate, Exemplify, and Illustrate the concept in question, their understanding will be deeper and their essay more effective.
The final step of the assignment was to utilize the Universal Intellectual Standards for self and peer review. Mills noted that the standards of clarity, depth, logic, and fairness are especially important in developing successful arguments.
Mills concluded that “it’s simple enough to expose students to the Paul-Elder model but it takes more time and on-going use for them to internalize the elements and standards and use them effectively.” She plans to continue seeking strategies to help students master the model while avoiding the risk of “model fatigue” for students who tend to negatively equate simple exposure to concepts with deeper learning.