PHIL 211: Critical Thinking

Brian Barnes

Brian Barnes participated in the Faculty Learning Community on Critical Thinking (FLC-CT) in fall 2009. Professor Barnes made changes to his course, PHIL 211: Critical Thinking, to incorporate the Paul-Elder framework for critical thinking into his lesson plan. By doing so, Professor Barnes was able to encourage his students to 'apply argument and related logical processes into their lives by a self-directed, self-critical, and self-reflective process'.

The critical-thinking framework shows why it is good for everyone to recognize the limits of their knowledge and their individual ability to know. In doing so, students see the larger role of critical thinking for thinking citizens in participatory democracy.

Professor Barnes introduces the Paul-Elder approach to his students as a way to analyze various parts of thinking. Specifically, he altered the course syllabus to incorporate the wording of the Paul-Elder framework. Also, Professor Barnes integrated the framework into the class' final project, which tasked students with critically analyzing a film made before 1965. An example of this can be seen in the video produced by his students, Max Moore and Everett Rush. Because the entire identity of PHIL 211 revolves around critical thinking, applying the lessons learned in the FLC was second nature to Professor Barnes:

I make efforts to constantly pattern the Paul-Elder model with students…I also try to point out when the application of a Standard may produce a Trait, as when applying clarity or accuracy to point of view potentially yields intellectual empathy and intellectual humility. I also demonstrate the reflective nature of the framework, which is nearly constant.

—Brian Barnes

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