Critical thinking symposium

Teaching critical thinking in a post-truth world
Thursday, April 26, 2018

Critical thinking is one of the most important higher order skills acquired in a college education, but it is also one of the most difficult to define, teach, assess, and link to demonstrable behaviours. This celebration of teaching and learning welcomes presentations that discuss how MHC faculty are designing learning experiences to foster a skill students require more than ever.

For the purposes of this symposium, we are using the following definition:

We understand critical thinking to be purposeful, self-regulatory judgment explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. CT is essential as a tool of inquiry. As such, CT is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in one's personal and civic life. While not synonymous with good thinking, CT is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical thinkers means working toward this ideal. It combines developing CT skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society. (Facione, 1990, p. 2)

This broad and inclusive topic allows for faculty from all disciplines to showcase how they are equipping students to inquire, make judgments, and be prepared for life in a super-complex society.

Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical Thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. Research findings and recommendations. American Philosophical Association


About the Keynote

Lisa Dack - profile pic

Keynote presentation [April 26]
Although the main goal of Professional Development for educators is to improve teaching practice, research shows that it is often only mildly successful at doing so. In this keynote presentation, Lisa Ain Dack will unpack why this is the case. The presentation will focus on why traditional forms of professional development tend not to positively impact teaching practice or student learning, and how true professional learning differs. Dack will highlight the cognitive biases, inherent in human nature, that act as barriers to successful professional learning. She will also present strategies to interrupt these cognitive biases in the service of the kind of professional learning that has a positive impact on teaching practice and on student success.

Workshop description [April 27, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., lunch provided]
In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the ideas presented in the keynote presentation and apply them to their own contexts. Through a facilitated process, participants will explore the differences between typical professional development and true professional learning, thinking about where their own professional learning experiences lie. Participants will be challenged to think about how the cognitive biases relate to their own work, as well as the strategies for interrupting these biases to enable impactful professional learning that positively impacts on their teaching practice and on student learning. Participants will also be introduced to the mindset of continuous improvement and the research on purposeful practice, and will have the opportunity to think about how deliberate effort to improve is the key to changed practice. The workshop will include activities that encourage attendees to make the material personally relevant and to be active participants in the learning, and participants will leave having thought about specific actions that they will take to move forward with their own professional learning agendas.

Lisa Ain Dack is a senior associate at Aporia Consulting Ltd. and an instructor in the
Master of Teaching Program and the Master of Child Study and Education Program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE, UT). Lisa has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and Education from OISE, UT, with a collaborative degree in Developmental Science. She is the 2017 recipient of the OISE, UT award for excellence in Initial Teacher Education. Lisa facilitates professional learning teams in various school districts in Ontario. She leads numerous research projects investigating learning teams, and is involved in research projects on assessment and evaluation. In addition, Lisa leads workshops for educators on professional learning and data-driven decision making. Lisa is an author of the books Intentional Interruption: Breaking Down Learning Barriers to Transform Professional Practice and The Intelligent, Responsive Leader. Lisa is the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of The Leo Baeck Day School, an independent school in Toronto.