Assignment # 2

Article Review Assignment # 2 

Content Area: Readings Topic: Review of Chapter 6

Review of Chapter 6: Students’ Reflective and Critical Thinking by Hope Hartman

Charla Kilbert

Click here for pdf of Chapter 6.

What is critical, reflective thinking? How have we ourselves come to acquire knowledge and construct meaning and think critically about the world around us? In Chapter 6, Students’ Reflective and Critical Thinking, Hartman poses such questions, and underscores that though many have become “expert” critical thinkers without conscious knowledge, other “novice” thinkers require more explicit instruction to become independent, self-directed learners. Hartman elaborates on the characteristics of critical, reflective thinking and explores avenues to enhance the development of these characteristics in our students. Modeling and building memory, time management and test taking techniques as well as questioning and self-monitoring throughout the learning process are critical pieces of the puzzle.

For Hartman awareness of how we think and self-questioning are essential tools to facilitate critical thinking. In doing so, students are able to activate their previous knowledge, continuously evaluate their thought process and progress objectively and inform future learning. Demonstrating, modeling, giving examples, engaging both high and low level thinking skills and allowing students time to reflect, digest and explore the facets of the content are some ways educators can promote deeper understanding and ultimately, long term retention.

Another important part of awareness is the way in which we help students “plan to remember” in a meaningful way. Hartman delineates strategies to build reflective memory such as cognitively organizing information around connections to prior knowledge and new information, unified themes and employing the repetition of foundational concepts to the point of “automacity.” Through reflective remembering students will then be able to better understand and apply the concepts in the future.

Hartman’s perspectives on critical thinking, self-reflection and making meaningful connections do not reveal any innovative insights, but in a rather wordy discourse emphasize the importance of highlighting the thinking and reflection process in the classroom. Many of her ideas seem to have been developed from other philosophers before her (e.g. her description of the steps towards creating lifelong learners seems all too reminiscent of Bloom’s Taxonomy. See below for a visual depiction). However, her discussion of self-monitoring skills and time management touch on excellent points, which I believe is one of the key takeaways from the chapter. All too often it is a misunderstanding and mismanagement of time that prevents students from maximizing their potential, yet so seldom do we teach time management skills. I believe helping students align their priorities and goals with the way they spend their time is a building block for academic success. In her presentation of test taking skills as part of the self-regulatory process, Hartman contradicts many of the arguments she makes at the start of the chapter. For example, she says effectiveness “should not come from outside sources,” yet she emphasizes the importance of grade point average and test performance. Hartman states, “teaching specific strategies, like the which to perform a specific task will not give students the skills they need in the long run,” yet then details ways in which to train students to undertake specific test task types. Hartman’s overt juxtaposition of contradictions throughout the chapter leaves the reader pondering questions that are part of the 21st century debate in education. In teaching reflective critical thinking and emphasizing “thinking about thinking” and general universal concepts possible against the backdrop of standardized tests and content heavy curriculums? Hartman touches on the two sides of the debate in education worldwide in which content and teaching to tests seems mutually exclusive with critical thinking and learning how to know instead of complementing one another.

Few educators would disagree that infusing awareness and helping students understand their thought process, reflect and think critically is important. However, as Selma Wasserman points out in her article “Teaching for Thinking Redux,” the link between the philosophy of critical thinking and implementation is tenuous at best. Part of which could be the pressure of knowing “all material” for a “specific test” as Hartman mentions. If we emphasize problem solving and critically examining general concepts, how can we then test critical problem solving and thinking in a measurable way? What is clear is more direction is needed in terms of assessment to make what has been dubbed as “21st century thinking skills” fully come to fruition in our curriculums.

Critical Questions: 

  1. With any topic of your choice, create three questions for discussion that you think would build on lower level thinking at Hartman discuss and lead to heart higher-level how would you encourage students throughout this process to reflect, analyze, and the value we thinking process?
  2. As Wasserman points out, many educators and schools have underscored the importance of teaching thinking about thinking and utilizing metacognitive practices, “ Yet, despite the usefulness of the theory for classroom teachers, classroom practices in the last 40 have years have failed to show any systematic attempts to implement teaching for thinking” (Wasserman, 2010) On the whole, why do you think we fail to implement critical thinking and reflection into the classroom?

Click here for Selma Wasserman’s article Teaching for Thinking Redux.

Visual depiction of Bloom’s Taxonomy.


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