Last week the Des Moines Area Community College hosted an information literacy forum for community college, high school and college librarians. In the morning our keynote speaker, Daniel Callison led the attendees in some workshops on critical thinking. Much of the discussion covered the lack of historic focus on critical thinking and too much of a focus on tools and navigation skills. What struck me in our discussion was the expression by some that students lacked the ability when entering college to do critical thinking.
I question if it is the ability or the motivation that students lack?
Students have critical thinking skills, they are just not used to or required to apply them to educational content. Our students come in with an existing ability to do this – they evaluate reviews on Amazon.com, trusting some and not others (based on an often unspoken set of criteria); identifying “doctored” elements of photo-shopped pictures; and working through a video game.
The Federation of American Scientists identified “critical thinking” as one of the key educational components within video games. Look back at Gee’s list from “What Video Games can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy” many of which tie into critical thinking.
We can help our students be academic critical thinkers by drawing out these experiences and building upon them with educational content.
Daniel challenged the audience to help students (at a young age) ask question, test limits, explore information and be “intelligent selectors of sources.”
Most video games build these skills and design elements into the game.
We just need to make the connections.