An Interdisciplinary/Developmental Approach to Defining and Teaching for Critical Thinking
The authors propose to address the lack of specifics in the literature—social scientific and other—regarding the theory and pedagogical practice of critical thinking. It will be argued that critical thinking demands an interdisciplinary approach on the theoretical and practical, pedagogical levels. An adaptation of existing developmental paradigms as they relate to college/university students’ capacity for thinking critically, and as they can usefully inform pedagogy in particular courses, will be presented. The authors will give examples from their own courses, which are interdisciplinary in themselves, and which are taught under the auspices of different disciplinary programs, to show how critical thinking can be made both part of the thematic content of courses and the main goal of pedagogical practice.
Since Immanuel Kant published his essay, “What is Enlightenment,” what we call critical thinking has been connected with the process of maturation, or development. In a course on lifespan development, one author uses strategies to motivate critical thinking by her students as she shows them that such thinking is developmentally appropriate for them. As Kant argued in the eighteenth century, not to think critically is to be intellectually underdeveloped.
The other author, in an interdisciplinary course on modern Europe, thematizes critical thinking historically by focusing on the costs of egocentric and socio-centric thinking in Europeans’ experience of modernity. Both authors attempt to move students through a series of stages completion of which prepares them to think critically about the courses’ content and about issues that affect them directly.
Keywords: Critical Thinking, Interdisciplinary, Developmental Paradigms, Stages of Critical Thinking, Pedagogy
Dr. Larry Riggs
Professor of French, Modern Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Butler University
Dr. Sandra Hellyer-Riggs
Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, Ball State University