An Interdisciplinary/Developmental Approach to Defining and Teaching for Critical Thinking

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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
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: An Interdisciplinary/Developmental Approach to Defining, and Teaching


Dr. Larry Riggs

Professor of French, Modern Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Butler University
Indianapolis, IN, USA

Larry W Riggs earned his doctorate at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is Professor of French and head of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Butler University. He also teaches in the Interdisciplinary Global and Historical Studies program. Although his principle research specialty is early modern French literature, Dr. Riggs is the author of books and essays on subjects ranging from Montaigne to Kafka, and from cultural studies, literary theory, cinema, and most recently Transformative Learning.

Dr. Sandra Hellyer-Riggs

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology, Ball State University
Muncie, IN, USA

Sandra Hellyer-Riggs earned her doctorate in Higher Education from Indiana University. She has taught in the College of Education at Butler University and in the Department of Educational Psychology at Ball State University. She teaches Developmental Psychology, Tests and Measurements, and Behavioral Analysis. Her research interests are student diversity and transformational learning.

Ref: I10P0221