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At the University of Massachusetts, the foundational courses in critical thinking look at the techniques of critical thought as a way to establish a reliable basis for claims, beliefs, and attitudes.Courses consider multiple perspectives, putting established facts, theories and practices “in tension” with alternatives to explore how things might be other than they are.Based on their findings, the authors developed a model of critical and creative thinking that is accompanied by a table of skills, objectives, and references.
The purpose of a CCT might be somewhat ambiguous to students who have not considered CCT before. A graduate degree in CCT is typically earned by those already working in a profession who want to build a set of skills, tools, techniques, and practices they can apply to their specific professions.
Many students are working education professionals, such as teachers, curriculum specialists, and administrators.
Policy makers from government, nonprofit and corporate organizations also benefit from the skills taught in a CCT program.
If we think about a major goal of schooling as preparation for the world of work, “we need to be concerned about whether schooling requires and develops creative thinking, because for [students] to stay competitive in most jobs, it is and will be necessary for them to come up with their own ideas” (Sternberg & Spear-Swerling, 1996, p. However, in their study of student abilities, Sternberg and Spear-Swerling concluded that while the students were “excellent at remembering and analyzing other people’s ideas, [they were] not very good at coming up with ideas of their own” (p. In a recent report on skills of the American workforce, the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) stressed the importance of students gaining skills beyond mere content knowledge.
They state: …strong skills in English, mathematics, technology, and science, as well as literature, history, and the arts will be essential for many; beyond this, candidates will have to be comfortable with ideas and abstractions, good at both analysis and synthesis, creative and innovative, self-disciplined and well organized, able to learn very quickly and work well as a member of a team and have the flexibility to adapt quickly to frequent changes in the labor markets as the shifts in the economy become ever faster and more dramatic. xxiv-xxv) Thus, the challenge among schools is to develop within students the ability to engage as 21st century thinkers.