In the Fall semester of 2012, CETL is sponsoring a reading group to discuss John Bean’s “Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom.
Twelve faculty members signed up to participate in the book discussion and are meeting 6 times during the semester.
Purpose of the Group: To read and discuss the book and to hopefully, develop our own assignments that address some of its recommendations. From the foreword by the author:
The book “aims to integrate two important movements in higher education—the writing-across-the-curriculum movement and the critical thinking movement. A basic premise of the (book) . . . is that critical thinking – and indeed all significant learning—originates in the learner’s engagement with problems. Consequently, the design of interesting problems to think about is one of the teacher’s chief behind-the-scenes tasks. Equally important are strategies for giving critical thinking problems to students and for creating a course atmosphere that encourages inquiry, exploration, discussion, and debate while valuing the dignity and worth of each student.”
The book does this in a pragmatic way and provides many suggestions and examples for integrating writing and other critical thinking activities into a course. Yet it also assumes there is no one right way to integrate writing and critical thinking and so provides options to “fit each teacher’s particular personality and goals and to allow flexibility for meeting the needs of different kinds of learners.”