Using a Guided Approach to Support Critical Thinking in Online Discussions

Description Supporting college students to develop critical thinking skills is an overarching goal in higher education. Students with developed critical thinking skills have the ability to evaluate their own arguments as well as others, resolve conflicts, and generate well-reasoned resolutions to complex problems (Behar-Horenstein & Niu, 2011). Given that there is an exponential increase in …

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Use word clouds to enhance critical thinking

Description One of the major goals of higher education is to cultivate students’ critical thinking skills (Roth, 2010). In order to be prepared for the workplace and to be an informed citizen, students need to be able to base judgments, make decisions, and solve problems based on the careful critique of available evidence. Engagement, defined …

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Use word clouds for reflection and synthesis

Description Word clouds are those fun, visually interesting combinations of words that summarize a topic or idea. The size of each word in relation to the whole word cloud indicates that word’s prominence. (Typically, the larger the word, the more frequently it appeared in the source text. Word clouds can be seen in everyday life …

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Setting Discussion Expectations

Description Selecting an effective discussion topic is important, but does not guarantee an interactive, fruitful discussion. It is crucial for instructor to set the stage and establish clear expectations for how students should participate in the discussion. Learning Objectives Before designing an online discussion, think about what you want your students to learn from the …

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Provide Peer and Professor Feedback through Social Media

Description Facilitate student-instructor and student-student interactions using collaborative social media technologies. One popular web application is called Voice Thread. A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio …

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Prompts

Description Discussion prompts are the written “springboard” from which online discussions are launched and are essential to encourage shared understanding (Du, Zhang, Olinzock, & Adams, 2008). Discussion prompts can vary from pithy (e.g., “Discuss [Topic X]”) to verbose (e.g., an entire printed page of instructions). However, the best standard for gauging the effectiveness of a …

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Group Discussion Strategy

Description Working in groups can be challenging if groups don’t take the time to outline each member’s strengths and potential contributions and also the guidelines for how the group will act and react to situations as the project develops. This is especially true for large-size classes. Link to example artifact(s) UCF professor Susan Jardaneh clearly …

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Discussions large classes

Description Holding effective, engaging discussions in large classes can be a challenge. However, they provide an opportunity for online students to engage with each other and the instructor in a way not possible with other kinds of assessments. Here are some ideas to structure this effectively. Group Size: The most common acceptable number for groups …

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Discussion Rubrics

Description While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an …

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Discussion Prompts

Description Discussion prompts are the written “springboard” from which online discussions are launched and are essential to encourage shared understanding (Du, Zhang, Olinzock, & Adams, 2008). Discussion prompts can vary from pithy (e.g., “Discuss [Topic X]”) to verbose (e.g., an entire printed page of instructions). However, the best standard for gauging the effectiveness of a …

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