Awards Support Teaching the Art of Thinking
The Critical Thinking Program has awarded funds to ten faculty
members to develop innovative courses to promote undergraduates'
reasoning and analytic abilities.
"Because critical and creative thinking skills are common to many
subject areas, students who take a course that emphasizes these
skills will transfer them to the study of other subjects," said
Susan Russinoff, director of the program. The support was offered
as an incentive for faculty to explore strategies for teaching their
subject matter in ways that incorporate the explicit teaching of
thinking skills. This year's award recipients and their projects
are as follows:
* Laura Baffoni Licata, lecturer in Italian. A revision of "Italian
34, Masterpieces of Italian Literature III," is designed to encourage
students to develop analytic and critical-thinking skills through
the examination and interpretation of major works of modern Italian
literature, specifically, modern Italian poetry, from various theoretical
* Stephen Bailey, associate professor of anthropology. A new course,
"Extreme Environments," focuses on problems of biological adaptations
to challenging environments, including Arctic cold, high altitude,
megacities and outer space. Students gain an understanding of the
scientific method by using empirical data to develop and test scientific
theories and hypotheses.
* Kerry Chase, assistant professor of political science. A revision
of "Political Science 90G, Globalization and National Politics,"
incorporates exercises and readings to encourage students to think
analytically about causal relationships between political and economic
* Patricia DiSilvio, lecturer in Italian. A revision of "Intermediate
Italian I" is constructed around grammatical themes in correlation
with supplementary readings and lab assignments that enhance students'
reasoning and analytical abilities.
* Lynn Frederiksen, lecturer in dance. "Canaries in the Mind: Digging
for the Body in the Metaphor" is a new "bodies-on" course that searches
for origins of linguistic metaphors in the way the human body moves
and relates to the world. Various aspects of the performing arts,
including dance, theater, music and film, will be examined to highlight
the relevance of metaphor and its impact on our perception and expression
in our daily lives.
* Jonathan Kenny, professor of chemistry. "Critical Thinking in
General Chemistry Courses for Scientists and Non-Scientists" teaches
general chemistry from an environmental perspective. The goals are
to create a more engaging introduction to the field and to teach
students the kinds of thinking that are crucial to doing science-the
use of metaphor, the construction of models and hypotheses, the
testing of hypotheses and inductive versus deductive reasoning.
* Elizabeth Lemons, comparative religion. A revision of "Philosophy
of Religion" will encourage students to identify their own cultural
and religious biases so that they can think clearly about topics
in Western and Eastern religious traditions, including the relationship
between faith and reason, the nature of ultimate reality and the
problem of suffering and evil.
* John McDonald, associate professor of music. A revision of "Music
113, Seminar in Composition," is a critical linking of logic and
music that incorporates a collection of puzzles, paradoxes and exercises
that encourage composers to think and write about all stages of
the creative process.
* Donna Mumme, assistant professor of psychology. A new course,
"Early Socialization and Learning: Why Children Turn Out the Way
They Do," uses the popular press and scholarly research for a critical
look at our thinking about early socialization. Students will learn
to uncover and evaluate the common assumptions made by the general
public by examining research on peer interactions, genetics and
* J. Michael Reed, assistant professor of biology. "Critical Thinking
about Environmental Topics," a revision of "Environmental Biology
and Conservation," a large lecture course, incorporates regular
break-out sessions focused on problem solving and understanding
and evaluating the social and ecological consequences of proposed