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Critical Thinking: Parts 1-Basic Skills; 2-Mass Culture; 3-Ethical Decisions

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Although I have taught Critical Thinking as a stand-alone course for several years, it was during my teaching of the Communication and Mass Media course at Albertus Magnus College that I first combined the two concepts of Critical Thinking, and Mass Media. My course was widely praised by students.

It soon occurred to me that it was possible to expand the concepts of Critical Thinking from Mass Media to the more general topics of critical thinking and mass culture. As I began exploring this concept in more detail, it also occurred to me that it would be possible to expand the concepts of critical thinking to ethical issues as well.

Therefore, this course has three components to it. Part 1 describes the overarching skills and concepts of Critical Thinking; Part 2 explores critical thinking and mass culture; and, Part 3 applies the skills and concepts of critical thinking to ethical decisions.

The topic is appropriate for high school students, college students and I have even used this course for adults in the work place. The course can be expanded or collapsed to meet the learners’ and the instructor’s needs. However, I strongly recommend that every course begin with Part 1. Developing the necessary critical thinking skills is the core of the course and that is what differentiates it from similar courses.

The instructor can expand the many experiential activities for additional emphasis or eliminate them as desired. Depending on how the instructor redesigns the course, it is impossible to determine the length of the course. The instructor can plan the course for as long as a semester or as short as one or two days.

Below are some of the many experiential activities.

Critical Thinking: Part I

The Belief/Behavior Cycle
The Color Activity
An Explanation of Critical Thinking
Forty Birds
Heroes and Villains Experience 1
Exploring Assumptions about Others

Critical Thinking: Part II

Introductory Learning Activity: 20 Objects
Long term Activity
Happily Ever After
Heroes and Villains experience 2
Invidious Choices
A Political Decision
The Milgram Experiment: Maintaining Your Own Point Of View

Critical Thinking: Part III

Introductory Learning Activity
The Heinz Dilemma
Kolhberg Learning Experience
Five Questions about Capitalism
John Rawls Learning Experience:
Core Values
Final Ethical Project: How do you handle a problem like Susan?
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