The link listed in the MERLOT materials takes the user to the Library/Articles section of the website. However, the left sidebar menu offers access to a much wider variety of resources on teaching and assessing critical thinking and on staff development at all levels of education.
Type of Material:
This site best be used as a resource for usable methods of teaching, assessing and practicing critical thinking.
Standard web browser and basic computer skills; Adobe Acrobat and Windows Media Player were required in some areas.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Teaching learners how to think critically in a variety of aspects of life and learning.
Help teachers effectively assess the qualities and levels of critical thinking of students
Target Student Population:
University faculty and students, teacher education programs, high school, middle school and elementary school teachers, and staff developers
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Content is broad enough that one need only start with a curiosity of what critical thinking is.
Evaluation and Observation
This site provides an overview, history, and goals of critical thinking. It also provides many different methods of teaching, developing, and assessing critical thinking at all educational levels. In addition to research articles, there are sample syllabi, workshop formats, and other materials to support the beginning of critical thinking programs.
Most of the material on this website appears to be an outgrowth from materials and research developed over thirty years of writing, workshops, and conference presentations by Richard Paul, Linda Elder and the center's team of presenters. There is limited reference to others who have also written and developed materials on critical thinking. Some articles have no listed author and may have no references or references are done "informally" and not in proper format. This sets a poor example for students reading them. There are some spelling errors.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Some of the materials provided include clear definitions of critical thinking and a delineation of various elements of the skill. Along with a variety of materials available to support classes, seminars and workshops. There is also a rubric for assessing critical thinking that provides clear examples for measuring and assessing levels of performance through the various purposes of critical thinking.
The content of the website is accessible in many languages. The site itself has been translated into 11 languages in addition to English, and there is a link to Google Translator to translate specific pages in even more languages.
In the attempt to provide a vast amount of usable resources, the novice teacher or staff developer may feel overwhelmed in trying to discern what to use first and to fashion a full program in critical thinking development.
There are no stated objectives. The site the does aid in the user developing a full program in critical thinking development.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Materials are categorized according to levels of education, and to some degree purpose. Sample syllabi and workshop formats and recommended content are available. There is certainly a sufficient amount of materials available to begin or to build a critical thinking development program.
Users may have difficulty with decision-making, and we found no support for them. Providing models and templates is useful, but should be presented with the understanding that each learning situation has its own agenda.
Inexperienced users could use the site more securely if there were some guidelines of what to choose based on specific program goals and objectives.
Photos have no captions; returning to the main article page is required in all but one section in order to access other articles.
Other Issues and Comments:
Most of the materials are text-based, with some videos offered. The text materials are in a clean, easy to read format and should be effective for screen readers and other assistive devices. Many of the text pages had small pictures inserted on the upper right corners. Unfortunately, the pictures do not seem to be related to the content. They are easy to overlook for a person focused on text, but for those who prefer visual elements, they can be a distraction.