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Peer Review

Thinking Well

by Dona Warren


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 3.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jun 23, 2012 by Psychology
Overview: This presentation resource provides a narrated lecture on the intersection between critical thinking and cognitive therapy. Within the lecture is a focus on the role of decision-making and the importance of recognizing how our hidden assumptions influence our thought processes. The presentation discusses how “positive thinking” may be the resulting benefit of techniques used in cognitive therapy, and it incorporates real-life examples that illustrate how arguments and assumptions can lead to accurate vs. inaccurate conclusions. This particular tool would be a useful reference for faculty members to present to more advanced students during an introduction to cognitive therapy and/or critical thinking.
Type of Material: The material is a narrated, flash-based presentation (created with Adobe Captivate). It is audio time-synched with material that progresses automatically. Two separate downloadable handouts include: a) the PowerPoint slides presented in the Flash presentation; b) a text-based presentation script.
Recommended Uses: This presentation would be useful in an advanced course dealing with decision-making, cognitive psychology or a discussion of cognitive therapy. The focused, narrow topic of the presentation makes it most suitable for discussions of critical thinking, decision-making, cognitive therapy and related issues of metacognition. It would best be applied as an out of class assignment for students to review independently.
Technical Requirements: Viewed on a PC with Internet Explorer (IE 8); requires a flash player along with speakers.
Identify Major Learning Goals: • Learners will understand the relationship that exists among critical thinking, accurate cognitive evaluation of topics, and cognitive therapy. • Learners will understand the role of metacognition in critically analyzing cognitive therapy.
Target Student Population: Advanced undergraduate student population. The abstract level of the presented information might prove challenging for novice learners.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: While prerequisite knowledge is not strictly required, basic understanding of cognitive therapy and decision-making would be beneficial.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: • This presentation provides an overall accurate and interesting discussion relating to critical thinking, positive and accurate thinking, and cognitive therapy approaches. Overall, the content provides a deep understanding of a narrow topic.
Concerns: • The topic level is so narrow that it may not be relevant for a wide-range of applications. Within the narrow scope of the topic, the content is very good but there are limited contexts in which instructors would find this useful. • While this topic is pertinent and the examples are true to life, some of the examples that are provided may be difficult to follow for individuals new to these concepts. • The description of the purpose/objective of this presentation highlights critical thinking and cognitive therapy. However, it was not clearly presented how cognitive therapy was being applied throughout the entire discussion, but rather only in certain pieces. • Scholarship is noteworthy as the popular authors commonly cited in cognitive therapy are included. However, the citations are primarily over 40 years old, and as students watching this material are taught to use timely citations, it would be beneficial to include updated references.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths: • The presentation is a clear, stand-alone module that requires no additional instructor involvement to utilize. • It would be useful for face-to-face or online classroom applications. • The author notes examples that are real-life and interesting, and works to keep the tone and inflection used during discussion engaging. The content is interesting, and the presentation design provides learning opportunities for the listeners. • Overall, the presentation effectively provides a brief overview of one approach to understanding these topics.
Concerns: No tie-in to previous knowledge, potential application, or direct use of this tool outside of the website is provided, such as examples for how one might use this as a teaching tool. While certainly not required, as this appears to be part of a set of items presented in a similar manner, it may be useful to incorporate a guide for faculty that details application possibilities. While learning objectives are presented on the main webpage, the presentation does not always clearly connect the individual objectives with the presented information; it would be useful to perhaps outline or segment the material to clearly note which elements relate to critical thinking, and what is to be learned, as well as what areas relate to cognitive therapy, and what is to be learned. In that same respect, as there is a major emphasis on positive thinking, this item should be brought to the forefront in the main page as an objective.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: • The design is contemporary, and the material appears overall self-contained. • The use of the presentation is simple, and no problems were encountered when using the standard IE 8 browser. It is easy-to-use, clear, and runs with a single-button click. No additional resources or guidance is required • Navigation of the site is straightforward as there is only one presentation, and viewers easily have the ability to skip, replay, rewind, and restart the presentation without any difficulty in doing so. • A transcript of the audio as well as a copy of slides are made available for download by the user. This provides an option for users, including those with special audio needs, to have access to the transcript.
Concerns: • “CC” buttons appear on the modules, yet no closed captioning appeared. While a transcript was made available, it would be more advantageous to the user to have text time-synched with the material to see what discussion goes along with which slide. • The main site is plain and in itself is not engaging. It would be beneficial to consider updating the main site where the presentation itself is located to make this more visually appealing and less text-laden/more visual in nature.

Other Issues and Comments: Though the range of application is narrow, the presentation itself is clear, easy-to-use and direct. Particularly noteworthy is the stand-alone nature of the learning material that permits effective implementation in either face-to-face or online classrooms.