Comprehending or Critically Thinking?
Throughout high school, my strongest subject was English. I never challenged myself in math or science but I always took pride in how well I did in English class. As I entered my senior year, I was excited to take AP Literature because I believed I would be taking a course that demanded more of me as a writer and as a student. During the first class session, my teacher explained what our year looked like according to the works we were going to read. The class was great and I was confident coming into this critical thinking course because I thought I had been well-prepared for the college workload. I soon came to find out that I was not as prepared as I hoped to be when my first essay score came back and my classmates had gotten such higher grades than me. The difference for me between high school writing and collegiate writing was at an all-time high when I first came to this university and that prompted many questions for me including, why is there such a difference between high school writing and collegiate writing? Are our high schools lowering their expectations for students? And why is it that most of my classmates are more prepared for this level of writing over me? These questions have all lead me towards the answer that in collegiate level writing, you have to be a critical thinker and you have to be able to critically think no matter what task you have been given.
After researching what critical thinking is, scholars say that it is the main stepping stone to higher education and that teachers have failed to teach critical thinking whereas students say that critical thinking should not be demanded of them and that they should only be expected to learn and understand what they have been taught. In all simplicity, there is a disconnect in beliefs between the students and scholars.
My main focus going into this essay was what it meant to be a critical thinker and why critical thinking is important. I wanted to approach this from an unbiased standpoint, not agreeing with students opinions and not refusing the belief of scholars. The best way for me to create this situation was through a survey. In my survey, I included these main questions: what is critical thinking? Is it one’s ability to analyze, comprehend, or simply regurgitate information? Is the measure of critical thinking dependent upon on a test or should it be? What do you believe holds students back the most from becoming critical thinkers? I sent this survey out throughout my dorm and asked the students to put their answers in a box. Because I wanted to keep this survey anonymous, I asked them not to put their name on the paper so that I couldn’t have an impact on their answers. After all my final results came in, I noticed that most of my responses were very similar and vague, as if my peers that filled out this questionnaire did not know exactly how to approach these questions. Yet, after stifling through many papers, I found a couple answers that stood out to me. When responding to the first question a student said, “I think of critical thinking like characters in a children’s storybook, you’re going to have one dominant character that is smart, athletic, charming, and basically possesses all the qualities one might want to have. And then you’re going to have another character that isn’t as athletic, or outspokenly smart. But this character is going to have a lot of underlying potential, potential that not many people are going to see. I say that this relates to critical thinking because although someone may already be the typical “critical thinker” someone else may be just as capable to critical think as the other, they just have to find it within themselves before they become that dominant character” (Student one). Student one is the one and only response that had a positive outlook on critical thinking, believing that everyone has the opportunity to become critical thinkers and that teachers have the...
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