JOHN CHAFFEE: Welcome to the program Critical Thinking,Analyzing Problems and Decisions.I'm John Chaffee, and I teach philosophyand critical thinking at the City University of New York.I am also the author of several textbooks in these areas.This program is designed to introduce youto a critical thinking approach to solving problems and making
JOHN CHAFFEE [continued]: decisions.Our lives are filled with problems to solveand decisions to make, and the quality of our livesis directly related to how well we do these.Thinking critically can help us in solving challenging problemsand making informed decisions, thusenriching our lives in every area, both personal
JOHN CHAFFEE [continued]: and professional.The key to being a successful problemsolver is learning to approach problemsin a thoughtful and organized way.In this program, you will become familiarwith a powerful and effective approachfor solving problems and making decisions.You will also see this critical thinking approach in action
JOHN CHAFFEE [continued]: as we apply it to several challenging situations.
SPEAKER 1: The approach we will be using consists of six steps.Step 1, have I accepted the problem?Step 2, what is the real problem?Step 3, what are my alternatives?Step 4, what are the advantages and disadvantages
SPEAKER 1 [continued]: of the alternatives?Step 5, what is my solution and plan of action?Step 6, how well is my solution working?
JOHN CHAFFEE: The first problem that we will be analyzingis one that almost all of us can relate to,that of procrastination.
SPEAKER 2: As Charles approaches the professorin his critical thinking class, hefinds himself in a familiar position,trying to explain why he won't be handingin the paper that is due on time.His professor surprises Charles by encouraginghim to think critically by treating this late paperas a symptom of a larger problem in his life, procrastination.For the next class, Charles is to bring
SPEAKER 2 [continued]: in a description of his problem, which he will thenanalyze using the problem solving methodthey've been studying in class.This is what Charles writes.I am a procrastinator.Whenever I have something important to do, especiallyif it's difficult or unpleasant, I tend to put it off.Though this chronic delaying bothers me,I try to suppress my concern and instead
SPEAKER 2 [continued]: work on more trivial things.It doesn't matter how much time Iallow for certain responsibilities,I always end up waiting until the last minuteto really focus and get things done,or I over-schedule too many things for the time available.I usually meet my deadlines, but not always,and I don't enjoy working under this kind of pressure.In many cases, I know that I'm not producing my best work.
SPEAKER 2 [continued]: To make matters worse, the feelingthat I'm always behind causes me to feel reallystressed out and undermines my confidence.I've tried every kind of schedule and technique,but my best intentions simply don't last,and I end up slipping into my old habits.I must learn to get my priorities in orderand act on them in an organized wayso that I can lead to a well-balanced and happier life.
JOHN CHAFFEE: I'm here with my friends, Janet and Saul.And today, we're going to be thinkingcritically about problem solving and decision making.We're going to look at several different scenariosand try to think our way through them.The first problem that we're going to look at today
JOHN CHAFFEE [continued]: is one that almost everybody can relate to, procrastination.
JANET: Hm, yeah.
JOHN CHAFFEE: And the first step in the problem-solving approachthat we're going to be using is accepting the problem.If we don't acknowledge and accept that we have a problem,then the problem-solving process never gets off the ground.Yet for some people, this is the most difficult step.Why is that?Why is it difficult for people to acknowledgethat they have a problem?
JANET: Well, and I think people have a natural reluctance notto want to analyze themselves and their behaviors.I mean, why would you want to analyze yourself.I mean, you could uncover some thingsyou don't want to uncover.
SAUL: Right.And it requires you making life changesthat you're not familiar with, that you've never done before.So it's sort of like a new beginning.
JOHN CHAFFEE: Well, we've acknowledgedthat we have a problem.We've committed ourselves to solving it.What are some strategies that we canuse to sustain that commitment?
JANET: I think it's always wise to kind of formalizeyour commitment.Perhaps you want to put it down on a piece of paper.
SAUL: I mean, and once you tackle it,your life becomes less stressful, less problems.You feel good about it.And you might look back and say, well, why did I wait so long?
JOHN CHAFFEE: Absolutely.So this first step is crucial for gettingthe problem-solving process off the ground.Acknowledge that you have a problem,commit yourself to doing something about it,and implement some strategies to ensurethat that commitment will be sustained.The second step in our problem-solving process
JOHN CHAFFEE [continued]: is in response to the question, what is the real problem?And the purpose of this step is to tryto get to the heart of the problem.If we don't define the problem correctly from the beginning,we run the risk of going off in the wrong direction.Sometimes we mistake the symptomsof a problem for the problem itself.
JOHN CHAFFEE: And the case of procrastination, for example,handing in a late research paper maybe a symptom of a much deeper and far-reaching problem.How do we go about identifying the real problem?What are some strategies that we can use?
SAUL: Well, you could analyze the history of the problem,find out where the problem stems from.
JANET: You also look at what situationsyou run into these problems, where this occurs.And that can give you a clue as to what the real issue is.
JOHN CHAFFEE: And so the important point in this stepis that we want to really get below the surface,to use our critical thinking capabilities to get deep,and to really find what really isat the essence of this thing that'scausing us the difficulties.
How can we teach English and also develop these critical thinking skills? A technique I’ve found to be effective is using video vignettes in the classroom. You can exploit a short (1-2 minute) video vignette of a social or workplace encounter for many levels of learning and skill development.
The Key to Using Video Vignettes: Multiple Viewings
Once you have chosen an appropriate video, you can show the video multiple times for different outcomes. Each time, focus on a particular aspect of the video and follow the viewing with classroom activities to develop students’ language and critical thinking skills.
1. Focus on Content
Develop these skills: comprehending language in context; summarizing; reporting information; and evaluating information.
- Answer comprehension questions, wh-questions, and true/false statements based on the video content.
- Listen for details to identify who says what or complete closes.
- Create activities around disappearing dialogs, retelling the information in the conversation, and reenacting or reconstructing the conversation.
2. Focus on Language
Develop these skills: grammar, vocabulary, intonation, and pronunciation.
- Identify the language point (listen for it or highlight it in the video script).
- Practice the language point (with cloze activities; substitution drills; pair read-alouds; dictations; audio-recording of student work).
- Apply the language point to new contexts (practice new conversations using conversation frameworks and using language point in discussions).
3. Focus on Pragmatics
Develop these skills: making inferences; analyzing language usage; supporting generalizations with evidence; identifying conflict; and solving problems
- Listen for or highlight language in the video script.
- Generate and practice alternative language to accomplish same purpose.
- Perform role plays and problem solving scenarios.
4. Focus on Social Communication
Develop these skills: recognizing and using body language, register, and conversation cues to effectively communicate
- Perform and video-record role-plays.
- Analyze student videos for social communication.
- Write conversation exchanges.
- Apply similar communication styles to other contexts.
5. Focus on Culture
Develop these skills: recognizing workplace and social expectations and standards; making evidence-based generalizations using details; identifying cultural values and assumptions; and communicating on diverse teams
- Do Quick Writes to uncover cultural assumptions.
- Analyze language in video to support generalizations.
- Write formal paragraphs supporting a claim with evidence.
- Explain values in oral or poster-board presentations.
- Perform role plays and problem solving scenarios.