What is TH!NK?
TH!NK is a new initiative on campus that is designed to cultivate students’ higher order skills in critical and creative thinking. In TH!NK courses, students explore disciplinary content through a lens of critical and creative thinking. In Phase I of this project (Fall 2014 and 2015), we are focusing on courses that serve primarily first-year students. Beginning Fall 2016, we will engage students at all levels of the undergraduate experience.
Most of us already try to incorporate critical and creative thinking in our courses, but many of us could do more with accessible resources and training. Furthermore, there are strategies we can employ broadly across campus that will allow students to transfer their higher-order thinking skills from one learning experience to another. Two strategies that are employed in all TH!NK courses are the use of a common language to explicitly talk about the intellectual standards of critical and creative thinking, and a focus on self-reflection (thinking about our own thinking).
How can I get involved?
There are three main ways for faculty members to engage with the TH!NK initiative: as a TH!NK faculty member, as a CAT scorer, or through TH!NK workshops in the Office of Faculty Development.
30 faculty members will be selected to serve as THINK Faculty each year. TH!NK Faculty receive extensive training in teaching strategies to enhance students’ critical and creative thinking skills. Training includes:
- May (the week following commencement): intensive workshop in teaching strategies
- Summer prior to implementation: support in developing targeted activities and course revisions
- August: 2-day workshop for TH!NK Faculty to report on course revisions and innovations
- Fall or Spring semester: course implementation
- Meetings 1-2 times per semester while new TH!NK course is being implemented
TH!NK Faculty must teach the TH!NK course a minimum of two consecutive Fall or Spring semesters, and must integrate programmatic assessments into their course; the assessments are designed to also be formative for students. TH!NK Faculty also receive a stipend of $2,500, divided over two years.
If you are interested in joining the TH!NK Faculty, please contact Dr. Sue Carson. We are especially interested in engaging cohorts of 2 or more faculty members who are teaching sections of the same course, as well as cohorts of faculty interested in integrating TH!NK in multiple courses within a major.
One of the assessment instruments we employ in the TH!NK initiative is the Critical thinking Assessment Test (CAT). The CAT is issued to students in TH!NK courses twice, once in the beginning and once at the end of the semester. The CAT contains scenarios that test various higher-order thinking skills; student responses are in the form of short answers and exams are scored by NC State faculty members. In an anonymous survey, faculty overwhelmingly reported that scoring the exams was eye-opening in terms of the way our students think and where some of their deficiencies lie. Many faculty members also reported that they had ideas for new classroom activities based on their experience CAT scoring.
Scoring sessions last three days, and will occur in early January. Faculty members are paid a stipend for participating in scoring. If you are interested in CAT scoring, please contact Deb Moore.
TH!NK workshops through the Office of Faculty Development
Members of the TH!NK implementation team will lead short workshops focusing on the TH!NK student learning outcomes and the intellectual standards for critical and creative thinking through the Office of Faculty Development. Check the OFD website for upcoming workshops. If you have a group of 6 or more faculty members who would like to attend a workshop and none is scheduled, you may request a workshop.