Triple Feedback for students

In my on-line summer course in thinking critically and creatively, each student receives triple feedback on every submission, as a result there should leave little room for concerns and confusion about the grading, personal feedback, or additional information that complements and supplements the learning plan for that week.

Your submitted work met the following grading criteria except for – number 4 – review the feedback below – constructive feedback from your instructor

1.            Honors the due date; if the deadline could not be met, I received an e-mail from you before the deadline requesting an extension
2.            Use of proper grammar and spelling; and avoids using “things”, “stuff”, when a more specific word should be used relative to the context of the sentence; and “I feel” instead of “I think”; are you using spell check or editing your work by reading the sentences from right to left?

 

3.            Follows the full directions or instructions of the assignment or discussion forum;

 

4.            The assignment or discussion forum material is developed and comprehensive, and not so   sketchy or underdeveloped that it is difficult to assess whether you understand the material or not or whether the reader understands what idea(s) you are attempting to communicate;

 

5.            The assignment or discussion submission is typed in font 12 or 14, and double spaced for easy reading;

 

6.           Having interacted substantially with at least two others in the discussion forum, rather than writing in a sketchy fashion, “I enjoyed your comments.”

 

Constructive feedback for your submission:

Number 4 – Your choices for each of the controversial topics were solid, reasonable and supported by substantive reasons for your choices; although, I would have submitted more than one kind of evidence for most of them;  of course, there are no “right” answers, but perhaps better answers

Do you remember the recent Tower Bridge sagging and the many opinions about what happened; and then there were the various theories from soil erosion, pilings on solid rock or not, use of Lake Michigan water, and shifting rock – they were checking out the “kinds of evidence” they could find to solve this mysterious happening.  Now, the bridge is not sagging and back into serving the flow of traffic.

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Complementary information relative to the chapter for your information and application:

I am copying 9 intellectual standards which you would be wise to use and probably do use unknowingly each day. I would think that the more of the 9 standards we use each day, the more solid, reasonable, and accurate our thinking processes will be.

 

  1. Clarity ( understandable, the meaning can be grasped; to free from confusion or ambiguity, to remove obscurities): could you elaborate further? Could you give me an example? Could you illustrate what you mean? Could you express that point in another way?

This standard is the gateway standard – for example “What can be done about the educational system in America? This statement is unclear. Rather, “What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them to function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?”

 

  1. Accuracy( free from errors, mistakes or distortions; true and correct): How could you check on that? How could we find out if that is true? How could we verify or test that?

A statement can be clear but not accurate, for example, “Most dogs weigh over 200 pounds.” Thinking is more or less accurate. It is useful to assume that we have not fully assessed it except to the extent that we have checked to determine whether it represents reality as it really is.

 

  1. Precision (exact to the necessary level of detail, specific): Could you be more specific? Could you give me more details? Could you be more exact?

A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in “Jack is overweight.” (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or twenty pounds or more”).

 

  1. Relevance (bearing upon or relating to the matter at hand; implies a close relationship with, and importance to, the matter under consideration): How does that relate to the problem? How does that bear on the questions? How does that help us with the issue?

A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at hand. For example, students sometimes think that the amount of effort they invest in a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, effort does not measure the quality of student learning, and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.

Thinking is capable of straying from the issue, question, problem, or topic under consideration.

 

  1. Depth (containing complexities and multiple interrelationships, implies thoroughness in thinking through the many variables in the situation, context, idea, or question): What factors make this a difficult problem? What are some of the complexities of this question? What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?

A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial, that is, lack depth. For example, the statement “Just Say No,” which was used for a number of years to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise and relevant. Nevertheless, those who take this mandate to solve the social problem of unhealthy drug use fail to appreciate the true complexities in the problem. Their thinking is superficial at best.

 

  1. Breadth (encompassing multiple viewpoints, comprehensive in view, wide-ranging and broadminded in perspective): Do we need to look at this from another perspective? Do we need to consider another point of view? Do we need to look at this in other ways?

A line of reasoning may be clear, accurate, precise, relevant, and in depth, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoints which details the complexities in an issue, but only recognizes insights from one perspective).

Thinking can be more or less broad-minded (or narrow-minded) and breadth of thinking requires the thinker to reason insightfully within more than one point of view or frame of reference.

  1. Logic (the parts make sense together, no contradictions; in keeping with the principles of sound judgment and reasonability): Does all this make sense together? Does your first paragraph or initial statement fit in with your last paragraph or statement? Does what you say or what you write follow from the evidence?

When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts is mutually supporting and makes sense in combination, the thinking is logical.

 

  1. Significance (having importance, being of consequence; having considerable or substantial meaning): Is this the most important problem to consider? Is this the central idea to focus on? Which of these facts are most important?

When we reason through an issue, we want to concentrate on the most important information and take into account the most important ideas or concepts.

In college, few students may focus on important questions such as “What does it mean to be an educated person? What do I need to do to become educated? Instead, students tend to ask questions such as, “What do I need to do to receive an A?” or “How many pages does the paper have to be?” “What do I have to do to impress the teacher?”

 

  1. Fairness (free from bias, dishonesty, favoritism, self-interest, deception or injustice). Do I have any vested interest in this issue or topic? Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of others? Are these laws justifiable and ethical, or do they violate someone’s rights?

We naturally think from our own perspective, from a point of view which tends to support our position. Fairness implies the treating of all relevant viewpoints alike without reference to one’s own feelings or interests. This is especially true when we do not want to consider other relevant viewpoints in good faith.

 

(The Foundation for Critical Thinking—www.criticalthinking.org)

 

Roger J. Vanden Busch

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