Critical Thought Is the Goal at Teaching Day

Sixth annual Teaching Day brings together faculty for day of learning.

Image of Chris Anson
Keynote speaker Chris Anson led an interactive presentation on critical thinking and learning techniques. (William Atkins/GW Today)
October 24, 2016

The George Washington University held its sixth annual Teaching Day on Friday, gathering almost 200 faculty members for a day of course design and teaching support.  The University Teaching and Learning Center (UTLC) sponsored the event.

“This Teaching Day encouraged practical discussions around how to support critical thinking and how to use research to improve teaching,” said UTLC Director Patricia Dinneen.

Keynote speaker Chris Anson led the first part of the day, an interactive workshop on supporting and measuring critical thinking and learning in students.

Dr. Anson, Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University and director of the university’s Campus Writing and Speaking Program, encouraged teachers to consider critical thinking as a concrete goal when designing assignments.

One way to encourage students to read deeply rather than superficially, he suggested, was to assign work along a continuum of formality. High-stakes, “formal” work like exams and graded term papers should be supplemented by low-stakes, “informal” activities like blog posts, in-class discussions or one-sentence responses on index cards. These informal assignments, Dr. Anson said, make student responses part of the process of critical analysis.

The afternoon featured the first ever Scholarship of Teaching and Learning poster presentations, sponsored by UTLC and the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Faculty from across the disciplines presented their classroom research on active learning, student assessment and innovative pedagogical techniques.