As part of Meredith’s ongoing critical thinking initiative, now known as Think Strong, ten faculty and staff members attended a national conference on critical thinking in May. Most of the attendees also participated in a series of workshops during the spring semester designed to continue the infusion of critical thinking throughout campus.
Steven Benko, director of Think Strong, said the team’s participation in the conference continues the important work of helping Meredith students become confident critical thinkers.
“The better we get at identifying the critical thinking skills that are relevant and necessary for students to possess, the better we get at designing classroom experiences, assignments, and co-curricular activities that bring those skills to the fore,” said Benko.
Conference attendees were Steven Benko, Nina Bostic, Chrissie Bumgardner, Tim Hendrix, Gaye Hill, Dianne Raubenheimer, Kelly Roberts, Cindy Morton-Rose, Dilnavaz Sharma, and Margarita Suarez.
Meredith’s infusion of critical thinking in both curricular and co-curricular settings is not typically found at other schools. According to Benko, this difference is critical.
“We recognize that these skills only take hold if you practice them and that thinking is a life skill that should be practiced in all areas of life. At Meredith, the academic and co-curricular support one another, so in order to make it a true campus-wide program we emphasize the curricular and co-curricular,” said Benko.
Faculty and staff saw the conference as an opportunity to refine the assignments they had been developing all spring.
Kelly Roberts, associate professor of English, will be teaching a first-year critical thinking seminar on banned books in spring 2015.
“The trends in critical thinking pedagogy, combined with discussions with professors at the University of Louisville, really helped to clarify what could be possible in my critical thinking seminar,” said Roberts. “Being able to travel and think together with so many faculty and staff will also contribute to our campus-wide initiative.”
Chrissie Bumgardner, director of First Year Experience, is infusing critical thinking into the student advisers’ training.
“The i2a Institute provided me with valuable information and time to think about ways to infuse critical thinking into Student Adviser Training. It also created a platform for the faculty and staff who attended to learn from each other and create cross-campus connections,” said Bumgardner.
By Gaye Hill
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