Courses, Schedules, and Descriptions

Upcoming Courses

Fall 2024

All times are Eastern, with class meeting times as indicated below. Note that for some courses, multiple sections are listed. Students should generally register for the online section (which are often designated as “Special Program 1” courses), although the regular section may be used for those who need that type of enrollment because of special administrative requirements such as use of waivers or restrictions from taking online courses. Note class section numbers below when enrolling.

  • CrCrTh 601,Critical Thinking; September 3-December 13; join online or on campus, meetings on Tuesdays, 7:00-9:45pm ET starting September 3rd (online section: class #10427, regular section: class #4528).
  • CrCrTh 618, Creative Thinking, Collaboration, and Organizational Change; September 3-December 13; join online or on campus, meetings on Tuesdays, 4:00-6:45pm ET starting September 3rd (online section: class #10430, regular section: class #10429)
  • CrCrTh 655, Metacognition; September 3-December 13; online only, meetings on Thursdays, 4:00-6:45pm ET starting September 5th (online section: class #10431)
  • CrCrTh 692, Processes of Research and Engagement; September 3-December 13; join online or on campus, meetings on Wednesdays, 4:00-6:45pm ET starting September 4th (online section: class #10428, regular section: class #4530)

Summer 2024

  • CrCrTh 611, Seminar in Critical Thinking (Theme: Design for Living Complexities); May 28-July 11, 2024; online only, with meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:00-8:00pm ET (all students: register for class #2950)

CrCrTh 611 theme for summer 2024: “Design for Living Complexities”. In this seminar, students embark on an exploration at the intersection of design thinking, systems thinking, and critical thinking to tackle complex issues and challenges. Through a dynamic and collaborative approach synthesizing these three disciplines, students delve into rigorous analysis and dialogue to expand their perspectives on intervention strategies and change-making. A unique aspect of the course is that students choose the problems and issues they wish to explore, ensuring the relevance of the course to their experiences and aspirations. Prompted by the course content, they then experiment with developing intervention and change frameworks based on their chosen case studies. The methodology empowers them to tailor their approach to the specific challenges they are passionate about addressing. By applying these personalized frameworks, students can identify strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots in their thought processes, develop innovative solutions, and cultivate lifelong critical thinking and reflective practice habits.

  • CrCrTh 612, Seminar in Creativity (Theme: Creative Realization of Ideas); July 15-August 22, 2024; online only, with meetings on Thursdays, 6:00-9:00pm ET (all students: register for class #2951)

CRCRTH 612 theme for summer 2024: “Creative Realization of Ideas”. The course is directed to center the student on framing the question: ‘What do you want to create for yourself (and/or for your students)?’ – and then actualizing the product, in real life. In this seminar course involving weekly meetings to help you develop your ideas, instructor Ben Schwendener facilitates dialogue and discussion of elements and structure used in the creative process of each of the individual class participants and in the unique products themselves.

Future Course Schedules

The following courses are currently scheduled on regular cycles as indicated (with occasional exceptions):

  • CrCrTh 601 Critical Thinking (every fall)
  • CrCrTh 602 Creative Thinking (every spring)
  • CrCrTh 611 Seminar in Critical Thinking (every other summer)
  • CrCrTh 612 Seminar in Creativity (most summers)
  • CrCrTh 615 Holistic and Transformative Teaching (at least once every two years)
  • CrCrTh 616 Dialogue Processes (at least once every two years)
  • CrCrTh 618 Creative Thinking, Collaboration, and Organizational Change (at least once every two years)
  • CrCrTh 627 Issues and Controversies in Antiracist and Multicultural Education (at least once every two years)
  • CrCrTh 688 Reflective Practice (at least once every two years)
  • CrCrTh 692 Processes of Research and Engagement (every fall)
  • CrCrTh 693 Action Research for Educational, Professional, and Personal Change (every spring)
  • CrCrTh 694 Synthesis of Theory and Practice (every spring)

Additional electives may be added to various terms but scheduled more infrequently. See the descriptions below.

Summary of Requirements

MA program (11 courses=33 credits):

    • Core requirements (4 courses): 1) 601, 2) 602, 3) either 616 or 618, 4) either 615 or 627
    • Electives (4 courses): any additional CRCRTH courses, or electives from other programs (with permission)
    • Research/writing requirements (3 courses): 1) 692, 2) 693, 3) 694

Graduate Certificate (5 courses=15 credits):

    • Core requirements (2 courses): 1) 601, 2) 602
    • Electives (3 courses): any additional CRCRTH courses, or electives from other programs (with permission)

Notes:

  • A few courses, including CRCRTH 611, CRCRTH 612, CRCRTH 688, and CRCRTH 692 may be taken twice (for a total of 6 credits) under certain circumstances.
  • The capstone course, CRCRTH 694 Synthesis of Theory and Practice, must be taken last and is only offered in the spring terms. CRCRTH 692 must be completed before enrolling in 694.
  • CRCRTH 692 and 693 should be taken later in the program.

Official Course Descriptions

CrCrTh 601 Critical Thinking

This course explores issues about the nature and techniques of critical thought, viewed as a way to establish a reliable basis for our claims, beliefs, and attitudes about the world. We explore multiple perspectives, placing established facts, theories, and practices in tension with alternatives to see how could be otherwise. Views about observation and interpretation, reasoning and inference, valuing and judging, and the production of knowledge in its social context are considered. Special attention is given to translating what is learned into strategies, materials, and interventions for use in students’ own educational and professional settings.

CrCrTh 602 Creative Thinking

This course seeks to increase the participants’ understanding of creativity, to improve their creative problem-solving skills, and to enhance their ability to promote these skills in others, in a variety of educational settings. Students participate in activities designed to help develop their own creativity and discuss the creative process from various theoretical perspectives. Readings are on such topics as creative individuals, environments that tend to enhance creative functioning, and related educational issues. Discussions with artists, scientists, and others particularly involved in the creative process focus on their techniques and on ways in which creativity can be nurtured.

CrCrTh 603 Foundations of Philosophical Thought

By discussing four or five substantive problems in philosophy — morality, the nature of knowledge, freedom of the will, the nature of mind, and social organization — we will attempt to derive a common approach that philosophers bring to these problems when developing their own solutions to questions such as, “How do we know what we know?” or when criticizing the solutions of other philosophers. In the course of this discussion we will consider some of the ways that substantive issues and debates in philosophy relate to contemporary non-philosophical issues in our society and can be introduced into a broad range of educational environments outside standard philosophy courses. In connection with the latter, we will examine curriculum materials and discuss questions about the ability of children and adolescents to think philosophically.

CrCrTh 611 Seminar in Critical Thinking

This course involves research on and discussion of important issues of current concern about critical thinking. Issues include critical thinking; logic and knowledge; critical thinking about facts and about values; knowledge in its social context; teaching to be critical; and evaluating critical thinking skills. The course addresses these issues through cases of topical interest. Specific theme varies by year.

CrCrTh 612 Seminar in Creativity

Summer 2024 Theme of “Creative Realization” : The course is directed to center the student on framing the question: ‘What do you want to create for yourself and your students?’ – and then actualizing the product, in real life. Instructor Ben Schwendener facilitates dialogue and discussion of elements and structure used in the creative process of each of the individual class participants and in the unique products themselves. Projects are presented at the ending classes.

Catalog description: This course delves deeply into the theory and practice of promoting creativity, using a specific theme, such as invention and innovation, humor, realizing creative aspirations, building creative communities, as a focus for the readings, discussions, class activities, and semester-long student projects. The course materials, which are drawn from a variety of sources to match the instructor’s speciality, student interests, and evolving trends in the literature, include biographies, intellectual histories, psychological studies, educational research, the popular media, guest speakers, and outside mentors. Specific theme varies by year.

CrCrTh 615 Holistic and Transformative Teaching

This course explores approaches to realize teachers’ and students’ potential for learning, thinking, and creativity. Its primary focus is on holistic strategies to engage students in the creative arts and design. Participants are actively involved in preparing practical applications and demonstrations of concepts emerging from the class.

CrCrTh 616 Dialogue Processes

Genuine dialogue provides a creative social space in which entirely new ways of thinking, learning, and relating to others may emerge. Dialogue involves a shared process of collective inquiry where people work together to understand the assumptions underlying their individual and collective views that limit their thinking and responses to the world. Course participants learn and experience approaches to dialogue inspired by Bohm, Isaacs, Scharmer, Weissglass and others in the interest of bringing about significant educational, organizational, social, and personal change.

CrCrTh 618 Creative Thinking, Collaboration, and Organizational Change

Through interactive, experiential sessions and structured assignments students learn critical and creative approaches to working in organizations. Skills addressed include: communication and team-building; facilitation of participation and collaboration in groups; promotion of learning from a diversity of perspectives; problem-finding and solving; and reflective practice. Students apply these skills to situations that arise in business, schools, social change groups, and other organizations with a view to taking initiative and generating constructive change.

CrCrTh 619 Biomedical Ethics

Summer 2021 emphasis on COVID-19: This course develops students’ critical thinking about dilemmas in medicine and health care policy, such as those that arise around allocation of scarce resources, informed consent, experimentation on human subjects, AIDS research, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. Because of the current situation we face with Covid-19, the course will also cover connections to improving critical thinking around science/health education and media, implications for the future of nursing, inequities in treatment and care for vulnerable populations, etc. Through such cases, the course introduces methods in moral reasoning, rights-based reasoning, decision-making under uncertainty, and utilitarianism in classic and contemporary normative reasoning. This course will take an approach towards biomedical ethics that is heavily informed by empirical ethics and situation-based approached to ethical considerations of biomedicine and technology.

General catalog description: This course develops students’ critical thinking about dilemmas in medicine and health care policy, such as those that arise around allocation of scarce resources, criteria for organ transplants, informed consent, experimentation on human subjects, AIDS research, embryo research and selective termination of pregnancy, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. Through such cases the course introduces methods in moral reasoning, rights-based reasoning, decision-making under uncertainty, and utilitarianism in classic and contemporary normative reasoning.

CrCrTh 627 Issues and Controversies in Antiracist and Multicultural Education

The course deals with complex and emotionally-charged issues of culture, religion, sexual orientation, and, especially, race, both in society generally and specifically in education. How do we teach against racism, homophobia, cultural and religious parochialism, while being respectful of the many points of view represented in most classrooms? The readings present these issues as many-sided, and the instructor strives to make the classroom a safe and respectful space to voice one’s opinions and learn from others. This is not a _how to_ course but rather helps people in various fields, including teaching, think and reflect on issues they will face with students, colleagues, and clients. The course is open, with permission of instructor, to one or two advanced undergraduates who are interested in going into the field of education. (Contact instructor if you think you fall into this category.) The course will explore two related forms of education — (a) antiracist education, (b) multicultural education — approaching them as issues in moral and value education and exploring controversies in the theories and practices of antiracist and multicultural education. Some specific topics include: race and school achievement; ethnic identity and self-esteem; racial and ethnic stereotypes; Afrocentrism; religious pluralism; multiculturalism — a unifying or divisive force?; antiracist and multicultural curricular approaches. Also, some attention will be paid to sexual orientation controversies.

CrCrTh 630 Creativity and Criticism in Literature and Art

Expression and evaluation, freedom and discipline, creative production and the critical response to it — how do these dualities relate to visual and verbal imagination as they are demonstrated in literature and the arts? Specific strategies for eliciting imaginative work in these areas will be demonstrated, as will specific strategies for evaluating imaginative works. Finally, this course will focus on ways to help others (including children) develop critical and creative skills and on ways to effectively use strategies for eliciting and evaluating imaginative work. Note: the online course is a hybrid or blended format, where some class meetings may be held on campus (with online students joining via web conferencing), and other meetings may be held as fully online web conferences where all students participate.

CrCrTh 640 Environment, Science, and Society: Critical Thinking (inactive in recent years)

Current and historical cases are used to examine the diverse influences that shape environmental science and politics. This exploration, in turn, leads to new questions and alternative approaches for educators, environmental professionals, and concerned citizens.

CrCrTh 645 Biology in Society: Critical Thinking (inactive in recent years)

Current and historical cases are used to examine the political, ethical, and other social dimensions of the life sciences. Close examination of developments in the life sciences can lead to questions about the social influences shaping scientists’ work or its application. This, in turn, can lead to new questions and alternative approaches for educators, biologists, health professionals, and concerned citizens.

CrCrTh 649L Scientific and Political Change (inactive in recent years)

Prior to WW II, the US government played a relatively small role in the support of science, especially outside of its own institutions. That situation changed dramatically with the war and the Cold War that followed. We explore how these events transformed the role of science in United States life, vastly enhancing the prestige of scientists, and shaping the extent and the nature of federal involvement in science. These and later developments in the USA and internationally, including the proliferation of new forms of citizen participation and the commercialization of academic research, raise important questions about the appropriate role of science and scientists in shaping political change and the changing meanings of democratic control of science.

CrCrTh 650 Mathematical Thinking (inactive in recent years)

This course explores several types of mathematical thinking in the context of number theory, algebra, geometry, and introductory calculus, and relates them to critical and creative thinking skills. Developmental and experiential factors in learning and teaching mathematics are considered, as well as techniques for determining a learner’s mathematical abilities and learning styles. Readings, discussion, research, and problem-solving are used to provide a historical context, and to suggest connections with other disciplines. Individual and small-group projects are adapted to student interests. No formal mathematical background beyond high school algebra and geometry is required.

CrCrTh 651 Advanced Cognitive Psychology

This course offers the most up-to-date knowledge on perception, memory, imagery, and problem solving to enhance one’s approach to problem-solving. It provides a survey of the field of cognitive psychology from an information-processing viewpoint. This course will consider how people encode, organize, transform and output information. Emphasis will be placed on such topics as concept formulation, problem solving, and creative thinking.

CrCrTh 652 Conceptual Change and Learning (formerly: Children and Science) (inactive in recent years)

This course explores the ways children think about their natural and social world and how this affects their learning of science. We will be particularly concerned with identifying and describing the organized conceptual frameworks children have prior to instruction (which typically are different from the scientists’ conceptualizations) and with understanding the general processes by which conceptual frameworks can be changed. One important question concerns in what ways children are fundamentally different learners and thinkers than adults and in what ways they are fundamentally similar.

CrCrTh 653L Epidemiological Thinking and Population Health (inactive in recent years)

Introduction to the concepts, methods, and problems involved in analyzing the biological and social influences on behaviors and diseases and in translating such analyses into population health policy and practice. Special attention given to social inequalities, changes over the life course, and heterogeneous pathways. Case studies and course projects are shaped to accommodate students with interests in diverse fields related to health and public policy. Students are assumed to have a statistical background, but the course emphasizes epidemiological literacy with a view to collaborating thoughtfully with specialists, not technical expertise.

CrCrTh 655 Metacognition

This course considers various aspects of metacognition and how they influence behavior in children and adults. Topics include the individual’s knowledge of his or her own cognition, self-awareness, the monitoring of conscious thought processes, inferences about unconscious thought processes, metacognition as a decision process, metacognitive strategies, the development of metacognition, and metacognition as a source of individual differences in children.

CrCrTh 670 Thinking, Learning, and Computers

This course considers the consequences of using computers to aid our thinking, learning, communication and action in classrooms, organizations, and social interactions. Class activities acquaint students with specific computer-based tools, the ideas and research behind them, and themes for critical thinking about these ideas and tools.
Note: The description above is the formal catalog description of the course, but current directions of the course extend beyond issues of software tools to emphasize critical and creative thinking in the context of complexity of information in the digital age, collaborative potential of our use of digital technology, and implications of technology on social and educational life.

CrCrTh 688 Reflective Practice

Reflective practitioners in any profession pilot new practices, take stock of outcomes and reflect on possible directions, and make plans to revise their practice accordingly. They also make connections with colleagues who model new practices and support the experimenting and practice of others. Students in this course gain experiences and up-to-date tools for reflective practice through presentations, interactive and experiential sessions, and, optionally, supervised pilot activities in schools, workplaces, and communities.

CrCrTh 692 Processes of Research and Engagement

In this course students identify issues in educational or other professional settings on which to focus their critical and creative thinking skills. Each student works through the different stages of research and action-from defining a manageable project to communicating findings and plans for further work. Supervision is provided when the student’s research centers on new teaching practices, workshops in the community, or other kinds of engagement as an intern or volunteer. The classes run as workshops, in which students are introduced to and then practice using tools for research, writing, communicating, and supporting the work of others.

CrCrTh 693 Action Research for Educational, Professional, and Personal Change

This course covers techniques for and critical thinking about the evaluation of changes in educational practices and policies in schools, organizations, and informal contexts. Topics include quantitative and qualitative methods for design and analysis, participatory design of practices and policies in a framework of action research, institutional learning, the wider reception or discounting of evaluations, and selected case studies, including those arising from semester-long student projects.

CrCrTh 694 Synthesis of Theory and Practice

The synthesis seminar is a structure within which to meet deadlines and get assistance in completing the written product of the synthesis project or thesis. There are many specific options for syntheses, from the development of a traditional theoretical paper, to a curriculum or professional development series, to writing a business plan, to the creation of a Web Page.

CrCrTh 696 Independent Study

The comprehensive study of a particular topic or area of literature determined by the student’s need; the study is pursued under the guidance, and subject to the examination, of the instructor. An application or outline of study should be agreed by the instructor and program director before you register.

CrCrTh 697 Special Topics

Topics are determined based on themes related to student need and instructor expertise.