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Freshers—Getting the Students Ready for University

Using white plastic cups for critical thinking skills

Today I was asked to share this exercise so here we go:

Last week I had my first cohort of students (a programme that starts slightly off sync with the rest of the university) and I was wondering how best to introduce the differences in some of the most common action words. A particular stumbling block seems to differentiate between analysis and evaluation. I recently read an interesting article on teaching with objects in museums and thought why not translate this into teaching in Higher Education?*

So I decided to hand out white plastic cups.

A simple object for complex tasks

2nd step: Go crazy with the new PowerPoint template.**

Action Word Cycle

3rd Step: The circles with the action words would gradually appear to the students as we went from one task to another

I began with asking the students to describe their cups, using Socratic inquiry technique continuing with this technique I went through describe, compare, analyse, evaluate and discuss. Initially the students looked at me with that ‘what the what?’ look but eventually got into the flow of the task. The only help necessary was to explain the added dimension for evaluation. 

Contextualising the task for the students was easy, critical thinking skills had emerged naturally with little guidance.


*This was part of a mini-MOOC I followed recently in silent participation

**ADD way of life says: Look at the pretty colours! Wheee!

Categories: SOTL

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Nathalie Sheridan

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