STEM Collaborative Teaches Critical Thinking
Rocklin, CA-- At the final session of the Sierra College STEM Collaborative ACTivATE nine-month professional development program on teaching applied critical thinking, Sierra College and high school instructors reported that their students are better prepared for employment because critical thinking has been explicitly incorporated into classroom instruction.
With guidance from Northwestern University's Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, and the Sierra College STEM Collaborative, 11 instructors participated. They modified their teaching methods to include more inquiry-based learning, require deeper levels of thinking, use specific work-based examples, encourage exploration rather than giving them the process through lecture, and ask students to make predictions, generate ideas, identify evidence and reflect on results.
Applied Critical Thinking for Advanced Technological Education (ACTivATE) was designed in response to manufacturing advisory committee members who said that critical thinking is an essential skill for 21st century employees, explained Carol Pepper-Kittredge, CACT Director, Sierra College Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT).
"ACTivATE is unique because teachers developed real world applied lessons to teach students how to think critically," said Pepper-Kittredge. "In addition, the dialog between the college and high school faculty representing different disciplines enriched the experience."
Jeanne Villeneuve, math teacher, Del Oro High School teamed up with Katie Lucero, math instructor , Sierra College, to design new curriculum. "During the lesson, students developed linear equations to calculate the height of a stack of plastic cups, in order to determine how many would fit into a plastic sleeve or box, for ordering purposes," said Villeneuve. "They also calculated the packaging dimensions and how many boxes would fit on a truck."
"We became explicit in identifying critical thinking and how it affects life as well as how it is used on the job," said Villeneuve. "Critical thinking is also intrinsic in the Common Core State Standards. Teaching students to think out loud and define the problem, prepares them to meet the new standards."
Denise Drane, Associate Director, Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching, Northwestern University, helped conduct the training and provide feedback to participants. Through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the Searle Center previously designed the Enhancing Critical Thinking in STEM Disciplines: A Faculty Development Model.
"I was truly impressed with the quality of the critical thinking activities that the faculty developed," said Drane. "I was also so pleased to see how much they seemed to have enjoyed implementing the activities. In addition, they had gathered their own evidence to support using these types of activities over traditional lecturing approaches."
Steve Gillette, Sierra College Mechatronics faculty member, reported that problem solving skills have always been a part of lab work. "As a result of the ACTivATE training, I am now much more explicit in stating that the activity requires critical thinking," said Gillette. "I tell students up front that employers want them to think critically. When expensive automated equipment isn't working correctly, technicians are expected to analyze the problem and find a solution. Employers pay excellent wages to Mechatronics technicians because they know how to think critically."
According to the JD Franz Research Inc. evaluation, the ACTivATE project was successful in impacting instructors' teaching methods. Participants reported: "I think about critical thinking more, and I learned that I have to model it. I tell students when they are doing it and why," "... it advanced my ability to incorporate critical thinking intentionally," and "this training has made a big difference; I'm very excited about rolling it out in all of my classes."
To build on the success of the ACTivATE pilot project, Sierra College CACT is seeking business and education partners to take this project to the next level. For information, contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Sierra College at (916) 660-7801.
About Sierra College STEM Collaborative
The Sierra STEM Collaborative is funded by California Community College Chancellor's Office, to create a pipeline of students interested in technical careers. Students can pursue Welding, Mechatronics, Engineering, Energy Technology and Drafting & Engineering Support at Sierra College. For information, go to www.appliedcriticalthinking.com or contact Carol Pepper-Kittredge, Sierra College at (916) 660-7801.
Print This Article
Placer County News HeadlinesLincoln Man Serving Aboard the Navy's USS SomersetPetty Officer 1st Class Brian West, an aviation boatswain's mate from Lincoln, Calif. and 2003 graduate of Lincoln High School, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Somerset
California Would Create More Jobs Without Prop 30In his recent piece for The Sacramento Bee, "State's job growth defies predictions after tax increases," David Cay Johnston argues that California's recent job creation numbers prove
Sacramento County Opposes Bay Delta Conservation PlanThis week the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors formally submitted comments challenging the findings of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) state environmental
Roseville to Host Senior Softball Western National ChampionshipsRoseville will play host this August to the Senior Softball Western National Championships
Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (7.29.14)Roseville, CA - The Roseville Police Department weekly crime report digest update for July 29, 2014.
Different Standards From Mortgage LendersJulie Jalone of MagnumOne Realty in Roseville, reports on a recent Fannie Mae survey which indicates there may be a growing difference in credit standards between small and large lenders. Which do you think has the tighter credit standards? Check out Julie's article and find out.
PCWA Comments on Bay Delta Conservation PlanDrought Watch: PCWA expresses concern about future water supply reliability for Placer County and claims EIR fails to consider key issues.
Honor Bowl Games at Del Oro August 2014ROCKLIN, CA. - William Jessup University announced today that it will serve as a sponsor for the Northern and Southern California 2014 Honor Bowl football games.
Tahoe Bike Classic Sept. 27 & 28The inaugural Tahoe Bike Classic will take over the Lake Tahoe basin this fall, September 27 & 28, 2014.
Lake Tahoe Marathon Returns September 14thArguably the most beautiful marathon in the world, the Lake Tahoe Marathon returns to Lake Tahoe on Sunday September 14, 2014. Since its inception in 1995, the Lake Tahoe Marathon has evolved into a premier running event
3 Month Old Dies in Sacramento, Parents JailedAshleigh Smith and the 19-year-old father, Terry Scott, were interviewed, they were both booked that night into the Sacramento County Jail on felony child abuse/neglect charges.
Dropping Gas Prices Lift Summer DriversLocal gas prices continue to drop and bring relief to drivers across California and the nation.