“Beyond ‘I Agree”: The Instructor’s Role in Facilitating Critical Thinking in Online Courses

By Miriam Russell.

Published by The International Journal of Technologies in Learning

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Online discussion forums provide an opportunity for instructors to raise critical thinking skills beyond “I agree” responses. To maintain quality communities of learning, online instructors who reflect on their own performance through self-evaluations also encourage “lurkers” to participate more substantially in discussion forums. This paper reviews the value of instructor presence in online discussion forums and presents four essential tools in a “Critical Thinking Toolbox”: clear guidelines, facilitative Socratic questions, positive affective tone and timely assessments.

Keywords: Online, Guidelines, Affective, Assessments, Critical Thinking, Instructors, Learning, Mastery, Self-evaluations, Socratic, Tools

International Journal of Technologies in Learning, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp.17-29. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 391.556KB).

Dr. Miriam Russell

Visiting Professor, Center for Distance Learning, SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA

Dr. Miriam Russell is a faculty member with SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning where she teaches academic writing. She has written personal essays and articles appearing in “All About Mentoring,” a college biannual and the Albany, New York Times Union daily newspaper. The author’s essays have been broadcast on Northeast Public Radio. Dr. Russell recently presented her work on collaborative technology most recently at the Sloan-C July 2012 conference on Emerging Technology. This paper was presented at the 19th Annual Conference on Learning in London, UK.