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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Critical thinking

One of the many things I learned from my first teaching experience here in China was the opportunity to work on critical thinking. Memorization plays a key role in the educational experience here, so when it comes to marketing and public relations it's a necessary skill that needs more development in my students

I was prepared to teach critical thinking Thursday nite, but I didn't have examples I thought the students could relate to. Until Jessie, my TA, gave me the idea. So, we developed and presented it together.

Sitting in my apartment office, Jessie and I looked over the 25 questions the groups gave for consideration of posting on the blog for my former PR students' responses Reviewing them several stood out from the rest and we agreed on the top 5. One that really captured my attention asked a pre/post comparison using 9.11 as the incident. Wow. This grabbed my attention on two levels. First, it showed critical thinking at work, but the question itself needed a bit more work. Second, on Thursday nite I had 9.11 as the example for tracing the four step process that develops public opinion.

Taking the question I explained to Jessie what 9.11 meant in the context of its impact on American culture. I asked her, what would be a good example from Chinese history? Her quick response: SARS. Jessie explained to me, from her experiential learning, how SARS impacted her life, student life and basically the entire country. (I asked Shaw that night for his experience and this question evoked a tremendous response that gave me further insights.)

As we discussed the two countries and events, Jessie made an incredible statement along the lines of the group question on 9.11 wasn't fully developed and needed more integration from the Chinese experience to share with the American bloggers so they knew how to provide more details. Fantastic!

We agreed she would take the question back to the group and would advise them on how to take another approach. They were excited and produced this question; it appears as the group wrote it. Clearly, it could do with editing. However, the important lesson in this was the group's ability to take two different situations—SARS and 9.11—combine them and ask for the American bloggers to share within this context how public relations was affected by the situation.

To deliver this to the class, I pulled screen captures of the three questions Jessie posted on the blog and integrated them at the appropriate place in my presentation on critical thinking in my PowerPoint. Both Jessie and I talked through our thought processes of how we picked the three best questions.

Then, I took the three questions that were good and "almost" made the cut. Jessie and I discussed why we say "almost" and what the issues were. I tried to link these to critical thinking to show them how this supported this portion of our night's lesson. It's tough to know if it connected, but I'm hoping Jessie and I will see a change in the questions we collect on Saturday. I'm hoping our decision process will be difficult because we have many more questions for our bloggers that reflect critical thinking skills at work.


At 6:20 AM, Skip said...

Where would Sherlock Holmes be without Watson? Skip


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