Psychology 4180: Critical Thinking in Psychology
2018 - 2019
The basic skills required to gather, interpret, and critically evaluate research findings in Psychology are discussed and developed in the course. Alternative definitions of critical thinking are considered, as are the contributions of cognitive psychology to an understanding of critical thinking. Both contexts for enhancing critical thinking and contexts that impede it are explored. Emphasis is placed on the concepts of argument and rhetoric in the service of persuasion. Students practice applying their growing knowledge of critical thinking by evaluating research studies in Psychology - both correlational and experimental studies, both qualitative and quantitative studies. Critiques of Psychology itself are also considered.
Students apply their developing critical thinking skills in various contexts. Students present the results of primary source research articles in a manner appropriate for the general public - for example, preparation of guidelines for teachers on the use and misuse of the learning styles concept, or a brochure for lawyers regarding the reliability of eyewitness testimony. The actual topics explored are discussed in class and online and are mutually agreed upon by the students and the Course Director. Students also critically evaluate the accuracy and utility of current media reports about psychological findings.
Skills emphasized in the course include:
Locating research articles on emerging trends and demonstrating critical thinking about research findings in Psychology,
Critically assessing the methodology used to address specific research questions,
Effectively interpreting results from reported research,
Evaluating the credibility of scientific evidence and differentiating it from scientific conjecture,
Communicating, in writing and orally, the methods, results, and conclusions of research studies in lay terms,
Critically assessing and communicating, in writing and orally, the value of media reports about psychological concepts and studies.
Ron Sheese, Course Director
S342 Ross Building
Dana Gorelik, Teaching Assistant
066 Behavioural Sciences Building
Weekly exercises and reflections (10%)
Project 1 (15%), October 18. Critique of a popular article and its academic source.
Project 2 (15%), December 6. Critique of a psychology research article
Project 3 (25%), February 21. Critique of a set of related psychology articles
Project 4 (25%), April 4. Plain-language recommendations regarding an applied psychology issue.
Reynolds, G. (August 16, 2017). How exercise could help you learn a new language. New York Times.
CBC Radio, SPARK (June 27, 2018). We need a survival guide for thinking because we're bad at it.
Liu, F., Sulpizio, S., Kompetpanee, S., & Job, R. (2017). It takes biking to learn: Physical activity improves learning a second language. PLoS ONE 12, e0177624.
Willingham, D. T. (2007). Critical thinking: Why is it so hard to teach? American Educator, 31(2), 8-19.
Eyal, N. (2018). Fundamental attribution error: Why you make terrible life choices. Nir&Far. [Available: https://www.nirandfar.com/2018/09/fundamental-attribution-error.html]
Damasio, A. (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, sorrow, and the feeling brain. Orlando, FL: Harcourt. (Page 149)
Mercier, H., Boudry, M., Paglieri, F., & Trouche, E. (2017). Natural-born arguers: Teaching how to make the best of our reasoning abilities. Educational Psychologist, 52(1), 1-16.
Wheeler, L. K. (2017). Toulmin model of argument. [Available: web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Toulmin.pdf]
Graff, G. (2003). Clueless in academe: How schooling obscures the life of the mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Pages 1-25, 30-32, 65-67, 275-277)
Hadidi, A. (2016). Cognition and Rhetoric in English Language Learners’ Writing: A Developmental Study. PhD dissertation, York University. (Pages 308-309, 352-353) [link available on course Moodle site]
Psychology Research Guide. York Libraries
Stapleton, P., & Wu, Y. (2015). Assessing the quality of arguments in students’ persuasive writing: A case study analyzing the relationship between surface structure and substance. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 17, 12-23. (Focus on pages 12-14, 20, 22)
Cranney, J., & Dunn, D. (2011). The psychologically literate citizen: Foundations and global perspectives. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. (page 34 – tip sheet handout)
Flaherty, C. (September 5, 2018). A philosophy blogger resigns. Inside Higher Ed online.
Ruscio, J. (2005). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. (page xiv – tip sheet handout)
Wingate, U. (2012). ‘Argument!’ helping students understand what essay writing is about. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11 (2), 145-154.
Angelo, T. A. (1995). Classroom assessment for critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22(1), 6-7.
Halonen, J. (1995). Demystifying critical thinking. Teaching of Psychology, 22(1), 75-81.
Singal, J. (December 5, 2017) The creators of the Implicit Association Test should get their story straight. Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine.
Chatfield, T. (2017). 10 Commandments for Critical Thinking. [Available: https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/chatfield-ten-commandments/]
Roediger, H. L., & McCabe, D. P. (2006). Evaluating experimental research: Critical issues. In R. J. Sternberg, H. L. Roediger, & D. F. Halpern (Eds.), Critical Thinking in Psychology (pp. 15 – 36). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Drake, T. (2011). Drake’s List of the Most Common Logical Fallacies. [Available: https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/eng207-td/Logic%20and%20Analysis/most_common_logical_fallacies.htm]
Tafreshi, D., Slaney, K. L., & Neufeld, S. D. (2016). Quantification in psychology: Critical analysis of an unreflective practice. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 36, 233-249.
Adler, S., & Aronczyk, A. (November 23, 2017). Stereothreat. Radiolab. [Available: http://www.radiolab.org/story/stereothreat/]
Winstone, N. E., Nash, R. A., Rowntree, J., & Parker, M. (2017). ‘It’d be useful, but I wouldn’t use it’: barriers to university students’ feedback seeking and recipience. Studies in Higher Education, 42(11), 2026-2041.
Beres, D. (September 13, 2016). Can we think critically anymore? bigthink. [bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/can-we-think-critically-anymore]
Engber, D. (Jan 3, 2018). LOL something matters. [Available: https://slate.com/health-and-science/2018/01/weve-been-told-were-living-in-a-post-truth-age-dont-believe-it.html]
Kahne, J. & Bowyer, B. (2017). Educating for democracy in a partisan age. American Educational Research Journal, 54(1), 3-34.
Kolata, G. (October 31, 2017). How to report when the science is sketchy. New York Times, p. A2.
Kreps, T. A., Laurin, K., & Merritt, A. C. (2017). Hypocritical flip-flop, or courageous evolution? When leaders change their moral minds. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 113(5), 730-752. (abstract and method section only)
Luhrmann, T. et al. (February 2018). The minds of others: The art of persuasion in the age of Trump. Harper’s Magazine, 336(2013), 27-36.
VandenBos, G. R. (2017). “My amygdala killed her, not me”. PsycCRITIQUES, 62(39), 1. [Available: journals.scholarsportal.info/browse/15540138/v62i0039/1_akhnm.xml]
VandenBerge, L. & Ramaekers, S. (2014). Figures of disengagement: Charles Taylor, scientific parenting, and the paradox of late modernity. Educational Theory, 64(6), 607-625.