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)
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)
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.