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ERIC Number: EJ1104362
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 15
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0143
Honoring Controversy: Using Real-World Problems to Teach Critical Thinking in Honors Courses
Cargas, Sarita
Honors in Practice, v12 p123-137 2016
In this article Sarita Cargas suggests that getting honors students used to analyzing controversies will contribute to their developing a disposition toward critical thinking. She goes on to say that the value of teaching critical-thinking skills complements the movement of many honors programs toward teaching more than just disciplinary content. At the same time, since interdisciplinary honors curricula often focus less on the specific content and methodology required in a disciplinary major, explicit instruction in critical-thinking skills is especially important in interdisciplinary honors programs that intend to serve leaders in all fields. Employer surveys suggest that what they want from college graduates is not people with specific knowledge but rather people who have skills in communication and critical thinking (Hart Research Associates 2). Critical thinking that focuses on controversy adds these skills to the interdisciplinary approach that is often a hallmark of honors teaching, maintaining "a tradition of critical inquiry that transcends disciplinary boundaries" (Carnicom 53). Herein, Cargas defines critical thinking, discusses how to teach critical thinking, and demonstrates how Monsanto's use of genetic engineering (GE) has proven to be an excellent topic for teaching critical thinking to honors students, who are advanced enough to appreciate the complex issues it raises. She concludes by describing how her students present research to the rest of the class on controversial topics such as fracking, the US government's use of drones that kill people, government spying on U.S. citizens, Edward Snowden's leaks, vaccines, gun control, and raising the minimum wage. Through such presentations, students promote awareness among their peers of the deep structure that permeates so many contemporary issues rather than just informing each other about the surface structure of a single issue.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A