Teaching for Critical Thinking in Online Learning Environments

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The interactive presentation will engage participants from across disciplines in discussing how critical thinking and critical reflection are conceptualized, taught and evaluated in their disciplines and how to facilitate equivalent depth of learning and critical thinking in online learning environments. The presenter will share a brief overview of a recent design-based research project that focused on developing and evaluating an online gerontological social work course and explain how social constructivism informed the choice of pedagogical strategies that were used to facilitate learners’ critical thinking. The instructional team adopted an interdisciplinary approach to developing the course and accordingly, integrated pedagogical strategies from other disciplines that are concerned with gerontology. As examples, case-based instruction and problem-based learning are widely used in nursing, medicine and health sciences to support complex learning tasks and are supported by scholars and educators across disciplines. The responses of the learners who participated in the evaluation of the online social work course suggested that these strategies were effective in their critical thinking. The presenter will share what was gleaned from the instructors’ and learners’ reflections on the undergraduate, online social work course. Roundtable participants will be invited to share their strategies for teaching critical thinking and critical reflection, to evaluate how specific strategies could be incorporated in to online environments and to identify strategies that would be effective across disciplines.