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Dualistic Thinking
Reflective, Critical Thinking

What Experience Do Students Have with Multiple Perspectives?

Prior to coming to college, many students have not had the opportunity to observe lively communities of discourse, much less participate in them.

Rarely do lower-division students have prior experience in engaging in reasoned decision making by examining diverse points of view. Even upper-division students may be lacking in the experience of seriously and considering competing claims and perspectives.

In general, many of our students have not been encouraged to think critically in their prior learning experiences, and though they may have been encouraged to observe others thinking critically, they may not have internalized such an approach. Textbooks tend to reduce myriad perspectives to a simplified, singular viewpoint that implies that it is fact or “the truth.” Developmentally, students may have not been open yet to the notion that there may be more than one reasonable answer to a question.

Engaging Perspectives—Three Levels

To become adept academic decision makers, students must be able to interact as experts to engage perspectives at three levels:

A Note About Dualistic Thinking

Additionally, many students are caught in the mode of dualistic thinking and are inexperienced in reflective, critical thinking. Oftentimes, we urge students to think more critically, yet we find that they seem to be unable to do so.

Written and Oral Deliverables Creating the Assessment Collaborative Deliberation Developing Learning Teams Learning Through Reflection Learning Outcomes Posing the Problem Generating Multiple Perspectives Making Informed Decisions Invitational Communication Climate