Professional Learning Community Produces Book on Developing Critical Thinking Skills

photo of book cover

A professional learning community, composed of eight faculty members in Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Education, has produced a book aimed at helping teacher education faculty and students to better understand and implement the Paul and Elder model of critical thinking.

EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), adopted in 2007, calls for the University to develop critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.

The book, “Putting It into Practice: Developing Student Critical Thinking Skills in Teacher Education – the Models, Methods, Experience and Results,” includes at least one chapter apiece from EKU faculty members Nina Coyer, Dr. Tammy Cranfill, Dr. Delinda Dent, Dr. Karen Maloley, Dr. Sue Mahanna-Boden, Dr. Diane Porter, and co-editors Dr. Debbie Haydon and Dr. Paula Jones. Also, Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul, originators of the Paul and Elder critical thinking model, contributed the forward to the book.

“Debbie and I both serve as QEP coaches and we currently serve faculty in learning more about the Paul and Elder Model and how to implement the model in their courses to develop students’ critical thinking skills,” Jones said. “Because of our experience as QEP coaches, we wanted to bring together faculty in the teacher education program/College of Education to look closely at how to implement the Paul and Elder model in their classes and begin to document the methods used to ‘teach’ students to think critically. This has truly been one of the most successful PLCs we have been a part of – and it was due to each member’s rich and continued contributions.”

Originally, the PLC was planned to be in place for one year, capped by a presentation at a regional conference in May 2010 on how members had utilized the Paul and Elder model in their courses.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

“Because of the success of our PLC and the community we had formed during that year, none of us wanted our PLC to end at the end of the spring 2010 term,” Jones said. “We found the opportunity to share our work and discuss methods, problems and solutions with colleagues to be very supportive and helpful. We talked about our desire to take our work to another level. We were just not sure what the next level might be.”

After several conversations, a book proposal was submitted to Information Age Publishing. In August 2010 the book proposal was approved and the PLC spent its second year finalizing the chapters for publication.

“One of the most important elements of this book is that it has been written for teachers by teachers,” Jones said. “As chapter authors and editors, we believe teachers, overall, want their students to understand their reasoning and to learn to think through content as a mode of reasoning. This book is devoted to sharing our teaching experiences in implementing a recognized critical thinking model in a teacher education program. We believe that teachers can benefit from the opportunity to see what other educators are doing in their classes to support students in thinking about their own thinking as well as thinking through content. We also hope that it brings some recognition to EKU and specifically to the efforts of Dean Bill Phillips, who supported the PLC for two years, and the College of Education faculty in supporting their students to think critically.”

The book is available through Information Age Publishing (http://www.infoagepub.com/products/Putting-It-into-Practice) and will be available at the QEP Showcase on Tuesday, Feb. 7, a five-year celebration of the QEP at Eastern.

Published on January 24, 2012