Noor (2005), acrylic on canvas – Noor is Arabic for Divine Light
As a life-long learner, I have had the opportunity to design, implement and publish two action research studies in the Canadian context.
For my Master’s in Teaching, I focused on critical thinking, particularly critical questioning. Too often when we teach critical thinking, we encourage students to analyze, investigate and deconstruct the arguments of others. I decided to design a critical questioning exercise that would turn the lens on the self, rather than the other. In this exercise, students engage in meta-questioning – they apply a critical thinking framework to their very own question, and therefore, to themselves. I have used this exercise as an avenue to explore our deeply ingrained biases, stereotypes and prejudgments. When we bring these to light, we can indeed transform.
I continue to iterate and modify this method according to the learners and their needs. The below is a general framework that can be modelled and practiced over time.
STEP 1: Engage and Brainstorm – Students engage with a piece of media and record as many questions as they can. This becomes their question bank.
STEP 2: Attain the Concept – Students organize questions into themes based on Barrell’s (2003) critical thinking framework: Source, Evidence, Assumptions, Definitions, and Slant (SEADS).
STEP 3: Focus – Students choose their favourite question from their own question bank.
STEP 4: Meta-Question – Students apply the critical thinking framework to their own question. See the below worksheet example.
STEP 4: Share – Students share personal experiences of meta-questioning. Students highlight challenges, strengths and purpose of this exercise, recognizing that their first question may not always get to the heart of their personal inquiry.
STEP 5: Reframe – Students have the opportunity to ‘ask a better question’ by their own standards.
Reference: Barell, J., 2003. Developing more curious minds. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.