In colleges and universities, there is increasing demand to help students learn how to conceptualize, analyze, and reason. Learning to Think presents a model of learning that takes into account the different ways learning occurs in different academic disciplines and explores the relationship between knowledge and thinking processes. Janet Donald--a leading researcher in the field of postsecondary teaching and learning--presents a framework for learning that goes beyond the acquisition of knowledge to encompass ways of constructing and utilizing it within and across disciplines. The author discusses how learning occurs in different academic disciplines and reveals how educators can improve the teaching and learning process in their classrooms and programs.
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"In an innovative, interdisciplinary investigation of a neglected topic, Janet Donald not only suggests that there are major differences among learning paradigms in leading disciplines, but that faculty will teach more successfully once we recognize that we are actually teaching students to think. She demonstrates convincingly how students make contact with the investigative tools that each discipline prizes and how essential that contact is to their education."
--James Wilkinson, director, Derek Bok Center for Teaching, Harvard University
"Humanists, scientists, and educationalists think and learn in different ways. Based upon her extensive interviews in many disciplines and countries, Professor Donald teaches us how."
--David G. Brown, vice president and dean, International Center for Computer Enhanced Learning, Wake Forest University
Learning to think in a discipline is a demanding scholarly task that is not often associated with the development of university students. Although the intellectual development of postsecondary students is gaining increased attention, relating student development to the process of inquiry in different disciplines is unexplored terrain. This book attempts to come to a deeper understanding of thinking processes by exploring the approaches to thinking taken in different disciplines and then considering how these could be applied to student intellectual development.
Drawing on more than twenty-five years of research, Janet Donald shows how knowledge is structured and how professors and students perceive learning in their fields-and offers strategies for constructing and using knowledge that will help postsecondary institutions to promote students' intellectual development within and across the disciplines. The author first creates a framework for understanding student intellectual development and for learning to think in different disciplines. In succeeding chapters, she describes the principal methods of inquiry in each discipline and their effects on learning to think, examining what this means for students and how we might use it to improve the instructional process.
For faculty members, this book provides insight into the representation and development of curricula, courses, and programs to improve teaching and learning processes. Professors of education may find a specific use for the comparisons across disciplines in planning courses on teaching methods, as an aid in providing students with insight into how disciplines or fields of study are constructed, and in refining their own conceptual framework in their field. Administrators, particularly of programs and departments, will find suggestions for policy initiatives that are needed to create a supportive learning environment and for organizing teaching and learning.
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