Critical Thinking in Action: Sustainability

Submitted by Cristy Moran on January 19th, 2017
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Short Description: 

Students will be exposed to various entry points of a sustainability topic in various formats. They will take notes as they experience those expressions on the Elements of Thought evidenced throughout. This in-class, two-part lesson includes an independent guided activity and a Think-Pair-Share activity for further reflection on source/ claimant evaluation.

Prior to this lesson, instructor will have chosen a topic relevant to their subject area or course content – Possible examples: food deserts, clean water in US, bee colony collapse.

Instructor will also have selected (commenting on this topic directly):
• One short-form video product (I.e. TED Talk, video essay, documentary clip, recorded speech, or other topical video informational product)
• One published essay, opinion editorial, or commentary
• One informative (unbiased) article or reference entry.
The duration of the in-class activities for this lesson is approximately 60-75 minutes. Length and difficulty of content should be considered when selecting the examples.

EXAMPLE QEP and IL Lesson - ENC1102.docxDownloaded 646 times15.04 KB
Learning Outcomes: 

• Students will closely listen and/or read information in order to recognize elements of thought
• Students will identify key components of written/ oral arguments for point of view, purpose, question at issue, information, interpretation and inference, concepts, assumptions, and implications and consequences
• Students will determine their information need (next steps for research) based on notes


Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

This lesson was created as a possible proposal for embedding in a freshman level composition course with a thematic focus on sustainability as a part of the college's QEP (theme: critical thinking). The theme for this lesson is highly adaptable, as are the individual sources. The Elements of Thought referred to throughout the activity are from and the Paul-Elder Model for Critical Thinking.

Additional Instructor Resources (e.g. in-class activities, worksheets, scaffolding applications, supplemental modules, further readings, etc.): 

Find additional resources on the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking models on

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 
Suggested Citation: 
Moran, Cristy. "Critical Thinking in Action: Sustainability ." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017.