Book: The College Writing Toolkit
Chapter: 12. Using Writing Across the Curriculum Exercises to Teach Critical Thinking and Writing
In the second chapter in this section, “Using Writing Across the Curriculum Exercises to Teach Critical Thinking and Writing,” Robert Smart, Suzanne Hudd, and Andrew Delohery present a “concentric model” of critical thinking. This model postulates a hierarchy of linked cognitive tasks, moving from prioritization (deciding the order of importance of ideas), to translation (putting those ideas into one’s own words), and then to analogizing (comparing ideas from one source with those from another, including one’s own experience). This model is used as the basis for creating writing prompts for informal writing tasks, otherwise known as “writing-to-learn” (WTL) tasks. Such tasks are linked to the wider goals of a class, and can be used to provide a basis for working on longer formal papers within a specific discipline. In this chapter, Smart and colleagues show how this approach is applied in faculty workshops and in an upper-division class for sociology students. Their specific examples demonstrate how powerful the concentric thinking model can be as a basis for writing in the disciplines, and also how it can be adapted to different contexts in which critical thinking and mastery of academic discourse are required.