University of Vermont

The Honors College

Honors College Faculty Seminar 2013

March 18, 2013

TO: All UVM Faculty Members

FROM: S. Abu Rizvi, Dean of the Honors College

SUBJECT: Faculty Seminar 2013

I write to announce the 2013 Honors College Summer Faculty Seminar- Developing and Evaluating Critical Thinking Skills- and encourage you to apply to participate. Derek Bok, in Our Underachieving Colleges (2006), reports that as many as 90% of U.S. faculty members view critical thinking as the most important goal of an undergraduate education. If there is near-consensus on the importance of critical thinking there is much less agreement about what it means, why itís important, whether students are learning it, and how to teach it.

The tenth Honors College Faculty Seminar, to be held August 12-14, 2013, will bring faculty together to think critically about critical thinking. The participants will examine concepts of critical thinking and the tools available for assessing them. They will also look at evidence on the acquisition of critical thinking skills among college students and reflect on the various practices for developing these skills. Associate Professors Jacqueline (Jackie) S. Weinstock (Leadership & Developmental Sciences, College of Education and Social Services) and Jeffrey Hughes (Plant Biology, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources) will lead the seminar. Jackie studies how UVM undergraduates acquire critical thinking skills and the role of activities inside and outside the classroom in this process. Jeff teaches critical thinking techniques in his courses on environmental problem solving and has co-authored a book on this topic.

The seminar will meet over three days. On the first day of the seminar participants will examine what critical thinking means, what it involves, why it is important, and what we know about whether it can be taught and, if so, how. On the second day they will evaluate the critical thinking skills of UVM students as revealed in responses to a critical thinking assessment tool. Participants will see what this exercise implies for teaching practice. On the third day, participants will work on their own and together to develop pedagogical techniques that will foster their students' critical thinking skills. That evening, the seminar will conclude with a dinner hosted by President Tom Sullivan and Leslie Black Sullivan.

The seminar will benefit from strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary engagement and the representation of diverse viewpoints. Faculty members from all UVM colleges and disciplines are therefore encouraged to apply. Participants will receive a grant of $250 to be used to enhance their teaching, scholarship, or service. Participation entails committing to joining in events all three days, reading seminar materials distributed in advance, and evaluating the success of the seminar.

Interested faculty should send a letter of interest and a short C.V. (four pages maximum) by April 5, 2013, addressed to Abu Rizvi, Dean of the Honors College, 50 University Heights. In your letter, please indicate any experience, concerns, or expertise you would bring to the seminar. Please send application material via email attachment to

Applicants will be notified of selection decisions by April 22, 2013 Please feel free to contact me at 6-9102 or if you have any questions.

Abu Rizvi
Dean, Honors College

Last modified March 18 2013 02:19 PM