19.517 Wikipedia and critical thinking

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 07:12:39 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 517.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Ryan Deschamps <Ryan.Deschamps_at_Dal.Ca> (18)
         Subject: Wikipedia in Nature

   [2] From: Barbara Walden <bwalden_at_library.wisc.edu> (33)
         Subject: more thoughts on critical thinking

   [3] From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois (50)
         Subject: time and the space of teaching

         Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 07:00:06 +0000
         From: Ryan Deschamps <Ryan.Deschamps_at_Dal.Ca>
         Subject: Wikipedia in Nature

Looking at the data, I think it is important to say that while, on
average, the Wikipedia articles held similar accuracy to Britannica,
the quality of articles were more variable as well.

That means if you cite Wikipedia alot, you will be on track most of
the time. But it may also mean that one of your articles (ie. see
the Mendelev example) could be way off. This makes total sense,
seeing that some concepts are more controversial than others. I
think in a social science or a humanity, one would have to be even more wary.

But that is just more support to the call for critical thinking etc.

I think it was Ken who addressed the issue of time as per
assignments. That's where the librarians should play a role -- they
can really save you time. A good lit review plan/strategy takes
about 5 minutes, but it saves hours, maybe even days or weeks. But
there isn't really anything out there these days that examines
pre-research strategies/planning-- not even when I taught study
skills to undergrads.

Ryan. . .

Ryan Deschamps

         Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 07:01:06 +0000
         From: Barbara Walden <bwalden_at_library.wisc.edu>
         Subject: more thoughts on critical thinking

Hello: Here is a response I received when I forwarded your Humanist
post about Wikipedia and critical thinking (Wikipedia's lesson) to
the collegial discussion group at the School of Library and
Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

   The author is willing to have it re-posted at Humanist and
elsewhere, if appropriate:

There are a lot of good texts out there that combine critically
thinking and research - and the Booth book is one of them. Ultimately,
though, it really depends on the goals of the course. I've used The
Subject is Research edited by Wendy Bishop for a course that did more
than the 'traditional' research paper. Elements of Argument edited by
Rottenberg approaches everything (writing and research) from a Toulmin-
based approach to argument and analysis. Really, most of the textbooks
out there deal with these issues. Ultimately, though, it is up to the
instructor to teach them and also up to the student to work at

As a side note, when one looks at stages of cognitive development in
terms of education, the students we see as undergraduates are often
just reaching that stage where 'critical thinking' (which really is a
very vague phrase) skills start to take off. Sometimes it is more
important to meet students where they are rather than be disappointed
by their lack of certain skills.

Katy Southern
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Teaching Assistant - Department of English
Student - Department of English (Composition and Rhetoric) & School of
Library and Information Studies


Barbara Walden
University of Wisconsin-Madison
European History Librarian/ Senior Academic Librarian
Doctoral Student, School of Library and Information Studies

         Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 07:02:39 +0000
         From: lachance_at_origin.chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
         Subject: time and the space of teaching

Willard and Ken,

I strongly suspect that the figure of the student without enough time
is often the projection of the
overburdened teacher. Weariness sometimes contributes to the slide
from a wish to see one's students do
better to a desire to do better by them.

There is an alternative to giving more time. It is a great service to
provide to students room of their

Consider asynchronous access to a class blog or listserv. Some
ability to upload to the WWW.

A space. An invitation.

Imagine if you will back channel email: talk amongst themselves.
Engagement too with the wider communities
of discourse if you will, imagine.

There is no guarantee that critical thinking will come from such
campus chatter and brief encounters.

Still provision of such spaces supplement the space of the essay.
What is an essay assigned to students but
an invitation to construct and communicate? In some ways the essay,
the single term paper, asks too little
of our students. Will the day come when class sizes will again be
manageable and a portfolio will be
assessed? Will that portfolio contain not only the finished work but
also drafts? Not only drafts but also
comments on the work of peers? Not only one on one communications but
also records of moderated
discussions? In short, a critical thinker is a person who can ask
penetrating questions, find the
worthwhile in the sometimes unlikely places. A critical thinker is
not just clear but also brings clarity:
can move from savaging to salvage.

Give them the space and they will find the time. Give yourselves the
time and they will help you make the

I recall all nighters, many of them, before the quotidien practice of
writing and reading settled into
habit. I do not regret them. Those professors and tutors that marked
the results may not of course share
the sentiments. Nonetheless, the faculty seemed to have an almost
infinite patience for youth and a trust
that some day, long after the completion of the degree, we would be
wise enough to continue learning, make
the time to read and perchance to write, but above all in every daily
action, to think. You would be
surprised as to how little contact was necessary to impart that gift.

Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

~~~ to be surprised by machines: wistly and sometimes wistfully
Received on Tue Dec 20 2005 - 02:37:32 EST

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