Higher Education

Fostering Critical Thinking in the Age of AI

A short video clip explaining how two professors encourage critical thinking in the age of AI

Hear from two professors on how they ensure critical thinking is happening with their students beyond reliance on AI-generated content.


Jenny Gordon:

Julie and Deanna, you were involved in the critical issues forum on the intersection of AI and sort of critical thinking in higher ed. What have you changed in your teaching to make sure that critical thinking continues to happen?

Julie Hollenbeck:

Yeah, that’s a wonderful question. And when I first started realizing my students were using this, that kind of scared me a little bit because I thought, oh no, how am I knowing if this is generative AI producing this work or themselves? So I think the first thing that Deanna and I discussed was we do a lot of knowledge base lecturing in our classes with many little projects, active learning, but we use papers, research papers and presentations to sort of figure out, okay, they know, but do they really understand? And we decided at that moment to sort of table papers for a moment as we were learning how to handle and how to navigate this, and we brought things back into the classroom.

So we started using more presentations. In fact, our students have been, this has been the week of presentations for them for all their classes, but also more frequent feedback loops with those presentations. So we touch base with them kind of during each step, more bite sized pieces so we really know that they’re doing the work. And then also if you are presenting and then you’re needing to ask or answer questions, you really need to understand those concepts. And so that’s kind of how we’ve started to navigate it. I don’t know, Deanna, if you want to add to that.

Deanna Carr-West:

Yeah, and I think one of the fun things that has come from this too is the touch point that Julie referred to. Students can’t just show up and turn in a paper at the end and kind of check that off of the list. When we come together at our checkpoints, we’re talking about where are they at and asking each other to engage with each other’s projects and provide feedback and kind of helping them critically think it through and how they could develop certain aspects of their paper to improve it. So it’s really fostered the critical thinking, not only on their project, but also engaging them with others as they work through their presentations also. So I think that that’s been very helpful.