Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking

AQUAD Planning Document, June 2000

(See update as part of 2002-3 program review)

I. Mission

The banner on the website of the Program in Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) reads: "developing reflective practice and changing our schools, workplaces, and lives." This is the spirit with which CCT pursues its primary mission of professional development for mid-career teachers and other educators and for leaders or change-agents in other kinds of organizations. CCT approaches this mission by providing its students with an understanding of the processes of critical thinking and creativity, and with ways of helping others develop these processes in a variety of educational, professional, and social situations.
The Program appeals to mature students who are motivated to transform their work and lives and are interested to learn from other students whose interests and backgrounds are diverse. Many are educators: teachers and college professors, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, museum educators, or school administrators. Others are policy makers or personnel trainers in government, corporate, or non-profit settings. Some are artists, musicians, or writers.
CCT students are encouraged in their course projects, independent studies, and capstone projects to translate what they learn into strategies, materials and interventions for use in their own settings. Students graduate from the Program better equipped for ongoing learning, fulfilling the needs of their schools, workplaces, and communities, adapting to social changes, and collaborating with others to these ends.
CCT is an interdisciplinary graduate program. Its faculty members are drawn from several fields, including education, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and the life sciences. Traditionally, the field of Critical and Creative Thinking has covered psychological studies of the scope, limits, and techniques of critical and creative thought, information processing, and conceptual learning in children and young adults; philosophical studies of techniques in reasoning, argument, logical thinking, valuing, and judging; and work with cognitive structures and metacognitive techniques for stimulating creativity and critical thought. More recently, CCT has delved further into inter- and intra-personal dimensions of critical and creative thinking and reflective practice, into the areas of empathy, listening, dialogue, and facilitation of other group processes. An interest in contributing to constructive social change has also led CCT faculty and students to address anti-racist and multicultural education and to promote the involvement of teachers and other citizens in debates about science in its social context.
Most students in CCT seek a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree, but others study for a Graduate Certificate. Starting in the summer of 2000, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies with a Concentration in Facilitating Reflective Practice is available through a partnership with the Educational Administration Program. CCT courses also allow students from other programs in the Graduate College of Education (GCOE) to fulfill requirements for courses in critical and creative thinking and in teaching in the different subject areas, especially in mathematics and science. Special, non-degree students can also take CCT courses; this opportunity, together with workshops, summer institutes, forums, and other outreach activities further extend the range of educational experiences offered by the Program.
M.A. students complete four foundation courses, three electives, and three more required courses including a capstone thesis or synthesis. The elective courses offered specifically address four areas in which students apply critical and creative thinking skills:
* moral education
* literature and arts
* mathematics, science, and technology, which includes sub-specialities in science in society, and environment, science, and society
* the workplace
The program provides for other student specialization through cooperation with other UMass Boston graduate programs, such as instructional design, special education, educational administration, and dispute resolution.

II. Goals and Objectives

A. To provide graduate students with an understanding of the processes of critical thinking and creativity, and with ways of helping others develop these processes in a variety of educational, professional, and social situations.
1. Establish forms of evaluation of student outcomes that reflect the Program's educational philosophy.
a. Document the achievement of this educational goal through a self-evaluation by graduating students in which they take stock of i) ways they have translated what they have been learning into strategies, materials and interventions for use in their own settings, and ii) directions that need further development.
b. Experiment with new, "authentic" evaluations for required CCT courses that provide more useful information about the course experience to the instructor, future students, and collegial reviewers, and allow current students to take stock of what they have learned about learning.
2. Attract and retain students to reliable Program offerings.
a. Maintain new enrollments in CCT programs of study to an average of 21-25 matriculants per year, increasing the proportion of matriculants going on to graduate.
b. Promote the new CAGS Concentration in Facilitating Reflective Practice and recruit one-three students for each summer's cohort starting in 2001.
c. Maintain a reliable roster of CCT courses allowing students to specialize in the four areas listed in the Program mission.
d. Maintain course enrollments that ensure that no more than one course per year is cancelled for lack of sufficient enrollment.
e. Review and streamline the published course offerings so the Graduate Bulletin reflects closely what is available on a regular basis.
f. Institutionalize the weekly "CCT in Practice" series of presentations so, in particular, new students become acquainted with the range of areas addressed by members of the wider CCT community.
g. Communicate with lapsed students to learn ways CCT could serve students better.
3. Develop Program offerings in emerging areas of social relevance and faculty specialization.
a. Develop and offer regularly courses that involve critical and creative thinking in the areas of i) science in its social context/ science, technology and values, including environmental studies; ii) dialogue and collaboration in personal and organizational change (through Continuing Education courses), and iii) invention (seeded by a National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance grant).
b. Establish two targetted certificate programs, "Science, Education, and Society, " and "Dialogue and Collaboration in Organizational Change," to be offered in collaboration with Continuing Education and a CCT outreach unit (see E1 below).
c. Review the Program requirements and content of required courses to complement and adjust new directions in CCT offerings.

B. To establish planning parameters that allow CCT faculty to determine the best use of their experience and energies.[1]
1. Set or settle parameters for CCT's role in the GCOE, concerning:
a. CCT's Mission
b. Level of CCT course offerings
c. Continuation of two full-time lines with primary responsibility to CCT, and replacement when faculty are on leave. (This is particularly important for CCT's mission and for the realization of this plan.)
d. Expected student numbers in the CCT Program and courses
e. Emphasis on the synthesis option, not the thesis, for the M.A. capstone
f. Cross-college institutional arrangements to recognize the CAS faculty who work in CCT, secure continuing CAS contributions, and include those faculty in promotion and other reviews for CCT faculty in GCOE
g. Support for part-time faculty
h. Administrative support, to facilitate smooth day-to-day running of the Program and outreach to create conduits that bring in new students.
2. Achieve recognition of CCT's mission and the other planning parameters by other GCOE Programs and Departments.
a. Circulate the CCT Mission statement, with an appendix on the planning parameters once they are set/settled
b. Invite GCOE leaders and other faculty to briefings or forums on CCT

C. To contribute to increased cross-program collaboration in the GCOE.
1. Promote and foster the new CAGS Concentration in Facilitating Reflective Practice made possible by a partnership with the Ed. Admin. program (see A2a&b, A3a&b).
2. Establish a forum for cooperation among the mid-career professional development-oriented MA programs, in particular, contributing ideas and referring students to each others' teacher-research and research preparation courses.
3. Play a significant role in a strong and distinctive GCOE contribution to educating math and science educators, a role that combines CCT's emphasis on conceptual change in students and understanding science in its social context (see A3ai).
4. Contribute to the evolution of standard GCOE course evaluations and streamlining of procedures for passing on the results in a form that faculty can use to develop their teaching (see A1).
5. Promote CCT outreach efforts (see E below) through joint publicity and shared sponsorship where appropriate with other GCOE centers and projects.

D. To contribute to increased collaboration with and contributions to other units within the University
1. CCT faculty offer two presentations per year on teaching innovation through the Center for Improvement of Teaching.
2. CCT faculty take an active role in supporting further development of the undergraduate Program in Science, Technology and Values.
3. Enlist faculty from within the University to teach CCT courses, advise students, and participate in other Program activities to replace faculty previously teaching for CCT, but no longer doing so now.

E. To undertake outreach that builds on the professional strengths of the part-time faculty and growing network of graduates, as well as the regular faculty.
1. Prepare a prospectus for an outreach unit by the summer of 2000, detailing the planning premises, mission, initial projects, governance and processes of evaluation and ongoing development, resources and funding plans, and integration with the CCT Program, GCOE, Continuing Education, and the University.
2. Involve the outreach unit in the two targeted certificate programs (see A3b).
3. Add at least one project or activity under the unit each year.
4. Expand the network of CCT graduates involved in the unit each year.
5. Maintain a monthly schedule for the Changing Life working group on teaching critical thinking about the life and environmental sciences.

F. To support CCT faculty and students in research on and publication of their distinctive contributions to the fields of critical and creative thinking.
1. Establish a website of techniques and illustrative cases that CCT faculty members have developed in courses and other forums (see A2f & E5).
2. Prepare a prospectus for publication of a fieldbook of these techniques and cases by summer of 2002.
3. Establish a process to identify students prepared to undertake theses, and establish advising relationships to support them in completing them.

G. To evaluate and continue developing the Program.
1. Constitute an advisory board by the summer of 2000, which would meet twice a year to give advice to both CCT and its outreach unit, help keep CCT faculty abreast of new developments, and monitor the support and resources CCT and the outreach unit provide each other.
2. Review and revise this planning document at the first meeting of the Advisory Board and then on an annual basis.
3. Arrange facilitated, participatory planning sessions so as to enhance the participation and investment of CCT faculty in the resulting plans.
4. Develop during the 2001-2 academic year and begin to implement a strategic plan for increasing the social diversity of CCT students and for CCT courses to address the issues of increasing diversity.
5. Prepare a plan by summer of 2002 for establishing CCT as a place to train and support activists, concerned scientists, and other citizens in community-based research.
6. Use evaluations (see A1a&b) and feedback from lapsed students (see A2g) to revise and improve CCT courses and other operations.
7. Arrange a survey of CCT graduates each AQUAD cycle to document ways their CCT experience has influenced their career development.

III. Rationale

Since the previous, very favorable Program Review in 1994-95, CCT has moved from the College of Arts and Sciences to the Graduate College of Education and experienced, unfortunately, a significant reduction of resources.[2] Ongoing adjustment to these circumstances is reflected in goals B & C and several other objectives in A2 and E. Reconfiguring CCT's operations and achieving greater efficiencies are needed for the Program to be able to:
--maintain its strength as an interdisciplinary program with a strong focus on individualized learning, growth, and mid-career professional development (see Mission and goal A);
--develop a clear and constructive role in GCOE, coordinating with other GCOE graduate programs and outreach initiatives (goals C and E); and
--address the 1994-95 review committee's recommendations, in particular, that of presenting a higher profile, within the university and in the wider community, for what is distinctive about CCT's work (goals D-F).
To elaborate on this general rationale, let us revisit some of the points. To develop efficient, reliable operations (objective A2) based on the reduced resources now available requires that the parameters within which it is operating be clear and recognized (goal B) and that CCT's goals and objectives be supported by collaborations with other GCOE programs (objective B2 and goal C) and University activities (goal D). Clear parameters will also help CCT faculty see where best to put their considerable, but not unlimited energies. Indeed, if the enthusiastic participation of CCT faculty is to be retained, the Program must not simply consolidate, but must evolve in directions that reflect the emerging faculty interests (objective A3), including outreach that links in part-time faculty and CCT graduates (goal E). One of those faculty interests--increasing social diversity of the student body and of the cases and other course materials -- is particularly challenging and thus the need for some strategic planning (objective G4).
Continuation of two full-time lines with primary responsibility to CCT (objective B1c) is a precondition for achieving an efficient, reliable operation with sufficient enrollments (objective A2). Yet, despite the recent changes and resource reductions, the Program aims for more than a stable operation. Initiatives to address recommendations from the previous review include the targeted certificate programs, outreach activities, and publication (objective A3b and goals D, E and F). These have been designed, however, to develop gradually and stay within the Program's means. In this spirit, writing about and disseminating techniques and illustrative cases that CCT faculty have already developed (objectives F1 and F2) is given a higher priority for CCT than securing funding for new research projects. (This is not to preclude individual faculty members developing their own research proposals.)
Constituting an advisory board will allow outsiders to provide perspective on how well CCT is balancing the demands of teaching, developing certificate programs, publication, and outreach (goal G). The Program and course evaluations will provide valuable information on how well the Program is fulfilling the primary component of its mission, teaching students (objective A1). The survey of graduates' career development (objective G7) might also generate donations to support the Program's development and outreach.

IV. Strategy for Assessing Progress towards Goals and Objectives

The strategy for assessing progress towards these goals and objectives is addressed by the Program and course evaluations (objective A1) and other contributions to the ongoing development of the Program (goal G). In particular, the Advisory Board will take stock of whether the specified targets have been met and review the self-evaluations. If there are major discrepancies, the Board should insist that the Program convenes a facilitated, participatory planning session to analyze the situation and develop concrete responses.
V. Timetable
Goal             Ongoing             1999-2000           2000-01             2001-02            
A. Serving       A1b. New course     A1a. Exit           A2b. CAGS A2e.                         
students         evaluations A2a.    evaluation          Streamline                             
                 Matriculant #s                          Bulletin listings                      
                 A2c. Reliable                           A2f. CCT in                            
                 roster of courses                       Practice series                        
                 A2d. Enrollment                         A3b. Certificate                       
                 #s A2g.                                 programs                               
                 Communication w/                                                               
                 lapsed students                                                                
                 A3a. Courses in                                                                
                 emerging areas                                                                 
                 A3c. Review CCT                                                                
B. Planning                          B1. Set planning    B2. Recognition                        
parameters                           parameters w/in     w/in GCOE of                           
                                     GCOE                CCT's mission and                      
C.               C3. Math & sci.                         C1. CAGS C2.        C4. Evolution of   
Collaboratn.     ed. C5. Outreach                        Inter-program       evaluations        
w/in GCOE                                                forum                                  
D.               D1. CIT D2. Sct.                                                               
Collaboratn.     Tech. Values D3.                                                               
w/in Univ.       Faculty involved                                                               
                 from outside CCT                                                               
E. Outreach      E2. Outreach unit   E1. Prospectus                                             
                 involvement in      for outreach unit                                          
                 Certificates E3.                                                               
                 New activities in                                                              
                 unit E4. Graduate                                                              
                 involvement in                                                                 
                 unit E5. Changing                                                              
F. Research &                                            F1.  Website of     F2. Fieldbook      
Publication                                              techniques &        prospectus         
                                                         cases F3.  Theses                      
G. Eval'tion &   G2. Review          G1. Advisory board                      G4. Diversity      
Developmt.       planning document                                           plan G5.           
                 G3. Facilitated                                             Community-based    
                 planning process                                            research G7.       
                 G6. Feedback                                                Survey of          

[1] Goals B and C and several other objectives in A2 and E reflect ongoing adjustment to the new institutional location in GCOE and to the reduction of resources since the previous Program Review in 1994-95 (see section III. Rationale).
[2] Specifically, office space, the resource room, and the half-time secretarial position were lost; the budget for part-time faculty and graduate assistants was reduced; and a two-year faculty position was not continued. The standard course load for faculty with full-time CCT lines increased to 6 per year; it had previously been 4 courses with supervising M.A. theses counting for the other 2 courses.

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Last update 6 May '02