Graduate Program in Critical and Creative Thinking
AQUAD Planning Document, June 2000
(See update as part of 2002-3 program review)
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
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
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
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
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
3. Develop Program offerings in emerging areas of social relevance and faculty
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
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
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. 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
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
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
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
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
2. Involve the outreach unit in the two targeted certificate programs (see
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
1. Establish a website of techniques and illustrative cases that CCT
faculty members have developed in courses and other forums (see A2f &
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
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.
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. 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
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
A3a. Courses in
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
New activities in
unit E4. Graduate
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
 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).
 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.