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Evaluation Criteria

Page history last edited by Stian Håklev 10 years, 9 months ago


It is common place in university to claim that we want students to be critical thinkers, but we seldom define explicitly what that means and how to evaluate critical thinking.


As we are living in a highly technologically mediated age, we've looked to Mark Federman's philosophy of education and learning in the digital age for some clues as to what it may mean to be a critical thinker. Federman talks about the need for students today to acquire the skills of the 4 Cs. These stands for:




2. Connections

3. Complexity

4. Connotations


5. Collaboration


In the context of this course, the 4Cs can be seen at multiple levels and connections, and they can be applied to all the stages and final outcomes of your project as well as other aspects of learning in this course.


1. Contexts - Contexts provide meanings, and so it is important to be able to identify the unique historical, social, political, and economic environments in which events took place, and be able to interpret these events in terms of how they are embedded in larger set of phenomena or ideas.


Note that contexts also applies to you as well, as you all come from diverse cultural and educational background and many of you bring relevant lived experience to the course and the learning environment. So you should be able to add additional rich contexts to the issues we explore in the course. The wikipedia news exercise is one example.


2. Connections - Not only are ideas connected, but people are also highly connected, and increasingly so because of networking technology. Being able to identify connections between seemingly unconnected ideas or events is an important conceptual skills, as this reflect understanding of deeper assumptions and shared roots.  Connections also reveal patterns, and networking patterns is an increasingly important area for understanding social dynamics.


3. Complexity - This refers to the idea that human social events are highly non-linear and non-deterministic. And what appears to be simple (e.g. the Facebook Revolution) may turn out to be highly complex and so call for more multifaceted and complicated explanations instead of simplistic cause and effect assertions. So if you are interested in the role of social media and citizen participation, you need to go beyond the obvious (e.g. the use of twitter etc.) and delve deeper into the "architecture of participation", the barriers, and the creative ways citizens use to mobilize, organize and to gain voices.


4. Connotations - This refers to the process of making meanings.  So for example, what do complex ideas like citizenship, activism, transparency, democracy etc. mean in the different contexts? How do the different framing and contexts help create different meanings? The making meaning portion will be particularly important in your concept note project. This is where you make the connections at the various levels (between relevant case studies and between ideas, draw from the course materials and from additional literature), provide complex explanations for your proposed ideas, and then make sense and meanings out of all the pieces.


To Federman's 4 Cs, I would like to add a fifth C, that is Collaboration:

5. Collaboration - this is in fact a central feature of the course, namely social collaboration in knowledge production. Collaboration can take many forms, and it encompasses sharing, facilitation, mutual support, constructive feedback, and often being able to compromise. Technology is supposed to enable collaboration and to do so in new ways. How effective was your group in leveling technology for collaboration, or did technology actually got in the way?


Assignment for October 8th and October 15th:

We will identify 3-4 common themes among the project ideas from the class, and create theme pages on the wiki. The pages will initially be populated with headers, such as “Organizations active in this field”, “Specific problems in this field”, “Technological solutions”, etc.


For week 1, students will choose one theme (corresponding to their group research interest) and populate these wiki pages with examples, information and links. They will be encouraged to edit and improve the pages (we will track this through edit histories).


We will spend some time on discussing these in class during week 2. We will then add another set of headers, including “Connections to other themes”, “Connections to development theories” etc. The students will populate these, and continue developing the pages. At the end of week 2, we will evaluate individual contributions using the wiki history, assigning up to 10% participation marks.

After week 2, the groups will begin focusing on defining and researching their individual and specific themes. They will pool their research on group pages, and continue to contribute back to the theme pages (and perhaps new theme pages that are identified, for example a health and an agricultural project might both be utilizing mobile technology, both be located in Uganda, etc). During this period, they will also be tasked with reviewing and providing feedback on drafts by other groups.


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