Teaching Reasoning Methods in the Classroom Essays

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In High Schools across America, students are being told to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and so on. But do students truly understand what is being asked of them? Has anyone actually taken the time to explain to them what it means to analyze something? A student told to analyze a text may provide a combination of summary and opinion. These two items, while important, do not add up to analysis. Analysis is a more exact process than simply playing critic. In An Introduction to Student Involved Assessment for Learning, Rick Stiggins (2012) walks the reader through a variety of reasoning methods including but not exclusive to analysis, synthesis, and evaluative reasoning. He helps the reader to understand the importance of the cognitive …show more content…
In science, students can use and create visuals to help them understand how different things work together to create a whole. In English, students can be involved in a discussion of what goes in to a good term paper. By playing around with the elements themselves, they will be more apt to understand how and why they are important. Stiggins (2012) suggests using charts that illustrate the analytical process and “highlight analytical inferences” (2012, p. 52). This can be helpful as a guide for students practicing this sort of thinking. They should be encouraged to make their own charts and recognize when they are making an inference.
Stiggins (2012) states that synthesis is when two different types of knowledge are integrated in a single project or activity. He illustrates this idea by describing a classroom of students, all of whom have read the same two short stories. These students must first analyze the structure of these stories. They must then take these observations and sort them into a set of generalizations about short story structure. These students are applying knowledge about things that are very specific, comparing that knowledge, and using it to make broad inferences about the bigger picture. Synthesis is always about the bigger picture. A great way to encourage synthesis in the classroom is through collaboration with other subject area teachers. For example, an English teacher may choose to teach…