Reflection on the Crit101 Course

Originally published here.

At the conclusion of the Crit101 course in which I have been engaged, I feel proud to have participated and completed the work. I took the course because I was interested in trying out a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course). I am glad that I chose Crit101 in which to participate because it was so professional and challenging.

The designer, teacher, and facilitator of the course, James Michie, did a fantastic job with this course. He provided a tremendous amount of structure and guidance. He also provided a tremendous amount of resources which included lectures, articles, videos, assignments, feedback, and awards (badges). It is shocking to me that this course was free. It has me very interested in the implications for open education.

The participants in the course had high expectations to work up to. The assignments were deep and challenging. The resources were complex, relevant, compelling, and challenging. I felt challenged by the course. It was difficult to invest the time and energy to do good work in this course. I would not have wanted it any other way. I feel that I earned it and am proud of what I accomplished over the past six weeks.

I learned quite a bit in the course. I am used to reading and writing analytically. I had not done very much work in research and evaluation of sources. This course filled in for me some of what I think was missed in my undergraduate experience. That is saying a lot. This was a real learning experience with as much value as any college class and more value than some. Participating in the course allowed me to flex some mental muscles that I haven’t used for a while. It was nostalgic to feel the stress of meeting a deadline for assignments. It helped me become more empathetic to my own students.

The course demanded that we collaborate in group work and provide peer-to-peer feedback. I felt comfortable in this type of work because I participate in so many professional development projects with the Northern California Writing Project in which the basic structure of all work is collaborative. I was interested to observe how the younger participants developed as collaborators. I think the course guided the discovery that critical reading and writing is not the same a criticism. Even though we all became more critical, judging from the lack of critical comments from others on the blog posts, I think that most are still a little shy.

Winning badges was a terrific part of the course. I have been hip to badges for a while and have wanted the opportunity to earn more badges. The badges offered by this course are smart, lovely, and legitimate. I will proudly display these badges. They are proof of my significant accomplishments:

. . .

I have created impressive content for myself in these blog posts. I like to develop my online portfolio. Having this guided instruction created a real purpose for professional writing. I am proud of my posts and I will promote my work to my friends, colleagues, and students.


Reflection on Synthesis and Evaluation – Week Five – Crit101

Originally published here.

I am much better at deconstruction than construction… at least, it is easier for me. After building a creative project for this course, I understand why synthesis is a higher level thinking skill on Bloom’s taxonomy. Creation is challenging.

We were asked to work in small groups with the goal of creating a short film. We were successful but it took quite a bit of work. We coordinated on our Google doc. I got more of a sense of collaboration this time around because there were three of us collaborating and we got to work on it earlier in the week.

I enjoyed checking in on the document to find responses to my input. We were able to hammer out a plan relatively quickly. Then it was time to get to work.

My responsibility was to explore the response to the question from the cyclical point of view. I was happily assigned this even though my first ideas were along a different line. It was nice to be assigned a specific task. It is always easier to work within constraints. I still added my original perspective because it tied in well with my assignment.

One of my partners posted her video first. This was a great inspiration because it was done so well. It was a great model. Ideas about what my product were solidified early in the week. Building the project was another challenge all together.

For my short portion of the project, I enlisted my son to help with art (he had a blast), and my colleague to help film chicken sex (Thank you Mrs. Felciano). I took a short video and a photograph myself, I wrote a script, learned a new tool (a piece of presentation software), narrated my film, and built the subtitles. Here is my script:

the actual question "what came first the chicken or the egg" demonstrates biases in thinking.

In many cultures, around the world, time, even existence, is perceived as cyclical. there is no beginning and there is no end. in these contexts, the question itself doesn't make sense.

The scientific perspective disregards the role of the rooster in the reproductive process. after all, chickens reproduce sexually. the question takes a gynocentric view of time.

Applying skills learned in the Crit101 COURSE leads me to believe that the age old question my not be worth asking.

It was a lot of work. I probably have three-four hours invested in my 45 second clip.

Synthesis is so high on Bloom’s taxonomy because all of the critical thinking skills that we have examined are implemented. I had to research my resources, read and write critically, evaluate my resources, and then build, present, and publish the project.

I am going to keep in mind that having students create projects demands that they engage all levels of the critical thinking process.


Reflection on Reading and Analysis – Crit101 – Week 4

Originally published here.

This week was much more familiar territory for me. I teach analytical reading and writing and I have been engaged in analytical reading and writing for many years. It was still interesting to go through the process and think about the steps involved in analytical reading and writing. I enjoyed the experince of being taught how to read critically. I hope that the modeling will give me insight on how to teach my own students.

The homework was to engage in a critical reading of a Wikipedia page. It was a challenge for me because it was difficult to find a claim to anaylze. I think that I did find one claim to examine and that made the exercise compelling. The work led to a “meta” project in making an argument about an argument about an argument (turtles all the way down).

It is getting close to the deadline and I have not seen any contributions made from my partner. I feel a little selfish by running with my idea on how to approach this assignment. I know that collaboration would have added a challenge but in the name of getting the work done, I just plowed forward. I did refer to my work in the first-person which seems self-centered and against the spirit of the assignment. I sent an email inviting my partner to the “conversation.” I hope that if she shows up, the first-person language doesn’t put her off.

The work that I like the best this week was by leaving a comment on our professor’s blog post. His piece is about reading and writing critically so I challenged myself to take his work to task. I believe that I made a decent counterpoint to one of his ideas. I think that my contribution adds to the conversation and is not by its nature a criticism or negative.


Reflection on Evaluation – Week Three – Crit101

Originally published here.

This week we learned how to evaluate the validity and the reliability of research.  After learning about internal and external validity and about determining reliability, we were asked to hone our new knowledge by applying it to the research that we did as a group.  We then were asked to write up a paper than explains our evaluation process.  

There was a lot of learning for this week.  To be honest, I did not conduct very much research in college.  It seems to me to be a missing piece in my college education.  I don't have a Master's Degree so I never wrote or presented a dissertation.  I am still surprised that I did not have a research project that demanded such close consideration and scrutiny in college.  

Research is challenging and time consuming.  Evaluation can really be shocking especially while noticing the flaws in the work you have conducted.  Developing critical thinking is so valuable because it can not only shed light on the work of others, it can help you by preventing weakness in research in the first place.  

These exercises have been very engaging for me.  This course has been a great challenge.  I am proud of the work that I have done so far and pleased with the learning.  I am enjoying using the tools for publishing and communication to great effect.  It is nice to have a purpose when learning.  So far I have expanded my knowledge in the use of Twitter, Google Docs, HTML, Markdown, the Web, YouTube,  Open Badges, and Open Courses. 

As a teacher, this has been valuable for me because I am crafting a course in online literacy for next year.  I have bookmarked many of the resources that we have used in this course to apply to my course next year.  Thanks to the "Open"nature of this class, this is not only allowed but encouraged. 

I am finding a great deal of value in this course.



Evaluation Work on Research Project

Originally published here.

Evaluation of the Validity and Reliability of Our Research

Although the research that we did was a great exercise and I learned a tremendous amount through the activity, it is clear that the work we did is dubious at best if you consider its validity and reliability. It is worth taking another look at the data, our methodology, and the tools that we used to conduct our research so that we can better understand where our work is incomplete and weak and so that we develop analytical skills to better understand the shortcomings of all conducted research. We are in the think of the “critical” part of our critical thinking course.

Our task was to support an argument about what is the best way to cook an egg. Obviously, this topic was designed to both make it easy to make progress and then easy to look back on for evaluation. The argument is so subjective that we were bound to fail.

Although we mutually contributed to our research project, we did not collaborate on our research. I will run through the evaluation procedures to which we were introduced this week in Crit101 on the research that I performed.

We were asked to data from several sources so that we could better triangulate. Our document did include three sources of data but I was only able to provide two. The first problem that I perceive in regard to validity is that I did not have enough varied sources of data. I was not able to “triangulate” in order to establish validity or reliability. I will continue the exercise focusing my sources of data.

I’d like to focus my evaluation on my first data source. This source was a cookbook titled The Joy of Cooking (1). Because this is the most recognized resource on cooking that I know of, I took it as an authoritative text. I was hoping to find a mention of a preferred method for cooking an egg. Pretending that I did find support for an argument (which I didn’t), there are several issues with this data source once evaluated.

Considering a cookbook as a tool, it is not the right tool for our research. The purpose of a cookbook is most often to present information and list procedures for the preparation of food. It is often objective by its nature. I should not have expected to find any qualitative data. Perhaps if we had defined the criteria for “best” beforehand. This source could have been used for quantitative data.

I do not know if The Joy of Cooking is a universally recognized authority. If I had food data to support the argument, I would not be able to assume that cooks outside of the United States would recognize its authority. America cuisine is not held in the same esteem as say French cooking. Even in the U. S. there are also thousands of cookbooks. It would be impossible to argue that one cookbook has more authority than the thousands of other resources. I am sure there is a name for a data source that is so watered down with the overabundance of other data. Maybe it would be that this source is over generalized.

The reliability of this source is dubious. When considering cooking, we are literally considering tastes. Tastes are so subjective that this data source is unreliable. Some people prefer spicy food and own a reference, Mexican, Indian, and Jamaican cookbooks. Cooking situations also differ. There are cookbooks that are for camping situations and these sources become more reliable is camping situations.

It is interesting to consider how my “go to” source of data holds up so poorly when you evaluate its validity and reliability.


Rombauer, Irma S. and Rombauer-Becker, Marioin, 1997. The Joy of Cooking. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.