Volume 28, Issue 2, Summer 2013
Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum
The Wisdom CTAC Program
Discussions of critical thinking across the curriculum typically make and explain points and distinctions that bear on one or a few standard issues. In this article Robert Ennis takes a different approach, starting with a fairly comprehensive concrete proposal (called “The Wisdom CTAC Program”) for a four-year higher-education curriculum incorporating critical-thinking at hypothetical Wisdom University. Aspects of the Program include a one-year critical thinking freshman course with practical everyday-life and academic critical thinking goals; extensive infusion of critical thinking in other courses; a senior project; attention to both critical thinking dispositions and skills; a glossary of critical thinking terms; emphasis on teaching (interactive discussion, using multiple varied examples, teaching for transfer, and making principles explicit); communication at all levels; and last, but definitely not least, assessment. Advantages and disadvantages will be noted. Subsequently, Ennis takes and defends a position on each of several relevant controversial issues, including: 1) having a separate critical thinking course, or embedding critical thinking in existing subject matter courses, or doing both (the last being the position he takes here); 2) the meaning of “critical thinking”; 3) the importance of teaching critical thinking because of its role in our everyday vocational, civic, and personal lives, as well as in our academic experiences; 4) the degree of subject-specificity of critical thinking; 5) the importance of making critical thinking principles explicit; and 6) the possible threat to subject matter coverage from the addition of critical thinking to the curriculum.