Critical Thinking with the TAMPA Model

Decorative: A word cloud on the them of critical thinking


"Using TAMPA to Teach Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines" (article) explains TAMPA, an "acronym for a method of teaching critical thinking" that "stands for Teach, Analyze, Model, Practice, and Assess."

  • Do each of these "often enough that critical thinking comes to infuse the entire course" and "become[s] the framework for everything we teach."
  • "There’s little point in students learning anything if they don’t also have the capacity to determine its veracity, its value, its connection to other pieces of knowledge, and its long-term ramifications."

1. Teach

  • "Identify critical thinking, on the course syllabus as well as verbally on the first day of class, as a key course outcome." 
  • "Clearly define critical thinking at the beginning of the term and reiterate that definition as frequently as necessary."
  • "Break critical thinking down into specific actions, such as asking the right questions, researching the answers, recognizing biases, and forming and testing hypotheses."
  • "Use frequent examples from the course material to illustrate those concepts."
  • "Constantly reinforce critical thinking skills by pointing out when someone is using them: 'Very good, Sarah, those are exactly the kinds of assumptions we ought to be questioning.' 'So, Todd, what exactly is your hypothesis?'"

2. Analyze

  • "[P]ause in the middle of a lecture or discussion and point out where the author of a textbook, for instance, has used elements of critical thinking to make an argument."
  • "[S]how exactly how the writer did it, so students can understand clearly how they might do it."
  • "[P]resent to the class ... illustrations of clear thinking or not-so-clear thinking." 
  • "[H]elp students break down the arguments in order to understand why they’re effective—or not." 
  • Ask, "'Is it a good argument? Why or why not?' Determining the answers to those questions requires penetrating analysis."

3. Model

  • "[A]llow your students to see YOU using critical thinking skills."

  • "[W]e all use logical reasoning in our lectures and class discussions. But do our students know that’s what we’re doing? Do we go to the trouble of pointing it out to them? ... 'I just formulated a hypothesis.'"

  • "[I]f we don’t tell students what we’re doing, they won’t necessarily make the connection on their own."

  • "[B]y pointing it out, we’re ... demonstrating how to use that concept but [also] showing that it’s more than just a concept: it’s something people do in real life."

4. Practice

  • "[M]ake sure students have ample opportunity to practice these concepts for themselves ... from class discussions to written assignments to examinations."
  • "[U]se ... discussions as teachable moments—opportunities not only to analyze and model critical thinking skills but to encourage our students to practice those skills themselves, through our questions and responses."
  • "[U]se written assignments to make students think ...  [B]eing forced to write down their thoughts makes students think, whether they’re composing formal essays or not."
  • "[T]ests ... can also become tools for learning, requiring students to use their critical thinking skills in both the studying and the test-taking phases."

5. Assess

  • "[E]valuat[e] how well students think about what they’ve learned."

  • Require students to think, "not merely recite information ... committed to memory (something, by the way, that can happen on essay tests as well as on multiple-choice exams)."

  • Compel students "to use critical thinking skills, like questioning and hypothesizing." 

  • "[T]hink about [test questions and assignments] — ... use critical thinking skills yourself before expecting students to do the same."

Jenkins, Rob. ""Using TAMPA to Teach Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines." The Teaching Professor 8 October 2018.

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