Steve Pearlman (00:00):
Welcome back to the second part of our interview with TK Stout, James, Mattie and Amy. Let's pick up where we left off,
James Roberts (00:09):
But tk, if you'd like to elaborate on how you thought we did as far as that initial pure assessment. You know, after reviewing through our papers, if we needed to, um, ramp up some of our methods,
TK Stout (00:21):
Well, you, y'all gave me the feedback. I think I needed to have more guidance and, and, and nudge you more towards that. And I think meta grading is a great solution or part of the solution set to that. I think it's easier for you to recognize sometimes in other people's work, whether they're being real with their analysis or did they complicate the situation, How are they weighing things when they evaluate it? So I think the awareness to recognize those things certainly went up when you did the, uh, peer evaluations. But I will be transparent and say, I, I thought you'd get it and run with it. And you said, Hey, I think I kind of got it. I need, we need a little more guidance here. And I think I could have been better at that, James, and certainly we'll try to be better at that going forward. And for you all the term that coin meta grading, like I'm even thinking about inside Word. Can I make comments on the comments? I'm not sure how that looks, how that goes. Steve's shaking his head. Yeah, I I think punch in the face earlier and then, Hey, let me metae some of your compositions and some of your papers you did for your peers.
Steve Pearlman (01:17):
And what about Amy and Matt? How do you guys feel about your initial efforts into the peer assessment being asked to do it, how well you were doing it, what you needed out of it, and so forth?
Speaker 4 (01:28):
Well, I mean, you always hear everybody say, you know, you'll, you learn best from teaching others, right? And so, I mean, it was really difficult to get into the class and, and be expected to grade somebody else's work according to these standards when, you know, you don't fully know the standards yourself. And so, so it's, it was difficult and I think that, you know, doing that more often and, and even on smaller assignments and stuff would really help, for me at least, that would really help me understand, you know, hey, this is what I'm being expected and this is what I'm seeing in other people's work. Hey, I really like how they took this apart. Maybe I can adopt something similar to that. But yeah.
TK Stout (02:08):
Maddie, what are you thinking about?
Maddie Davis (02:09):
I'm just kind of grateful that we did all this. We didn't really, in my high school experience, there was always that peer grading, but it was never, I guess to the rubric, like nobody wanted to hurt each other's feelings. But I think in, in this course the way we did it was everybody had that relationship with each other and and respected each other's opinions on their work. So when we were able to grade each other's paper, we did it in a way that matched the rubric and actually would give feedback to help them, I guess fix their paper. But for me it was definitely, um, me fixing their mistakes helped me look at my paper in a different way. It helped me look at my paper as a greater and not the writer of the paper.
Steve Pearlman (02:50):
That's a great point because one of the, my points about peer assessment is always that students will learn more and someone else here already said it, it by assessing one another than they will just by writing their own paper, that that process of having to teach someone else and grade someone else is very instructive for ourselves. And at the same time that it's easier to see the struggles and give advice to somebody else than it is to turn it back on ourselves in that process. And I guess I'd like to hear from all of you, because I know the course ultimately was a great success story. I don't know if each of you got the exact grade that you wanted, but on the whole, we know that the course was a success story. What was a turning point? So you went from getting into this course, you had a little shock in awe as you got in, you were frazzled, it was uncomfortable, you were being asked to do things that maybe were a little beyond where you were at the moment though, that was part of the process. And then you started working through this, you talked to TK a little bit more, you got a more feedback. When did it start to really shift for you and things start to click both in terms of doing the critical thinking, being able to write the paper better, and also being able to work together through peer assessment to feel like you had a more authoritative understanding of the standards to be able to give each other more credible feedback. What were some pivotal moments for each of you in that?
James Roberts (04:10):
Well, I'll say initially starting through this course, doing the dialogues and stuff, uh, I found myself comfortable in that setting from the beginning. Mostly due to just prior life experience, military experience, not really, um, afraid to have a dialogue session. But I think the turning point that you're talking about really began for me, you know, after that punch in the face that me and TK have referenced. And coincidentally, that was right around the time that we shifted from the weekly journals to the metalogues. It was right around the same time, maybe within, you know, a week or two or one another. Um, and I found a lot more growth in the meta logs because it gave me a very simple, and that was uh, actually one other thing that I um, recommended when we were, you know, at the end of the course talking about things that we could maybe do better.
James Roberts (04:57):
You know, I see no reason why we can't introduce the metalogues from day one, you know, introduce the concept. And I think the fact that it was a simple concept that held that critical thinking structure was something that, that helped me grow way better when it came to writing those final papers towards the end of the course. Cuz it gave me a simple version of find any problem. You know, it gave you a lot of freedom as well. So find any problem, any question within your daily life that you can take and you can break down, you can do your analysis, your critical question, your evaluation. And I think that would be, you know, a good example of my turning point for the course. Yeah, I think I felt very comfortable in the group setting early on. Um, but as far as using that critical thinking curriculum, that turning point came from me about midway after I, I did receive the bad grade and I had to readjust, um, and recalibrate. Um, and I think the Metalogues were a great help to me. You know, I think they gave me that personal, um, moment where I didn't necessarily have to go to TK to figure out, you know, during that tense time for me and him, I didn't have to go to TK to really start understanding the critical thinking process
Steve Pearlman (06:08):
Because James, if I'm right here, you were a little more reticent or resistant to the whole notion of what the course was trying to do in terms of critical thinking at the outset a little bit more, right? You thought maybe this is all, academic nonsense.
James Roberts (06:25):
Uh, yes sir. Absolutely. I think you're really kind of explaining exactly how things went for me. Uh, cuz really I saw this as a communication two course. I was coming in, um, I perceived it as a writing course, it was gonna be a traditional writing course like I had experienced before. And I think that is what was very bizarre to me within the first two weeks. The face value of the course, just from the beginning I knew this was gonna be something very different and that immediately made me uncomfortable. And you know, and I will say thank goodness for the dialogues because, and this is, this is not a shot at the curriculum, but I think the curriculum did make me very uncomfortable from the beginning just because it, it is so, you know, abstract from anything you're gonna find in a traditional English or communication setting.
Steve Pearlman (07:14):
And Maddie, Amy, what's your take on that? Or did you have something that was a similar or contradictory experience? What was it for you moving into that peer assessment and what was your perception of the course initially relative to later on? Did you two come in sort of with this expectation for more generic course experience? Was that surprising? Did you think it was? What was it for you and how was it moving into the peer assessment and what was the shifting point for
Maddie Davis (07:40):
You? Me and Amy both took t k's first year seminars. We both knew the kind of course structure that he had and how his course kind of played out throughout the year. But this was definitely a whole new jump into critical thinking. We only got a little taste of critical thinking in first year seminar and then jumping into Com two was kind of a little bit of a punch in the face. I didn't really expect TK to be the kind of like, like five paragraph essay kind of guy. And then as soon as we introduced critical thinking, it made a lot more sense of how he taught the course, how to break that critical thinking into those pieces and apply it basically to everything we were doing. I think my turning point was also at the same point that James had his, where we started doing the meta logs, applying the critical thinking to life experiences and like little things in your life and how you choose one thing over the other because of the natural critical thinking that goes on in your head. And then thinking about that and writing it down definitely makes a change in how you think about it.
TK Stout (08:40):
Yeah, Steve, I think, uh, before Amy weighs in, they have encouraged me like more critical thinking in the first year seminar course. And perhaps you could even start some metalogues like near the end of that course. So when you, when you segue to comp two, you kind of know what's going on. So the meta logs played a very critical role I think in applying that in the real world. And, and as James said, like you don't have to go anywhere to anybody, your peers or your instructor. Like you start to figure this thing out on your own. So, so I've taken their feedback and they've created some work for me this summer to try to figure out how to pull that critical thinking initiative thread through all of my three courses. So, uh, Amy what was your, uh, pivotal moments in the semester?
Speaker 4 (09:21):
Yeah, I'm just gonna sound like a broken record at this point. . So I was, I was gonna say the metalogues too. I think they're just really that, that aha moment, that application of seeing it in your life and and having to break down your natural thinking process really helps you to apply it to the writing that we did and and, and the other decisions that you're making.
TK Stout (09:43):
And I think I have to thank Maddie for the biggest compliment that's been paid to me this semester that I am a five paragraph guy in the critical thinking initiative format. So I appreciate that man.
Speaker 4 (09:55):
You're so welcome.
TK Stout (09:56):
Steve Pearlman (09:57):
What was it like for all of you when you really felt empowered to assess one another that you were not, didn't feel like that you anymore were struggling as much to understand what the standards were, but felt instead that you had some command of the standards and some true agency and power of your own. What was it like to work with each other at that point and feel less, I assume, and I don't wanna put words in your mouth to feel less reliant on tk to be the one to give you guidance, but to be able to rely on one another. Is that an accurate thing that happened and what did that feel like for you?
Speaker 4 (10:31):
I think that it, the class became more fun. It became less like a, you know, like, man I gotta go class. This is stupid, I don't wanna do any of this. And it, it became a fun like, hey, we're just having a conversation. This is really cool. I'm actually learning something in this class. But yeah, that was my take on it.
Steve Pearlman (10:51):
Amy, would you say therefore that the use of this critical thinking model, and I wanna be too self-aggrandizing here, but the use of this critical thinking model, or at least a general focus on critical thinking made that experience more meaningful and worthwhile to you because of the nature of critical thinking and how it can apply to other things in your life and so forth?
Speaker 4 (11:11):
Yeah, I, I guess so. I'm like, I'm trying to still process a little bit of what you're saying exactly, but yeah, I think that the process that we went through to talk about critical thinking is very easy to apply in other places of your life. And so I think it makes it easy to understand.
Steve Pearlman (11:28):
And so Amy, to to try to hone in more simply on the question that I'm asking, and I don't wanna be too pejorative about education, but do you feel as though the focus on critical thinking simply made education more meaningful? Did it make formalized education feel less like?
Speaker 4 (11:44):
Yeah, , um, yeah, we talked a lot in class in our little campfires about, you know, applying it to other classes and it, it, you know, the process that we talked about made it easier to want to participate in other classes, at least for me. And it was like, hey, like this is something that should matter and I can make it matter because of this process I guess.
James Roberts (12:07):
Um, yeah, I think, uh, like I said, at Face value for this course, I thought it, you know, I knew that it was a different style of curriculum and I felt that it was going to be one of those, you know, oh we're sitting in a circle, we're gonna hold hands and seeing kumbaya. And I felt it was gonna be one of those classes and very different from all the other courses I were, I was taking for the uh, semester. But what I soon realized is being able to follow this curriculum into not necessarily writing for other courses, it really helped me in writing. But even for decision making, project making, I almost felt like I had a leg up, you know, in reality, you know, once I did finally get about mid-semester and really a adopted the critical thinking structure, I think that it was really beneficial to me in being able to build a process through how to, you know, have an issue from the beginning and then work through that issue instead of, you know, looking at a rubric and just checking all the boxes.
James Roberts (13:05):
I really began to take a topic and learn the topic, not just regurgitate the topic, you know, and I think that's important. And one other thing that I think I saw where it was really applied is Amy, Maddie and I were actually all together for our group final project. So I think it really helped, especially being like there's a little bit of an age gap between us. There's definitely a lifestyle gap between the three of us, them being freshman students, me being older and a transfer student. Um, but I think like being able to kind of like come back to the critical thinking concepts that we learned helped us to work together greatly on that group project.
TK Stout (13:46):
Their group project. It's interesting that this is the group, their topic was originated from Maddie. Her critical question was, should I marry an NFL football player? And as she is kind of chuckling right now, at least you can see her on Zoom chuckling and you're chuckling. Wait, wait, just just sorry to
James Roberts (14:02):
Interrupt. Did she have a proposal?
TK Stout (14:04):
No, this was just, I think it was a strategic plan, like, I wanna marry an NFL football player, what would the pros and cons be? And as we all chuckle about it, and I think they all mentioned this, it took a rather light and fun issue and really brought some sophistication and critical thinking skills to this question. And they attacked it professionally and from a scholarly point of view. So Maddie, do you want to talk about an experience and, and then how it's affected you to critically think about should you marry an NFL football player?
Maddie Davis (14:37):
Definitely we, it did root from all of the first year seminar course we did where we had our 10 year plans. And my 10 year plan was to marry an NFL player and be a stay-at-home mom. That was honestly really a joke. But when we brought it up in the presentation thing and started to critically think about it, I'm glad James was in our group cuz he brought the aspects of the cons to marrying an NFL player cuz I was very much pro the entire time and he brought all the cons of what was wrong with it and what could have gone wrong in the marriage. And then the more we researched it just all became, I don't know the word for it, but like it all just kind of blew up and we had to put it back together in a way that we critically thought about it and how that process led to the conclusion of it not being a good idea. Critically thinking honestly made that question way deeper of a rabbit hole than we expected in the beginning.
Steve Pearlman (15:34):
I love this so much. I gotta jump in because one of the things that I'm always talking about with critical thinking is that critical thinking is about what the individual is bringing to the subject matter. And so many arguments and critical thinking and, and faculty I've engaged will argue, well we can't ask students to think critically until they have a deep fund of knowledge on the topic. Or we can ask students to think critically without first having very complex texts. And certainly if we're gonna explore any topic, ultimately we would want to get into the more complex texts that are available about it and deeper discussions. No question about it, but we can think critically and bring complexity to anything. The whole idea of being a critical thinker is that it's not the topic that's critical, it's we who are the critical agents. We bring the intellectual agency and bring the depth and bring the complexity to it because that's what it is to think critically. It's not about having a deep rich text, it's about what we as individuals can bring to any text, to any subject matter, to any decision. With that ran over, cuz I didn't know this was your topic coming into this podcast, so I have to know, I think everybody has to know, you know, why did you make the decision not to marry an NFL player?
Maddie Davis (16:49):
We originally started with the pros and cons.
Steve Pearlman (16:53):
Pedagogy will resume in just a moment, but first, if you're a high school, college, or graduate school educator, then I'd like to offer you a full free preview of my online level one critical thinking program for students. I actually developed this program because so many educators have asked me for a way to jumpstart their students critical thinking skills. This program, which is approximately a three hour student experience, does the following. It teaches your students three essential mindsets for thinking critically. It teaches them a copyrighted neurobiological process for thinking critically about any subject in any discipline. And then it does something particularly distinct. It prompts students through a step-by-step process in which they actually compose a very short essay entirely driven by their own critical thinking. Students can complete this program outside of class with no impact on your class time and you can see, see the final product when they're done.
Steve Pearlman (17:51):
I think you'll find this to be an exceptional program for your students, but whether you assign it or not, I'm confident that it will be an asset to you in terms of infusing critical thinking in your own approach to teaching. So provided you're an educator, I'd be excited to grant you a free preview of this program. Please just come to the critical thinking initiative.org/podcasts. Sign up with a.edu email address or if you don't have a.edu email address, just email info at the critical thinking initiative.org with confirmation that you're an educator. Again, please just come to the critical thinking initiative.org/podcasts and sign up for a free preview of the entire program. Please make sure you either sign up with a.edu email address or email me at info at the critical thinking initiative.org with other confirmation that you're an educator. And I'd be excited to grant you free access to a program preview. And for everyone who's listening, please remember to liken share pedagogy, find the Critical Thinking initiative on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter at at Steve j Pearlman. That's at Steve j Pearlman. Now back to pedagogy.
Maddie Davis (19:10):
We originally started with the pros and cons of the pro being money and a simple way of income from your husband. And then the more we looked into it, CTE was a big factor. Domestic violence was a big factor. There was just a lot of statistics that came into play that changed the whole course of where I wanted to go with the topic. The research definitely changed everything that I had or initially planned to talk about.
Steve Pearlman (19:38):
That's so great when, when students come to me and they say, Well I want to write about this. Is this a good topic? I have no answer to that. There's no good topic and there's no bad topic. There is how much you can bring to that topic. I mean, we wanna make sure we have topics that for which there is more information available as we pursue it, but it's never the topic that makes the difference for critical thinking. It's the individual who makes that difference. Tk, you're kind of nodding at me and let me let you jump in cuz you know more about what they did than I do.
TK Stout (20:09):
No, I just wanna say that it is one of these transformational moments that's not caught in a 92% or a grade that's received at the end of the semester to see these students attack this question that we laughed about for almost a year, at least a half a year to use their scholarship and rigor and to break it down and critically think about this and to watch mattie's growth as far as what her thinking was as freshman and what her thinking is now. You know, just incredibly rewarding and and high satisfaction factor for faculty member and again, in a very qualitative way, cannot be captured in the grade they received on this. And again, you see the, the help of diversity with James being there to kind of highlight the cons. Veteran working with two more traditional students. It's like I had a certain vision for the course and what it might do, Steve following your prescription and and doing some hard work and working through the tension. But something like this just goes beyond the vision and and beyond what I think could happen in a classroom.
Steve Pearlman (21:13):
Well I can't think of a much better way to end this than that. Uh, certainly wanna give everyone a parting remark, especially if you had a message for educators who are listening. Cuz cuz that is the primary audience for this. It's educators around the world who are interested in critical thinking, invested in it, in their own rights in certain respects, or wanting to do more with it or just simply curious about pedagogy and all issues surrounding teaching and learning. If you had something that you want to leave as a parting remark, please feel free to do that as well,
Speaker 4 (21:45):
Just to keep the classroom a comfortable and open space because I think that's what really fosters learning in any environment.
Steve Pearlman (21:52):
Great. Thank you Amy. Anyone else want to jump in on that? And then we'll finally I'll give tk the last words on all this.
James Roberts (21:59):
Um, I would say as far as like also continue on what Amy was saying, just building a comfortable environment. Um, I think it's also important to build that, that trust and that comfort from instructor to student. I think that me and TK as far, you know, I think we have a lot more respect for one another. I'm not saying that there was a facade at the beginning of the course, but I think, you know, we were able to, um, get very, uh, real with one another and after that happened, everything was a lot smoother. I think there was a lot more growth after that happened. So I think instructors finding a way to, uh, really break that. Um, you know, that that strong barrier that we have between the, the instructor and the student in an educational setting, um, where we feel like we can't really have a constructive dialogue. Um, I think that's important. So breaking down those barriers, being more comfortable with one another as far as, um, critiquing, even critiquing from student to educator and that educator allowing that type of environment and um, being able to also accept that type of criticism because if, if we're expected to accept criticism and build off of criticism as a student, I think that an educator should, um, be able to level with us in that same format.
Steve Pearlman (23:07):
That's amazing to hear. And so well said. Let me bounce off that for just one second and just say this too, or ask the question because I think it's very important. There's a perception that when we turn things into, uh, critical thinking or into peer assessment, that it diminishes rigor if we have students grading each other or we're looking at this critical thinking stuff instead of stricter academic methods around content. But my sense from your class is that this was not lacking in rigor in the least. If anything it was the opposite that it's very rigorous experience for you. Is is that now that's both of you, but I'll let James start and then we'll go to Matt. You can have sort of your last words about
James Roberts (23:47):
It. Absolutely. I think it was one of the most constructive courses I've taken, you know, even through my military career thus far. You know, we have different trainings and things that we need to follow. And then even back to my high school, I can't remember a time where I felt like I was challenged and a setting really helped build me up. And it wasn't, it wasn't because one instructor was doing a single thing, it was because there was cohesive back and forth. You know, there was a a give and take that helped build things instead of, instead of just that, I believe we called it t1, is that correct? Where you're only receiving information directly from an instructor, you know, instructor to student. So yeah, absolutely. In my personal experience, that's what, that's what really, uh, helped this course being able to sit across from TK in that campfire circle, just like the rest of the students being able to look at him and share ideas with him. He didn't feel like he was on a pedestal, you know, he was leveled with me. And that also created the atmosphere where I felt like if we walked out of the classroom and, and you know, TK uses this analogy quite a bit, you know, if we were down at the bar sharing a few drinks with one another, we'd be able to have the same kind of discourse. It wouldn't be any different, you know, and I think there's real growth there.
Steve Pearlman (25:00):
I love that so much because it's what I've advocated in this peer assessment idea and TK referenced it earlier with respect to ex caliber and handing the sword over as the real sign of power, which is that if we're gonna come to you as educators and say we want you to think critically, we can't be afraid to have you think critically about us and about what's going on on our classes and about our methods. If we are afraid to have that happen, then we have to rethink what we're doing. And then we're also, if nothing else, just hypocrites, right? I mean, yeah, go think critically about everything in the world, but don't think critically about me or the way I'm teaching or how I'm assessing you or anything like that, well then that's just a, a load of crap and there's no reason you should trust us. So I love that you're bringing that point forward and let's go to Maddie cuz I'm excited to hear what she has to say as well.
Maddie Davis (25:45):
I definitely agree with that, what James brought up about the power dynamic and how the professor or teacher definitely needs to or should come to the level of the students if they want that dynamic to improve. The other thing I think could improve the classroom setting, I guess is the transactional experience that we have now in classrooms. There's definitely that I get it done, turn it in, stop thinking about it, and I've done that with every class I've ever been in. Um, after it's done, I forget all the information. And I think that with this class I've applied it in my real life and everything that we've talked about has been applicable to everything I've ever done. So I think that not having the pressure of the transactional experience definitely allows the students to learn and take the content in better and, um, apply it in situations in their life.
Steve Pearlman (26:39):
Thank you so much for that. And I think that point about being able to take what we do in the class outside of it is really what education needs to strive for. So that's wonderful. Tk all I'm gonna say is take us out, talk to the educators out there and uh, tell us whatever you think we need to hear.
TK Stout (26:55):
Well, um, I'm a bit emotional right now, but super excited for what happened in the class and that it was much more transformational than transactional from these students' testimonies. I would say to the educators out there that what we do on the campus is a pathological dance. Sometimes we lead, sometimes you need to let the students lead, right? And I'm really impressed with the students and I would tell educators out there, give your students the space. Go ahead and take the risk they had to step into this space, you know, and change the paradigm and do this pedagogical code switching. I call it like when they go to one class, it's very transactional, but when they come to my class, I'm asking for a different thing. And they did a really great job of shifting those gears. So I would say to educators, invite your students into the assessment community.
TK Stout (27:42):
Pull the curtain back, you know, start that discourse and try to build that language and literacy that you both have so you understand things. So when you say a word that it means the same thing to your students that it does to you. And when we can demystify where grades come from, they're not coming from a star chamber, they're not coming from the professor. And when you have that discourse and level, that playing field, their last paper, their final paper was a five paragraph essay. Some did, some did, uh, more of a meta analog style, but it was like, what is the grade proposal, what's the proposal to the instructor, to the faculty member? Like, what should your grade be? And there was some really insightful and deep reflection that went on there. So all the skills that they learned, they harnessed to try to figure out what their final grade was.
TK Stout (28:27):
So that would be my message to educators, man, like, create the space, trust your students and trust the, the pedagogy that Dr. Steve Pearlman has proposed for us to the great work he's done with the critical thinking initiative. So thank you Steve. Thank you Mattie. Thank you James. And thank you Amy. Uh, and all the other students. I have one final comment. There's a student named Jackson in her class. He's not here today, but he said in one of the campfires, coulda thought that self-assessment and un grading would make me a better human being to learn soft skills, to be able to give criticism and receive criticism. So I think that was one of the biggest and best compliments that trying self-assessment and un grading could generate. So thanks again.
Steve Pearlman (29:07):
I'm not saying anything after that. I'm just gonna replay that clip for the end of this podcast. Thank you all so much. This was really gratifying and I think an absolutely great podcast to send out to educators who are thinking about peer assessment and critical thinking in their practice. And you guys have been absolutely wonderful and articulate and thoughtful. So I really appreciate your time and your effort and congratulations on all you
TK Stout (29:32):
Achieved. Kuda thought that self-assessment and un grading would make me a better human being to learn soft skills, to be able to give criticism and receive criticism. So I think that was one of the biggest and best compliments that trying self-assessment and upgrading could generate. So thanks.