Sep 162010
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

As you have probably gathered from the big assignments due and exams popping up, fall semester is well underway. As students we have a lot of random things to juggle, but are they really random or are all the activities and opportunities on campus somehow related?

Getting a handle on all that CSU has to offer can be a challenge, and making sure we don’t miss out on the academic, research, career, mentoring and community opportunities available is an important part of learning about ourselves and ensuring that we make the most of our four (or five or six) years in higher education.

In case you are one of the few in the campus community who haven’t made the time to stop by 801 Oval Drive –– build it into your schedule –– this where The Institute for Teaching and Learning, TILT, is housed. TILT is where many of these random aspects of student life come together, and the randomness is filtered out to foster connections among learners and teachers throughout the university, across program and disciplinary boundaries and in the broader community. TILT programs promote student learning and engagement, academic integrity, the professional development of faculty and instructors, curricular innovation and scholarly inquiry into learning and teaching.

For example, TILT’s Learning Programs are designed to enhance the educational experience of students at CSU by enhancing academic skills, supporting work in courses and providing preparation for life after graduation. One of the newest programs being unveiled this year is the Academy for Critical Thinking, or the ACT program.

I spoke with Learning Programs Director Heather Landers about the main objectives of ACT.

“Obviously, critical thinking is what students are asked to do in their coursework. Most faculty would say that their goal is for students to leave their classrooms with stronger critical thinking abilities then when they came in. The Academy for Critical Thinking workshops really make that critical thinking process explicit: What are the steps one goes through when examining a problem critically? We developed the Academy for Critical Thinking as a multi-disciplinary tool to help students to be successful in their time here at CSU and beyond,” Landers said.

“What is important at the end of the degree here at CSU is that students are confident and knowledgeable critical thinkers and that they can take the critical thinking processes they learned while at CSU to go out in the world and impact their communities, no matter what their major or field of study” she added.

In a series of six workshops being offered throughout the semester, participants will learn valuable skills that will make them marketable not only during their time here at CSU but also in broader pursuits of employment and life problem solving by investigating with the facilitators: What does it mean to be a critical thinker? How can we successfully analyze and evaluate issues through the context of debates and discussions of current events to better understand diverse viewpoints, particularly in an increasingly complex global system where information overload is the norm?

The main theme of the workshops is that critical thinking can be learned and is the key to being a better student, creative problem-solver and innovator who can have a big impact.           

I have always felt that learning to take on complex problems and be able to develop unique solutions has always been a skill or product universities have been working to provide students. TILT’s Academy for Critical Thinking appears poised to push the envelope in helping students take their education to the next level.            

The workshop is free to the CSU community. Landers and her staff are looking forward to the kickoff later this month.

“Our first workshop starts Sept. 27, and online registration through the TILT Learning Programs website is open and filling. We’re truly excited about the workshops and instructors we’ve been able to recruit for this unique program,” she said.          

Space is limited and students completing the workshops will receive a certificate from the Academy of Critical Thinking through TILT, which I think would certainly be a leg up on the competition in the job market.

Nice work CSU and TILT for bringing cutting edge supplementary education programs to the students.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student in environmental health. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

 Posted by at 3:24 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.