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Smart Prim

As time and resources allow, we will review software which can be used to teach Critical Thinking and/or Logic to college level students.  Some of this software may also be appropriate for use by advanced secondary school students as well.

Our core resources have been included in the Instructors Manual of the 'SmartPrim' program - a series of computer assisted instruction modules for individual and small group tutoring in critical thinking. SmartPrim is written for PC compatibles running the DOS operating system (Windows not required) and is primarily intended for use in teaching Critical Thinking in association with a Nursing/Allied Health program. It has been tested and found useful in a number of other disciplines, including Communications and Student Success courses.

The exercises and content is well written and researched, with numerous examples to illustrate the concepts being covered.  An abstract of the program is duplicated below with the permission of the author, as well as information about the author.

This program is written and distributed by Duldt and Associates,   Inquiries about the program, Demo copies and licensing information can be directed to Jerry Raskin of A.S.K Data Systems, St. Louis, MO :
(Tell him you found it here!)

A Computer Tutor for Independent Study

SMARTPRIM is a computer-assisted instructional system for Critical Thinking.  It may be used for Nursing and Health Professionals, for both undergraduate and graduate students.  The content is generic; it is a cognitive "survival kit" for anyone attempting higher education.  The entire program includes a diskette, an Instructor's Manual with suggested classroom activities, guidelines for grading papers, etc., and a Student Handbook with diagrams, examples, and guidelines appropriate for classroom or selected independent study.  The program uses examples and issues from nursing, the health sciences, and the sciences generally as well as from history, law, and ethics.  It may be useful for students of other academic disciplines such as speech, particularly for debate and persuasion, and in the general area of social studies.

It is designed to be incorporated into courses and/or classes about theory analysis, research, and clinical or administrative practice.  It is not designed to stand alone.  However, it may be appropriate for individual students in academic difficulty, but it would probably  need some degree of faculty oversight to assure students' mastery of the content.  The program is designed to be a user friendly so that even those having minimal computer exposure can learn to use the programs easily and comfortably. It is highly advisable to complete the first three lessons before moving to the others.  The content of these initial lessons provides necessary information and perspectives for understanding later lessons.  There is a higher probability of mastering the critical thinking skills if one moves sequently through the lessons.

The goal to is to facilitate the development of critical thinking and analysis of information in several ways.  First, one checks the credibility of the authority or source, and makes a personal decision about the value and appropriateness of any issue or topic.  Second, one defines terms used to insure clarity of conceptual definitions of phenomenons.  Next, it is a simple skill to recognize words and check the appropriate option of a test question.  It requires a bit more skill to talk intelligently about something.  Ultimately, it takes considerable ability and thought to become informed on a topic, approach it from multiple cognitive directions (pro, con, or neutral), and be able to argue, through either speaking or writing, from favorable as well as opposing points of view.  The scholar of any discipline is readily recognized for the skills of critical thinking and succinct communication.

About the author, Bonnie W. Duldt, Ph.D., R.N.

A professional educator, administrator, trainer and consultant in the fields of communication and health professions, Dr. Duldt serves as president and consultant of Duldt and Associates, Inc.  She has had extensive experience as a professor and administrator in undergraduate and graduate education in associate degree, bachelors and master's programs, and has served as an accreditation visitor for these programs.  She holds degrees in nursing from Wagner College and Vanderbilt University, and an earned doctorate in Speech Communication and Human Relations from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.  The author of numerous articles and books, she has also written theories of communication and communication ethics.  Her interest in critical thinking stems from the orientation to debating and argumentation she received at the University of Kansas.  She continues to serve in professional and civic organizations and as a volunteer parish nurse.  A member of Sigma Theta Tau International, she has developed a wide variety of courses and seminars in nursing, communication, leadership, and is actively engaged in research and writing, as well.

About the Author's Thinking

Among her recent publications, Dr. Duldt has defined scholarship.  She defines critical thinking as follows:

Critical thinking is as old as Socrates and continues to be an essential component of scholarship.  It is the key characteristic of the educated person.  One becomes scholarly by systematically developing habits of thinking.  Critical thinking is characterized by careful analysis and judgment.  According to Boyer, there are three elements which comprise critical thinking: discovery, integration, and application; and I would add a fourth, influence.

Discovery refers to the identification of new knowledge, a unique approach, or a different paradigm.  This means perceiving the subject in a new perspective, noting the gaps in the literature, seeing more questions rather than only answers to questions, and many more things like these.

Integration refers to those thought processes which interpret, draw together, and bring new insight to bear on original knowledge and research.  This means developing a new paradigm, reorganizing structures, and fashioning a new idea.

Application refers to those ideas, old or new, which are considered as potential solutions of current problems of significance and consequence.  So, problem solving is really only one element of the critical thinking, yet it seems to be discussed more readily in nursing than the other three elements.

Influence refers to the ability to persuade others through a well-developed sequence of reasoning and logic.  The success of such leadership attempts tends to depend on one's ability to communicate in a creditable manner.  One needs to be skillful in developing arguments and in communicating in a trustworthy, gentle, persuasive manner.  The desired outcome is to initiate change and have an impact on people and events.

 . . .To possess critical thinking skills is the difference between being nobody special to being somebody who can make a difference.

Last Modified: 9/30/11