Effective for students entering fall term 2009 and thereafter, all students seeking baccalaureate degrees are required to pass two critical thinking through writing (CTW) courses in their majors. Students should consult the section of this Catalog that describes their major for its CTW requirements. CTW classes are unique to Georgia State University and therefore students cannot transfer equivalent credit from other universities.
CTW courses are designed to develop students’ ability to think critically in the major area they have chosen to study. CTW courses require that a significant portion of the course grade be derived from brief and frequent written assignments aimed at capturing evidence of critical thinking. These assignments challenge students to explore the course content in a new light and encourage them to think like members of their disciplines.
Every discipline defines critical thinking a bit differently, so Georgia State University decided to require students to take two Critical Thinking through Writing courses in their own discipline. On the whole, most disciplines would agree that the ability to think critically reflects one of the highest orders of learning. Most agree that students are engaging in critical thinking when they perform actions like synthesis, analysis, evaluation, and application. Some majors include other components of critical thinking and each discipline tends to define these components a bit differently according to the needs of their field.
Georgia State University recently underwent re-accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 2008. As part of the re-accreditation process, the University was required to prepare a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). The University’s QEP, Critical Thinking through Writing (CTW), seeks to increase our baccalaureate students’ capacity for critical thinking as evidenced in their major field of study.
The strategy for achieving this goal was to implement a university-wide graduation requirement that undergraduates pass two Critical Thinking through Writing (CTW) courses in their major. This requirement, approved by the University Senate in April of 2007, will take effect for students entering Fall 2009. Each CTW course will be designed by the major department and approved by the General Education Subcommittee (a subcommittee of the University Senate’s Committee of Academic Programs).
The University hosted a luncheon for department chairs and school directors on September 11 and 12, 2007. Departments/schools were asked to identify at least one faculty member per undergraduate degree major to serve as a CTW Ambassador. The University has offered CTW workshops in September, 2007, October, 2007, and November, 2007, May 2008, October 2008, and January to prepare the CTW Ambassadors, as they assist in designing CTW courses and implementing assessments of student learning in their degree programs. The CTW Ambassador Workshops focused on what constitutes critical thinking through writing, including developing rubrics for assessment, sharing ideas for activities and assignments, and discussing methods for implementation in the department. All CTW Workshops are coordinated by a team of five faculty members, appointed by the Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness, in consultation with the deans and chairs. The coordinators consist of two faculty members with specific expertise in critical thinking and writing, and eight additional faculty members to represent the breadth of disciplines across the university.
In the first official year of the Critical Thinking through Writing initiative, GSU offered 375 sections of 117 CTW approved courses which enrolled 8466 students. These courses were instructed by 275 CTW trained faculty members and assisted by 85 graduate student writing tutors. The program offered 22 CTW workshops for our 56 departmental representatives and 2 days of workshops for graduate student consultants working with the CTW courses.
If you would like further information on the Critical Thinking through Writing (CTW) Initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CTW Consultant Workshops
- QEP Final Draft (pdf)