Critical and Creative Thinking, MA and Graduate Certificate
(Regular track and Science in a Changing World track)
Please contact the Program Director, Peter Taylor, or Assistant Director, Jeremy Szteiter, at email@example.com or consult the Student Handbook. Telephone: 617.287.7636, Wheatley Hall, Second Floor, Room 157. University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125-3393.
The Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) program at the University of Massachusetts Boston provides its students with knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.
Critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice are valued, of course, in all fields. In critical thinking we seek to scrutinize the assumptions, reasoning, and evidence brought to bear on an issue—by others and by oneself; such scrutiny is enhanced by placing ideas and practices in tension with alternatives. Key functions of creative thinking include generating alternative ideas, practices, and solutions that are unique and effective, and exploring ways to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, make new connections, and see how things could be otherwise. In reflective practice we take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise our approaches accordingly.
The rationale for Masters and Certificate programs of study in CCT is that an explicit and sustained focus on learning and applying ideas and tools in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice allows students involved in a wide array of professions and endeavors to develop clarity and confidence to make deep changes in their learning, teaching, work, activism, research, and artistry. By the time CCT students finish their studies they are prepared to teach or guide others in ways that often depart markedly from their previous schooling and experience. In these processes of transformation and transfer, CCT students have to select and adapt the ideas and tools presented by faculty with diverse disciplinary and interdisciplinary concerns. Although each CCT course is self-contained and is open to students from other graduate programs, students matriculated in the Program benefit from extended relationships with core CCT faculty and fellow students that support their processes of learning—experimenting and taking risks in applying what they are learning, reflecting on the outcomes and revising accordingly, and building up a set of tools, practices, and perspectives that work in their specific professional or personal endeavors.
Content of Studies
Since the Program was founded in 1980, the foundational knowledge emphasized in Critical and Creative Thinking has included psychological studies of the scope, limits, and techniques of critical and creative thought, information processing, and conceptual learning in children and young adults; philosophical studies of reasoning, argument, logical thinking, valuing, and judging; and work with cognitive structures and metacognitive techniques for stimulating creativity and critical thought. In the CCT Program this knowledge base is expanded through elective courses that take students into areas of student-defined specialization and through required courses in research, implementation, evaluation, writing, and communication that introduce a range of tools for students' own personal and professional development and for helping others develop equivalent processes. Since the late 1990s required and elective CCT courses have delved further into inter- and intra-personal dimensions of critical and creative thinking and reflective practice, involving empathy, listening, dialogue, and facilitation of other group processes. An interest in contributing to constructive social change has also led CCT faculty and students to address anti-racist and multicultural education and in 2010 the Program formalized a second track on Science in a Changing World that serves students who want to focus on science in the context of social change or individual intellectual development.
Students and intended impact of studies
The CCT Program appeals to students looking for professional and personal development who are interested in learning from and with others of diverse backgrounds and interests. Many are mid-career educators: teachers and college professors, curriculum specialists, museum educators, or educational administrators. Others are policy makers or personnel trainers in government, corporate, scientific, or non-profit settings. Some are artists, musicians, writers, journalists, and community activists. Through course projects, independent studies, pre-capstone research courses, and the capstone synthesis projects, CCT students explore issues they have not had much chance to address before and translate what they learn into strategies, materials, and interventions for use in diverse educational, professional, and social settings. Graduates leave CCT well equipped for ongoing learning, addressing the needs of their schools, workplaces, and communities, adapting and contributing to social changes, and collaborating with others to these ends. Testimonials and Notes from Alumni of the program can be viewed on the CCT wiki, http://cct.wikispaces.umb.edu/impact. Abstracts and full-text versions of theses and capstone syntheses can be viewed at http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cct_capstone/.
Programs of Study
Most students in CCT seek a Master of Arts (MA) degree (11 courses/33 credits), but others study for a Graduate Certificate (5 courses/15 credits) and some of these then apply to transfer their credits into the MA. program. Most students undertake the regular track, but the Science in a Changing World track welcomes new students. All programs can be completed completely through face-to-face sections, completely through online sections, or through a combination. CCT courses also allow students from other graduate programs to fulfill requirements or electives for courses in critical and creative thinking, curriculum development, research and writing for reflective practice, urban and social justice education, teaching in the different subject areas, and dialogue and collaboration in organizational change. In particular, students in the non-licensure Learning, Teaching and Educational Transformation and professional Teacher Education tracks often decide to add the CCT Certificate to their original program. Non-degree students can also take CCT courses; this opportunity, together with workshops, summer institutes, monthly evening forums, and invitations to join online communities of practice further extend the range of educational experiences offered by the program. To accommodate the schedules of teachers and other professionals, courses are offered after 4 pm, in intensive sessions during the summer, and online. While it is possible for a full-time student to complete the Master’s program in one calendar year, most students combine the program with their ongoing careers and therefore take at least two or three years. MA students complete the four foundation courses for their track, three electives, and three final required “research and engagement” courses including a capstone thesis or synthesis. The choice of track, elective courses, and research and engagement projects allow students to define specific areas in which they explore their CCT-related interests -- for example, "creative thinking at work", "gifted and talented education", "critical and creative thinking in literature/arts/music", "dialogue and collaboration in organizational change." Additional areas of specialization can be constructed through cooperation with other UMass Boston graduate programs, such as Instructional Design, Educational Administration, Public Policy, and Conflict Resolution.
Profiles of CCT Faculty
Like the students in the Program, CCT faculty members are engaged in ongoing personal and professional development, which builds on, but extends some distance from, their original disciplines of education, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and the life sciences. Indeed, faculty members value teaching in CCT as an opportunity for innovation and process-learning—ideas incubated with input from the diverse practitioner-students of CCT can then be brought back into the faculty's home disciplines and undergraduate teaching. In turn, students' experience of the faculty as reflective practitioners in their own work is an essential part of the content of CCT studies.
CCT Student Handbook
An overview of CCT and its mission, and all students need to know about joining and moving through the program, including course offerings (PDF version).
Please contact the Program Director, Peter Taylor, or Assistant Director, Jeremy Szteiter at firstname.lastname@example.org or consult the Student Handbook. Telephone: 617.287.7636, Wheatley Hall, Second Floor, Room 157. University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125-3393.