Just think—we expect athletes to practice constantly and use everything in their abilities and situations in order to achieve success. Yet, somehow many students are convinced that one day’s worth of studying, no sleep, and some well-placed compliments (“Gee, Dr. So-and-so, I really enjoyed your last lecture”) are good preparation for a test. Essay exams are like any other testing situation in life: you’ll do best if you are prepared for what is expected of you, have practiced doing it before, and have arrived in the best shape to do it.
You may not want to believe this, but it’s true: a good night’s sleep and a relaxed mind and body can do as much or more for you as any last-minute cram session. Colleges abound with tales of woe about students who slept through exams because they stayed up all night, wrote an essay on the wrong topic, forgot everything they studied, or freaked out in the exam and hyperventilated. If you are rested, breathing normally, and have brought along some healthy, energy-boosting snacks that you can eat or drink quietly, you are in a much better position to do a good job on the test. You aren’t going to write a good essay on something you figured out at 4 . that morning. If you prepare yourself well throughout the semester, you don’t risk your whole grade on an overloaded, undernourished brain.
- Develop critical thinking skills
- Understand how media messages shape our culture and society
- Identify target marketing strategies
- Recognize what the media maker wants us to believe or do
- Name the techniques of persuasion used
- Recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies
- Discover the parts of the story that are not being told
- Evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, skills, beliefs, and values
- Create and distribute our own media messages
- Advocate for media justice
Searching for evidence of critical thinking in discourse has roots in a definition of critical thinking put forth by Kuhn (1991),  which places more emphasis on the social nature of discussion and knowledge construction. There is limited research on the role of social experience in critical thinking development, but there is some evidence to suggest it is an important factor. For example, research has shown that 3- to 4-year-old children can discern, to some extent, the differential creditability  and expertise  of individuals. Further evidence for the impact of social experience on the development of critical thinking skills comes from work that found that 6- to 7-year-olds from China have similar levels of skepticism to 10- and 11-year-olds in the United States.  If the development of critical thinking skills was solely due to maturation, it is unlikely we would see such dramatic differences across cultures.