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Critical Thinking Classroom Case Study

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ERIC - Critical Thinking in Classroom Discussion of Texts: An Ethnographic Perspective, 1990-Apr

Critical Thinking in Classroom Discussion of Texts: An Ethnographic Perspective.

An ethnographic approach is taken to describe the development of student critical thinking in the Pittsburgh Discussion Project, focusing primarily on discussion experiences in three classes (one college-bound 9th-grade class and two mainstream 11th-grade classes) over the school year. Weekly discussions were audiotaped, and interviews were conducted with teachers and students. The study was framed by three questions: (1) How does classroom social context affect student thinking and collaboration? (2) How do students collaborate to develop interpretations of texts? and (3) To what extent are critical thinking and collaboration evident in discussion? This paper focuses on how the classroom context for discussion varied from teacher to teacher and how student thinking was fostered or discouraged in each class. In the two classes where students were led to see the text as open to alternative interpretations, student questioning became the major spur for discussion and critical thinking. In the other class, where the teacher considered her interpretations of the text to be authoritative, the students soon learned that their interpretive responses and critical thinking had no place. The findings of the study provide evidence for a view of discussion as a "sociocognitive activity" (J. A. Langer, 1987), meaning that out of the context for using language in social interaction, students learn particular ways of thinking that affect the meanings they produce. (JD)

Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research

Authoring Institution: N/A

Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (Boston, MA, April 17-20, 1990).

Other articles

Daly - Methodology for Using Case Studies in the Business English Language Classroom (TESL

Methodology for Using Case Studies in the Business English Language Classroom

Peter Daly
peter.daly [at]
EDHEC Business School (Lille - Nice, France) This paper reflects on the types of case studies available to language learners and teachers and elaborates a methodology on how these case studies can be exploited to maximise student talking time in the language classroom. Not all case studies are the same and with different levels of difficulty and skills trained, the choice of case study is tantamount to the success of your class. Case studies are extremely rich in content and can provide the learner with the potential to consolidate already acquired knowledge and train specific language and managerial skills. Language teachers inexperienced in the use of the case study method may be inhibited by the content-based nature of the case study and therefore shy away from using case studies in class. This teaching methodology should help teachers plan their classroom to ensure effective execution of a case study.

Case Studies in the Language Classroom

What do teachers do if they have advanced language learners, who may have certain grammatical, lexical or pronunciation problems but for the most part are at ease in their L2. This is a problem we face constantly in our language classroom and we found that case studies provide the answer to the above dilemma. The case study method has been used in many fields in third level education and also lends itself nicely to language learning. The next question may be where to find suitable case studies which are not too content-led and do not presuppose an in-depth knowledge of a specific subject matter. As the main aim of the language teacher is not to teach content but rather improve the student�s communicative competence and oral proficiency in the L2, case studies written by language teachers and adapted to the language classroom are more appropriate than case studies written by business lecturers. There are various publications on the market which respond to the language teachers� needs. While some books offer simulations with prescribed roles (Crowther-Alwyn 1997; 1999), others integrate mini-cases at the end of each chapter dealing with a specific topic such as international marketing or finance (Cotton, Falvey & Kent, 2000; 2001). As far as interactive case studies go, two distinct types of case study can be identified: those that provide the learner with targeted content input to practise a specific skill such as negotiating, interviewing, problem-solving or decision-making (Castler & Palmer, 1989) and those which are more free to interpretation and call on the teacher to choose the preferred methodology and classroom strategy (Witte 1999).

Advantages of the Case Study to the Language Teacher

Many teachers shy away from using case studies in the classroom situation for many reasons. First of all, they may feel that they will be engulfed in the content aspect of the case study and lose face before their students. Secondly, they may not be comfortable with the role shift in their teaching - from teacher to facilitator. Finally, teachers who are used to a transmission style of teaching may feel that teaching is not really happening if they use simulations or case studies.

However, the advantages of case studies are numerous. Some of them are set out below:
  1. to develop critical thinking and reflective learning in the learner.
  2. to improve the student�s organisational skills - as case studies are sometimes very dense in information, the key is to condense this information into logical sections and organise them so that a clear picture of the problem/issue can be understood
  3. to enhance communication skills - case studies can be used to improve the student�s written and oral communication. Non-verbal communication skills are also practised by using case studies
  4. to train managerial communication skills such as holding a meeting, negotiating a contract, giving a presentation etc. Case studies force students into real-life situations to require them to get involved in managerial communication.
  5. to encourage collaborative learning and team-working skills in the language learner.
The Case Study Classroom I have divided this section into three parts:
  1. Case study introduction - deals with the preparation of the case study, the introduction of a problem solving analysis and the pre-teaching of LSP (in this case, I use the example of meeting skills)
  2. Case study class - here the class is divided into sections to include meetings, presentations of findings and discussion of recommendations.
  3. Debriefing the class - the teacher gives feedback on language mistakes, managerial skills and the meeting documents and support materials used.
1. Case Study Introduction

It is extremely important that the case studies are well prepared in advance so that each student knows what his role is. It is not sufficient just to give the case study to the student and hope that they will understand how to use it. This is the mistake made by many teachers unfamiliar with the case study method. There are many ways of introducing the case study to your students.

Here is a list of steps that should be completed during the case study introduction class.

1) Read the case study thoroughly with your students. Here you can deal with any lexical or grammatical issues. You may also like to ask your students to represent the background information in a visual form. Use the blackboard or flipchart to get a clear picture of the company background. An example is shown in Figure 1. As you can see in this example, the main information is extracted from the case study, which will then be used later for further analysis.
  • Company Name
    • Elmex-Newton
  • Turnover
    • $1.4 m
  • Profit in 2001
    • $500 ,000
  • Number of Employees
    • 4,800
  • Head Office
    • New York
  • Product Range
    • White goods
Figure 1. Example of visual representation of background information in a case study 2) Provide the students with some input on how they should analyse the case study. The problem solving analysis below is an example of how to get the students to analyse the case critically.
  • a) Read the case several times.
  • b) Define the main issues/problems.
  • c) Set out the firm�s objectives.
  • d) Identify options open to the firm.
  • e) Draw up some criteria to evaluate the options chosen.
  • f) Select the best option.
  • g) Decide on how the option should be implemented.
  • h) Draw up an action plan to implement the solution chosen.
3) Pre-teach the language required to discuss the case study. There are many publications on the market for teaching meeting skills, presentation skills or negotiation skills. It is important to select the skill you would like to focus on and teach the specific language. If we take meetings as an example, we could do some of the following:
  • refer students to web sites to read up on the skill being practised. A web search will reveal any number of interesting sites.
  • If students have access to libraries, then they can read up on meeting skills in one of the many communication books on the market
  • brainstorm some key concepts of meetings such as type of meetings, people at a meeting, verbs, etc (see the worksheet in Appendix 1.)
  • move on to the language of meetings - provide the students with useful language input for both the chairperson and the participants such as the language of contradicting and disagreeing, interrupting, taking the floor etc.
  • familiarise the students with the documents of meeting - the form and content of agendas, minutes and memos. This should provide the student with more language input such as AOB, matters arising out of the last meeting, absentees, etc.
  • divide the class into small groups. You can either ask them to form the groups themselves or you can form the groups based on your class lists.
2. Case Study Class

Students should be divided into two small groups (maximum six students) to discuss different aspects of the same case study. Therefore, it is a good idea to find a case study that has two distinct parts. You must remind the students that they do not have all the information they need to solve the case but based on the information available, they can make recommendations and come to preliminary decisions. You can also inform your students that in real life situation in business, we do not have all the facts required to solve a problem.

In a one and a half hour session, the class time is divided into three half hour slots:
  • Meeting (30 minutes) - Groups (Group A and Group B) meet to discuss their part of the case study.
  • Presentation (15 minutes per group) - Group A present their findings to the other group and vice versa.
  • Discussion (30 minutes) - all students come together to discuss the findings and make recommendations.

Figure 2. The case study classroom layout

Meeting (30 minutes)

Students are divided into two groups (Group A and Group B) of four-six students to discuss their part of the case study. A chairperson is selected to lead the meeting and an agenda is drawn up. Students can be asked to prepare the agenda in advance and ensure everyone has a copy or they can write their agenda on the flipchart. Students discuss and provide recommendations, which they then represent graphically on transparencies or on the flipchart/chalkboard. You should impress on the students that their visuals should be clear, concise and coherent and long sentences are unacceptable. The students should then prepare their presentation. The facilitator should ensure that the chairperson does not monopolise the presentation but lets the other students have equal speaking time.

Presentation (15 minutes per group)

The findings of Group A are presented to Group B and vice versa. This should take approximately 15 minutes for each group including questions. Students must take detailed notes in order to participate actively in the third part of the lesson. Students will need to clarify the issues their group did not deal with by asking questions and repeating. This section should be treated as information exchange and the facilitator should prevent further discussion of the points presented. In order to include active participation of all students in this section, you could ask the students to share the presentation speaking time equally.

Discussion (30 minutes)

A discussion of both parts ensues whereby the students compare and contrast the various findings and suggestions made. Everyone should be encouraged to participate and a consensus should be reached on the main points raised in the presentation. This further elaboration of the items on the agenda will facilitate the writing of the detailed minutes, which should be prepared as homework.

Finally, the facilitator asks the students to prepare the minutes for the following week. The minutes are prepared in groups of three so that the students can consolidate their ideas on paper.

The transparencies and the agendas are collected by the facilitator for analysis and correction.

3. Debriefing Class

All case study classes need to be debriefed to include the language, the skills (in this case, meeting and presentation skills) and the support documents and written communication (the transparencies, the agenda and minutes). We will now look at these elements in more detail.

Language: there are various ways to address the mistakes made. You can create exercises from the mistakes or you can simply go through the major mistakes and explain the correct form.

Managerial Skills: as regards the meeting and presentation skills, the teacher should provide feedback on how to improve these skills. The feedback should include rapport building, body language, eye contact, etc

Written Communication: Having corrected the written work which resulted from the case study interaction, you can also look at such issues as the difference between spoken and written language and style switching. You will be also able to provide targeted feedback on the written documents. visuals, agendas and minutes.

  • Castler, K & Palmer, D (1989) Business Assignments. Eight advanced case studies with video, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
  • Cotton, D. Falvey, D. & Kent, S. (2000) Market Leader. Intermediate Business English, Longmann. Pearson Education Limited
  • Cotton, D. Falvey, D. & Kent, S. (2001) Market Leader. Upper-Intermediate Business English, Longmann. Pearson Education Limited.
  • Crowther-Alwyn, J. (1997) Business Roles. 12 Simulations for Business English. CUP: Cambridge
  • Crowther-Alwyn, J. (1999) Business Roles 2. 12 Simulations for Business English. CUP: Cambridge.
  • Witte, A.E (Ed.) (1999) Interactive Cases for Business English. Ellipses: Paris

The Language of Meetings

The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VIII, No. 11, November 2002

Case studies for flipped classrooms at the University of Queensland, Australia

Case studies

Case Studies for flipped classroom

The following case studies demonstrate a variety of approaches that teachers at UQ are taking to flip their classrooms. Teaching staff were interviewed from the six faculties across UQ to explore the pedagogical reasons for flipping, the educational technologies used and how their teaching has changed. Each case study is accompanied by a summary in PDF format.

Andrew Fairbairn

This study examines how using the flipped classroom model provides opportunities to design and deliver courses using active learning and engagement strategies to facilitate students� teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking skills in a collegial environment. Read more.

Click on the images below to view each video on the screen above

Second and third-year Archaeology courses in the BA major

Engineering Design, Engineering Modelling & Problem Solving

Literary Studies, School of English, Media Studies, and Art History

The Science of Every Day Thinking (2nd Year); Judgement and Decision Making (3rd year)

Final Year, Core Rotation, Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Medicine

School of Veterinary Science

Critical thinking class exercises

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Guiding Students to Think Critically Using Case Studies

Guiding Students to Think Critically Using Case Studies

One of the best practices in teaching and learning is the use of a three-part case study, or a scenario-based story, to help students deepen their understanding of a concept. The three parts of a case study are a scenario-based story that focuses on a specific, hypothetical problem, supporting literature that aligns with the main themes of the story, and guiding questions that help the learner gain the most from understanding the concepts and objectives of the case study by applying critical and higher order thinking skills.

A scenario-based story is a situation, problem, or issue that is used to help students grasp the learning objectives of a lesson. For example, in an educational leadership law course that I teach, one day I might create an elaborate scenario that focuses on several problems and issues that also align with the lesson’s objectives and concepts. Another day, the scenario could be a short one- to two-sentence story that is used at the beginning of class to engage students in reviewing key concepts and prepare them for the day’s lesson, or at the end of a lesson to review what was discussed during class. Finally, I might present a scenario-based story through a video or news story. There are many great videos on YouTube and many great news stories all over the Internet that offer up scenarios that are easily accessible and provide a visual that may help stimulate learning.

Supporting literature that aligns with the main themes of the case study helps students focus on what is important. This literature can be the texts and supplemental material that are required for students to read for a course, or, for example, it can be state and federal codes that must be followed. Then, the guiding questions are created and used to help students think about the different outcomes that could occur and possibly prepare for confronting an issue in the real-world. These questions can be as elaborate or straightforward as needed.

Like a book study, a case study can provide the necessary platform for students to communicate and collaborate about a situation that concerns a certain group. They can be used to help a group of learners or others focus on a specific concept, or they can help those solve a problem. Additionally, they can be used to analyze a current practice, like an ineffective policy. Although case studies are not a new teaching method, they are a method that can be useful, providing an opportunity for students to think outside the box. Through the use of a case study, students can actively engage in applying learned concepts, objectives, and knowledge to hypothetical situations by using critical and higher order thinking skills to answer tough questions.

Below are brief examples of the three types of case studies that I’ve used in my graduate course:

1. Elaborate Case Study: A high school senior is caught cheating on an exam. A passing grade on this exam is essential, since the exam grade will be applied to the senior’s overall GPA. The teacher respects the student and counts the student as a favorite, especially since the student was accepted to attend Harvard. The teacher decides to ignore the policy and does not report the student’s cheating, and allows the grade to be averaged with the student’s GPA.

  • What are the implications of the teacher not reporting the cheating?
  • How would you have handled this situation differently?

2. One- to Two-Sentence Case Study:
You are on campus late one night working on paperwork when you hear laughter and loud talking down the hall. As you approach the raucous, you enter a classroom to find three teachers and their spouses drinking beer.

  • What do you do next and is your decision based on ethics or fear?

3. Video/News Story Case Study: Please view the assigned videos. As you watch them, keep in mind what you have learned about student speech and academic freedom.

  • Are there any student speech or academic freedom issues?
  • Has the student code of conduct been violated with these dances?

Dr. Laura Trujillo-Jenks is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Texas Woman’s University.

Case Studies

ESL Teacher Reference Desk

Classroom Activities

The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms. - Charles Handy

Case Study Method

Case studies can be a useful tool in classroom teaching. They can focus on issues of special interest and can be an ideal complement to a textbook. The act of teaching case studies requires competence in two areas, the method of teaching and the content you are teaching.

Case Study Examples

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. - W. B. Yeats

Competence in selecting the content of case studies is as important as the teaching methods we use to present this content. In ESL classrooms usually discussions are conducted in smaller groups and then a representative of each group speaks in front of the class. The following simple case studies have been successfully used in teaching English as a Second / Foreign Language to adults (company staff).

1. Grocery Store
Your family has had a grocery store for more than 50 years. Recently, a supermarket has opened 100 meters down the road. - What are you going to do?

2. A Fly in the Soup
You are the owner of a small restaurant. A customer complained to you that he had found a fly in his soup. - What will you do/say? Discuss with your friends.

3. E-Mail
You do not like your boss but you like the job very much. One day you typed a message on your computer to an understanding colleague (your best friend) complaining about your boss, using the words “stupid, lacking of feelings” and “cruel”. You e-mailed this message to your friend. But a few seconds later you realized that you made a mistake. Instead of directing the message to your friend, you had sent it to your boss! - What is your next step? Discuss with your friends.

4. Marketing a Product
[In groups of three or five] Today you are Marketing Executives. Invent a product or service and market it and then present your idea to the class. You have to design an advertisement for television commercial or magazine. Please divide your presentation into three parts:
1. Describe the product or service.
2. Describe the advertising method used.
3. Explain, why you chose certain things in your advertisement, i.e. beautiful landscape, people, etc.

5. Domestic Violence
You had a long conversation with a friend and coworker, a part-time employee who revealed to you that she is a victim of domestic violence. The woman’s husband has been abusing her since their first child was born. He is careful to injure her only in ways that do not leave visible signs, and she feels sure no one would ever believe her word against his. The family’s assets, even “her” car, are all in his name, and her part-time salary would not be enough for herself and the children to live on. Further, he has threatened to kill her if she ever leaves him or reveals the truth. After talking with you, the woman asks you to keep this conversation confidential. - What would you say / do? Discuss with your friends.

6. Conflict at Work
You are Human Resource Manager, a married person with two children. You had a conflict in the workplace. One of your employees said this morning that he knows where your kids go to school. When he spoke, his eyes looked terrible and his voice was angry. - What will you do and say? Discuss with your friend.

7. A Strange Case
You are Manager of a company. Several employees came to your office and reported an unusual situation which had occurred the previous day. An agency employee from a different building had been in and out of their office over a seven-hour period, remarking to several people that “the Government” had kept her prisoner, inserted microphones in her head to hear what she was thinking, and tampered with her computer to feed her evil thoughts. She also said that her doctors diagnosed her as paranoid schizophrenic, but that they are wrong about her. She made inflammatory remarks about coworkers, and made threatening statements such as, “Anybody in my old job who got in my way came down with mysterious illnesses”. - What will you do and say? Discuss in groups of five and give a presentation in front of the whole class.

8. In the Office
Your spouse and you have been married for 10 years and for the last 6 months s/he has been having a secret affair with a woman/man in his/her office. You recently discovered this. S/he said how s/he was sorry and said s/he would stop seeing the person and that s/he would never love anyone else again. But s/he refuses to look for a new job. - What will you do? What will you tell her/him?

9. Car Accident
Your spouse suffered a serious car accident a few years ago, and since then has been confined to a wheelchair. You had to give up your job to look after him/her and more recently s/he has become so demanding that you have to spend all your time with him/her. - What will you do? Discuss with your friends.

Audiobook in Advanced ESL Classroom: Developing Critical Listening - Publications of HSE

Audiobook in Advanced ESL Classroom: Developing Critical Listening

Iss. 5. Florence: Simonelli Editore – University Press, 2012.

“ICT for Language Learning Conference Proceedings 2012” focuses on sharing the most recent experience in the field of the application of ICT to language learning and teaching along the lines of the following topics:

  • ICT based language teaching and learning approaches
  • E-learning solutions for language teaching and learning
  • Quality and innovation in language teaching and learning
  • Monitoring and evaluation of language teaching and learning
  • Recognition and validation of language skills
  • Language teacher training
  • Language learning to support international Mobility
  • Multilingualism
  • Language learning for specific purposes
  • Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • CLIL, Content and Language Integrated Learning
  • The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

The European Language Label for the promotion of quality in language learning.

Similar publications:

In bk. CSEDU 2012 4th International Conference on Computer Supported Education Proceedings. Vol. 2. Porto: SciTePre, 2012. P. 88-93.

The need to foster critical thinking has long been one of the key issues in education. It is essentially vital nowadays against the background of an increased volume of cross-cultural communications due to the present-day demand for collaboration to tackle pressing global issues through joint efforts of different nations. While the format of debates has been recognized by researchers as one of the most efficient tools of setting off critical thinking, it is up to the new technologies in education to make it possible to bring this platform to a cross-cultural level. Since a cross-cultural dialogue in most cases supposes the mastery of a foreign language, e-learning in the form of cross-border video-conference debates present an invaluable opportunity for educators to enhance the pedagogy of foreign language acquisition around the globe. The present paper focuses on a case-study of an on-going project of implementing the tool of synchronous cross-cultural video-conference debates.

In bk. Current Developments in English for Academic, Specific and Occupational Purposes. Reading: Garnet Publishing, 2008. Ch. 17. P. 267-274.

Chapter 17 of the monograph is devoted to academic skills acquisition at a non-linguistic university in Russia. It provides the main purposes of students studying at a double (London University and the Higher School of Economics) Bachelor programme and various techniques.

The second issue of Voprosy obrazovaniya/Educational Studies.Moscow has been recently released. The issue features the following thematic section – Recruitment, Education and Retention of Teachers: Issues and Challenges in the Eastern/Central Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Mongolia.

The book is written by B.Ganter and S.Obiedkov. Bernhard Ganter is emeritus professor of mathematics at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. His main research field is Formal Concept Analysis. Sergei Obiedkov is an associate professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow. His research covers topics in data analysis and artificial intelligence, including logical and algorithmic aspects.

Michael Gordin, professor of Prinston University, has published a new review of the books Russkie Professora (Russian Professors) by Elena Vishlenkova, Rufia Galiullina, and Kira Ilyina, as well as Soslovie Russkih Professorov (The Community of Russian Professors) by Elena Vishkenkova and Irina Savelieva (eds.) in the scholarly journal Kritika: Exploration in Russian and Eurasian History.

New publications with full texts Books

College Students on Critical Thinking in the Classroom

College Students on Critical Thinking in the Classroom

According to our recent “Student Engagement Insights” survey of over three thousand college students, 99% of students believe critical thinking is an important skill for them to learn in the classroom. Additionally, 92% believe what they learn in class sharpens their critical thinking skills for the “real world.” Terrific! But how many instructors and institutions find room for teaching it in their curriculum?

In a similar survey, 83% of instructors reported teaching critical thinking in their classrooms. While the majority of instructors do touch on critical thinking, many instructors still do not cover these types of lessons, despite the high value students place on them.

Whether on the first day only or throughout the entire term, it sounds as though students are eager to refine their critical thinking skills. The question is: how do students define critical thinking?

What does “critical thinking” mean?

We asked students, “When you hear the term ‘critical thinking,’ what comes to mind?”

The number-one answer we received simply stated “thinking outside the box.” It looks like this is a phrase used often when introducing the concept of critical thinking to students, but most were not able to elaborate much further. Great answers ranged from, “Going beneath the surface level of a topic, thinking of all possible routes and outcomes” to “using reasoning/”common-sense” skills to come to conclusions, rather than just memorizing specific information.”

Some got quite philosophical as well: “A problem is presented that requires more processing to answer but does not necessarily have one answer.” It seems clear that this very question does not necessarily have one answer. When you begin covering critical thinking in your classroom, explain what it is you would like your students to take away from the learning experience.

Critical thinking lessons for the real world

One of students’ primary reasons for wanting to gain critical thinking skills is for use in the workplace and the “real world.” For this reason, consider some real-world exercises such as group problem solving, relaying complex ideas and information, or risk-assessment scenarios.

For more ideas on leading your classroom in a lesson on critical thinking, visit our post, “Helping Students Think More Critically and Strategically .”

How do you explain critical thinking to your students, and what methods do you use for demonstration? Share your ideas below.

Lynn D. Millwood, Ph.D. says:

As a Geology professor, I teach critical thinking by asking questions which are not answered in the book. This causes a lot of distress and complaining from students. They must take what they have learned, apply it with understanding. and draw conclusions on their own. I have to do a lot of “hand-holding” in this process. When a student asks “for the answer” (usually stating that this is “not fair”), I answer with a question designed to direct him/her to a starting point in the critical thinking process. My question is usually something along the lines of “What do you know about the subject of the question?” This is commonly followed with other of my questions such as “How might this apply to answer the question? Are there other facts that you know (from other chapters even) that could add to what you need to know to answer the question? What are the connections between facts that you learned?” By my questions, I am trying to direct the students through the process of putting the information together to “discover” the answer for themselves.
Lynn Millwood, Ph.D. Mountain View College, Dallas, Texas

Elizabeth McCarthy says:

I am the coordinator for the Computer Support Specialist program and always encouraging students to stop and think. They constantly hear references to Critical Thinking Skills (CTS) in classes and in their readings. I started using CTS as a catch phrase when they are not stopping to think. I now refer to CTS as a disease that everyone needs to catch and for which their is no cure. Over the past semester, I now hear students reminding themselves to catch CTS when they are working through networking labs and programming assignments. It may seem silly, but it seems to be helping.

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