Critical Thinking in the Classroom

To prepare students for higher levels of analysis, faculty members must explicitly and

intentionally design courses to build critical thinking skills. General agreement exists that critical thinking involves interpretation or analysis, usually followed by evaluation or judgment. After students have mastered the subject matter, critical thinking can be developed with questions such as:

  • What are alternative points of view for this situation?
  • What are the costs and benefits of each alternative?
  • What assumptions are the basis for these alternatives?
  • What evidence exists for each alternative?
  • What additional information might be required in this situation?
  • What actions might be taken to identify the risks in this situation?
  • How might risks be reduced?

In this learning process, students should receive feedback so they can adapt and refine their thinking in future situations. Learning experiences that help to develop critical thinking include class discussions, debates, role playing, targeted journaling, case situations, and problem solving exercises. These instructional methods can encourage curiosity, encourage questions, and require that students explain and justify responses.

For additional information on critical thinking, click here:

Teaching Suggestions

  • Talk with students about their experiences with class assignments that have required them to think beyond just knowing basic facts.
  • Conduct online research to obtain additional information on how technology might be used to enhance critical thinking.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are potential benefits of critical thinking skills for students?
  2. What actions might be taken to improve critical thinking skills?
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