Developing students as critical thinkers is essential for preparing students for success in life; thus, there is wide consensus in academia about the necessity to teach students to develop and refine their capabilities in critical thinking. This is complex work, requiring faculty not only to think about what it means to develop students as critical thinkers within a field of study or major, but also to consider how we encourage students to develop habits of mind and a sense of integrity that leads them to be thoughtful about their actions and choices in their everyday lives.
Teaching for critical thinking is an intellectual exercise that requires you to be intentional about the decisions you make at each stage of the course design, planning, implementation, and assessment phases. For example, you will want to give significant thought to questions such as:
Scholars have given quite a bit of thought to what a critical thinker looks like. As Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder of the Foundation for Critical Thinking write in their Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (2009),
“A well cultivated critical thinker:
Thus, students who think critically demonstrate a deep understanding, even ownership, of their knowledge. Bloom’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain provides a useful representation for the developmental nature of critical thinking and articulates the sequence of steps for teaching students to think critically.
One tool that can be of assistance as you consider these questions is Mason’s “Development of Critical Thinking Rubric.” Resulting from an interdisciplinary team of Mason faculty participating in a faculty community focused on teaching for critical thinking, it heavily borrows from the Association of American Colleges and Universities VALUE rubrics for critical and creative thinking. The rubric articulates criteria for the development of critical thinking and provides language for how students move from novice to more sophisticated levels of achievement across each criterion.
Scholars in this field point to the key importance of dispositions, or habits of mind, in the development of students as critical thinkers. Thus, the rubric begins with the criterion, intellectual autonomy, as a precondition for the development of specific critical thinking competencies as articulated in the remainder of the rubric. The target, for those who teach critical thinking, is to talk with students about the dispositions or habits of mind of the critical thinker as their cognitive skills strengthen and to encourage them to be reflective about themselves as critical thinkers.
Our definition states that “Critical thinking is a habit of mind characterized by the comprehensive exploration of issues, ideas, artifacts, and events before accepting or formulating an opinion or conclusion. The capacity to combine or synthesize existing ideas, images, or expertise in original ways; thinking innovatively; and intellectual risk-taking — all component of creative thinking — is part of the development of critical thinking.” ~adapted from the AAC&U critical thinking and creative thinking rubrics
American Philosophical Association Delphi Research Report Building Multiple Choice Questions Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking Helping Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills Introduction to Creative Thinking Reasoning Across the Curriculum Program Tutorial on Creativity, Brainstorming and Innovation
a report based on international expert consensus definition of critical thinking, including its core cognitive skills.
From the Instructional Assessment Resource unit at the University of Texas, Austin. Guidelines and worksheets are available for faculty to support their thinking as they develop multiple choice questions that require critical thinking.
The Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking aim to improve education by offering program that emphasize instructional strategies. The website offers links to such programs and resources for socratic questioning, critical reading and writing, higher order thinking, assessment, research, quality enhancement, and competency standards.
IDEA Paper #37 by C. L. Lynch and S. K. Wolcott. This resource presents a model for developing critical thinking/problem-solving skills based on reflective judgment and “theoretically grounded and empirically supported strategies”. The authors provide a rubric and a “road map” to support faculty thinking of the ways in which they can infuse Critical Thinking in their teaching.
by R. Harris from VirtualSalt. This page compares critical and creative thinking and discusses the views about creative thinking. The author provides several arguments to support the point that creativity can be taught and offers strategies to foster creativity.
From the PDF file of the Handbook of Resources compiled by faculty across the disciplines for Prince George’s Year of Critical Thinking. This resource offers numerous links to websites and materials on teaching reasoning and critical thinking at the program level and course level. This resource offers rich examples of different strategies that can be used to promote/develop Critical Thinking. It also addresses changes that faculty would need to think about if they were to re-design/re-work their content to promote Critical Thinking.
from Infinite Innovations Ltd. – This tutorial provides basic information about creativity, brainstorming, and innovation. “brainstorming” software is available and free for downloading. This website also offers a good overview of terms and strategies.
American Philosophical Association Delphi Research Report
Building Multiple Choice Questions Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy
Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking
Helping Your Students Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Introduction to Creative Thinking
Reasoning Across the Curriculum Program
Tutorial on Creativity, Brainstorming and Innovation