Critical Thinking SotL in 10 Minutes

Five Habits of a Critical Thinker

Critical thinking skills don't just "happen." Just like brushing your teeth, those skills need to be practiced on a regular basis before they can become a more natural part of your learning processes. In her book “FOCUS on College Success”, Constance Staley offers students five tips for honing their critical-thinking skills. Encourage your students to reflect on these points, and they will reap the benefits!

  1. If you don't know something, admit it. Then, endeavor to learn more.

  2. Acknowledge your "hot buttons." It's normal to have strong feelings about particular issues. When you know which issues those are, you can make a point to understand why they affect you as they do. In turn, this helps you better articulate your thoughts to others.

  3. Seek to understand other peoples' points of view. In addition to gaining a well-rounded perspective on a topic, this will enable you to better respond to others' arguments.

  4. "Trust and verify." Don't blindly accept what you hear or read — yet don't feel the need to maintain a skeptical attitude towards everything.

  5. Always remember the importance of critical thinking as it relates to your education. The more value you place on critical thinking, the more likely you'll put its principles into practice — and the efforts will pay off in all aspects of your life

From Cengage Learning

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in Higher Education: A Review of the Literature

If you read the entire article, it will take you longer than 10 minutes. But the introduction to this review article contains sections and references on: What is critical thinking?, Instructional strategies used to teach critical thinking, and Critical thinking test measures. Then it launches into a review of the critical thinking research. Enjoy!

Teaching critical thinking skills in higher education: A review of the literature

Behar-Horenstein and Niu

Journal of College Teaching and Learning 8(2):25-42, February 2011

The impact of faculty teaching practices on the development of students' critical thinking skills

Today’s article emphasizes the role of the faculty member and designing assignments to foster critical thinking in our students.

The impact of faculty teaching practices on the development of students’ critical thinking skills

Shim and Walczak, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 24(1):16-30, 2012

Colleges and universities recognize that one of the primary goals of higher education is to promote students’ ability to think critically. Using data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (WNS), this study examined the relationship between faculty teaching practices and the development of students’ critical thinking skills, specifically the differences between students’ self-report and the direct assessment (i.e., CAAP) of critical thinking. The results from multinomial logistic regression and OLS regression analyses showed that asking challenging questions increased both students’ self-reported and the directly measured critical thinking abilities. Interpreting abstract concepts as well as giving well-organized presentation increased students’ self-reported gains in critical thinking; however, these same practices did not significantly impact their CAAP scores. Inconsistent with previous literature, class presentations as well as group discussions decreased either students’ self-reported or directly assessed critical thinking abilities. These findings can guide faculty teaching practices to foster critical thinking for first-year college students.

The Critical Thinking Community

The Critical Thinking Community web site is large. One section walks you through developing critical thinking in higher education. Once you are there, feel free to explore!

  • An overview of how to design instruction using critical thinking concepts
  • Recommendations for departmental self evaluation
  • College wide grading standards
  • Sample course – American History 1600-1800
  • CT class syllabus
  • Syllabus – Psychology I
  • A sample assignment format
  • Grade profiles
  • Critical thinking class: grading policies
  • Socratic teaching
  • John Stuart Mill: On instruction, intellectual development and disciplined learning
  • Critical thinking and nursing