It is possible to teach critical thinking? – Absolutely!
Much has been learned about effective teaching strategies that lead to demonstrable student gains in critical thinking.
Opportunities to teach critical thinking span every kind of educational discipline and professional specialty:
- Courses in critical thinking and human reasoning
- Seminars examining historical judgments
- Internships training novice professionals
- Clinical rotations
- Online mini-courses
- Group discussion series
- Training programs in problem analysis
- Case-based programs on error prevention
- Field studies in community problem solving
- Training in decision mapping
Teaching FOR critical thinking – Whatever the Content
In these varied contexts the common denominator for success is intentionally to engage the learners in using their critical thinking skills, model its positive habits of mind, and explicitly assess critical thinking as a learning outcome. This can be an enjoyable teaching and learning experience when the educators have trained their own habits of mind toward a standard of externalizing their reasons and evidence for judgments made, and of exhibiting the same truth-seeking and other habits of mind that are expected from students. For example, asking “Why?” questions with an open-mind and confidence in the benefits of following reasons and evidence wherever they may lead can elicit the reasons and evidence for one’s judgments typically results in improved evaluation of one’s own thinking (the critical thinking skill of self-regulation).
Effective pedagogical strategies include setting clear student performance expectations for critical thinking such as:
- Take time to demonstrate that you have been thorough in understanding the topic or problem being addressed.
- Be comprehensive in your search for existing information on the topic or problem.
- Demonstrate, by providing reasons and evidence, that you have fair-mindedly and rigorously evaluated current information relevant to the topic or problem.
- Articulate what is still unknown, or uncertain, before you propose what should be believed or make a judgment about what we should do in regard to the topic or problem.
- Explain what you will be monitoring to see if your judgment is correct.
Many educators have documented the effectiveness of their pedagogical approaches to training critical thinking. See examples of peer reviewed journal reports of these educational research studies in our Research Findings section of our Resources library.
New: Teachers, we now offer approved CEU professional development packages focused on critical thinking. And check out our other 100% online professional development Mini-Courses: Mindset Boosters, Skill Builders, and Deep Dives focused on specific aspects of human reasoning, critical thinking skills and attributes, decision-making, and leadership. 100% online. Mini-courses are available for individuals to purchase directly from our Store at Insight Basecamp and they are available to organizations at discounted bulk purchase rates.