Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking

gtchat 04052016 Critical Thinking


“Critical thinking is not to be devoured in a single sitting nor yet at two or three workshops. It is a powerful concept to be savored and reflected upon. It is an idea to live and grow with. It focuses upon that part of our minds that enables us to think things through, to learn from experience, to acquire and retain knowledge.” ~ Paul Hurd, State of Critical Thinking Today

Research indicates that having a standard definition of critical thinking can enhance its teaching. (Choy/Cheah 2009) According to Hurd (2004), “Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking, in three interrelated phases. They analyze thinking. They assess thinking. And they up-grade thinking (as a result).”

“Critical thinking is the ability to conceptualise, analyse, synthesize, evaluate information and challenge assumptions.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources 

In light of the importance of teaching critical thinking, we turned out attention to discussing whether or not teachers are being prepared at the undergraduate level or subsequently during professional development opportunities to do so. Most were in agreement that not only are teachers not prepared, but their time is preoccupied with test prep. Also, they lack incentive to promote thinking which doesn’t support support standardized testing and is difficult to assess. Only one teacher at this chat reported working in a district that actively supports and expects the teaching of critical thinking.

What strategies work best for teaching critical thinking? Educators need to act as facilitators of discussions that may not result in ‘right’ answers. One strategy involves writing essays based on prompts that adhere to Bloom’s Taxonomy of  Higher Order Thinking. (Smith/Szymanski 2013). Another is to have students create a wiki about subject they’re studying or analyze existing wikis; enhance tech skills. (Snodgrass 2011) Other strategies offered included teaching students questioning techniques, problem-based learning, identify the ‘big’ ideas, and stepping back to listening to student-voice. For more ideas, see links below.

Assessing critical thinking skills can be difficult, but it can be done. Assessment of critical thinking instruction can include course evaluation; analyze students’ understanding of critical thinking Teachers can assess whether students can reason between conflicting viewpoints. Educators should continually provide valuable feedback to students before considering assessment. One school mentioned during chat experimented with newspaper blackout poems, and analyzed each article for bias to practice critical thinking here.

“Critical thinkers know how to ask the RIGHT questions.” ~ Stacy Hughes, a Texas teacher

What are some intellectual traits of a critical thinker? Critical thinkers have ability to realize personal limitations; recognize personal bias; willing to work through complexities. They are willing to change when faced with evidence contrary to their own beliefs.

“Whether enrolled in preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, the integration of critical thinking skills into the daily content and lessons is essential for achieving …(Tomlinson, 2003). This infusion, along with also taking into account student interest, readiness, and learning styles, provides the foundation and walls for raising the ceiling of students’ scholastic growth and intellectual stimulation.” ~ McCollister and Sayler in Lift the Ceiling

The benefits of learning how to think critically can extend throughout a student’s life. During their school years, in-depth focus on enhancing critical thinking increases rigor & standardized test scores (Van- Tassel Baska, et al. 2009). By tracking patterns in information – seeing info as a process; students develop skills of recognition and prediction. Students who can think deeply, make relevant connections and reasoned decisions; value and respect ideas of others. They can think independently; consider multiple perspectives; go beyond surface learning. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Teaching Gifted Kids to Explain Their Thinking 

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning

Assessing Deeper Learning: A Survey of Performance Assessment and Mastery-Tracking Tools (pdf)

6 Entry Points for Deeper Learning

10 Great Critical Thinking Activities That Engage Your Students

Tech That Spurs Critical Thinking l

Applied Disciplines: A Critical Thinking Model for Engineering

The State of Critical Thinking Today: The Need for a Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking (pdf)

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (Amazon)

The Question Game: A Playful Way To Teach Critical Thinking

6 Rules to Break for Better, Deeper-Learning Outcomes

How Do We Raise Critical Thinkers? (Infographic)

The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking

Lift the Ceiling: Increase Rigor with Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (pdf)

Intellectual Growth, School, and Thriving of the Gifted (pdf) in TEMPO Page 9

Infusing Teaching of Critical & Creative Thinking into Content Instruction for Elem Grades (Amazon)

Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity 

Critical Thinking Pathways

What It Means To Think Critically

Using a Question Building Chart to Provoke Student Thought

Sprite’s Site: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Testing and Assessment

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners (Amazon)

Defining Critical Thinking

Orientation Lecture Series: Learning to Learn Developing Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

How to Foster Critical and Creative Thinking

Photo courtesy of Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain  Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Posted on April 10, 2016, in Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, Gifted Adults, gifted and talented, gifted education, Teaching and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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