Developing Critical Thinking

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They should be challenging and engaging, and contain approaches that are within the ability range of the learners, but also challenge them to think logically, reason, be open-minded, seek alternatives, tolerate ambiguity, inquire into possibilities, be innovative risk-takers and use their imagination.Thinking that is productive, purposeful and intentional is at the centre of effective learning.By applying a sequence of thinking skills, students develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the processes they can use whenever they encounter problems, unfamiliar information and new ideas.Examples of critical thinking skills are interpreting, analysing, evaluating, explaining, sequencing, reasoning, comparing, questioning, inferring, hypothesising, appraising, testing and generalising.Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome.The key ideas for Critical and Creative Thinking are organised into four interrelated elements in the learning continuum, as shown in the figure below.Inquiring – identifying, exploring and organising information and ideas This element involves students developing inquiry skills.Critical and creative thinking can be encouraged simultaneously through activities that integrate reason, logic, imagination and innovation; for example, focusing on a topic in a logical, analytical way for some time, sorting out conflicting claims, weighing evidence, thinking through possible solutions, and then, following reflection and perhaps a burst of creative energy, coming up with innovative and considered responses.Critical and creative thinking are communicative processes that develop flexibility and precision.Although the development and transfer of critical thinking skills are recognized as primary goals for education, there is little empirical evidence to help educators decide how to teach in ways that enhance critical thinking.In two studies, we compared explicit and imbedded instructional modes and assessed critical thinking with the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment, which uses both constructed response and multiple-choice response formats with everyday situations.

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