I have had two posts on the subject of Critical Thinking entitled:
- Ways To Develop Critical Thinking Skills Among Our Children & Adults Alike
- How Can Critical Thinking Be Central And Beneficial To High School Students, And Adults Alike?
True courage is a result of reasoning. A brave mind is always impregnable. – Jeremy Collier
Being willing and able to think well, engaging important issues and resolving key problems, is vital for a student’s academic success. This means both parents and teachers need to reinforce a positive critical thinking mindset from an early age.
In order to engage students in successful critical thinking skills development and to reinforce a positive critical thinking mindset, there are a few basics to keep in mind as Dr Carol Gittens suggests. Dr Gittens came up with a list of suggestions that are useful techniques to promoting strong critical thinking and reasoning skills among students:
Effective Techniques for Building Reasoning Skills
- Use silence to allow everyone time to think through the question before the conversation begins.
- Pose thoughtful or insightful questions and intentionally allow 10–15 seconds of silence to elapse before calling on students to respond.
- Work from example to theory – Discuss the examples in the text first, and then draw out the concepts they teach. This technique practices students’ inductive reasoning skills and promotes active engagement and inquisitiveness.
- Make the language of thinking a familiar vocabulary – Use critical thinking vocabulary when posing questions to students to reinforce conceptual understanding and promote recognition of reasoning. Use the names of the skills and the habits of mind that are found in the textbook. For example, use phrases such as: “What is your reason for that claim?” or “Let’s interpret this statement . . .” or “What inferences can we reasonably draw from these facts?” or “Let’s be systematic in our analysis of . . . . .”
- Engage students in dynamic learning activities that promote independent thinking or exposure to the thinking of others. This may include maintaining a reflective journal, conversing with a partner, small groups, or the whole class; investigations, inquiries, and informed conversations; debates, simulations, role playing, fishbowl activities, panel discussions, brainstorming exercises, case studies, individual or group argument mapping or social networking features.
- Expect students to provide reasons or explanations for all of their claims, interpretations, analyses, evaluations and decisions. Ask why and expect a good, well-reasoned answer. Don’t let students get by with shut-down clichés such as, “That’s just how I feel about . . . ” or “I was brought up to think that . . .” “My parents always said that . . . ” or “It’s common sense that . . .”
- Model strong critical thinking for your students – Your students watch you to see if you believe in the value of critical thinking, so what you say and what you do might be more powerful in motivating them to build their critical thinking skills than anything they read or hear in a lesson. If you show that you practice the positive critical thinking habits of mind and that you engage in problems and decisions by applying critical thinking skills, that message comes through to them. If you do not, you reflect a negative message.
Thus, once the parameters have been set up for developing critical thinking among students, it is equally important to instill in students the reasoning behind certain assumptions.
8 Reasoning Capacities For Students To Observe
Observing the following suggestions will enhance students’ reasoning capacities beyond the classroom:
1) All reasoning has a PURPOSE. For example,
- Can you state your purpose clearly?
- What is the objective of your reasoning?
- Is your goal realistic?
2) All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some QUESTION, to solve some PROBLEM. For example,
- What questions are you trying to answer?
- Are there other ways to think about the question?
- Can you divide the question into sub-questions?
- Is this a question that has one right answer or can there be more than one reasonable answer?
- Does this question require judgment rather than facts alone?
3) All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS. For example,
- What assumptions are you making? Are they justified?
- How are your assumptions shaping your point of view?
- Which of your assumptions might reasonably be questioned?
4) All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW. For example,
- What is your point of view?/What insights is it based on?
- What are its weaknesses?/What are its strengths?
- What other points of view should be considered in reasoning through this problem?
5) All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE. For example,
- To what extent is your reasoning supported by relevant data?
- How clear, accurate, and relevant are the data to the question at issue?
- Have you gathered sufficient data to reaching a reasonable conclusion?
6) All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by CONCEPTS and THEORIES. For example,
- What key concepts and theories are guiding your reasoning?
- What alternative explanations might be possible, given these concepts and theories?
- Are you clear and precise in using concepts and theories in your reasoning?
- Are you distorting ideas to fit your agenda?
7) All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data. For example,
- To what extent does the data we have support your conclusions?
- Are your inferences consistent with each other?
- Are there other reasonable inferences that should be considered?
8) All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES. For example,
- What implications and consequences follow from your reasoning?
- If we accept your line of reasoning, what implications or consequences are likely . . .?
Having high reasoning skills for High School students can help them in their working situations be it at school or home as well as in their interpersonal relationships. Of course, the above points offer a variety of ways to change your reasoning skills for the better. By engaging in activities that encourage critical thought, working on altering your thought patterns, and learning to recognize irrational thoughts will certainly see a change in you. Try it today and see the differences.
Good luck in all your endeavours.
As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!