3 ways to develop critical thinking skills for students

September 02, 2019

When I was in 10th grade, my social studies teacher gave our class the following advice:

“I don’t expect you to remember every piece of information and facts about World War and Political history of Nepal. In the meantime, you are more likely to forget most of them. But what I expect from you is to be able to think clearly, make connections between various historical facts and analyse them critically.”

Honestly, I didn’t realize what he meant at that time. In other words, he was teaching us about critical thinking skills. When I am in college, my professor told us the same thing about the importance of critical thinking skills- “In the real world, your ability to think with clarity and your ability to solve problems matters more than the information you know”. That’s why you need to work on improving critical thinking skills. This makes a lot of sense, in this age of automation, as employers are looking for soft skills (add link) more than ever when hiring employees. In a PWC survey, 77% of the CEO’s reveals the difficulty in finding innovation and critical thinking skills they need when hiring human talent in the organization.

So, what is critical thinking skills?

In simple words, critical thinking skills is a systematic process of evaluating information in order to understand things better and make rational decisions. Most importantly, critical thinking skills differ from our automotive regular thinking as it involves intellectual tools to make a conclusion. The various ways to think critically involves:

  • Conceptualizing
  • Analyzing 
  • Synthesizing 
  • Evaluating 

The various ways of getting information are:

  • Observation 
  • Experience 
  • Reflection 
  • Reasoning 
  • Communication

Source: “The Foundation for Critical Thinking”-

Note that critical thinking skills employ the above intellectual tools to make effective decisions or draw conclusions from the information. So, if you are wondering how can I improve my critical thinking skills, here are three effective ways to get started.

Asking questions

When it comes to life, there is no-one correct answer like you choose on a multiple choice test during the exams. As you grow up, you have to deal with a lot of complex issues in your life. So you must develop critical thinking skills to prepare yourself for the real world situations beyond the classroom. One of the best ways to develop critical thinking skills is by asking questions.

Ask “how” and “why” along with “what” questions

By asking the right questions, you can improve your critical thinking skills. For example: asking “how” and “why” along with “what” questions help you go beyond a superficial facts and think deeply about a particular issue. On the other side, you will be able to draw information out of things, connect them with your existing knowledge and learn more.

Ask “how do I know this?”

Critical thinking skills also means presenting  a rational and logical arguments which requires proper understanding of the source of information (where were you getting information). Asking this question gives you an evidence so that you will have a supportive logical arguments and reasons to support them.

Try to understand how your perspective differs from other people.

You have to understand other people’s perspectives which is a crucial element to develop your critical thinking skills. You are more likely to solve problems if you ask questions and think about other people’s concerns and priorities.

Ask yourself “how to solve a particular problem?”

Asking this question pushes you to think for yourself. You are more likely to listen and respond differently and come up with your solution to the problems.

Adjusting your perspective

Our brain tends to use heuristic approach in making decisions which may lead to unfortunate consequences. Critical thinkers are aware of their cognitive biases, and are open minded to adjust their perspective. Considering this, you can be a critique of your thoughts and actions to get a better understanding of your perspective- the way you see things. 

One of the effective ways to develop critical thinking skills is practicing self reflection. 

When engaging on self reflection, critical thinkers reflect on the entire process rather than just focusing on the outcome. They are aware of their mistakes but don’t dwell upon them either, instead they learn and realize them. Moreover, they are looking for continuous improvement and practical application of their ideas.

In an article, Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9 Strategies, Richard Paul and Linda Elder provides various strategies you can practice to improve your critical thinking skills. Here is an example of journaling that you can use on a daily basis:

Situation– Write down a situation that you are concerned about. Reflect on one thing at a time.

Your Response– Be open minded and transparent regarding your responses to the situation you care about. 

Analysis– Next come the analysis process. Write exactly about the situation and peel off the layers of the problem. Consider all the possibilities without being prejudiced about external situations and your emotions.

Assessment– Assess the result from your analysis. What did you learn about yourself? What would you do if you could do it again?

Learn something new everyday

Critical thinking skills means making logical and reasoned judgments. A critical thinker basically questions everything and don’t blindly accept arguments as a justification. They have an intense desire to learn new things yet keen to see the evidence behind a particular argument or information. In other words, they are both skeptical and curious at the same time. 

Of course, you can develop your critical thinking skills if you are curious and willing to learn new things everyday. Read great books. Learn new things that you have always been interested in. Besides learning, it’s important to evaluate the information critically. It’s always helpful to evaluate the existing evidence rather than starting from scratch and, who knows you may come up with innovative solutions?

Take an example of Albert Einstein who developed The Theory of Relativity. Most of his ideas proposed on his famous theory was actually derived from the previous works of Thompson, Poincare and other scientists of his era.

He applied critical thinking skills in his discovery that includes learning from the existing theories, questioning the basic assumptions and eventually come up with his own theories.

Critical thinking skills are an important skill that students can develop to solve complex problems and make effective decisions. Whether in discussion with teachers and classmates or evaluating your academic performance, you can learn to think critically in all areas of your life. At Samriddhi School, we encourage our students to think critically in the classroom. Our learning resources and facilities and teaching methodology are focused on developing critical thinking skills for our students. Besides, Samriddhi School introduces a balanced curriculum that enables our students to think critically from a very young age. Furthermore, we are committed to enable our students for their holistic development through our STEAM education programme.

For more information, visit our website or contact us.

 

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