Effective Strategies to Promote Your Students’ Critical Thinking Skills
It might come as a bit of a shock to find out that the content you learn at school is not really important except for the small part of it that you will use in your day-to-day life. What really matters is the skills we adopt while learning this content. These are such skills as collaborative and team working, problem solving, communication and of course critical thinking. The latter seems to have made quite a noise in the world recently. It is the in-thing and the latest craze of these days.
Critical thinking at its very heart is unbiased, informed and unprejudiced. The quality of our decisions and subsequently the quality of our life depend greatly on how clearly and deeply we can think and analyze.
Every teacher values and encourages their students to develop critical thinking skills. Theoretically, students are supposed to develop these skills as an integral part of their core curriculum. Unfortunately, in practice, many teachers find it difficult to integrate teaching critical thinking skills into their approach. In this article, we will take a look at some effective ways to help your students promote their ability to think critically.
- Critical thinking is all about asking questions. It means you have to try to create a learning environment where students are intellectually challenged and encouraged to ask questions. At the beginning, you might be required to ask the most questions. Make sure they are open-ended and lead to an advanced-level thinking and analysis.
- Equip them with tools and vocabulary to enter conversations, present their opinion, argue, agree and disagree. Learning these starter and connection phrases will help students better and more logically present their opinion and feel more confident when entering upon a discussion.
- When posing a starter question that requires argumentation, make sure you explain all the ambiguous terms. At times students hesitate to share their opinion just because they are not sure they have understood all the words and new terms correctly.
- Make sure that your question is provocative enough to invite students to express their opinion on both sides. If you feel students do not recognize any differing perspectives of the question, help them out by giving little tips. You can also offer to play a game where every student will get a personal card with his or her position clearly stated and will be required to defend it. Before you encourage any such dispute, give your students clear instructions as to what forms of agreeing and disagreeing are acceptable in class and which language is appropriate to use.
- Be careful when choosing the content of the discussion. It is important that all students are equally engaged and interested. Take time to prepare some support materials such as pictures, slideshows, video and audio podcasts etc. Such visual and auditory aid increases students’ understanding and involvement. Do your research and learn what information strikes your students as interesting.
- Evaluate them in more than one way. Discussions are only a part of the whole process, essay writing, speech giving are also useful to assess students’ critical thinking abilities. Assign students to research a topic and present a well-rounded argumentative report on it.
Finally, it is important for a teacher to understand when it is time to step aside and let students take the reins. Teacher’s doing so is what can encourage students to really take the lead of the discussion. Naturally, it not always goes as planned but experienced teachers say such initiatives at times introduce unexpected and positive results.
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