Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking


Commonly used definition: the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.

Critical thinking requires interpretation, application, and evaluation of information. Incorporating ideas and fully understanding a concept can be a difficult task for students, often students do not know how to engage in critical thinking.

Bridging the gap between study habits from high school to ones that will work in college can be extremely difficult for young students. However, there are ways to promote reflective thinking to help students succeed.

Promoting critical thinking in students will not only help them in academic settings but in their day to day life. In addition, material can become valuable to students throughout their academic career.


Fostering Critical Thinking in the Classroom

In order to facilitate critical thinking, instructors should:

  • Create safe environment that promotes questions from students
  • Leave time for questions during lectures and presentations
  • Ask questions that promote discussion and test understanding during lecture
  • Emphasize growth mindset when students seek help
  • Relate specific topics to the overall idea of class
  • Well written multiple-choice exams that test high-order thinking skills
  • Provide assignments that test content understanding 

  • Ask for reflections on previous lecture/work
  • Introduce the Study Cycle:
    • Preview material covered in reading or previous lecture
    • Attend class
    • Review material covered after class 24 hours after class
    • Study and answer why, how, what questions
    • Access learning done

Critical Thinking Critical Thinking Skills



Teach Students to Use SQ3R or SQ5R on Topics Covered in Class


  • Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review


  • Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review, wRite, Reflect


Use Wheel of Thinking to Get Students to do an Assignment on Specific Topic

The Wheel of Thinking is a useful tool to engage students in assignments. It is composed of eight key elements:

  • Purpose
  • Question
  • Information
  • Interpretation/Inference
  • Concepts
  • Assumptions
  • Implications and Consequences
  • Point of View


Teach Students to Use SEE-I to Test Their Knowledge

State concept or idea succinctly,

Elaborate concept in own words,

Exemplify concept with examples,

Illustrate concept with pictures, words, metaphors, etc.

*Picture references:

Critical Thinking. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2014, from:


Critical Thinking Process. (n.d.) Retrieved January 15, 2014, from: