Critical thinking resources

Resources and literature that can help you incorporate critical thinking into your teaching or programme and course design.

Fostering critical thinking: tutorial method

These instructions have been adapted from a Queen Mary University of London guide.

1. Take an essay topic. For example: "Should we modify animals genetically to produce organs for donations in humans? Discuss."

2. Turn it into a statement: "We should modify animals genetically..."

3. Change it to the opposing statement: "We should not modify animals genetically..."

4. Add expressions of degree and qualification:

  • "We should never genetically modify animals..."
  • "Under certain circumstances, we should genetically modify animals..."
  • "Certain genetic modifications are acceptable, but others are unacceptable..."

5. Decide what kind of assertion it is:

  • a claim/controversy of fact (stating that something is or is not the case)? No, in this example
  • a claim/controversy of decision (establishing how a phenomenon is to be defined)? No (but answers may need to address what is meant by "genetic modification of animals")
  • a claim/controversy of value (establishing the quality or worth or morality of something)? Yes
  • a claim/controversy of action/policy (establishing a course of action)? Yes

Applying critical thinking

  • Critical Evaluation Toolkit: staff, employer & student views; rationale & strategies for developing & assessing higher-thinking skills (from Griffith University).
  • Muddiest Point: a quickfire end-of-class activities to focus students' thinking and identify key learning issues.
  • Student-centred Critical Thinking & Reading Exercises (and answers), definitions and analytical tools, from University of Wollongong.
  • Exploratree: interactive 'thinking templates' (in English and Welsh), from UK Enquiring Minds project. [Also available in accessible screen-reader format].
  • Rationale, argument-mapping software that enables students to visually represent their essay components, already used in a core first-year Philosophy course. For more information, contact Stuart Brock.
  • Foundation for Critical Thinking (US): teaching resources, course designs, sample lessons, reading lists, conferences & links.

Assessing critical thinking

Patchwork texts

Patchwork Texts 1 and Patchwork Texts 2, developed in the UK, offer an innovative alternative to essays, comprising scaffolded writing tasks, peer feedback and scope for revision.

Information maps

I-Maps, originally designed to avoid plagiarism, also provide an effective tool for highlighting students' thinking processes according to Lisa Emerson, Massey University.

Literature

General discussions

Discipline-specific discussion

  • Merits of implicit critical thinking development: Lauer, T. (2005). Teaching critical-thinking skills using course content material. Journal of College Science Teaching, 34(6), 34-37.
  • Self-regulated learning: David, I., & Brown J.A. (2012). Beyond statistical methods: Teaching critical thinking to first-year university students. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology.
  • Scaffolded critical thinking development: Çavdar, G., & Doe, S. (2012). Learning through writing: Teaching critical thinking skills in writing assignments. PS, Political Science & Politics, 45(2), 298-306.