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 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.
I-Maps, originally designed to avoid plagiarism, also provide an effective tool for highlighting students' thinking processes according to Lisa Emerson, Massey University.
- Bailin, S., Case, R., Coombs, J.R., & Daniels, L. B.(1999): Common misconceptions of critical thinking.Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 269-283.
- Pithers, R.T., & Soden, R. (2000). Critical thinking in education: A review. Educational Research, 42(3), 237-249.
- Egge, S. & Kutieleh, S. (2004). Critical thinking: Teaching foreign notions to foreign students. International Education Journal, 4(4), pp. 75-85.
- van Gelder, T. (2005). Teaching critical thinking: Some lessons from cognitive science. College Teacher, 53(1) 41-46.
- Moon, J.A. (2008). Critical thinking: An exploration of theory & practice. London: Routledge.
- HERSDA (Higher Education Research & Development) Special Issue on Critical Thinking (2011), including Promoting critical thinking within tutorials
- Debate on teaching critical thinking as generic course versus within disciplines
- Value of 'authentic research' experience
- Matheson, R., Wilkinson, S.C., & Gilhooly, E. (2012). Promoting critical thinking and collaborative working through assessment: Combining patchwork text and online discussion boards. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(3), 257-267.
- 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.