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Creativity Module 4:

Critical Thinking


Background Information:

Critical thinking can be traced back 2500 years to Socrates followed by Plato and Aristotle who analyzed basic concepts and asked probing questions. Critical thinking enables folks to discern what is important and what is not and separate the truth from fake news. Historically, emphasis on instruction emphasized rote learning rather than critical thinking; retaining information givenin books or lectures and designing assessments that tap this knowledge with little regard for self-reflection and analysis from the students’ perspective.“If students are to function successfully in a highly technical society, then they must be equipped with lifelong learning and thinking skills necessary to acquire and process information in an ever-changing world” (Robinson, 1987, p.16). Teaching students to think critically is important because although originality helps produce ideas that are imaginative and dissimilar, critical thinking evaluates these ideas to solve a problem or reach a logical conclusion. Original thinkers generate many ideas; critical thinking skills convert the ideas to a workable solution. Definitions of critical thinking includereflective and reasonable thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do (Presseisen, 1986, p. 24), providing evidence to support one's conclusions or to request evidence from others before accepting their conclusions (Hudgins and Edelman 1986, p. 333) and to determine the authenticity, accuracy and worth of information or knowledge claims (Beyer 1985, p.276).



Questioning-Questioning Guidelines Include:

  • Ask clear questions in simple, clear language that students can understand* Avoid ambiguous, confusing constructions and excess verbiage.

  • Ask your question before designating a respondent.

  • Ask the question, wait for the class to think about it, and then ask someone for an answer. As usual, there are exceptions to this rule. When you call on an inattentive student, it is often better to call the name first so that the question will be heard. Similarly, you should call the name first when you address slow or shy students, so that they can prepare themselves.

  • Ask questions that match your lesson objectives. When facts are wanted, ask factual and empirical questions (knowledge level). When you want to stimulate student thinking, ask evaluative questions

  • Distribute questions about the class fairly. Avoid directing all questions to a few bright students. However, also avoid developing a mechanical system for asking questions. Students soon catch on to such systems as going by alphabetical order or row by row, and they will pay attention only when they know it is their turn.

  • Ask questions suited to all ability levels in the class. Some questions should be easy and some should be difficult, so that all students will have a chance to respond to some questions correctly.

  • Ask only one question at a time. Asking two or three questions at once often confuses students. Multiple questions permit no time to think and, since several questions were asked, students are not sure which question to answer first.

  • Avoid asking questions too soon. It usually is much more effective to establish a knowledge base before initiating a questioning sequence.

  • Pause for at least 3 seconds following each question to allow students time to think and to formulate their answers( Jacobsen et al,1993).

Questioning techniques include:

  • Clarifying, redirection, prompting, probing, and wait-time.

  • Examples of Clarifying Questions include: Is this what you said...? What resources were used for the project? Did I hear you say...? Did I understand you when you said...? What criteria did you use to...? What’s another way you might...? Did I hear you correctly when you said...? Did I paraphrase what you said correctly?

  • Redirection questions ask a question by prodding students to answer a question just asked. When a student responds to a question, the instructor can ask another student to comment. Redirecting may involve asking several students to respond to a question, in light of previous responses such as: "we have now studied the contributions of several great men and women of science. Which scientist do you think made the greatest contribution?"

  • Prompting is a technique to move on to another student in response to a wrong answer to a question. Prompting questions use hints and clues to aid students in answering questions or to assist them in correcting an initial question with clues or hints.

  • Probing works when a student's reply is correct but insufficient because it lacks depth, ask the student to supply additional information. Probing questions force the student to elaborate about their initial response as illustrated next:.

  • Why do you think this is the case?

  • What do you think would happen if...? 

  • What sort of impact do you think...? ∙

  • How did you decide...?

  • How did you determine...?

  • How did you conclude...?

  • What is the connection between... and...? 

  • What if the opposite were true? Then what?

Wait time.

Students need time to think. Mary Budd Rowe (1974) has shown that most teachers on the average wait about 1 second for students to answer questions. She found that when teachers waited approximately 3 seconds or longer for the answer to a question, the quality of students' responses improved:

1) the length of student responses increases

2) failure to respond decreases

3) questions from students increases

4) unsolicited responses increases

5) confidence of student increases

6) Speculative thinking increases



Discuss your awareness and implementation of critical thinking with one or more colleagues

Write questions at different levels of thinking as per Bloom’s Taxonomy

Categorize assessment questions and activities according to the Developmental Curriculum; namely, Arbitrary Associations, Lower-Level Relationships, Lower-Level Generalizations,  Concepts, Higher Level Relationships and Higher Level Generalizations.

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