Critical thinking is the educational terminology for a student’s ability to think logically. As a student matures, his thinking is ideally trained to go from simple summarizing and repetition of facts to the ability to tie facts together and interpret them to prove a requested point. This skill is essential to life in the real world, and must be accurately determined and assessed by teachers.
Assign students real-life situational prompts that relate the recent material covered. For example, an Algebra teacher can ask students to create a soda can that meets certain criteria, when only certain measurements are given and the rest must be determined with formulas.
Utilize essay prompts on exams. Instead of simply handing the students a test with multiple-choice questions, create a prompt that will require them to prove a point using their recent readings. For example, if the students recently read “A Modest Proposal,” consider placing an essay on the test that asks the students to give three examples of satire and the effect that each example was intended to create.
Keep the students thinking during lectures. The Socratic method of teaching requires students to synthesize what they are learning while they are learning it by holding the students orally accountable to stand and present various information. This guided style of teaching ensures that every student remains alert and participates in the lecture, if for no other reason than out of the fear of being called on at any moment.
Select physical science labs that will force the students to determine why certain things occur, not simply observe that they occur. For example, when children are dissecting frogs, avoid simply having them look at all the organs and explain what they individually do. Instead, ask the children why the frog’s heart beats in the way it does, or why the muscles in the legs are attached as they are. These questions force the students to not simply give a textbook answer, but rather to apply the textbook’s information and determine information on their own.
By Ann White