Critical Thinking: Importance in the Classroom

Assessment of learning is a difficult task.

One avenue that has been pursued in determining whether or not learning has taken place in higher education has been an examination of the development of critical thinking skills in students.

Prominent in recent research and the popular news (Halpern 1997; Veal 2011; Baker 2011), critical thinking is a key component in an educated life, both during college and after graduation.

Critical thinking can be used to foster student learning in many courses, such as science and English, and thus can be an element that helps tie the students’ education together in a way that encourages the transfer of knowledge. We could provide our students with value-added instruction within their core courses and, by spreading the emphasis on critical thinking throughout the college, we would help the students recognize the importance of critical thinking. With a consistent message, the students will be more likely to learn to think critically and to transfer this knowledge from one classroom-learning environment to the next.

A clear agreement on what critical thinking is would be the first step in determining a quality enhancement plan on this topic. Various colleges and universities have defined it as
an understanding of logic, including logical fallacies and the correct use of evidence;

  • reflective thinking, with all assessment simply being student’s writing and talking about what they did, without necessarily any change in their process of working and learning;
  • a deep understanding and ownership of their knowledge by the students, which focused on getting the students to think, talk, and write about whatever they were learning, how it was being taught, and why they were having to learn that;
  • the ability of students to find and use information;
  • and the ability of the student to work with their classroom learning on various levels of knowledge based on Bloom’s taxonomy, usually through the analysis and evaluation stages.

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