Critical thinking skills don’t just “happen.” Just like brushing your teeth, those skills need to be practiced on a regular basis before they can become a more natural part of your learning processes.
In her book FOCUS on College Success, Constance Staley offers students five tips for honing their critical-thinking skills. Encourage your students to reflect on these points, and they will reap the benefits!
- If you don’t know something, admit it.Then, endeavor to learn more.
- Acknowledge your “hot buttons.”It’s normal to have strong feelings about particular issues. When you know which issues those are, you can make a point to understand why they affect you as they do. In turn, this helps you better articulate your thoughts to others.
- Seek to understand other peoples’ points of view.In addition to gaining a well-rounded perspective on a topic, this will enable you to better respond to others’ arguments.
- “Trust and verify.”Don’t blindly accept what you hear or read — yet don’t feel the need to maintain a skeptical attitude towards everything.
- Always remember the importance of critical thinking as it relates to your education.The more value you place on critical thinking, the more likely you’ll put its principles into practice — and the efforts will pay off in all aspects of your life! (Adapted from Staley, 128-130)
Content adapted from Staley, Constance. 2013. FOCUS on College Success. 3rd ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Share your habits of a critical thinker in the comments!