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!

  1. If you don’t know something, admit it.Then, endeavor to learn more.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. “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.
  5. 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!