For the past, some years of education had been more focused on mindless mechanical learning and just the ability to repeat and retaining the information given in the books. Problem-solving skills had been confined to mathematics and just a few experiments were done in the science labs.
But today, as time is changing learning, is prioritized more on developing important skills and thinking that will prepare the students for navigating in the real world after school.
Critical thinking is one of the most important academic skills that teach students to ask or reflect on their own understanding and knowledge about the information that has been presented to them. Critical thinking is especially important for students that have been given an assignment and have to perform deep research on the given topic. It also eventually helps in the workplace as well.
In simple words, critical thinking is just the ability to understand things and questioning the probable result of actions. This generation of students has been around the environment of huge information that mostly comes from the online sources and is very evident that there is an immense need to learn the evaluation of the things they study and hear around them and identify false information beyond superficial data provided.
What is critical thinking?
Most of the people have assumptions that being critical means typical, which is such a negative way of thinking about it. According to Barry K. Beyer, it means ‘making clear, reasoned judgments'.
In simple words, it is the ability of an individual to analyze the way they think and present proofs for the ideas they have. Rather than just accepting personal thoughts as sufficient evidence. There are a number of advantages for a student when they develop critical thinking like better learning abilities and developing empathy towards others' opinions.
A person that has a well developed critical thinking will question the given information, reject any unreliable or unscientific logic and inspects the sources of information. They are well informed and have the capacity to judge the value of debate and infer careful but proof-based results.
It is very important for students as it allows the students to create essays and assignment that does not involve any personal or social prejudice.
Importance of critical thinking
Critical thinking is one of the most valuable skills that every student must learn mastering. It is not just limited to problem-solving skills in class but also in real-life situations. A variety of skills are taught while learning about critical thinking, this involves any kind of circumstances that requires planning, analysis, and reflection. Here are some key points that reflect on critical thinking importance:
A) It is a domain-general skill:
Critical thinking is not limited to a specific subject but it is the capacity of a student to think in a more rational and clear way. Critical thinking is important for students as it gives the ability to think in the right way and solve problems in a more efficient and methodical way. This will give a great boost to any career that the student chooses.
B) It improves presentation expertise and language:
When a student works on developing critical thinking it enhances the ability to express ideas efficiently. While learning to inspect the structure of texts logically it improves the comprehension abilities as well.
C) Critical thinking encourages creativity:
To come up with a new or different solution for a given problem one cannot just depend on the new ideas. It is important for the student to understand that the new thoughts that have been generated are applicable and useful in the given problem. This is the place where critical thinking plays an important role. It helps in the evaluation of the solutions and then using the best one and transforming or adjusting it if needed.
D) Elevates autonomous learning:
Instead of complete dependence on classroom learning and teachers for complete guidance and instructions, critical thinking allows students to become more self-reliant and independent learners. It also helps the students to evaluate their learning style and recognize their areas of strength and flaws. By achieving this ability they can focus on the solution in a better way and set goals accordingly.
E) Critical thinking helps in improved grades and achievements:
When students improve on their critical learning skills they show improvement in academic performance as well. Students are able to connect theory that they had been learning practically and that improves the overall knowledge. They are able to understand and critique which helps in deeper understanding that will be evident in the grades.
For example, when a student learns about history and makes comparisons and analyses historical events they tend to get a better awareness of its importance and its usefulness in the present concerns.
F) Proper Emotional Call
It is very easy for students to let emotions take over at times, while a debate or taking a decision. Critical thinking can actually help in using emotional appeal effectively, making an impact while being logical. A simple example can be a debate where a student is asked to speak on health care, the student can use a personal struggle story for getting health insurance, but at the same time providing sustaining data from sources that are credible for supporting this situation.
G) Learning to work with a team
Finally, critical thinking also helps students in understanding the views and perspectives of others as well and enhancing the ability to work in teams.
For example, the team activities that have to be done with school students need listening to the peers for completing the given task, rather than just going with a single thought of an individual.
This makes a child learn that there can be numerous solutions to a single problem and allows them to work together while agreeing on one. Such activities that require critical thinking helps in the development of a student to co-operate and not take decisions on assumptions.
Critical thinking questions
Elders must always try to look for ways to get students in thinking more deeply on any topic. Critical thinking plays a very important role in that. Here are a few basic questions that can help students immensely.
(i) Ask questions that are open-ended:
These are basically the questions that will require answers that are more elaborate.
For example: What are your thoughts on the current political situation in the country and how would you address it? Or
Who do you get inspired from and why?
(ii) Ask questions that are result based:
These types of questions help in revealing the personal traits of a student.
For example: How will you explain multiplication and division to a five-year-old. Or have you experienced a time when a decision had to be made with incomplete data? What decision did you make?
(iii) Asking hypothetical queries:
These scenarios help in the understanding observation of the student.
For example: If two students in a teamwork assignment start arguing, how will you handle the situation, and what can be the possible backlashes you might face?
(iv) Questions that are reflective in nature:
These questions develop learning from each experience.
For example: What things have you gained personally from this task? Or Do you think there was a better way of accomplishing the task and how will you utilize this knowledge in future tasks?
(v) Structured and organized questions:
These questions help the student to understand a procedure or experiment.
For example: What are the important points of this topic?
What will be the order of the execution of this process and why?
What parts components of this order do you find unnecessary?
So these were some of the Critical thinking examples that the students can be asked.
How to improve critical thinking
Here are some effective ways that can help in improving critical thinking skills with every topic and subject. Students and teachers both need to get creative for incorporating critical thinking in a better way.
1) Identification of a topic in an objective way:
Whenever a certain topic comes to mind, regardless of the subject, the student must think about it objectively. The first step to be taken is by drawing a table mentally with the pros and cons of each side. You have to think about the topic according to the benefits and detriments and positives and negatives as well. This will help a student to get a better understanding of the topic and in a better way. Any opinion that will be made after this will be based on rational thinking.
2) Be inquisitive and don’t hesitate in asking questions:
Another great way of improving critical thinking is to ask as many questions as you can, this will require the student to be curious about things. When one gets in the habit of asking questions, it will enhance the information on the topic and remove any doubts that they might have had. This also develops the ability of the student to analyze situations. The thinking ability will grow immensely as each subject will be looked at from a number of points of view.
3) Discussions with classmates:
Just knowing about a topic is not enough. A student must always remember that learning is a continuous process that will slowly bring about a positive and permanent change. For achieving this, one has to constantly get involved with peers in discussions and debates. Students will start noticing that they are getting more interested in new topics and are learning things like never before. It also gives the student the ability to understand diverse viewpoints. This will also help in understanding how other students think about a particular topic.
4) Read, Read, and Read some more:
Just with observation and discussion, only limited information can be acquired. There will be an exposure to student's thoughts to multiple ideas and different concepts if they religiously include reading in their everyday schedule. Great quality books have opinions and thoughts of some of the best minds in the world.
Of course, students are going to agree and disagree on some of the things they are going to read. But this is the point of reading, after all, it will develop critical thinking and also give a better understanding of how ideologies and concepts are thought about from a different perspective and will enhance understanding of the subject.
5) Always record your observations:
It is important that each student who has been working on improving their skills must get into the habit of writing things down. It can help as a reference that can be used in other similar situations. This also will help you to keep track of your improvement. This should have complete data on the achievements as well as failures faced while taking a decision. When students inculcate this habit in their everyday life their critical thinking abilities improve at a faster rate and without putting a lot of hard work.
These are a few ways that can help with improving the Critical thinking skills of a student.
Critical thinking exercises
Here are some of the simple exercises that can help with the development of critical thinking skills in students.
Try to read more about world leaders and the problems that they faced while solving those challenges. You can also read books that are based on issues and authors that can help you to get exposed to new ideas and will dare you to think in a different manner. This activity should be done at least half an hour a day.
Students can improve their critical thinking skills by analyzing other classmates. By this we don't mean that you irritate them, rather learn the positive habits they include and practices that lead them to better results. This needs a healthy communication that can help you to gain better insights into the different strategies that can be used for effective learning. This analyzing technique is beneficial for an entire classroom if practiced correctly.
This was the complete guide on the importance of critical thinking for students and how one can improve the skill.