What Is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is a term used by educators to describe forms of learning, thought, and analysis that go beyond the memorization and recall of information and facts.
Critical thinking is a learned behavior & is comprised of the following intellectual skills:
- The ability to argue persuasively and develop counterarguments
- The ability to look at situations and concepts from different perspectives
- The ability to question assumptions and evidence to reach conclusions
- The ability to solve complex problems in an imaginative way
- Formulating and articulating thoughtful questions
- Identifying themes and patterns to make thoughtful connections
This chart depicting Webb's Depth of Knowledge Outlines the 4 levels used to achieve Critical Thinking in the classroom. Level 1 is representative of the simplest form and Level 4, the most complex.
Is it necessary to reach level 4 critical thinking during every lesson? The answer is no. This is why simple worksheets with fill in the blank facts can be the appropriate type of instruction, however, this should be combined with lessons that encourage that Level 3 or 4 critical thinking. This may look something like assigning a paper with the following criteria:
- Must be written using multiple sources
- Must identify the key points and ideas
- Must synthesize the information
- Must organize this information into a well written document.
Higher level critical thinking builds on the lower levels, and students who are encouraged to think at this level consistently may become burned out and disillusioned with learning.
To illustrate the importance and appropriateness of Level 1 Depth of Knowledge in the classroom, I am providing a short video
In order to foster critical thinking in the classroom, it essential that students are exposed to all levels of Webb's Depth of Knowledge to ensure a strong foundation on which to build their critical thinking ability.