The Office of Faculty Development

Promoting Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an essential skill every university student should learn during the course of their studies, and many class learning outcomes state that students will learn how to analyse, synthesize, and evaluate information critically by the end of class. 

But what exactly is critical thinking, and how do we teach it? How faculty define and teach critical thinking skills is not always made explicit. Do certain approaches to critical thinking work better with one set of students, but not with others? Do critical thinking skills vary between the liberal arts, humanities, and natural sciences, and do different fields of study require different critical thinking skills? 

This teaching guide offers research that explores some of these questions, as well as a number of surveys of research that tries to quantify how critical thinking is being taught in higher education, whether these efforts are successful, as well as ideas about what seems to work better based on this research.

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Articles on critical thinking(opens in new window) from UNC Charlotte Center for Teaching and Learning.

Check out these 3 core skills(opens in new window) for critical thinking.

Explore these critical thinking games(opens in new window) for your classroom.

For creative ideas check out the Critical Thinking Initiative(opens in new window) podcast.

Listen to the Inquiring Minds podcast(opens in new window) for critical thinking in action.

Listen to Thinking Clearly(opens in new window) for more on critical thinking.

Watch this Ted-Ed talk discuss 5 tips(opens in new window) to improve your critical thinking.

Check out Critical Thinking(opens in new window) (2020) for an inspiring true story about critical thinking in action.

Brain Oshiro talks about encouraging critical thinking(opens in new window).

The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools(opens in new window) by Paul & Elder (2019).

Academically Adrift(opens in new window) by Arum & Roksa (2010).

How to Teach Critical Thinking (PDF) by Willingham (2019).