JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser.

  • Order Tracking
  • Create an Account

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

200+ Award-Winning Educational Textbooks, Activity Books, & Printable eBooks!

  • Compare Products

Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies

  • Search by Book Series
  • Algebra I & II  Gr. 7-12+
  • Algebra Magic Tricks  Gr. 2-12+
  • Algebra Word Problems  Gr. 7-12+
  • Balance Benders  Gr. 2-12+
  • Balance Math & More!  Gr. 2-12+
  • Basics of Critical Thinking  Gr. 4-9
  • Brain Stretchers  Gr. 5-12+
  • Building Thinking Skills  Gr. Toddler-12+
  • Building Writing Skills  Gr. 3-7
  • Bundles - Critical Thinking  Gr. PreK-9
  • Bundles - Language Arts  Gr. K-8
  • Bundles - Mathematics  Gr. PreK-9
  • Bundles - Multi-Subject Curriculum  Gr. Toddler-12+
  • Bundles - Test Prep  Gr. Toddler-12+
  • Can You Find Me?  Gr. PreK-1
  • Complete the Picture Math  Gr. 1-3
  • Cornell Critical Thinking Tests  Gr. 5-12+
  • Cranium Crackers  Gr. 3-12+
  • Creative Problem Solving  Gr. PreK-2
  • Critical Thinking Activities to Improve Writing  Gr. 4-12+
  • Critical Thinking Coloring  Gr. PreK-2
  • Critical Thinking Detective  Gr. 3-12+
  • Critical Thinking Tests  Gr. PreK-6
  • Critical Thinking for Reading Comprehension  Gr. 1-5
  • Critical Thinking in United States History  Gr. 6-12+
  • CrossNumber Math Puzzles  Gr. 4-10
  • Crypt-O-Words  Gr. 2-7
  • Crypto Mind Benders  Gr. 3-12+
  • Daily Mind Builders  Gr. 5-12+
  • Dare to Compare Math  Gr. 2-7
  • Developing Critical Thinking through Science  Gr. 1-8
  • Dr. DooRiddles  Gr. PreK-12+
  • Dr. Funster's  Gr. 2-12+
  • Editor in Chief  Gr. 2-12+
  • Fun-Time Phonics!  Gr. PreK-2
  • Half 'n Half Animals  Gr. K-4
  • Hands-On Thinking Skills  Gr. K-1
  • Inference Jones  Gr. 1-6
  • James Madison  Gr. 8-12+
  • Jumbles  Gr. 3-5
  • Language Mechanic  Gr. 4-7
  • Language Smarts  Gr. 1-4
  • Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving  Gr. 6-9
  • Math Analogies  Gr. K-9
  • Math Detective  Gr. 3-8
  • Math Games  Gr. 3-8
  • Math Mind Benders  Gr. 5-12+
  • Math Ties  Gr. 4-8
  • Math Word Problems  Gr. 4-10
  • Mathematical Reasoning  Gr. Toddler-11
  • Middle School Science  Gr. 6-8
  • Mind Benders  Gr. PreK-12+
  • Mind Building Math  Gr. K-1
  • Mind Building Reading  Gr. K-1
  • Novel Thinking  Gr. 3-6
  • OLSAT® Test Prep  Gr. PreK-K
  • Organizing Thinking  Gr. 2-8
  • Pattern Explorer  Gr. 3-9
  • Practical Critical Thinking  Gr. 9-12+
  • Punctuation Puzzler  Gr. 3-8
  • Reading Detective  Gr. 3-12+
  • Red Herring Mysteries  Gr. 4-12+
  • Red Herrings Science Mysteries  Gr. 4-9
  • Science Detective  Gr. 3-6
  • Science Mind Benders  Gr. PreK-3
  • Science Vocabulary Crossword Puzzles  Gr. 4-6
  • Sciencewise  Gr. 4-12+
  • Scratch Your Brain  Gr. 2-12+
  • Sentence Diagramming  Gr. 3-12+
  • Smarty Pants Puzzles  Gr. 3-12+
  • Snailopolis  Gr. K-4
  • Something's Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha  Gr. 5-9
  • Teaching Technology  Gr. 3-12+
  • Tell Me a Story  Gr. PreK-1
  • Think Analogies  Gr. 3-12+
  • Think and Write  Gr. 3-8
  • Think-A-Grams  Gr. 4-12+
  • Thinking About Time  Gr. 3-6
  • Thinking Connections  Gr. 4-12+
  • Thinking Directionally  Gr. 2-6
  • Thinking Skills & Key Concepts  Gr. PreK-2
  • Thinking Skills for Tests  Gr. PreK-5
  • U.S. History Detective  Gr. 8-12+
  • Understanding Fractions  Gr. 2-6
  • Visual Perceptual Skill Building  Gr. PreK-3
  • Vocabulary Riddles  Gr. 4-8
  • Vocabulary Smarts  Gr. 2-5
  • Vocabulary Virtuoso  Gr. 2-12+
  • What Would You Do?  Gr. 2-12+
  • Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know!  Gr. 9-12+
  • Word Explorer  Gr. 6-8
  • Word Roots  Gr. 3-12+
  • World History Detective  Gr. 6-12+
  • Writing Detective  Gr. 3-6
  • You Decide!  Gr. 6-12+

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  • Special of the Month
  • Sign Up for our Best Offers
  • Bundles = Greatest Savings!
  • Sign Up for Free Puzzles
  • Sign Up for Free Activities
  • Toddler (Ages 0-3)
  • PreK (Ages 3-5)
  • Kindergarten (Ages 5-6)
  • 1st Grade (Ages 6-7)
  • 2nd Grade (Ages 7-8)
  • 3rd Grade (Ages 8-9)
  • 4th Grade (Ages 9-10)
  • 5th Grade (Ages 10-11)
  • 6th Grade (Ages 11-12)
  • 7th Grade (Ages 12-13)
  • 8th Grade (Ages 13-14)
  • 9th Grade (Ages 14-15)
  • 10th Grade (Ages 15-16)
  • 11th Grade (Ages 16-17)
  • 12th Grade (Ages 17-18)
  • 12th+ Grade (Ages 18+)
  • Test Prep Directory
  • Test Prep Bundles
  • Test Prep Guides
  • Preschool Academics
  • Store Locator
  • Submit Feedback/Request
  • Sales Alerts Sign-Up
  • Technical Support
  • Mission & History
  • Articles & Advice
  • Testimonials
  • Our Guarantee
  • New Products
  • Free Activities
  • Libros en Español

How To Promote Critical Thinking In Your Classroom

Promoting Thinking

November 25, 2006, by The Critical Thinking Co. Staff

Modeling of critical thinking skills by instructors is crucial for teaching critical thinking successfully. By making your own thought processes explicit in class - explaining your reasoning, evaluating evidence for a claim, probing the credibility of a source, or even describing what has puzzled or confused you - you provide a powerful example to students, particularly if you invite them to join in; e.g., "Can you see where we're headed with this?" "I can't think of other explanations; can you?" "This idea/principle struck me as difficult or confusing at first, but here's how I figured it out." You can encourage students to emulate this by using them in demonstrations, asking them to "think out loud" in order for classmates to observe how they reason through a problem.

Develop the habit of asking questions that require students to think critically, and tell students that you really expect them to give answers! In particular, Socratic questioning encourages students to develop and clarify their thinking: e.g., "Would your answer hold in all cases?" "How would you respond to a counter-example or counter-argument?" "Explain how you arrived at that answer?"

This is another skill that students can learn from your example, and can use in working with each other. Providing regular opportunities for pair or small group discussions after major points or demonstrations during lectures is also important: this allows students to process the new material, connect it to previously learned topics, and practice asking questions that promote further critical thinking. Obviously, conveying genuine respect for student input is essential. Communicating the message that you value and support student contributions and efforts to think critically increases confidence, and motivates students to continue building their thinking skills. An essential component of this process is the creation of a climate where students feel comfortable with exploring the process of reasoning through a problem without being "punished" for getting the wrong answer.

Researchers have found consistently that interaction among students, in the form of well-structured group discussions plays a central role in stimulating critical thinking. Discussing course material and its applications allows students to formulate and test hypotheses, practice asking thought-provoking questions, hear other perspectives, analyze claims, evaluate evidence, and explain and justify their reasoning. As they become more sophisticated and fluent in thinking critically, students can observe and critique each others' reasoning skills.

The Edvocate

  • Lynch Educational Consulting
  • Dr. Lynch’s Personal Website
  • Write For Us
  • The Tech Edvocate Product Guide
  • The Edvocate Podcast
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Assistive Technology
  • Best PreK-12 Schools in America
  • Child Development
  • Classroom Management
  • Early Childhood
  • EdTech & Innovation
  • Education Leadership
  • First Year Teachers
  • Gifted and Talented Education
  • Special Education
  • Parental Involvement
  • Policy & Reform
  • Best Colleges and Universities
  • Best College and University Programs
  • HBCU’s
  • Higher Education EdTech
  • Higher Education
  • International Education
  • The Awards Process
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2022 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2021 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2020 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2019 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2018 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2017 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Award Seals
  • GPA Calculator for College
  • GPA Calculator for High School
  • Cumulative GPA Calculator
  • Grade Calculator
  • Weighted Grade Calculator
  • Final Grade Calculator
  • The Tech Edvocate
  • AI Powered Personal Tutor

How to Set Up and Start Using a Cash App Account

Jazz research questions, interesting essay topics to write about japanese culture, good research topics about japanese art, jane eyre essay topics, most interesting invisible man essay topics to write about, most interesting jaguar essay topics to write about, most interesting jackson pollock essay topics to write about, good essay topics on italian renaissance, good research topics about islamophobia, how to implement critical pedagogy into your classroom.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Critical pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression. It is rooted in critical theory , which involves becoming aware of and questioning the societal status quo. In critical pedagogy, a teacher uses his or her own enlightenment to encourage students to question and challenge inequalities that exist in families, schools, and societies.

This educational philosophy is considered progressive and even radical by some because of the way it critiques structures that are often taken for granted. If this is an approach that sounds like it is right for you and your students, keep reading. The following five steps can help you concretely implement critical pedagogy into your classroom.

  • Challenge yourself. If you are not thinking critically and challenging social structures, you cannot expect your students to do it! Educate yourself using materials that question the common social narrative. For example, if you are a history teacher, immerse yourself in scholars who note the character flaws or problematic structures that allowed many well-known historical figures to be successful. Or, perhaps, read about why their “successes” were not really all that successful when considered in a different light. Critical theory is all about challenging the dominant social structures and the narratives that society has made most familiar. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to help enlighten your students. Here are some good resources to get you started.
  • Change the classroom dynamic. Critical pedagogy is all about challenging power structures, but one of the most common power dynamics in a student’s life is that of the teacher-student relationship. Challenge that! One concrete way to do this is by changing your classroom layout . Rather than having students sit in rows facing you, set up the desks so that they are facing each other in a semicircle or circle. This allows for better conversation in the classroom. You can also try sitting while leading discussions instead of standing. This posture puts you in the same position as the students and levels the student-teacher power dynamic. It is also a good idea, in general, to move from a lecture-based class where an all-wise teacher generously gives knowledge to humble students to a discussion-based class that allows students to think critically and draw their own conclusions.
  • Present alternative views. In step 1, you, the teacher had to encounter views that were contrary to the dominant narrative. Now, present these views to your class alongside the traditional ones. Have them discuss both and encourage them to draw their own conclusions. If a student presents a viewpoint, encourage him or her to dig further. Asking questions like “why do you believe that?” or “why is that a good thing” will encourage students to challenge their own beliefs, break free of damaging social narratives, and think independently.
  • Change your assessments. Traditional assessment structures, like traditional power structures, can be confining. You don’t have to use them ! Make sure that your assessments are not about finding the right answer, but are instead about critical thinking skills. Make sure students are not just doing what they think they need to do to get a particular grade. You can do this by encouraging students to discuss and write and by focusing on the ideas presented above presentation style.
  • Encourage activism. There is a somewhat cyclic nature to critical pedagogy. After educating yourself, you encourage students to think critically, and they, in turn, take their newfound enlightenment into their families and communities.  You can do this by telling your students about opportunities in their community where they can combat oppression, like marches, demonstrations, and organizations. You can help students to start clubs that focus on bringing a voice to the marginalized. You can even encourage students to talk about patterns of power and oppression with their family and peers.

Concluding thoughts

Obviously, implementing critical pedagogy will look different in different subjects, and what works for one class may not work for another. For example, a history teacher may challenge an event that is traditionally seen as progressive, while a literature teacher may question a common cultural stereotype found in a book. A science teacher, on the other hand, may encourage students to look at the impact of scientific discoveries on marginalized groups. Often, this will involve finding common bonds between subjects as the critical approach is not confined to only one area of education and culture.

How have you implemented critical pedagogy in your classroom? What strategies have you found effective? Let us know by commenting below!

How to Support Without Hovering: Avoiding Helicopter ...

Why you don’t need a traditional college ....

' src=

Matthew Lynch

Related articles more from author.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

3 Easy Steps to Collaboration Tech

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

How to Implement the Exit Cards Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Why Teaching Jobs Should be Preserved during School Reform

The 4 characteristics of a healthy school culture.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

19 Strategies to Help Students Who Have Unexcused Absences

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

The Surprising History of the 18th Century’s Educational Influence

Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

Integrating Critical Thinking Into the Classroom

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  • Share article

(This is the second post in a three-part series. You can see Part One here .)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What is critical thinking and how can we integrate it into the classroom?

Part One ‘s guests were Dara Laws Savage, Patrick Brown, Meg Riordan, Ph.D., and Dr. PJ Caposey. Dara, Patrick, and Meg were also guests on my 10-minute BAM! Radio Show . You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.

Today, Dr. Kulvarn Atwal, Elena Quagliarello, Dr. Donna Wilson, and Diane Dahl share their recommendations.

‘Learning Conversations’

Dr. Kulvarn Atwal is currently the executive head teacher of two large primary schools in the London borough of Redbridge. Dr. Atwal is the author of The Thinking School: Developing a Dynamic Learning Community , published by John Catt Educational. Follow him on Twitter @Thinkingschool2 :

In many classrooms I visit, students’ primary focus is on what they are expected to do and how it will be measured. It seems that we are becoming successful at producing students who are able to jump through hoops and pass tests. But are we producing children that are positive about teaching and learning and can think critically and creatively? Consider your classroom environment and the extent to which you employ strategies that develop students’ critical-thinking skills and their self-esteem as learners.

Development of self-esteem

One of the most significant factors that impacts students’ engagement and achievement in learning in your classroom is their self-esteem. In this context, self-esteem can be viewed to be the difference between how they perceive themselves as a learner (perceived self) and what they consider to be the ideal learner (ideal self). This ideal self may reflect the child that is associated or seen to be the smartest in the class. Your aim must be to raise students’ self-esteem. To do this, you have to demonstrate that effort, not ability, leads to success. Your language and interactions in the classroom, therefore, have to be aspirational—that if children persist with something, they will achieve.

Use of evaluative praise

Ensure that when you are praising students, you are making explicit links to a child’s critical thinking and/or development. This will enable them to build their understanding of what factors are supporting them in their learning. For example, often when we give feedback to students, we may simply say, “Well done” or “Good answer.” However, are the students actually aware of what they did well or what was good about their answer? Make sure you make explicit what the student has done well and where that links to prior learning. How do you value students’ critical thinking—do you praise their thinking and demonstrate how it helps them improve their learning?

Learning conversations to encourage deeper thinking

We often feel as teachers that we have to provide feedback to every students’ response, but this can limit children’s thinking. Encourage students in your class to engage in learning conversations with each other. Give as many opportunities as possible to students to build on the responses of others. Facilitate chains of dialogue by inviting students to give feedback to each other. The teacher’s role is, therefore, to facilitate this dialogue and select each individual student to give feedback to others. It may also mean that you do not always need to respond at all to a student’s answer.

Teacher modelling own thinking

We cannot expect students to develop critical-thinking skills if we aren’t modeling those thinking skills for them. Share your creativity, imagination, and thinking skills with the students and you will nurture creative, imaginative critical thinkers. Model the language you want students to learn and think about. Share what you feel about the learning activities your students are participating in as well as the thinking you are engaging in. Your own thinking and learning will add to the discussions in the classroom and encourage students to share their own thinking.

Metacognitive questioning

Consider the extent to which your questioning encourages students to think about their thinking, and therefore, learn about learning! Through asking metacognitive questions, you will enable your students to have a better understanding of the learning process, as well as their own self-reflections as learners. Example questions may include:

  • Why did you choose to do it that way?
  • When you find something tricky, what helps you?
  • How do you know when you have really learned something?

itseemskul

‘Adventures of Discovery’

Elena Quagliarello is the senior editor of education for Scholastic News , a current events magazine for students in grades 3–6. She graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied English and earned her master’s degree in elementary education. She is a certified K–12 teacher and previously taught middle school English/language arts for five years:

Critical thinking blasts through the surface level of a topic. It reaches beyond the who and the what and launches students on a learning journey that ultimately unlocks a deeper level of understanding. Teaching students how to think critically helps them turn information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. In the classroom, critical thinking teaches students how to ask and answer the questions needed to read the world. Whether it’s a story, news article, photo, video, advertisement, or another form of media, students can use the following critical-thinking strategies to dig beyond the surface and uncover a wealth of knowledge.

A Layered Learning Approach

Begin by having students read a story, article, or analyze a piece of media. Then have them excavate and explore its various layers of meaning. First, ask students to think about the literal meaning of what they just read. For example, if students read an article about the desegregation of public schools during the 1950s, they should be able to answer questions such as: Who was involved? What happened? Where did it happen? Which details are important? This is the first layer of critical thinking: reading comprehension. Do students understand the passage at its most basic level?

Ask the Tough Questions

The next layer delves deeper and starts to uncover the author’s purpose and craft. Teach students to ask the tough questions: What information is included? What or who is left out? How does word choice influence the reader? What perspective is represented? What values or people are marginalized? These questions force students to critically analyze the choices behind the final product. In today’s age of fast-paced, easily accessible information, it is essential to teach students how to critically examine the information they consume. The goal is to equip students with the mindset to ask these questions on their own.

Strike Gold

The deepest layer of critical thinking comes from having students take a step back to think about the big picture. This level of thinking is no longer focused on the text itself but rather its real-world implications. Students explore questions such as: Why does this matter? What lesson have I learned? How can this lesson be applied to other situations? Students truly engage in critical thinking when they are able to reflect on their thinking and apply their knowledge to a new situation. This step has the power to transform knowledge into wisdom.

Adventures of Discovery

There are vast ways to spark critical thinking in the classroom. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Critical Expressionism: In this expanded response to reading from a critical stance, students are encouraged to respond through forms of artistic interpretations, dramatizations, singing, sketching, designing projects, or other multimodal responses. For example, students might read an article and then create a podcast about it or read a story and then act it out.
  • Transmediations: This activity requires students to take an article or story and transform it into something new. For example, they might turn a news article into a cartoon or turn a story into a poem. Alternatively, students may rewrite a story by changing some of its elements, such as the setting or time period.
  • Words Into Action: In this type of activity, students are encouraged to take action and bring about change. Students might read an article about endangered orangutans and the effects of habitat loss caused by deforestation and be inspired to check the labels on products for palm oil. They might then write a letter asking companies how they make sure the palm oil they use doesn’t hurt rain forests.
  • Socratic Seminars: In this student-led discussion strategy, students pose thought-provoking questions to each other about a topic. They listen closely to each other’s comments and think critically about different perspectives.
  • Classroom Debates: Aside from sparking a lively conversation, classroom debates naturally embed critical-thinking skills by asking students to formulate and support their own opinions and consider and respond to opposing viewpoints.

Critical thinking has the power to launch students on unforgettable learning experiences while helping them develop new habits of thought, reflection, and inquiry. Developing these skills prepares students to examine issues of power and promote transformative change in the world around them.

criticalthinkinghasthepower

‘Quote Analysis’

Dr. Donna Wilson is a psychologist and the author of 20 books, including Developing Growth Mindsets , Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains , and Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching (2 nd Edition). She is an international speaker who has worked in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Europe, Jamaica, and throughout the U.S. and Canada. Dr. Wilson can be reached at [email protected] ; visit her website at www.brainsmart.org .

Diane Dahl has been a teacher for 13 years, having taught grades 2-4 throughout her career. Mrs. Dahl currently teaches 3rd and 4th grade GT-ELAR/SS in Lovejoy ISD in Fairview, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @DahlD, and visit her website at www.fortheloveofteaching.net :

A growing body of research over the past several decades indicates that teaching students how to be better thinkers is a great way to support them to be more successful at school and beyond. In the book, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains , Dr. Wilson shares research and many motivational strategies, activities, and lesson ideas that assist students to think at higher levels. Five key strategies from the book are as follows:

  • Facilitate conversation about why it is important to think critically at school and in other contexts of life. Ideally, every student will have a contribution to make to the discussion over time.
  • Begin teaching thinking skills early in the school year and as a daily part of class.
  • As this instruction begins, introduce students to the concept of brain plasticity and how their brilliant brains change during thinking and learning. This can be highly motivational for students who do not yet believe they are good thinkers!
  • Explicitly teach students how to use the thinking skills.
  • Facilitate student understanding of how the thinking skills they are learning relate to their lives at school and in other contexts.

Below are two lessons that support critical thinking, which can be defined as the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

Mrs. Dahl prepares her 3rd and 4th grade classes for a year of critical thinking using quote analysis .

During Native American studies, her 4 th grade analyzes a Tuscarora quote: “Man has responsibility, not power.” Since students already know how the Native Americans’ land had been stolen, it doesn’t take much for them to make the logical leaps. Critical-thought prompts take their thinking even deeper, especially at the beginning of the year when many need scaffolding. Some prompts include:

  • … from the point of view of the Native Americans?
  • … from the point of view of the settlers?
  • How do you think your life might change over time as a result?
  • Can you relate this quote to anything else in history?

Analyzing a topic from occupational points of view is an incredibly powerful critical-thinking tool. After learning about the Mexican-American War, Mrs. Dahl’s students worked in groups to choose an occupation with which to analyze the war. The chosen occupations were: anthropologist, mathematician, historian, archaeologist, cartographer, and economist. Then each individual within each group chose a different critical-thinking skill to focus on. Finally, they worked together to decide how their occupation would view the war using each skill.

For example, here is what each student in the economist group wrote:

  • When U.S.A. invaded Mexico for land and won, Mexico ended up losing income from the settlements of Jose de Escandon. The U.S.A. thought that they were gaining possible tradable land, while Mexico thought that they were losing precious land and resources.
  • Whenever Texas joined the states, their GDP skyrocketed. Then they went to war and spent money on supplies. When the war was resolving, Texas sold some of their land to New Mexico for $10 million. This allowed Texas to pay off their debt to the U.S., improving their relationship.
  • A detail that converged into the Mexican-American War was that Mexico and the U.S. disagreed on the Texas border. With the resulting treaty, Texas ended up gaining more land and economic resources.
  • Texas gained land from Mexico since both countries disagreed on borders. Texas sold land to New Mexico, which made Texas more economically structured and allowed them to pay off their debt.

This was the first time that students had ever used the occupations technique. Mrs. Dahl was astonished at how many times the kids used these critical skills in other areas moving forward.

explicitlyteach

Thanks to Dr. Auwal, Elena, Dr. Wilson, and Diane for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching .

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email (The RSS feed for this blog, and for all Ed Week articles, has been changed by the new redesign—new ones won’t be available until February). And if you missed any of the highlights from the first nine years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below.

  • This Year’s Most Popular Q&A Posts
  • Race & Racism in Schools
  • School Closures & the Coronavirus Crisis
  • Classroom-Management Advice
  • Best Ways to Begin the School Year
  • Best Ways to End the School Year
  • Student Motivation & Social-Emotional Learning
  • Implementing the Common Core
  • Facing Gender Challenges in Education
  • Teaching Social Studies
  • Cooperative & Collaborative Learning
  • Using Tech in the Classroom
  • Student Voices
  • Parent Engagement in Schools
  • Teaching English-Language Learners
  • Reading Instruction
  • Writing Instruction
  • Education Policy Issues
  • Differentiating Instruction
  • Math Instruction
  • Science Instruction
  • Advice for New Teachers
  • Author Interviews
  • Entering the Teaching Profession
  • The Inclusive Classroom
  • Learning & the Brain
  • Administrator Leadership
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Relationships in Schools
  • Professional Development
  • Instructional Strategies
  • Best of Classroom Q&A
  • Professional Collaboration
  • Classroom Organization
  • Mistakes in Education
  • Project-Based Learning

I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributors to this column .

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Sign Up for EdWeek Update

Edweek top school jobs.

Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.

Sign Up & Sign In

module image 9

Cut Through the Buzz: 8 Ways to Teach Critical Thinking

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Critical thinking has long been the buzz-word in education, from primary schools up through graduate programs. That, in fact, is one of the problems—it is so ubiquitous that it carries with it all the cache and excitement of a slice of white bread.

But the truth is that we do live in a world, more now than ever, that requires the ability to think critically — to see and know when information presented is dubious or honest, accurate or intentionally fake, biased or impartial. Not only do fake news, reviews, and information affect our elections, but they also influence our attitudes, social networks, beliefs, and actions. And while the phrase critical thinking might be a little stale to us educators, its actual importance is essential. What we teach our students matters. Showing our students how to process information and how to evaluate the soundness of an idea or argument is probably the most important skill we can impart to our students. Teaching them not just what to learn, but how to learn!

As a Professor of Psychology, whose research focuses on the nature of the creative personality and the psychology of science and scientific thinking, I have the luxury of teaching critical thinking skills without hardly ever using the word. Here are at least 8 different strategies for bringing critical thinking skills into the classroom:

Challenging Your Assumptions / Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Assumptions are the starting points of our thinking and reasoning. They are what we take for granted and don’t really question. The ability to reflect and be clear about what your assumptions are is the first and most crucial step toward becoming a critical thinker. A primary theme of my classes and in my textbook  Psychology: Perspectives and Connections  is to teach students to challenge their own and other people’s assumptions. I also use the phrase “Don’t believe everything you think” quite regularly. Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true and understanding that is the first step in challenging assumptions and stepping outside of our own mindset.

Not only does this help with critical thinking, but it also helps with creative thinking. Creative people have the ability to “think outside the box”, which really means seeing things from a different perspective and intuitively breaking out of mindsets that prevent novel and original ways of thinking and solving problems.

Discuss Components of Critical Thinking / What Does It Actually Mean?

Except in my Critical Thinking Seminar, I seldom use the phrase “critical thinking”. Nevertheless, it is important to clarify what I mean by the phrase and what I want my students to understand it to be. Typically, this comes down to asking students some important questions:

  • How do you know that?
  • What logic or evidence supports that idea or belief?
  • How do I (we, you) know that?

In short, critical thinking involves the skills of knowing how to analyze, evaluate, and interpret information.

Explaining Science vs. Pseudoscience

In its simplest form, scientific thinking involves the ability to separate belief (theory) from evidence. Those not trained in the scientific method all too often fall prey to stopping inquiry with their assumptions and confusing belief and evidence. They mistake belief for evidence.

One important way to get students to think critically about science is to contrast it with claims that pretend to be scientific but eschew the scientific method, namely the pseudosciences. As Gregory Derry wrote in  What is Science and How It Works , we know something is a pseudoscience when its practitioners:

  • Do not progress in their thinking or knowledge in a cumulative fashion over time;
  • Are not internally skeptical (they do not challenge their own assumptions);
  • Use faulty logic and have no clear explanation for how something works (no mechanism);
  • Dismiss out of hand known established evidence/facts.

Evaluating Scientific Evidence

Because I am a research psychologist (not a clinician), I frequently utilize scientific literature in my classes to provide weight and examples in my lectures. But introducing this material also means teaching my students to evaluate, examine, and critique the quality and methodological rigor of the evidence presented. Some ways to encourage discussion and teach students to ask critical questions of what they are reading include:

  • Was it a good vs. poor study (e.g., representativeness of the sample; sample size, reliability, and validity of the measurements)? The devil is always in the details.
  • Were the conclusions tied closely to the evidence?
  • Was the study peer-reviewed?
  • Did the authors go beyond the evidence?

Establishing Fact vs. Opinion

We all need to be clear on the distinction between fact and opinion. The simplest way to think about facts and opinions is to understand that facts are impersonal, and opinions are personal. Opinions belong to people and hence they are neither right nor wrong. You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. Facts don’t belong to anyone. Establishing this concept with students early on is critical in order to form a foundation for questioning information and thinking critical thinking.

Uncovering Fake News and Misinformation

One of the most pressing needs for critical thinking comes from the most ubiquitous of all sources of information—the internet.  Fake news, fake photos, fake social media posts, fake product reviews, fake videos, and fake political ads  are just a few of the kinds of misinformation that we confront every single day.

The current generation of students—the Millennials and iGen—never really knew of time without the internet and social media. Mobile phones, apps, and social media are their standard modes of communication and they need to know how to identify misinformation when it appears. A few telltale signs that news or information may be fake are when they have:

  • URLs that are bogus (such as abcnews.com.co)
  • Bylines with authors who are not real people
  • Dates of post that came before events discussed in the text
  • Been uncovered as fake by snopes.com, factcheck.com, urbanmyth.com, or hoaxslayer.com

Defining Faulty Reasoning

Biased reasoning is endemic to the human condition. Even well-educated people fall victim to various forms of bias. Two common forms of biased reasoning and information processing are confirmation bias and motivated reasoning.

Confirmation bias occurs when we select and attend to information that we like or that supports our ideas and we ignore information inconsistent with our beliefs. Even scholars do this in writing articles, where they develop a thesis and discuss only the literature that supports their argument and ignores literature that doesn’t fit the narrative. Similar to, but distinct from, confirmation bias is  motivated reasoning , whereby we reason about the information that confirms our beliefs in a relatively uncritical and accepting way but are very skeptical of and critical toward information that challenges and contradicts our beliefs.

Defining these topics and framing them as a trap we all fall victim to can help students be more alert to the possibilities of confirmation bias and motivated reasoning in their own thought proc

Faulty Memory and Perception

A few principles of human thought have emerged over the last few decades; they include the realization that human memories are much more  malleable and inaccurate  than any of us would like to admit and that our attention and focus do not typically expand beyond one thing at a time.

The truth is our memories are not objective accounts of events; they are inherently reconstructive and change each time we remember something we actually change the memory. It’s important to make it clear to students that confidence in human beings’ memory and attention span (e.g., multitasking) is not always warranted; they should always take the opportunity to question assumptions and probe for factual information.

For Further Reading

Derry, G. (2002). What Science is and How it Works. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Feist, G.J. (2006). The Psychology of Science and the Origins of the Scientific Mind. New Haven: Yale University Press. Feist, G.J., & Rosenberg, E.L. (2018). Psychology: Perspectives and Connections (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Kiely, E., & Robertson, L. (2016, November 18).  How To Spot Fake News . Factcheck.org. Kunda, Z. (1990). The Case for Motivated Reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 480-498. Wilson, J. (2013).  Trust You Memory? Maybe You Shouldn’t.

Attending a conference?

Checkout if mcgraw hill will be in attendance:.

  • Our Mission

A Critical Thinking Framework for Elementary Students

Guiding young students to engage in critical thinking fosters their ability to create and engage with knowledge.

Photo of elementary students working together

Critical thinking is using analysis and evaluation to make a judgment. Analysis, evaluation, and judgment are not discrete skills; rather, they emerge from the accumulation of knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge does not mean students sit at desks mindlessly reciting memorized information, like in 19th century grammar schools. Our goal is not for learners to regurgitate facts by rote without demonstrating their understanding of the connections, structures, and deeper ideas embedded in the content they are learning. To foster critical thinking in school, especially for our youngest learners, we need a pedagogy that centers knowledge and also honors the ability of children to engage with knowledge.

This chapter outlines the Critical Thinking Framework: five instructional approaches educators can incorporate into their instruction to nurture deeper thinking. These approaches can also guide intellectual preparation protocols and unit unpackings to prepare rigorous, engaging instruction for elementary students. Some of these approaches, such as reason with evidence, will seem similar to other “contentless” programs professing to teach critical thinking skills. But others, such as say it in your own words or look for structure, are targeted at ensuring learners soundly understand content so that they can engage in complex thinking. You will likely notice that every single one of these approaches requires students to talk—to themselves, to a partner, or to the whole class. Dialogue, specifically in the context of teacher-led discussions, is essential for students to analyze, evaluate, and judge (i.e., do critical thinking ). 

The Critical Thinking Framework

book cover, Critical Thinking in the Elementary Classroom

Say it in your own words : Students articulate ideas in their own words. They use unique phrasing and do not parrot the explanations of others. When learning new material, students who pause to explain concepts in their own words (to themselves or others) demonstrate an overall better understanding than students who do not (Nokes-Malach et al., 2013). However, it’s not enough for us to pause frequently and ask students to explain, especially if they are only being asked to repeat procedures. Explanations should be effortful and require students to make connections to prior knowledge and concepts as well as to revise misconceptions (Richey & Nokes-Malach, 2015).

Break it down : Students break down the components, steps, or smaller ideas within a bigger idea or procedure. In addition to expressing concepts in their own words, students should look at new concepts in terms of parts and wholes. For instance, when learning a new type of problem or task, students can explain the steps another student took to arrive at their answer, which promotes an understanding that transfers to other tasks with a similar underlying structure. Asking students to explain the components and rationale behind procedural steps can also lead to more flexible problem solving overall (Rittle-Johnson, 2006). By breaking down ideas into component parts, students are also better equipped to monitor the soundness of their own understanding as well as to see similar patterns (i.e., regularity) among differing tasks. For example, in writing, lessons can help students see how varying subordinating conjunction phrases at the start of sentences can support the flow and readability of a paragraph. In math, a solution can be broken down into smaller steps.

Look for structure : Students look beyond shallow surface characteristics to see deep structures and underlying principles. Learners struggle to see regularity in similar problems that have small differences (Reed et al., 1985). Even when students are taught how to complete one kind of task, they struggle to transfer their understanding to a new task where some of the superficial characteristics have been changed. This is because students, especially students who are novices in a domain, tend to emphasize the surface structure of a task rather than deep structure (Chi & Van Lehn, 2012).

By prompting students to notice deep structures—such as the characteristics of a genre or the needs of animals—rather than surface structures, teachers foster the development of comprehensive schemata in students’ long-term memories, which they are more likely to then apply to novel situations. Teachers should monitor for student understanding of deep structures across several tasks and examples.

Notice gaps or inconsistencies in ideas : Students ask questions about gaps and inconsistencies in material, arguments, and their own thinking . When students engage in explanations of material, they are more likely to notice when they misunderstand material or to detect a conflict with their prior knowledge (Richey & Nokes-Malach, 2015). In a classroom, analyzing conflicting ideas and interpretations allows students to revise misconceptions and refine mental models. Noticing gaps and inconsistencies in information also helps students to evaluate the persuasiveness of arguments and to ask relevant questions.

Reason with evidence : Students construct arguments with evidence and evaluate the evidence in others’ reasoning. Reasoning with evidence matters in every subject, but what counts for evidence in a mathematical proof differs from what is required in an English essay. Students should learn the rules and conventions for evidence across a wide range of disciplines in school. The habits of looking for and weighing evidence also intersect with some of the other critical thinking approaches discussed above. Noticing regularity in reasoning and structure helps learners find evidence efficiently, while attending to gaps and inconsistencies in information encourages caution before reaching hasty conclusions.

Countering Two Critiques

Some readers may be wondering how the Critical Thinking Framework differs from other general skills curricula. The framework differs in that it demands application in the context of students’ content knowledge, rather than in isolation. It is a pedagogical tool to help students make sense of the content they are learning. Students should never sit through a lesson where they are told to “say things in their own words” when there is nothing to say anything about. While a contentless lesson could help on the margins, it will not be as relevant or transferable. Specific content matters. A checklist of “critical thinking skills” cannot replace deep subject knowledge. The framework should not be blindly applied to all subjects without context because results will look quite different in an ELA or science class.

Other readers may be thinking about high-stakes tests: how does the Critical Thinking Framework fit in with an overwhelming emphasis on assessments aligned to national or state standards? This is a valid concern and an important point to address. For teachers, schools, and districts locked into an accountability system that values performance on state tests but does not communicate content expectations beyond general standards, the arguments I make may seem beside the point. Sure, knowledge matters, but the curriculum demands that students know how to quickly identify the main idea of a paragraph, even if they don’t have any background knowledge about the topic of the paragraph.

It is crucial that elementary practitioners be connected to both evolving research on learning and the limiting realities we teach within. Unfortunately, I can provide no easy answers beyond saying that teaching is a balancing act. The tension, while real and relevant to teachers’ daily lives, should not cloud our vision for what children need from their school experiences.

I also argue it is easier to incorporate the demands of our current standardized testing environment into a curriculum rich with history, science, art, geography, languages, and novels than the reverse. The Critical Thinking Framework presents ways to approach all kinds of knowledge in a way that presses students toward deeper processing of the content they are learning. If we can raise the bar for student work and thinking in our classrooms, the question of how students perform on standardized tests will become secondary to helping them achieve much loftier and important goals. The choice of whether to emphasize excellent curriculum or high-stakes tests, insofar as it is a choice at all, should never be existential or a zero-sum game.

From Critical Thinking in the Elementary Classroom: Engaging Young Minds with Meaningful Content (pp. 25–29) by Erin Shadowens, Arlington, VA: ASCD. Copyright © 2023 by ASCD. All rights reserved.

Menu Trigger

Why Schools Need to Change Yes, We Can Define, Teach, and Assess Critical Thinking Skills

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Jeff Heyck-Williams (He, His, Him) Director of the Two Rivers Learning Institute in Washington, DC

critical thinking

Today’s learners face an uncertain present and a rapidly changing future that demand far different skills and knowledge than were needed in the 20th century. We also know so much more about enabling deep, powerful learning than we ever did before. Our collective future depends on how well young people prepare for the challenges and opportunities of 21st-century life.

Critical thinking is a thing. We can define it; we can teach it; and we can assess it.

While the idea of teaching critical thinking has been bandied around in education circles since at least the time of John Dewey, it has taken greater prominence in the education debates with the advent of the term “21st century skills” and discussions of deeper learning. There is increasing agreement among education reformers that critical thinking is an essential ingredient for long-term success for all of our students.

However, there are still those in the education establishment and in the media who argue that critical thinking isn’t really a thing, or that these skills aren’t well defined and, even if they could be defined, they can’t be taught or assessed.

To those naysayers, I have to disagree. Critical thinking is a thing. We can define it; we can teach it; and we can assess it. In fact, as part of a multi-year Assessment for Learning Project , Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., has done just that.

Before I dive into what we have done, I want to acknowledge that some of the criticism has merit.

First, there are those that argue that critical thinking can only exist when students have a vast fund of knowledge. Meaning that a student cannot think critically if they don’t have something substantive about which to think. I agree. Students do need a robust foundation of core content knowledge to effectively think critically. Schools still have a responsibility for building students’ content knowledge.

However, I would argue that students don’t need to wait to think critically until after they have mastered some arbitrary amount of knowledge. They can start building critical thinking skills when they walk in the door. All students come to school with experience and knowledge which they can immediately think critically about. In fact, some of the thinking that they learn to do helps augment and solidify the discipline-specific academic knowledge that they are learning.

The second criticism is that critical thinking skills are always highly contextual. In this argument, the critics make the point that the types of thinking that students do in history is categorically different from the types of thinking students do in science or math. Thus, the idea of teaching broadly defined, content-neutral critical thinking skills is impossible. I agree that there are domain-specific thinking skills that students should learn in each discipline. However, I also believe that there are several generalizable skills that elementary school students can learn that have broad applicability to their academic and social lives. That is what we have done at Two Rivers.

Defining Critical Thinking Skills

We began this work by first defining what we mean by critical thinking. After a review of the literature and looking at the practice at other schools, we identified five constructs that encompass a set of broadly applicable skills: schema development and activation; effective reasoning; creativity and innovation; problem solving; and decision making.

critical thinking competency

We then created rubrics to provide a concrete vision of what each of these constructs look like in practice. Working with the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) , we refined these rubrics to capture clear and discrete skills.

For example, we defined effective reasoning as the skill of creating an evidence-based claim: students need to construct a claim, identify relevant support, link their support to their claim, and identify possible questions or counter claims. Rubrics provide an explicit vision of the skill of effective reasoning for students and teachers. By breaking the rubrics down for different grade bands, we have been able not only to describe what reasoning is but also to delineate how the skills develop in students from preschool through 8th grade.

reasoning rubric

Before moving on, I want to freely acknowledge that in narrowly defining reasoning as the construction of evidence-based claims we have disregarded some elements of reasoning that students can and should learn. For example, the difference between constructing claims through deductive versus inductive means is not highlighted in our definition. However, by privileging a definition that has broad applicability across disciplines, we are able to gain traction in developing the roots of critical thinking. In this case, to formulate well-supported claims or arguments.

Teaching Critical Thinking Skills

The definitions of critical thinking constructs were only useful to us in as much as they translated into practical skills that teachers could teach and students could learn and use. Consequently, we have found that to teach a set of cognitive skills, we needed thinking routines that defined the regular application of these critical thinking and problem-solving skills across domains. Building on Harvard’s Project Zero Visible Thinking work, we have named routines aligned with each of our constructs.

For example, with the construct of effective reasoning, we aligned the Claim-Support-Question thinking routine to our rubric. Teachers then were able to teach students that whenever they were making an argument, the norm in the class was to use the routine in constructing their claim and support. The flexibility of the routine has allowed us to apply it from preschool through 8th grade and across disciplines from science to economics and from math to literacy.

argumentative writing

Kathryn Mancino, a 5th grade teacher at Two Rivers, has deliberately taught three of our thinking routines to students using the anchor charts above. Her charts name the components of each routine and has a place for students to record when they’ve used it and what they have figured out about the routine. By using this structure with a chart that can be added to throughout the year, students see the routines as broadly applicable across disciplines and are able to refine their application over time.

Assessing Critical Thinking Skills

By defining specific constructs of critical thinking and building thinking routines that support their implementation in classrooms, we have operated under the assumption that students are developing skills that they will be able to transfer to other settings. However, we recognized both the importance and the challenge of gathering reliable data to confirm this.

With this in mind, we have developed a series of short performance tasks around novel discipline-neutral contexts in which students can apply the constructs of thinking. Through these tasks, we have been able to provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to transfer the types of thinking beyond the original classroom setting. Once again, we have worked with SCALE to define tasks where students easily access the content but where the cognitive lift requires them to demonstrate their thinking abilities.

These assessments demonstrate that it is possible to capture meaningful data on students’ critical thinking abilities. They are not intended to be high stakes accountability measures. Instead, they are designed to give students, teachers, and school leaders discrete formative data on hard to measure skills.

While it is clearly difficult, and we have not solved all of the challenges to scaling assessments of critical thinking, we can define, teach, and assess these skills . In fact, knowing how important they are for the economy of the future and our democracy, it is essential that we do.

Jeff Heyck-Williams (He, His, Him)

Director of the two rivers learning institute.

Jeff Heyck-Williams is the director of the Two Rivers Learning Institute and a founder of Two Rivers Public Charter School. He has led work around creating school-wide cultures of mathematics, developing assessments of critical thinking and problem-solving, and supporting project-based learning.

Read More About Why Schools Need to Change

NGLC's Bravely 2024-2025

Bring Your Vision for Student Success to Life with NGLC and Bravely

March 13, 2024

teacher using Canva on laptop

For Ethical AI, Listen to Teachers

Jason Wilmot

October 23, 2023

students walking across bright hallway

Turning School Libraries into Discipline Centers Is Not the Answer to Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Stephanie McGary

October 4, 2023

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Home

  • Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh's blog

Practical Classroom Implementations for Critical Pedagogy

Major Components of Critical Pedagogy

“A certain level of comfort eliminates the spark that pushes one to seek social change – among both students and teachers. But a critical education must take place among both the oppressed and the oppressor if we hope to achieve a more compassionate and just society.” (Katz, 2014, p. 1)

Once one knows about Critical Pedagogy (with respect to Critical Thinking, as was covered in the previous blog ), what does one do with that knowledge? Can we implement strategies that embrace Critical Pedagogy while teaching the content we need to cover? Are there ways to build criticality in our students while maintaining our requirements for classroom rigor?

To implement the foundational aspects of Critical Pedagogy in the classroom requires some art, a lot of creativity, and a bit of luck. It also helps to discuss possible classroom implementations with someone who is practiced in Critical Pedagogy methodologies. To describe possible implementations is the goal of this blog. Each paragraph will start with a reminder of the major components of Critical Pedagogy as well as what they mean and then I’ll brainstorm pedagogical implementation ideas. The most important piece of the blog will probably be the references (a sampling of those I’ve found helpful) that help you learn more about possible implementation.

Student agency involves giving,  i.e. ceding our authority, to students so they have choices in their own learning. How do we apply it in the classroom? We can employ active learning,  i.e. the “flipped” classroom (1-8). We can allow the class to vote on outcomes when we don’t really care what the outcome is, thereby empowering students to make their own decisions. We can implement peer-led techniques (9-15). And/or we can require or encourage students to reflect on their own learning in blogs, on notecards, or in some other way (16-24). Lastly, we can use ungrading to give students a voice in their own grades (25-29).

Social justice is the idea that we should treat all human beings with respect, dignity, and equity (30-31). Some of the ways we apply social justice in our classroom include reflecting on our own pedagogy and our own values to understand better who we are and what we value as teachers. We could implement critical pedagogy techniques such as choosing students from underserved groups as the first sets of leaders within groupwork (32-33). We could use OER (Open Educational Resources) and reduce the cost of the materials we require in the classroom as much as possible (34-37). We could recognize that students are humans first- we must consider the entire student and their livid experience when they walk into our classroom each day (38-43).

Power and privilege involve our evolving and reflective understanding of what position we truly inhabit in the classroom. We can acknowledge it in the classroom by decentering power (authority) in the classroom and acknowledging our own (and our students’) privilege and issues such as colonialization, systemic racism, white privilege or misogyny (44-46). Using open resources and checking in with others different than us to make sure we are not offensive and model the behavior we want to see in our students (47).

Classroom implementations that empower our usage of Critical Pedagogy can be varied and can encompass something completely different than any of the methodologies outlined above. But using our creativity to build criticality in our students by modeling the idea that every student matters in our classroom, pedagogy is fundamental to our role as teachers. And hopefully this blog gives us a place to start our own critical reflection.

Article References

Katz, L. (2014). Teachers’ reflections on critical pedagogy in the classroom. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Systems, 10(2). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2c6968hc

Student Agency References

Active Learning

Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L. S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(39), 19251–19257. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821936116

Felder, R. M. (1996). Active-inductive-cooperative learning: An instructional model for chemistry? Journal of Chemical Education, 73(9), 832. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ed073p832

Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. University of Oklahoma, 27. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/sph/files/2011/06/selfdirected1.pdf

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., & Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8410–8415. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1319030111

Mohamed, A.-R. (2008). Effects of Active Learning Variants on Student Performance and Learning Perceptions. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=19314744&AN=35765283&h=wxYoJSiG6agKLoFjYF4mbpU%2FKf96DN0SpgZ6Xzcd%2FhSGZD%2F950vVnDuUC3H%2Bp530Zj%2Bgyk5WT9QmA4PYQk%2B7Pg%3D%3D&crl=c

National Research Council (U.S.), Singer, S. R., Nielsen, N., & Schweingruber, H. A. (Eds.). (2012). Discipline-based education research: Understanding and improving learning in undergraduate science and engineering. Washington, D.C: The National Academies Press.

Oliver-Hoyo, M. T., Allen, D., Hunt, W. F., Hutson, J., & Pitts, A. (2004). Effects of an active learning environment: Teaching innovations at a research I institution. Journal of Chemical Education, 81(3), 441. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed081p441

Wieman, C. E. (2014). Large-scale comparison of science teaching methods sends clear message. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(23), 8319–8320. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1407304111

Peer-Led Techniques

Hockings, S. C., DeAngelis, K. J., & Frey, R. F. (2008). Peer-led team learning in general chemistry: Implementation and evaluation. Journal of Chemical Education, 85(7), 990. Retrieved from http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed085p990

Lewis, S. E. (2011). Retention and Reform: An Evaluation of Peer-Led Team Learning. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(6), 703–707. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed100689m

Lewis, S. E., & Lewis, J. E. (2008). Seeking effectiveness and equity in a large college chemistry course: An HLM investigation of Peer-Led Guided Inquiry. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45(7), 794–811. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20254

Miller, K., Lasry, N., Lukoff, B., Schell, J., & Mazur, E. (2014). Conceptual question response times in Peer Instruction classrooms. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.10.020113

Obenland, C. A., Munson, A. H., & Hutchinson, J. S. (2012). Silent Students’ Participation in a Large Active Learning Science Classroom. Journal of College Science Teaching, 42(2). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=0047231X&AN=82689670&h=Nk3gmm%2BHF5O4OX1FnPkjxNa%2FuPQLungrAcbgaro3dvabqGruIVsNn9A%2FzZOwzWnZX96KbKdCpGruRdcKw2Dqag%3D%3D&crl=c

Smith, M. K., Wood, W. B., Adams, W. K., Wieman, C., Knight, J. K., Guild, N., & Su, T. T. (2009). Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions. Science, 323(5910), 122–124. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1165919

Syh-Jong, J. (2007). A study of students’ construction of science knowledge: Talk and writing in a collaborative group. Educational Research, 49(1), 65–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131880701200781

Reflective Learning

Boyd, E. M., & Fales, A. W. (1983). Reflective Learning: Key to Learning From Experience. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 23(2), 99–117.

de Andrés Martínez, C. (2012). Developing metacognition at a distance: Sharing students’ learning strategies on a reflective blog. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 25(2), 199–212. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2011.636056

Holotescu, C., Grosseck, G., & Danciu, E. (2014). Educational Digital Stories in 140 Characters: Towards a Typology of Micro-blog Storytelling in Academic Courses. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 4301–4305. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.936

Petko, D., Egger, N., & Graber, M. (2014). Supporting learning with weblogs in science education: A comparison of blogging and hand-written reflective writing with and without prompts. Themes in Science and Technology Education, 7(1), 3–17.

Siemens, G. (2014). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.

Sim, J. W. S., & Hew, K. F. (2010). The use of weblogs in higher education settings: A review of empirical research. Educational Research Review, 5(2), 151–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2010.01.001

Valkanova, Y., & Watts, M. (2007). Digital story telling in a science classroom: Reflective self‐learning (RSL) in action. Early Child Development and Care, 177(6–7), 793–807. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430701437252

Winters, F. I., Greene, J. A., & Costich, C. M. (2008). Self-Regulation of Learning within Computer-based Learning Environments: A Critical Analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-008-9080-9

Xie, Y., Ke, F., & Sharma, P. (2008). The effect of peer feedback for blogging on college students’ reflective learning processes. The Internet and Higher Education, 11(1), 18–25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2007.11.001

Blum, S. (2017, November 14th). Ungrading. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2017/11/14/significant-learning-benefits-getting-rid-grades-essay#.WgsSlyEa6Tl.link

Kohn, A. (2011, November). The Case against Grades [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/case-grades/

Schinske, J., & Tanner, K. (2014). Teaching More by Grading Less (or Differently). CBE—Life Sciences Education 13(2), 159–166. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.cbe-14-03-0054

Sorensen-Unruh, C. (2019, February 10th). Ungrading: A Series [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://clarissasorensenunruh.com/2019/02/10/ungrading-a-series-part-1/

Stommel, J. (2018, March 11th). How to Ungrade [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.jessestommel.com/how-to-ungrade/

Social Justice References

United Nations. (n.d.). Human Rights. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/human-rights/index.html

White, S. V. (2018, December 2nd). Lessons in Social Justice… [Blog post]. Identity, Education, and Power. Retrieved from https://medium.com/identity-education-and-power/lessons-in-social-justice-9add44ece4ed

Gannon, K. (2017, October 20th). The Progressive Stack and Standing for Inclusive Teaching [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/hunger-college-food-insecurity.html

Tanner, K.D. (2013). Structure matters: twenty-one teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. CBE life sciences education, 12(3), 322–331. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762997/

Open Resources

Open Education Commons. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oercommons.org/

Educause. (n.d.). Open Education Resources (OER). Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/topics/teaching-and-learning/open-educational-resources-oer

DeRosa, R. & Jhangiani, R. Open pedagogy. In E. Mays (Ed.), A Guide to Making Open Textbooks with Students (pp. 7-20). Montreal, Canada: Rebus Community. Retrieved from http://openpedagogy.org/open-pedagogy/

DeRosa, R. (2017, January 22nd). Extreme Makeover: Pedagogy Edition [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://robinderosa.net/higher-ed/extreme-makeover-pedagogy-edition/

Students are Humans First

Goldrick-Rab, Sara. (2016). Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream . Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.

Goldrick-Rab, S. [TEDx Talks]. (2019, July 1st). College is Creating Poverty [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSqW43aTuRM

Goldrick-Rab, S. (2018, January 14th). It’s hard to study if you’re hungry. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/14/opinion/hunger-college-food-insecurity.html

Goldrick-Rab, S., Baker-Smith, C., Coca, V., Looker, E., & Williams, T. (2019, April). College and University Basic Needs Insecurity: A National #RealCollege Survey Report [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://hope4college.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/HOPE_realcollege_National_report_digital.pdf

Stommel, J. (2019). Building an Inclusive Campus Climate [SlideShare slides]. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/jessestommel/building-an-inclusive-campus

Stommel, J. (2015, December 16th). Dear Student [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.jessestommel.com/dear-student/

Power and Privilege References

Bali, Maha. (n.d.). Critical Pedagogy [Blog post category]. Retrieved from https://blog.mahabali.me/category/pedagogy/critical-pedagogy/

Moon, A., Stanford, C., Cole, R., Towns, M. (2017). Decentering: A Characteristic of Effective Student–Student Discourse in Inquiry-Oriented Physical Chemistry Classrooms. J. Chem. Educ., 94(7), 829-836. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.6b00856

Tow, D. (2017, October 11th). Why I don’t have classroom rules. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/why-i-dont-have-classroom-rules

Spelic, Sherri. (2016, September 2nd). The Digital Pedagogy Lab 2016 Institute: An Aftermath in the Future Tense [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.digitalpedagogylab.com/digital-pedagogy-lab-2016-institute-aftermath-future-tense/

Extra Resources for Critical Pedagogy

Cangialosi, K. (2018, June 26th). But you can’t do that in a STEM Course! Hybrid Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://hybridpedagogy.org/do-in-a-stem-course/

Friere, P. (1970/2018). Pedagogy of the Oppressed (50th Anniversary Edition). New York City, NY: Continuum.

Giroux, Henry A. (1988). Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning . South Hadley, MA: Bergin Garvey.

hooks, bell. (1994). Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom .  New York City, NY: Routledge.

Stommel, J. & Micheal Morris, S. (2018). An Urgency of Teachers: the Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy. Hybrid Pedagogy, Inc

All comments must abide by the ChemEd X Comment Policy , are subject to review, and may be edited. Please allow one business day for your comment to be posted, if it is accepted.

Meeting the curricular requirements in critical pedagogy.

Thank you for the great post; I found it very informative and educational!

I have a quick question: You mention "...ceding our authority, to students so they have choices in their own learning."  How do you make sure the school curricular requirements are met?  Is this something you keep your eye on so that the students cover the required content material?

Student power amidst set curriculum

Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh's picture

If I understand your question correctly, Byungmoon, you are wondering how to let students have power in the midst of set curriculum. And here's my question(s) - the curriculum is set, but is the way you cover it set? Is every way you assess it set?

There are lots of ways to give students agency over their own learning, including something as simple as letting them choose what is covered first or letting them choose how to cover a certain section or letting them generate the questions they'd like to answer on their assessment. Ceding authority doesn't mean giving up all of the power in the classroom. It means giving students more than they have now.

Does that make sense?

Community of learners model of teaching

Thank you for the reply, yes, it does make sense!

I have recently come across a model of teaching put forward by B. Rogoff known as the "community of learners" model ( http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.467.1369&rep=rep1&type=pdf ).  In this approach, the participation of and corporation between the students are maximally encouraged.  It posits that learning is achieved in the process of ]"transformation by participation".  It claims it resides neither the "adult-run" (purely transmissive) nor "children-run" (purely acquisition) paradigm but in the realm where adults and children learn together which adults (including the teacher) playing a role, not as an authority of knowledge but as someone to guide towards knowledge.

I am really curious about what your thoughts on this type of teaching/learning.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Award-Winning!

Thinking Classrooms: How To Promote Critical Thinking In Class

The Thinking Classroom is an approach to teaching that prioritizes the development of students’ critical thinking skills. In this type of classroom, the teacher acts as a facilitator rather than a traditional lecturer. Students are encouraged to actively engage with the material and collaborate with their peers.

The key to a Thinking Classroom is to focus on the process of learning rather than simply the acquisition of knowledge. This means that teachers must create opportunities for students to think critically, solve problems, and reflect on their learning.

We’ve rounded up the 14 practices of a Thinking Classroom below. 

thinking classroom

What are the 14 Practices of a Thinking Classroom?

The fourteen principles of a Thinking Classroom are designed to promote a classroom environment that encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. 

Here’s a summary of each principle to help teachers create an engaging and effective learning environment:

1. Classroom Culture of Thinking

Create a classroom culture that values thinking, learning, and intellectual development. Start with thinking tasks that are separate from your curriculum. This eases the transition to everyday thinking classroom activities. It’s hard for students to think deeper and for longer periods, so this transition should be gradual. You can start with non-curricular tasks as an ice breaker at the beginning of the school year.

2. Opportunities to Think in Groups

Provide opportunities for students to think and engage in meaningful group learning experiences. The Thinking Classroom practices emphasize “visibly random groups” that change frequently. This reduces social anxiety in the group and decreases communication barriers. 

3. Vertical and Non-permanant Workspaces

You may have noticed that the traditional method of having students sit at their desks and take notes is only sometimes the best way to promote active thinking in your classroom. Recent research has shown that students are more engaged and productive when standing and working on vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPSs) like whiteboards, blackboards, or windows. The fact that the surface is non-permanent encourages risk-taking and experimentation, while the vertical orientation prevents students from disengaging. 

4. Room Layout

Research has shown that traditional, front-facing classrooms promote passive learning. At the same time, a more flexible, de-fronted setup—where students are free to face any direction—can be much more effective in promoting active thinking and engagement. So when designing your classroom layout, it’s essential to consider how the physical space can support the learning you want to see.

5. Answer Questions that Promote Thinking

You answer hundreds of questions each day in class. But not all of the questions encourage your students to keep thinking. Here are the common types:

  • Proximity questions: Questions students ask because you’re close by and convenient.
  • Stop-thinking questions: Questions students ask so they can mark a task complete. (i.e., Is this right?)
  • Keep-thinking questions: Questions that help them along, so they can continue working through a task.

Answer only questions that keep students thinking.

6. Give Tasks in the Right Manner

Give tasks early in class while students are standing around a teacher. Give verbal tasks, and avoid visual cues that promote passive learning. This differs from the traditional manner of giving examples from the textbook or a worksheet.  

7. Homework

Stop giving homework and instead give students opportunities to check their understanding. Make it optional so students can freely engage with authentic practice. 

8. Promote Student Autonomy

As step 5 outlines, don’t solve problems for students. Let them struggle so they build confidence in their independence. This may mean asking a peer for help or looking around the room for a hint. When students are on their own, they take ownership of their learning. 

9. Give Support So Students Can Learn at Their Own Pace

Encourage students to learn at their own pace by creating hints, extensions, and practice that meets them where they are in their learning. This is different from the typical guided practice that occurs in most classrooms. 

10. Consolidate Lessons

Consolidation is crucial to help students combine different parts of a task or activity and ultimately form a more comprehensive understanding of the concept taught. Traditionally, teachers have relied on methods like showing, telling, or explaining to help students achieve their learning objectives.

In a thinking classroom, consolidation takes a different approach. Instead of relying on teacher-led instruction, consolidation works upward from the basic foundation of a concept. By drawing on the student work produced during their thinking on a common set of tasks, teachers can help students develop a deeper understanding of the concept.

To facilitate this process, teachers should provide open-ended questions, encourage peer-to-peer discussions, or engage in activities that allow students to explore and experiment with the concept taught.

11. Give Students Autonomy Over Notes

Only one in five students review their notes again after taking them in class. Give students the option of choosing which notes to take while learning. They are more likely to refer back to notes later.

12. Evaluate Values That Matter Most

If you want your students to participate, take risks, and persevere in the classroom, you should incorporate these values into evaluations. Assessment should go beyond curriculum knowledge. 

13. Bring Students into Formative Assessment

Your students need to understand where they are and where they need to be with their learning. This means that they need to be a partner in formative assessment . Like students taking the lead over homework, they need to take the lead on owning their success in formative assessment. 

14. Assessment Needs to Connect to an Outcome

Use assessments that measure and value thinking and understanding, not just rote memorization. This may look like standards-based grading. Students need to understand what they know and don’t know after they complete an assessment.

By implementing these principles, teachers can create a dynamic and engaging classroom that promotes deep learning and helps students develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

TeacherMade helps teachers infuse technology into their Thinking Classrooms.

TeacherMade does more than convert PDFs into online activities. Teachers use TeacherMade to promote critical thinking skills. You can incorporate the Thinking Classroom practices with TeacherMade:

  • Every TeacherMade assignment is a non-permanent surface. Students can complete assignments again and again until they have reached mastery. 
  • Create a culture of practice rather than homework and worksheets. With TeacherMade, you can choose to grade or not grade assignments. Students can complete practice as many times as they need.
  • TeacherMade supports asynchronous learning so that students can learn at their own pace.
  • Students are more involved with formative assessment when they receive instant feedback via auto-grading. 
  • You can leave feedback, hints, and notes so that students fully understand their assessment results.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

© 2024 All Rights Reserved.

Classroom Management Expert

Introducing TeachCatalystAI

TeachCatalystAI is a professional teaching assistant tool designed to help teachers create lesson plan, teaching materials, and many more with ease. Our AI-powered tool will help you streamline your classroom management, making it easier to keep track of students, assignments, and behavior. Our AI-powered tools and templates are great and configured to make you effective in teaching.

How to Teach and Develop Critical Thinking of Your Students in the Classroom

fostering critical thinking skills

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Teaching critical thinking skills to students is like planting the seeds of inquiry to help them develop analytical minds. It is essential to foster these skills amidst the overwhelming amount of information available today. Picture a classroom where students are not just absorbing facts but actively engaging in constructing their own knowledge of the world.

By incorporating activities like role-playing, Socratic questioning, and analyzing visual media, students can start to untangle the complexities of critical thinking. To further guide them on this journey of intellectual exploration, educators can provide support and encouragement in applying these skills to real-life situations and problems.

It is through this hands-on approach that students can truly enhance their critical thinking abilities and become independent thinkers.

Examples of critical thinking activities in the classroom

critical thinking in education

In my classroom, I like to engage students in activities that promote critical thinking. Role-playing helps students think in new ways, while using Socratic questioning encourages them to analyze more deeply.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

By examining visual advertisements, debating current events, and participating in mind mapping exercises, students can develop their critical thinking skills effectively.

These activities not only foster creativity but also enhance students’ abilities to think critically and solve problems.

Role-Play Scenarios

Engaging students in role-play scenarios is a great way to help them think critically. Role-play simulations let students explore different perspectives and situations, pushing them to analyze and solve problems in a dynamic setting.

Here are four ways role-play scenarios can enhance critical thinking skills:

  • Real-World Application : By applying what they learn in class to real-life situations, students can see how theory connects to practice.
  • Decision Making : Role-play encourages students to make choices based on the information at hand, which helps develop their analytical thinking skills.
  • Collaboration : Working together in role-play scenarios fosters teamwork and improves communication skills as students navigate challenges as a group.
  • Creativity : Role-play pushes students to think creatively by exploring different solutions and outcomes, sparking their imagination.

Socratic Questioning Techniques

Implementing Socratic Questioning Techniques in the classroom is a practical and effective approach to fostering critical thinking skills in elementary and high school students. By incorporating inquiry-based learning methods, students are prompted to delve deeply into topics through thought-provoking inquiries. This technique stimulates critical analysis as students learn to assess information, explore various viewpoints, and express their ideas clearly.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Through the use of Socratic questioning, students enhance their problem-solving abilities by participating in conversations that challenge assumptions and promote logical reasoning. These interactive sessions not only enhance critical thinking but also aid in cognitive development by facilitating a profound comprehension of intricate concepts.

Analyzing Visual Advertisements

Studying visual advertisements in class is a great way to help elementary and high school students develop critical thinking skills. When students analyze ads, they learn to question, evaluate, and understand the messages in images.

By breaking down ads, students go beyond the surface to consider who the ads are targeting, what persuasive techniques are used, and any biases present. This process encourages students to think critically about how media influences society and helps them become savvy consumers of information.

Debating Current Events

Discussing current events in class helps elementary and high school students improve their critical thinking skills by analyzing, questioning, and evaluating real-world issues. Engaging in these discussions enables students to exercise critical thinking through debates.

By exploring different viewpoints on a subject, students can enhance their comprehension and broaden their perspectives. Through debates, students grasp the significance of evaluating arguments and substantiating their points with evidence and logic.

How to Handle a Student Who Sleeps in Class

Teachers play a vital role in guiding students to form well-informed opinions by considering diverse perspectives and assessing the soundness of arguments presented. These classroom debates not only enhance critical thinking but also encourage active involvement with the world around them.

Mind Mapping Exercises

In my elementary and high school classroom, I often use mind mapping exercises to enhance critical thinking skills in students.

These exercises involve brainstorming strategies to encourage free idea generation, visual mapping techniques using colors and images to help organize information, interactive group activities to promote collaboration, critical analysis tasks to evaluate information and form opinions, and problem-solving challenges that require analytical thinking and collaborative solutions.

Evaluating Online Sources

When I teach my students about critical thinking, I also emphasize the need to assess online sources for accuracy and credibility. We talk about checking if the author is knowledgeable in the subject and if the information is backed by reliable sources.

Fact-checking becomes an engaging activity where students verify details from multiple sources to ensure they’re correct. It’s crucial to be aware of any personal, political, or commercial biases that might affect the information presented.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Researching online then becomes like a treasure hunt as we sift through different sources to find trustworthy information. We wrap up our lesson by highlighting the significance of relying on information that’s credible and dependable.

Creating Decision Matrices

When you create decision matrices in the classroom, you help students analyze options systematically, which boosts their critical thinking skills through hands-on practice. To conduct effective decision matrix activities, consider the following key aspects:

  • Decision-Making Strategies : Encourage students to lay out clear steps for decision-making within the matrix. This helps them structure their thought process and approach the problem methodically.
  • Critical Analysis : Prompt students to assess the significance and relevance of each criterion in the decision-making process. By evaluating these factors, students can make more informed and thoughtful decisions.
  • Problem-Solving Techniques : Teach students how to accurately identify and define the problem before filling in the matrix. This foundational step ensures that the criteria and options align with the actual issue at hand.
  • Logical Reasoning : Guide students in employing logical connections between criteria and options to make well-founded decisions. By emphasizing logical reasoning, students learn to make decisions based on sound judgment and analysis.

Solving Real-Life Problems

Incorporating real-life problem-solving scenarios into elementary and high school classrooms helps students develop critical thinking skills and apply their learning practically. By presenting case studies that require problem-solving, critical analysis, and decision-making, students can use their knowledge in real-world situations.

These activities encourage students to think critically, assess evidence, consider different viewpoints, and make informed choices. This approach deepens their understanding of the subject matter and its relevance to the world.

Engaging students in real-life problem-solving not only enhances their critical thinking abilities but also equips them to tackle challenges and make sound decisions in their future pursuits.

Reflective Journal Writing

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Reflective journal writing is a valuable tool for helping elementary and high school students develop critical thinking skills. By engaging in reflective writing, students can analyze their thoughts, participate actively in class discussions, and deepen their understanding of various topics. Here are some ways in which reflective journal writing can enhance critical thinking skills:

  • Writing Prompts : Giving students specific prompts helps them delve deeply into different subjects and encourages critical thinking.
  • Thoughtful Analysis : By prompting students to analyze their own thoughts and ideas, reflective journal writing fosters a more profound comprehension of the material.
  • Classroom Discussions : Using journal entries as a springboard for classroom conversations allows students to share and debate ideas, honing their critical thinking abilities.
  • Self-Awareness Exercises : Reflective journal writing aids students in developing self-awareness and gaining insight into their own cognitive processes, which is crucial for critical thinking development.

Peer Feedback Sessions

Peer feedback sessions are a valuable tool for promoting critical thinking skills among elementary and high school students. By engaging in peer critique, students can provide constructive feedback to their classmates, fostering a culture of respect and growth.

Group analysis enables students to collaboratively evaluate each other’s work, encouraging diverse perspectives and stimulating critical discussions. Through collaborative assessment, students learn to work together to assess projects or assignments, promoting teamwork and development of analytical skills.

Additionally, team reflection allows students to reflect on their own work as well as their peers’, enhancing their ability to think critically about different viewpoints. Partner evaluation further encourages students to explore alternative approaches and strengthen their reasoning abilities through thoughtful assessment of their peers’ work.

These peer feedback sessions not only enhance students’ critical thinking skills but also promote a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Ways to Deal With Students Who Don't Care about Anything

Introducing collaborative problem-solving activities in the classroom is a powerful way to enhance students’ critical thinking skills through hands-on participation and teamwork. Here are some effective strategies to implement:

  • Group brainstorming : Encourage students to share their ideas and build upon each other’s thoughts to collectively solve problems. This fosters creativity and encourages active participation from all group members.
  • Team problem-solving : Assign tasks that require students to collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths to find innovative solutions. This approach promotes cooperation and communication among team members.
  • Cooperative learning : Create a supportive environment where students work together, rely on one another, and strive towards common objectives. This not only enhances critical thinking but also cultivates important social skills.
  • Collective decision-making : Engage students in discussions where they consider various perspectives before reaching a consensus as a group. This helps students learn to appreciate different viewpoints and make informed decisions collaboratively.

Practical ways to teach and develop critical thinking of your students in the classroom

teaching critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is the ability to question, analyze perspectives, and solve problems.

To help students develop this skill, it’s essential to encourage questioning and open-mindedness.

By engaging students in problem-solving activities, they can practice and apply critical thinking in practical ways.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

This approach nurtures their ability to think critically and enhances their problem-solving skills, preparing them for success in academics and beyond.

Define Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a crucial skill for students as it involves analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information effectively. It’s essential for cognitive growth and preparing students for future challenges. To teach and enhance critical thinking skills in elementary and high school students, educators should focus on the following aspects:

  • Critical Thinking Strategies : Teachers should introduce various methods to help students think critically, such as problem-solving techniques and logical reasoning.
  • Classroom Applications : It’s important to demonstrate how critical thinking can be applied across different subjects, showing students the practical relevance of this skill in real-world scenarios.
  • Student Engagement : Creating an interactive and collaborative learning environment encourages active participation and discussion, fostering critical thinking skills through peer interactions.
  • Analytical Skills Development : Emphasizing the development of students’ abilities to assess information critically equips them with the tools needed to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.

Encourage Questioning Skills

Encouraging students to ask questions is essential for developing their critical thinking skills. By fostering a classroom environment that values curiosity and inquiry, educators can help students think deeply and reflect on various topics.

Using inquiry-based learning methods can prompt students to ask meaningful questions, explore different viewpoints, and participate in analytical discussions. Teaching effective questioning strategies can ignite students’ curiosity and enhance their understanding of the subjects they’re studying.

Foster Open-Mindedness

In the classroom, fostering open-mindedness in students is crucial for developing their critical thinking skills. When educators promote open-mindedness, they help students embrace diverse perspectives, improve their analytical abilities, and encourage inquiry-based learning.

active learning in education

Here are four practical strategies to cultivate open-mindedness in students:

  • Promote Respect : Encourage students to respect different viewpoints to create a safe environment for discussion and learning.
  • Encourage Exploration : Inspire students to explore new ideas and perspectives, fostering a sense of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge.
  • Challenge Assumptions : Teach students to question their own beliefs and assumptions, promoting self-reflection and personal growth.
  • Provide Exposure : Introduce students to a variety of sources and materials to broaden their understanding of different viewpoints and experiences.

Analyze Multiple Perspectives

Incorporating multiple perspectives into classroom discussions challenges students to think critically and gain a broader understanding of complex issues. When students compare different viewpoints, they can see various angles on a topic, while contrasting perspectives help them identify significant differences.

Analyzing arguments enables students to break down the reasoning behind each perspective, empowering them to effectively critique opinions. Through evaluating beliefs, students can assess the strengths and weaknesses of different viewpoints, leading to a deeper comprehension of the subject matter.

Encouraging students to participate in these activities not only enhances their critical thinking skills but also promotes empathy and understanding towards others’ opinions, fostering a more inclusive and thoughtful learning environment.

Practice Problem-Solving Activities

When teaching critical thinking to elementary and high school students, it’s essential to engage them in practical problem-solving activities to enhance their analytical skills effectively. Incorporating these activities in the classroom can be done through various approaches:

  • Encourage students to think creatively and work together by organizing brainstorming exercises and problem-solving challenges.
  • Foster reasoning skills and logical thinking in a fun way by introducing critical thinking games and analytical puzzles.
  • Provide real-world scenarios for analysis and solution by implementing inquiry-based learning and decision-making simulations.
  • Push students to explore diverse solutions and assess their effectiveness through creative problem-solving tasks and logical reasoning activities.

Engage in Debates

13 Tips For Managing Classroom Transitions

Engaging students in debates is a powerful way to enhance their critical thinking skills in elementary and high school. By analyzing arguments, students learn to evaluate different perspectives and develop a deeper understanding of complex issues.

Exploring opposing viewpoints helps them cultivate empathy and broaden their perspective. Research skills are sharpened during debate preparation as students gather evidence to support their arguments. They naturally start questioning ideas and evidence presented, strengthening their ability to think critically.

When students are exposed to conflicting viewpoints, they’re challenged to articulate and defend their positions thoughtfully. Participation in debates not only improves critical thinking but also nurtures essential communication and analytical skills crucial for academic and personal development.

Stimulate Creativity and Curiosity

In elementary and high school classrooms, sparking creativity and curiosity plays a vital role in developing students’ critical thinking abilities. To accomplish this, I implement various effective strategies:

  • Brainstorming Sessions: I encourage students to freely generate ideas, fostering their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Creative Challenges: By presenting students with unique and open-ended tasks, I challenge their creativity and encourage them to think innovatively.
  • Inquiry-Based Learning: Engaging students in hands-on investigations and research projects stimulates their curiosity and prompts them to ask insightful questions.
  • Discovery Activities: Providing opportunities for students to explore new topics and interests expands their knowledge and nurtures a passion for learning.

Evaluate Sources and Information

In the classroom, igniting creativity and curiosity lays the groundwork for teaching students how to assess sources and information critically. I stress the importance of checking the credibility of sources by prompting students to consider the author’s expertise and any potential biases.

How to be firm in your classroom

Evaluating information involves teaching students to question the accuracy and reliability of the content they come across. Through engaging activities, students are encouraged to delve deeper into the material, spotting logical fallacies and inconsistencies to enhance their critical thinking skills.

Fact-checking becomes a habit as students learn to verify information before accepting it as true. By engaging in research validation exercises, students develop the ability to differentiate between trustworthy sources and unreliable ones, cultivating a habit of seeking out reliable information.

Develop Decision-Making Skills

Incorporating real-life scenarios and role-playing activities effectively helps students develop decision-making skills, boosting their critical thinking abilities in elementary and high school settings. Students engage in various activities such as:

  • Case studies : Students analyze real or hypothetical situations to make decisions based on available information.
  • Group projects : Collaborative projects encourage peer discussion to reach a consensus or make collective decisions.
  • Ethical dilemmas : Students confront moral challenges, prompting them to consider ethical principles in decision-making.
  • Critical analysis : Students evaluate diverse perspectives and information to make well-informed decisions.
  • Problem-solving simulations : Students tackle scenarios that require critical thinking to find effective solutions.

These activities not only enhance decision-making skills but also foster a deeper understanding of complex issues and promote teamwork among students.

Utilize Real-World Scenarios

Incorporating real-world scenarios into elementary and high school classrooms is crucial for enhancing students’ critical thinking skills. By presenting practical challenges that mirror everyday dilemmas, students are encouraged to think critically, analyze situations, and hone their problem-solving abilities.

13 Tips to Learn And Remember Students' Names

These real-life scenarios prompt students to assess information, consider various viewpoints, and make well-grounded decisions. Through engaging in problem-solving tasks based on authentic situations, students not only enhance their critical thinking skills but also prepare themselves for applying these skills beyond the classroom.

Encourage Collaborative Discussions

Engaging students in collaborative discussions is a vital way to enhance critical thinking skills in elementary and high school classrooms. Through group activities like brainstorming and critical analysis, students can explore diverse perspectives and sharpen their analytical abilities.

Peer-led debates and problem-solving tasks help students develop the skills to think critically, assess evidence, and communicate effectively. Working together on collaborative projects encourages deep thinking as students tackle complex problems and explore a variety of ideas.

Interactive discussions challenge students to express their thoughts clearly and engage thoughtfully with their peers, promoting analytical thinking. Team-based challenges, paired with reflective questions, push students to critically analyze information and make well-informed decisions.

Enhance Logical Reasoning Abilities

Improving students’ logical reasoning skills in the classroom involves helping them analyze patterns, make connections, and draw well-founded conclusions based on evidence. To foster this development, I incorporate a range of activities designed to challenge their critical thinking abilities.

Classroom Management Tips for Substitute Teachers

One way I enhance logical reasoning is by presenting students with real-life ethical dilemmas that require them to think critically and consider different perspectives. These challenges encourage them to weigh options, evaluate consequences, and make informed decisions.

In addition, I incorporate logical reasoning games like Sudoku puzzles to engage students in problem-solving tasks that require them to apply deductive reasoning and strategic thinking. These games help sharpen their analytical skills and enhance their ability to recognize patterns and make logical deductions.

Furthermore, I include analytical thinking tasks such as dissecting arguments to help students evaluate the validity of statements and identify logical fallacies. By analyzing the structure of arguments and evidence presented, students learn to construct sound reasoning and draw well-supported conclusions.

Moreover, I introduce problem-solving puzzles inspired by escape room scenarios to immerse students in interactive challenges that demand teamwork, creative thinking, and logical problem-solving. These activities encourage students to think critically, collaborate effectively, and apply logical reasoning to overcome obstacles.

Lastly, I incorporate creative thinking exercises like brainstorming innovative ideas to inspire students to think outside the box and explore creative solutions to complex problems. By encouraging divergent thinking and fostering creativity, students develop a well-rounded approach to logical reasoning that incorporates innovative thinking.

Integrate Technology Tools

15 Importance of Student Interaction in the Classroom

Integrating technology tools in the classroom is a practical way to enhance critical thinking skills in elementary and high school students. By using digital resources, students can strengthen their analytical thinking.

Online platforms offer interactive activities that challenge students to develop problem-solving abilities. Virtual tools create a dynamic learning environment where students can engage with diverse educational materials, fostering cognitive growth.

Through the use of technology applications, students are prompted to think critically while tackling tasks and solving problems, thereby enhancing their reasoning skills. Embracing technology integration enriches the learning journey and equips students with vital skills for navigating an increasingly digital landscape.

Promote Active Listening Skills

Fostering active listening skills is crucial for developing critical thinking abilities in elementary and high school students. When students actively participate in discussions, they practice listening attentively, a skill essential for critical analysis.

Engaging in meaningful conversations and asking open-ended questions can help students enhance their critical thinking capabilities. In a classroom environment that encourages interactive discussions, students can share their perspectives and gain insights from their peers.

promoting learning culture in class

Encouraging thoughtful responses to inquiries and prompts further refines their critical thinking skills. Through active listening, students not only improve their communication abilities but also learn to consider different viewpoints, which enhances their problem-solving and decision-making approaches.

Emphasize Importance of Evidence

Understanding the value of evidence plays a crucial role in nurturing critical thinking skills among elementary and high school students. To effectively convey the significance of evidence, I emphasize the following key points:

  • Examining Evidence : I encourage students to critically evaluate sources to determine their reliability and relevance to the topic at hand.
  • Questioning and Analyzing : By teaching students how to question and analyze information effectively, they learn to distinguish between credible and questionable sources.
  • Drawing Inferences : Guiding students in logical deduction helps them draw sound conclusions based on the evidence presented, fostering their ability to make informed decisions.
  • Logical Thinking : By fostering rational thinking skills, students develop the capacity to think logically, assess information objectively, and arrive at well-founded conclusions. This enables them to navigate complex issues with clarity and coherence.

Teach Reflection Techniques

Reflective thinking is a powerful tool to enhance students’ critical thinking skills in the classroom. By incorporating techniques like keeping a reflective journal, using Socratic questioning, and creating mind maps, educators can help students deepen their understanding and problem-solving abilities.

For instance, students can write in a journal about a challenging problem they solved, explain their reasoning through Socratic questioning, or visually map out their thought processes for better organization and clarity. These techniques foster a culture of critical thinking, encouraging self-awareness, growth, and confidence in approaching academic challenges.

Provide Constructive Feedback

In the elementary and high school classroom, it’s crucial to provide constructive feedback to help students enhance their critical thinking skills. Here are some effective ways to do so:

  • Peer Feedback : Encourage students to give constructive feedback to their classmates on assignments and class discussions. This peer critique helps students learn from each other and improve their critical thinking abilities.
  • In-Class Guidance : During classroom activities, offer specific and actionable feedback to steer students in the right direction when it comes to critical thinking. This real-time feedback can help them understand and apply critical thinking concepts effectively.
  • Self-Evaluation : Involve students in self-assessment activities where they reflect on their critical thinking processes. By evaluating their own work, students can identify areas for improvement and develop a deeper understanding of critical thinking strategies.
  • Balanced Feedback : When providing feedback, focus on both areas that need improvement and strengths to motivate students. By acknowledging their strengths and offering constructive criticism, students are encouraged to work on enhancing their critical thinking skills effectively.

Strategies to Handle the Overachieving Students in Your Classroom

Teaching critical thinking skills to students is essential for their development. By incorporating interactive activities and encouraging meaningful discussions, educators can nurture this crucial ability.

Stay tuned for more valuable tips and effective strategies to foster critical thinking in the classroom.

About the author

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Latest Posts

21 Simple Ways You Can Help Students Pay Attention

21 Simple Ways You Can Help Students Pay Attention

In the classroom, using engaging visuals can help students stay focused. While interactive tools and clear expectations are effective ways to boost engagement, there are other less obvious techniques that can make a big impact on student attention. Let’s discuss some overlooked strategies that could be the key to enhancing students’ focus in our learning…

How to Teach and Develop Critical Thinking of Your Students in the Classroom

Teaching critical thinking skills to students is like planting the seeds of inquiry to help them develop analytical minds. It is essential to foster these skills amidst the overwhelming amount of information available today. Picture a classroom where students are not just absorbing facts but actively engaging in constructing their own knowledge of the world.…

35 Fun Classroom Activities to Keep Students Engaged

35 Fun Classroom Activities to Keep Students Engaged

The fun classroom activities to keep students engaged in your classroom are designed to spark creativity and foster a love for learning. From interactive games to hands-on experiments, these activities cater to diverse learning styles and interests. By incorporating engaging activities into your lesson plans, you can create a dynamic and stimulating learning environment that…

The Edvocate

  • Lynch Educational Consulting
  • Dr. Lynch’s Personal Website
  • Write For Us
  • The Tech Edvocate Product Guide
  • The Edvocate Podcast
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy
  • Assistive Technology
  • Best PreK-12 Schools in America
  • Child Development
  • Classroom Management
  • Early Childhood
  • EdTech & Innovation
  • Education Leadership
  • First Year Teachers
  • Gifted and Talented Education
  • Special Education
  • Parental Involvement
  • Policy & Reform
  • Best Colleges and Universities
  • Best College and University Programs
  • HBCU’s
  • Higher Education EdTech
  • Higher Education
  • International Education
  • The Awards Process
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2022 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2021 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2020 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2019 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2018 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Finalists and Winners of The 2017 Tech Edvocate Awards
  • Award Seals
  • GPA Calculator for College
  • GPA Calculator for High School
  • Cumulative GPA Calculator
  • Grade Calculator
  • Weighted Grade Calculator
  • Final Grade Calculator
  • The Tech Edvocate
  • AI Powered Personal Tutor

Should Good Readers Be Taught Reading Strategies?

What are suprasegmentals, inferential thinking to make conclusions, what are vowels and diphthongs, what are diacritics, what is childhood dysarthria, interpreting what teachers say about your child, what is childhood apraxia of speech (cas), getting involved: how to build a good relationship with your child’s teacher, what is phonological impairment, how to implement critical pedagogy into your classroom.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Critical pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression. It is rooted in critical theory , which involves becoming aware of and questioning the societal status quo. In critical pedagogy, a teacher uses his or her own enlightenment to encourage students to question and challenge inequalities that exist in families, schools, and societies.

This educational philosophy is considered progressive and even radical by some because of the way it critiques structures that are often taken for granted. If this is an approach that sounds like it is right for you and your students, keep reading. The following five steps can help you concretely implement critical pedagogy into your classroom.

  • Challenge yourself. If you are not thinking critically and challenging social structures, you cannot expect your students to do it! Educate yourself using materials that question the common social narrative. For example, if you are a history teacher, immerse yourself in scholars who note the character flaws or problematic structures that allowed many well-known historical figures to be successful. Or, perhaps, read about why their “successes” were not really all that successful when considered in a different light. Critical theory is all about challenging the dominant social structures and the narratives that society has made most familiar. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to help enlighten your students. Here are some good resources to get you started.
  • Change the classroom dynamic. Critical pedagogy is all about challenging power structures, but one of the most common power dynamics in a student’s life is that of the teacher-student relationship. Challenge that! One concrete way to do this is by changing your classroom layout . Rather than having students sit in rows facing you, set up the desks so that they are facing each other in a semicircle or circle. This allows for better conversation in the classroom. You can also try sitting while leading discussions instead of standing. This posture puts you in the same position as the students and levels the student-teacher power dynamic. It is also a good idea, in general, to move from a lecture-based class where an all-wise teacher generously gives knowledge to humble students to a discussion-based class that allows students to think critically and draw their own conclusions.
  • Present alternative views. In step 1, you, the teacher had to encounter views that were contrary to the dominant narrative. Now, present these views to your class alongside the traditional ones. Have them discuss both and encourage them to draw their own conclusions. If a student presents a viewpoint, encourage him or her to dig further. Asking questions like “why do you believe that?” or “why is that a good thing” will encourage students to challenge their own beliefs, break free of damaging social narratives, and think independently.
  • Change your assessments. Traditional assessment structures, like traditional power structures, can be confining. You don’t have to use them ! Make sure that your assessments are not about finding the right answer, but are instead about critical thinking skills. Make sure students are not just doing what they think they need to do to get a particular grade. You can do this by encouraging students to discuss and write and by focusing on the ideas presented above presentation style.
  • Encourage activism. There is a somewhat cyclic nature to critical pedagogy. After educating yourself, you encourage students to think critically, and they, in turn, take their newfound enlightenment into their families and communities.  You can do this by telling your students about opportunities in their community where they can combat oppression, like marches, demonstrations, and organizations. You can help students to start clubs that focus on bringing a voice to the marginalized. You can even encourage students to talk about patterns of power and oppression with their family and peers.

Concluding thoughts

Obviously, implementing critical pedagogy will look different in different subjects, and what works for one class may not work for another. For example, a history teacher may challenge an event that is traditionally seen as progressive, while a literature teacher may question a common cultural stereotype found in a book. A science teacher, on the other hand, may encourage students to look at the impact of scientific discoveries on marginalized groups. Often, this will involve finding common bonds between subjects as the critical approach is not confined to only one area of education and culture.

How have you implemented critical pedagogy in your classroom? What strategies have you found effective? Let us know by commenting below!

How to Support Without Hovering: Avoiding Helicopter ...

Why you don’t need a traditional college ....

' src=

Matthew Lynch

Related articles more from author.

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

How to Implement the Contracting Behavioral Strategy in Your Classroom

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

22 Strategies to Teach Students Not to Bring Inappropriate Items to School

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Essential Strategies for Inclusive Teaching

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

24 Hacks to Prevent Kids From Wandering Around the Classroom Needlessly

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

8 Truths About Teaching Writing to Middle Schoolers

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

The First Year Teaching: Taking your first year evaluation seriously

eLearningInside.com: Engaging, transformative videos, podcasts, news stories for the e-Learning, EdTech community

  • All Articles
  • Education Technology
  • Industry News
  • Op-Ed Submission Guidelines
  • Write For Us

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

How to Promote Critical Thinking in the Classroom

By elearning inside, february 05, 2024.

Promoting critical thinking is an essential goal in education, equipping students with problem-solving skills that extend beyond the classroom. In this article, we’ll explore practical strategies for teachers and schools to foster critical thinking among students.

Fostering a Growth Mindset

Encouraging a growth mindset is fundamental to promoting critical thinking. Teachers can cultivate this mindset by praising effort rather than innate abilities.

When students understand that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, they are more likely to embrace challenges and think critically to overcome obstacles.

Questioning Techniques

One of the most effective ways to promote critical thinking is through questioning. Teachers can employ various questioning techniques to stimulate thought, such as Socratic questioning.

By asking open-ended questions that require students to think deeply, analyze, and evaluate, teachers can guide students to explore complex issues and construct well-reasoned responses.

Real-World Problem Solving

Incorporating real-world problem-solving scenarios into the curriculum can provide students with practical opportunities to apply critical thinking. These problems can range from scientific experiments to ethical dilemmas, encouraging students to assess situations, weigh evidence, and make informed decisions.

Encouraging group collaboration on these tasks can further enhance critical thinking by promoting different perspectives and solutions.

Creating a Physical Environment that Supports Critical Thinking

Classroom design and furniture also play a role in promoting critical thinking. A flexible classroom setup allows for collaborative learning and group discussions, encouraging students to engage in critical dialogue.

By providing comfortable seating options and ensuring that the classroom layout is adaptable, teachers can foster a more dynamic learning environment conducive to critical thinking.

Encouraging Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking is a vital component of critical thinking, as it involves generating multiple solutions to a problem. Teachers can encourage this by using brainstorming techniques, mind maps, or role-playing exercises.

By allowing students to explore various angles and creative solutions, educators nurture their capacity for innovative problem-solving.

Analyzing Multiple Perspectives

Critical thinking is not limited to one perspective; it involves considering multiple viewpoints. Teachers can introduce debates, case studies, or simulations where students must analyze and argue from different angles.

Encouraging students to appreciate different viewpoints and make informed judgments fosters a more well-rounded and critical thinker.

Scaffolding Critical Thinking

To ensure that students of all ages can develop critical thinking skills, educators can scaffold the learning process. This involves providing support and gradually increasing the complexity of tasks.

For instance, younger students may begin by identifying problems, while older students progress to proposing solutions and evaluating their effectiveness.

Metacognition and Self-Reflection

Metacognition is the practice of thinking about thinking. It encourages students to assess their thought processes and strategies. Teachers can promote metacognition by encouraging students to self-reflect on their learning experiences.

When students consider how they approach problems and what strategies work best for them, they can refine their critical thinking skills.

Interdisciplinary Learning

Breaking down the barriers between subjects can also promote critical thinking. Interdisciplinary learning allows students to make connections between different fields of knowledge, encouraging them to draw on a wider range of information and skills to address problems.

Teachers can collaborate to create lesson plans that bridge the gaps between subjects, promoting a more holistic approach to critical thinking.

Feedback and Assessment

Effective feedback and assessment play a significant role in promoting critical thinking. Constructive feedback helps students understand where they can improve and refine their thinking.

Moreover, formative assessment strategies can help educators gauge students’ critical thinking abilities and adjust their teaching accordingly.

In summary, cultivating critical thinking within educational settings is a complex task that necessitates fostering a growth mentality, utilizing efficient questioning methods, advocating for real-life problem resolution, and supporting diverse thought processes.

Moreover, it entails emphasizing metacognition, appreciating numerous viewpoints, integrating interdisciplinary education, and offering evaluation and feedback. By adopting these pragmatic strategies, teachers can enable students to develop critical thinking skills, equipping them to face future obstacles effectively.

If you liked this article, check out Higher Education: Using AI to Meet Student Needs . 

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Uganda’s First Private Online University Kicks Off Fundraising Campaign

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

The Impact Of Student Accommodation On The College Experience

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

10 Most Important Soft Skills to Learn in High School

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

While the Irish Diaspora Has Spread Millions Around the World This MOOC Seeks to Reconnect them with Lessons in the Irish Language and Culture

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Why Teachers Sell Their Lesson Plans, Assessments, and More

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

Purdue Announces Five-Year Deal with Infosys

No comments, leave a reply, most popular post.

Important notice for administrators: The WordPress Popular Posts "classic" widget is going away!

This widget has been deprecated and will be removed in version 7.0 to be released sometime around June 2024. Please use either the WordPress Popular Posts block or the wpp shortcode instead.

AI in Education: the Pros...

Learning tips for student..., higher education: using a..., online math and english g..., how elearning transforms..., the 5 most common challen..., how technology has helped..., 10 most important soft sk..., how universities make and..., why do so many parents op....

eLearningInside: Engaging, transformative videos, podcasts, news stories for the e-Learning, EdTech community

© 2023 eLearningInside.com All Rights Reserved.

Implementing the skills of critical thinking in the classroom

  • 19 February 2019
  • 5 minute read

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

By Chia Suan Chong for EtonX

In a previous post, I looked at what critical thinking is and what skills it entails.  

The nature of education has undoubtedly evolved over the past decades. We have gradually moved away from a knowledge-transmission model and we now understand the need for experiential learning and the importance of cultivating soft skills that will stand our students in good stead when they enter the workforce.

Like most soft skills, critical thinking skills need lots of practice to develop. Showing students how to analyse arguments or how to reason is not enough. They have to be given tasks where they can put their skills into use and put in situations where they can see the consequences of their decisions.

In order to maximise limited classroom time, tasks done in pairs or groups can provide a platform for students to discuss the issues, defend their positions and see how their opinions compare to others, therefore allowing them to reflect on their own thought processes. Developmental psychologist Vygotsky, in his 1978 theory on the Zone of Proximal Development , described the benefits of collaboration, suggesting that working together with a capable partner can help the student to achieve their potential in progressing to the next level.

Here are some things we can do to provide more opportunities for our students to develop these skills. Where possible, implementing these frameworks and activities in pairs and groups could dramatically enhance their development process.

Trigger their curiosity and motivate them to research and explore

It is said that people who have a hungry mind are more likely to be more inquisitive and open to new experiences . A technique like Inquiry-based Learning promotes a conducive framework for cultivating that curiosity as it encourages students to ask questions, to collaboratively construct an understanding of an issue, and to exercise their freedom in choosing the topics they are interested in exploring. In negotiating a topic with their group members, considering the opinions of the group and exploring an issue in depth, students can see their critical thinking skills at work and are able to appreciate the value of these skills. The focus here is on the process and not just the end product of their research.

Offer practice in analysing arguments

Whether it’s a class debate, a discussion about a persuasive TED talk or an analysis of an opinionated blogpost, these activities get students questioning and prompt them to go beyond the surface to think more deeply about the way arguments are constructed.

A tool like Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats can ensure that students embrace ways of thinking that they are not used to. Here, students are offered different roles to take on (as symbolised by the different coloured hats) in a group discussion/negotiation.

The student with the white hat focuses on only the facts of the matter, while the student with the red hat is only concerned with expressing the emotions, the intuitions and the feelings regarding the issue. The red hat is the positive thinker, the black hat the devil’s advocate, the green hat the creative thinker and the blue hat the manager or chair of the whole process. By rotating the hats that the students wear, they are able to discover the advantage of different ways of thinking and learn about striking a balance between different perspectives and attitudes.

Offer practice in spotting fallacies and faulty evidence

Arguments like “ You should take Miss Clark’s class because it’s really easy. I know three people who took Miss Clark’s class and they all passed! ” might be commonplace but are logically flawed.Understanding fallacies in logic and being on the lookout for these fallacies and faulty evidence, will allow  students to become more savvy when presented with an argument . They are less likely to buy into generalisations and sweeping statements.

Expose students to information manipulation

The way data is presented, the way photos are doctored, the way statistics are taken out of context, and the way language is used can all affect the way information is perceived.By getting students to examine ad campaigns, fake news and websites, we are not only improving their digital literacy, we are also sensitising them and raising their awareness of the stealthy strategies employed to sway their opinions and influence their judgments.

Encourage reflection

A large part of critical thinking is the ability to reflect on things that have happened and our reactions to them. It is therefore crucial that we offer our students time and space to reflect, and the guidance to understand themselves.The Critical Incident Technique used by many intercultural trainers (e.g. in Chong, 2018) is a useful tool that involves presenting students with a mini case study where a conflict exists. Students are put in groups to discuss the critical incident and how they might go about dealing with the given situation. Sometimes through discussion, students are able to discover alternative perspectives and solutions to the case at hand, and occasionally, the use of critical incidents might also trigger memories of similar situations that the students have encountered, encouraging them to share and reflect on their experience.

Critical thinking skills are essential to the way we deal with the information around us. As teachers, we certainly can and should facilitate the development of these skills. After all, in the age of the internet, intelligence is no longer about the knowledge you accumulate, but how you evaluate this knowledge and what you do with it.

Bibliography

Chong, C.S. (2018) Successful International Communication , Brighton: Pavilion Publishing

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978)  Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Article tagged:

  • critical thinking
  • soft skills

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

ROBOTLAB BLOG

Everything you need to know about robotics in education and businesses.

Download 2023 K-12 Catalog

How To Use Critical Thinking in Your Classroom

There are tons of topics and concepts that school has to introduce to young people, but the ability of   critical thinking is easily the most vital among them. Stanford’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as “careful thinking directed to a goal”.

Critical thinking abilities include discerning wrong info and unreliable sources, connecting various facts, remaining rational and finding what is wrong with the reasoning of others. All of these are incredibly valuable, no matter which teaching strategies you’re employing.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a priceless skill not only when studying, but also during everyday life activities. Especially in today’s world where news with suspicious sources flood us from almost every direction imaginable.

Follow a Plan

Whatever subject you’re teaching, be it sociology or programming, encouraging your pupils to critically think should be one of your key priorities. Many teaching strategies were invented, to help gain this valuable skill, but the one I particularly like comes from the model created by Duran, Limbach, and Waugh in 2006. It describes what steps to take in order to successfully develop critical thinking skills in your students.

Start by Naming Your Objectives

First you’ll have to ask yourself about your goals. Envision how your students should develop. You can try sitting down for a bit and imagining the desired outcomes. Next start building a list of wanted behaviours. It will probably include things like recognizing fake information, asking questions to understand things better, expressing one’s views, justifying choices and so on.

It’s recommended to focus on abilities related to Higher Order Thinking: synthesis, evaluation, argumentation and so on.

Build Questions and Use Them Effectively

This step focuses on creating and asking questions, and puts what you have previously prepared into practice.

Questions are your best friends when planning how to improve critical thinking skills of your students, but they have to be used wisely. Remember: questions are not pointed sticks, but tools. Instead of building them to check if people are listening, construct questions so that they remember even more. Questions are also great as they make your students interact more both with you and with each other.

The best questions are of course the open ended ones, as they stimulate the most discussion. These are especially valuable when teaching to think critically, as they prove that there is always more than one answer, promote creativity and reflection. Use the yes/no questions only as a necessity, or when the topic really demands them. Same when asking for small details. It’s usually better when your students can connect the facts and make own conclusions, instead of memorizing and recalling hundreds of dates, names and lengthy definitions. They’ll often forget these within few weeks or, in the best case, months.

The way you ask your questions is also important. Make sure they’re engaging, don’t sound like orders, but more like encouragement and are prepared in advance.

There’s Never Enough Practice

Critical thinking has a lot to do with the concept of active learning, where the student becomes the center of the learning process instead of the teacher. By employing as much active learning as you can in your teaching strategies, you ensure that instead of making your pupils memorize data, you actually make them develop a variety of useful skill sets.

Active learning exercises, that work wonderfully for improving critical thinking ability, include “Think, pair, share”, where you divide your class into duos (preferably ones who don’t know each other too well). Next you ask them to figure out answers, discuss them with each other and finally share with the entire class.

“Pro-Con Grids” also work well. Simply present your students with a problem (or an open ended question) and ask to prepare answers for both possible stances. This not only encourages brainstorming and trying new ideas, but makes them reconsider the mindsets they don’t usually have.

Technology Based Learning is another technique belonging to the active learning category. It means employing technologies like educational robots or smartphone applications in your lesson plan. This way students may find additional stimulation and motivation to discuss your suggested topics. They will also approach them from new, unexpected angles.

Assess Yourself…

Final steps of teaching critical thinking involves rating how everyone did – both you, and your class. Start with yourself. Did your students improve thanks to your methods? How were they reacting to them? Do they use newly gained skills effectively?

This data can be collected through 1 on 1 interviews or more anonymous methods like polls. Ask them what they enjoyed the most and the least, which types of activities would they like to see more of, or even what would they do if they were in your role. Remember to make adjustments to courses and lessons that follow.

…and Assess Your Students

Finally it’s time to let everyone know how they did. Considering, how much time you’ve put into teaching them how to think critically, it would be wrong to provide one sided feedback in the form of numerical scores.

Focus on pointing their strong and weak sides. This may take some time, but personalizing each feedback report is without doubt the best practice. Don’t forget to point out what critical thinking skills they managed to gain. This will not only feel satisfying but also encourage these behaviours in the future

Critical Thinking 2

Discover more tools to develop Critical Thinking with RobotLAB!

Check our  products page and start your robotics lessons with RobotLAB and our learning Platform   EngageK12!  

RobotLAB products 

This article is original from Photon: https://photonrobot.com/how-to-use-critical-thinking-in-your-classroom/  

  • Sep 20, 2019 8:00:00 AM
  • Posted by Natalia Galvis
  • Topics: EdTech , STEM , 21st Century Classroom , teachers , Edchat , Critical thinking

Share on Facebook

Relevant Posts

Popular posts, subscribe to email updates, additional information.

© 2024 ROBOTLAB Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

*If you have questions related to how we use your data, please refer to our privacy policy link

Aristotle's Cafe

Critical Thinking: A Guide For The Classroom And Beyond

“Clear, critical thinking should be at the heart of every discipline in school and a cultivated habit outside it too.” – Sir Ken Robinson

critical thinking

One of the great responsibilities for educators is to prepare students for the future in a complex and ever-changing world. As society and employment opportunities evolve, there is a greater need to develop 21st-century skills , such as critical thinking .

As an experienced educator, I understand the need to adapt to new challenges and equip students with the tools they need to navigate life beyond the classroom. This has become especially important during these uncertain times of the global pandemic.

The pandemic has placed further pressure on educators to adapt to new ways of working which also requires some critical thinking of their own.

This article will guide you through the fundamentals of Critical Thinking and provide tried and tested methods to use in your classroom and everyday life.

Critical Thinking Quick Guide:

  • What is Critical Thinking?

Analytical Thinking vs Critical Thinking

Developing thinking skills, critical thinking in the classroom, critical thinking activities, critical thinking practice, barriers to critical thinking, food for thought, what is critical thinking.

“Critical thinking can be defined in a number of different ways consistent with each other, we should not put a lot of weight on any one definition. Definitions are at best scaffolding for the mind. With this qualification in mind, here is a bit of scaffolding: critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better . ” – Richard Paul, author of Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World.

There is often a misconception that critical thinking is a negative process to disprove something. It would be more constructive to consider it as a means of putting an idea into perspective and seeing the bigger picture.

Critical thinking provides an opportunity to analyze and reflect on ideas. It also enables you to suspend past assumptions and self-doubt.

Analytical Thinking is a linear process which allows you to break down and review complex information. This type of thinking uses reasoning and logic to analyze the information presented, identify patterns and trends, and present facts and evidence.

Critical Thinking includes an element of analytical thinking but goes much further. It’s a more holistic process that results in a judgement of the validity of information using other sources. Critical thinking requires a detailed evaluation of the information. You should check for accuracy, any bias or assumptions, assess the conclusions and whether the evidence supports the conclusion.

Both of these skill sets should be developed to allow greater depth of thinking.

ways of thinking

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

When developing an academic curriculum, educators often refer to Bloom’s taxonomy – a model used to classify learning objectives. Within this model, thinking skills are categorized into lower and higher order thinking skills:

Lower order thinking skills – knowledge, comprehension and application Higher order thinking skills – analysis, synthesis and evaluation

The higher order thinking skills that students need for critical thinking can be assessed using a number of criteria:

  • Use of information
  • Questioning abilities
  • Aptitude for communication and collaboration
  • Ability to keep an open mind
  • Ability to draw conclusions
  • Self-awareness

Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it is a good starting point for identifying learning outcomes and developing specific skills.

There are many tools that students can use to support their learning, such as interactive resources, social media and discussion groups to share thoughts and opinions. Connecting to others and the world around us can also help us to develop a greater understanding of ourselves.

applying thinking skills

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

“ How do you know that? ”

These two simple questions formed the basis of many interactions with students in my classroom, regardless of age or subject matter. When a student gave an answer to a question, I would ask one of these questions to encourage them to elaborate on their response. My students knew that I didn’t just want an answer but for them to demonstrate how they had arrived at the answer; I was interested in their critical thinking skills. Students would then consider if there were other ways to arrive at the same conclusion or whether there were alternative answers. They were also encouraged to ask their own questions to probe deeper into their thinking.

This simple resource can help students reflect and question their own thinking and ultimately develop their independent thinking skills for future learning.

Whilst this is just one anecdotal example to enhance critical thinking, there are many effective activities that you can use in the classroom with your students.

discussion groups

Continuum Line: Give students a key statement and a continuum line with ‘Always’ at one end and ‘Never’ at the other end. Students should determine where they would place themselves on the line and provide reasoning for their decisions. This task generates discussion and debate around the key statement. Some students may decide to change their position of the line throughout the course of the debate but persuasion is not the aim here. The purpose of the task is to elicit a range of viewpoints around the statement to support critical thinking.

Silent Debate: Set a number of written statements on large pieces of paper around the classroom. Students are then asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement. They should add their reasoning and also be encouraged to add to the ideas of others. This alternative to the traditional oral debate encourages everyone to contribute at the same time and promotes collaboration. It can be particularly effective for quieter class members.

Fact or Opinion?: Ask students to identify the facts and opinions within authentic articles or editorials. Encourage them to analyze the language and explain how they can distinguish the evidence from their beliefs.

All of these activities can be easily adapted from the classroom to online platforms such as Trello or Zoom breakouts rooms.

Check out this Critical Thinking Workbook for more examples.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact; everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius.

In critical thinking, it is important not to willfully accept the all information presented. Question assumptions and ideas to determine whether or not you are seeing the bigger picture. ‘Fake News’ is a prime example of this.

Try these tips to hone your skills:

  • Identify inconsistencies, errors, and omissions
  • Find and understand links between ideas
  • Develop systematic ways of solving problems
  • Recognize problems before building any arguments
  • Foster your curiosity – is there something else that hasn’t been explored?

foster curiosity

A Closed Mind Everyone has opinions and their own perspective on some issues. If your bias is so strong that you are unwilling to consider any other perspectives, this leads to closed-mindedness. Your bias may be based on research outcomes that you consider unlikely to change. But critical thinkers know that even the basis of some knowledge can change over time. Check your assumptions to apply critical thinking.

Misunderstanding The Truth Or Facts We may occasionally accept beliefs presumed to be true but have little evidence to justify them. To demonstrate critical thinking, it’s crucial to distinguish facts from beliefs and to dig deeper by evaluating the "facts" and how much evidence there is to validate them.

Trusting Your Instincts When you trust your gut instincts, this is largely based on sensing or feeling. Using intuitive judgment is actually the last thing you should do if you want to demonstrate critical thinking, as you are less likely to question your assumptions or bias.

Lack Of Knowledge This barrier could be two-fold. Firstly, you may lack the knowledge and understanding of the higher-order skills required for critical thinking. Secondly, you may lack knowledge of the topic you need to evaluate. Recognizing this lack of understanding and carrying out research to close the knowledge gap will help to reduce the barrier.

Lack Of Effort Recognizing that critical thinking is not necessarily over-thinking is significant to removing this barrier. Even if you have developed the necessary skills, it is important to have the willingness to engage in the process of critical thinking.

Overcoming these barriers will help you to:

  • Reinforce your problem-solving skills
  • Boost your creativity
  • Encourage curiosity
  • Foster independence
  • Develop your range of skills
  • Provide you with a skill for life

Have you been evaluating the information presented in this guide?

Did you find yourself challenging or agreeing with points that have been raised?

Have you considered alternative ideas or new ways of thinking?

Are you think differently after reading this article?

If the answer is YES , you are already on the path to Critical Thinking!

Join us for more discussions at Aristotle’s Café .

Our Online Courses

  • How to Use Zoom Like a Pro (And Look Good Doing It!)
  • Online Authentic and Effective Communication (2021)
  • Small Group Discussion Facilitation
  • Persuasion, Sales, and Negotiation Skills for Life

Popular Posts

  • 150+ Icebreaker Questions for Amazing Group Discussion (2023)
  • How to Talk About Things That Matter – A Guide to Meaningful Conversations
  • What Is Freedom, And How Can We Define It?
  • Things I Learned From Article Writing For Aristotle’s Café
  • Constructive Conflict vs Destructive Conflict: Managing Conflict Effectively
  • Small Group Discussion Success: How to Super Engage Participants
  • Topics to Talk About – 15 Experts Reveal Their Favorite Conversation Starters
  • The Aristotle’s Cafe Definitive Guide to Toastmasters Table Topics (2021)

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

5 Critical Pedagogy: Challenging Bias and Creating Inclusive Classrooms

Introduction.

Regardless of the type of library you work in, your learners will come from varied backgrounds, identities, and life experiences, and will bring different interests and educational needs to the classroom. These experiences shape how learners experience the classroom, the content, and the learning activities, and ultimately impact what they learn and how they use that knowledge. As instructors, we need not only to recognize these differences and how they influence learning but also acknowledge and honor the richness of experience our learners bring. We need to create an inclusive classroom environment where everyone feels welcome and valued, and where our content is relevant to our learners’ diverse identities and interests.

In order to be effective in this role, we must better understand how existing educational, social, and political systems shape our learners’ experiences from their earliest moments and continue to influence what and how they learn inside and outside of the classroom through the rest of their lives. We must recognize how bias has impacted and continues to impact both our learners’ and our own experiences, and develop culturally competent and inclusive practices in order to mitigate bias in the classroom and interact effectively with learners from varied cultural backgrounds.

Critical pedagogy provides a theoretical framework to examine issues of power in the classroom, and to surface and challenge the biases and oppressive structures that can undermine learning and alienate students. Inclusive teaching offers strategies for translating that theoretical knowledge into action. This chapter begins with a brief overview of critical pedagogy, followed by an examination of some of the biases critical pedagogy uncovers and how those biases can impact the work we do as instructors. Next, the chapter presents strategies for mitigating bias, improving our cultural competence, and creating inclusive classrooms where all learners are able to engage with relevant content and effective pedagogies. Chapter 6 extends the discussion of inclusion to address specific issues of accessibility and universal design for learners with disabilities.

Critical Pedagogy

As discussed briefly in Chapter 3, social constructivists in particular recognize that learners’ cultures, including shared values, behaviors, and beliefs, shape their knowledge. However, no society is made up of a single, monolithic culture; rather, different communities reflect different values and beliefs, and encourage and discourage different behaviors. Political, social, and educational systems tend to reflect the dominant culture, and over time the values, behaviors, and beliefs associated with that culture become so ingrained as to be invisible. Those living within the dominant culture do not recognize it as a system but simply see it as “normal,” and anything outside of that system is “other” than normal. Some educational theorists recognized that these differences have a profound impact on education.

Bourdieu (see, e.g., Bourdieu & Passeron, 2000) and Freire (2000), for instance, saw that traditional educational systems tended to reflect and favor the experiences of children from wealthy families. Because these children understood that system and saw themselves reflected in it, they thrived and were successful, while children from poorer families struggled. Since the dominant systems are essentially invisible, those in power tend to attribute the challenges faced by marginalized individuals as inherent to the person. In other words, if a child from a poor family struggles to learn to read, teachers will often assume the issue is with the child’s innate ability to learn, rather than recognize that the child might not have had the same preliteracy experiences and current support systems that other children have. Because they do not recognize the root issue, these educational models tend to replicate rather than challenge the existing systems, so learners from the dominant culture continue to succeed while those from marginalized communities continue to struggle, a phenomenon that Bourdieu refers to as cultural reproduction. While earlier theorists tended to focus mostly on the impact of economic disparities in education, other writers and educators like bell hooks, Henry Giroux, and Ileana Jiménez have applied feminist, queer, and critical race theory to examine how existing classroom power structures marginalize women, people of color, individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+, and other learners as well.

Importantly, critical pedagogy does not end with theory but rather focuses on praxis, or translating knowledge into action. Critical pedagogy sees education as a tool for empowerment, a place where learners develop the knowledge and skills they need to undo oppressive structures and achieve liberation (Freire, 2000; Tewell, 2015). Unlike the traditional “banking” model of education that positions learners as passive recipients of information, in a classroom guided by critical pedagogy, learners engage with problems that are personally meaningful and are active agents in their own education, and through that education gain agency to enact change in the world beyond the classroom (Elmborg, 2006; Freire, 2000; Tewell, 2015).

Critical pedagogy informs the critical approaches to information literacy discussed in Chapter 2, which urge us to move away from a skills-based, teacher-centered approach to information literacy toward one that questions dominant information structures and adopts student-centered teaching methods. Building on the ideas of agency and empowerment, critical information literacy encourages learners to see themselves as part of the “scholarly conversation” and as creators of information, rather than just consumers, and provides them with ways to recognize and challenge dominant powers within the current systems of creating, sharing, and evaluating information. Thus, for instructors, critical pedagogy pushes us to surface power dynamics in the classroom and the larger communities in which our learners live, and to reflect on how our own culture and biases color our approach to the classroom. In doing so, it offers a model for a more inclusive teaching practice.

Bias in the Classroom

We all have bias. These biases might be based on gender, race or ethnicity, class, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, body type, or other elements of people’s personal identity. In some cases, we may be aware that we have a bias, while in other cases, we hold unconscious biases that we have unwittingly picked up over the course of our lifetime. Banaji and Greenwald (2013) show that our unconscious biases are particularly pernicious because we are unaware of the effect they have on our thoughts and actions, resulting in discriminatory judgments and behaviors that are automatic and hard to recognize. For example, research shows that when given résumés with equivalent qualifications from applicants with stereotypically white names and stereotypically Black names, search committees will favor applicants with stereotypically white names (Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2003) and that orchestras have historically favored men over women in auditions (Goldin & Rouse, 2000). Unconscious bias also affects library services. Shachaf and Horowitz (2006) found differences in librarians’ replies to email reference queries based on the patron’s perceived ethnicity and religious affiliation, including the time taken to reply, length and quality of answers, and the use of welcoming, professional greetings and conclusions. These examples demonstrate one of Banaji and Greenwald’s important findings–that hidden biases result in acts of commission, such as favoring men or whites in hiring, as well as acts of omission, such as providing less thorough service to some patrons.

It can be uncomfortable and even challenging to recognize our own bias. As Sue (2010a) notes, most people “see themselves as fair-minded individuals who would never consciously discriminate” and “their self-image of being ‘a good moral human being’ is assailed if they realize and acknowledge that they possess biased thoughts, attitudes and feelings.” As we grapple with our own biases, it can be helpful to remember that our brains evolved to develop heuristics that allow us to function effectively and safely in our environment. These heuristics often operate at an unconscious level; if you have ever seen a snake and instinctively jumped back even before you could assess whether the snake was venomous, you have experienced an unconscious heuristic that told you snakes are dangerous. Unfortunately, unconscious thoughts and biases influence how we react to people as well, particularly when we perceive those people as “different” from ourselves. If we want to be fair-minded, rational people, it is essential that we identify and reflect on our unconscious biases, including recognizing how our society shapes and influences those biases, in order to mitigate the effect they have on our thoughts and actions (Banaji and Greenwald, 2013). Activity 5.1 provides an opportunity to learn more about unconscious biases you may hold.

Activity 5.1: Take an Implicit Bias Test

As part of its research on implicit bias, Project Implicit at Harvard University offers tests that attempt to measure personal biases. While these tests are not perfect measures, they offer a starting point for reflecting on how we might be impacted by unconscious bias. Visit Project Implicit and try one or more of the available tests.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  • How did you feel about your results? Were you surprised or uncomfortable? Did other feelings emerge?
  • If your test results revealed a personal bias, how might that bias affect your work in the classroom? What strategies could you use to mitigate this bias and deliver high-quality instruction to all your learners?

Microaggressions

One manifestation of bias is microaggressions, which Sue (2010a) defines as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.” Microaggressions may be aimed at women, people of color, individuals who identify (or are perceived) as LGBTQIA+, and people with disabilities, among others. Microaggressions come in many forms, including verbal (e.g., “Where are you from?” which implies a person of color must be a foreigner; telling a woman to smile), nonverbal (e.g., clutching one’s purse more tightly or crossing the street around a person of color), or environmental (e.g., Native American mascots) (Sue, 2010b). While microaggressions may appear minor, they create hostile classroom environments, perpetuate stereotype threat, lower workplace productivity, and cause mental and physical health problems (Sue et al., 2009, p. 183).

Because microaggressions often reflect our unconscious biases, they can be hard to eliminate. Princing (2019) notes that when we first meet someone new, we tend to notice what makes them different from us. She recommends we reflect on those thoughts and question any beliefs or stereotypes that may accompany them. The Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (n.d.) also recommends that instructors reflect on their assumptions and expectations as a first step to avoid committing microaggressions. For example, an instructor who assumes that learners from first-generation or lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less prepared for college might make a comment to that effect in the classroom, making students hesitant to attend office hours lest they confirm the instructor’s negative belief. Additional strategies instructors can use:

  • Resist the myth of color blindness. Unconscious bias makes it difficult to be truly colorblind. In addition, claims of color blindness obscure structural disadvantages and the very real differences in the experiences of people from marginalized groups (Princing, 2019).
  • Believe the stories of people from marginalized groups. We can learn more about everyday bias by listening to and learning from the stories of individuals who have firsthand experience with bias. We must take care not to dismiss those stories as exaggerations, misunderstandings, or isolated incidents.
  • Do not ask students to speak for their entire racial or culture group. As noted elsewhere in this chapter, learners from the same broad cultural group will not necessarily share all of the same values, beliefs, and understandings, and students may not feel capable of speaking for the experience of others (Reinert Center, n.d.). In addition, singling out learners in this way can make it appear that the instructor sees them as a one-dimensional representative of a particular identity, rather than as an individual bringing varied strengths, interests, and experiences to the classroom.
  • Assume groups you are talking about are represented in the classroom. Treating every classroom interaction as if we were speaking with a member of the group under discussion can remind us to choose our words with care (Reinert Center, n.d.).
  • Remain open to learning about microaggressions and yourself. While it is natural to feel defensive when others point out that we have said something problematic or offensive, we can approach such instances as learning opportunities.

In addition to recognizing the role that bias might play in our own actions, instructors should be aware that students will bring their own biases to the classroom. These biases will affect how learners understand and interact with instructional content, peers, and instructors, and instructors should be attentive to instances where learners commit microaggressions against one another. Microaggressions can be awkward and even challenging to address, especially if they were framed as a compliment (e.g., “You speak English so well”) or reflect commonly accepted stereotypes. Offenders may be unaware of the offense they have caused and because they did not intend to offend others, may be reluctant to accept responsibility for having done so. However, it is important to address such events clearly and promptly. Sue et al. (2019, p. 134) note that when microaggressions occur, small interventions by allies and bystanders have a “profound positive effect in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment” and discouraging further microaggressions. Strategies for addressing microaggressions in the classroom include:

  • Make the “invisible” visible.  Create awareness by naming the microaggression with statements such as “I think that’s a stereotype I just heard” (Sue et al., 2019, p. 136).
  • Disarm the microaggression. Statements such as “I don’t agree” or “I don’t see it that way” and actions such as shaking one’s head communicate to the perpetrator and others that the microaggression is not acceptable (Sue et al., 2019, p. 136).
  • Take an educational, nonpunitive approach. Turn microaggressions into teachable moments by asking learners to reflect on their assumptions (Center for Teaching and Learning, n.d., p. 11). Phrases like “it sounds like you think” or “Could there be another way to look at this?” can prompt speakers to identify and question their unconscious biases (Gonzaga et al., 2019). Ferguson (2015) suggests we approach microaggressions in the spirit of “calling in” rather than “calling out.”
  • Redirect. When students are asked to speak for all members of their racial or cultural group, we can redirect the conversation with statements such as “Let’s open this question up to others” (Gonzaga et al., 2019).
  • Use “I” statements. The use of “I” statements such as “I felt uncomfortable when you said . . . ” communicate impact while minimizing blame (Gonzaga et al., 2019).
  • Discuss intent versus impact. Instructors can use statements like “I know you meant to be funny, but you hurt . . . ” to help learners recognize the impact of something they said. If learners struggle with the idea that they may have offended or harmed someone despite not intending to cause offense, instructors can use metaphors such as bumping someone in the grocery store or causing a car accident to explain the difference between intent and impact (and the need to make amends).
  • Rewind. Sometimes microaggressions happen so quickly, the conversation moves on before they are addressed. Statements like “I’d like to revisit something that was said earlier” allow us to step back and address these microaggressions ( Gonzaga et al., 2019).

Another manifestation of bias can be “othering,” or treating the history and experiences of white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender, able-bodied people as universal or the norm, while presenting the history and experiences of other groups as unusual, exceptional, or only of interest to members of those communities. For example, displaying books by Black authors in February, but not at other times, sends an implicit message that the history of America is the actions and accomplishments of whites and that the accomplishments of others are of limited value or interest. While special displays and programs are an important way to recognize and support events like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Pride Month, librarians should also integrate materials by individuals of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ authors into displays year-round.

In some cases, the systems that are foundational to libraries treat selected groups as the other. For example, the Dewey Decimal System reserves 200-289 for topics related to Christianity and the Bible, leaving only the 290s for all other religions; Schingler (2015) points out that this reflects an underlying assumption that Christianity not only has more to say on theological topics, what it has to say is more valuable. Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) are notoriously problematic in their treatment of women and people of color (Berman, 1969, 1993; Drabinski, 2008; Knowlton, 2005). The presence of subject headings such as “women astronauts” and “African American business enterprises” reveals an assumption that these professions are for white men and that the presence of others is unusual or remarkable, while subject headings that utilize biased terminology, such as “illegal aliens,” send a message about who belongs in America.

These instances of bias and othering can create barriers to information seeking. Howard and Knowlton (2018) point out that Library of Congress Classification distributes materials related to African American and LGBTQIA+ issues throughout the collection, making browsing or even grasping the scope of the topic challenging for researchers. Even when controlled vocabulary uses neutral terminology, the accompanying thesauri can obscure topics for patrons trying to identify the database’s preferred subject heading. For example, a search for “queer” in the ERIC thesaurus returns “the term(s) you entered could not be found” with no suggestions for next steps ( ERIC uses the subject heading “homosexuality”). In comparison, a search for “queer” in the thesaurus for PubMed takes one to the preferred subject heading, “sexual and gender minorities,” along with notes about how the term is applied and related/narrower terms.

As part of creating inclusive classrooms, we must be aware of the ways in which library systems and spaces can “other” marginalized groups, and take steps to improve equity and inclusion in our spaces and collections. For example, when creating lessons, we can plan search examples that reflect the diversity of our community and learners’ interests. As appropriate, we can surface and acknowledge problematic practices, and engage students in a dialogue about the impact of those practices and how they might be changed. Integrating diversity into curricular content is addressed in more detail later in this chapter.

Deficit-Based Thinking

Learners, by their very nature, come to our libraries and classrooms with gaps in their knowledge and skills. Oftentimes, instructors seek out research that will help them identify these gaps in order to develop relevant content. While this research can provide valuable guidance for instructors, it is sometimes framed solely in terms of what learners are lacking and can lead us to focus exclusively on students’ weaknesses, an approach termed deficit-based thinking.

Increasingly, educators are taking an asset-based approach that recognizes and builds on the strengths students bring to the classroom (Heinbach, 2019; Ilett, 2019; Kocevar-Weidinger et al., 2019; Matteson & Gersch, 2019; Tewell, 2020). For example, research on returning adult learners may show that they lack up-to-date research and citation skills, framing this as a problem that will hinder academic success. An asset-based approach recognizes that adult learners, by virtue of having spent time in the workforce, bring valuable life experience that can enrich classroom discussions, along with strong collaborative and interpersonal skills developed in the workplace. In addition, adult learners tend to have clear educational and career goals and are highly motivated to develop the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in higher education. As another example, Kocevar-Weidinger et al. (2019) show that despite the stereotype that first-year college students lack research skills, they actually have extensive everyday research experience that can serve as a starting point for academic information literacy instruction.

Sometimes things characterized as weaknesses or deficits are in fact strengths if we recast our narrative. For instance, research on first-generation students may focus on the challenges they encounter because their families are unable to advise them on how to navigate the academic and social aspects of college. Research also shows that first-generation undergraduate students are less likely to use campus support services (Longwell-Grice et al., 2016; Portnoi & Kwong, 2011). An asset-based approach recognizes that families of first-generation students are often very supportive of their students’ academic endeavors and, if given information about support services on campus, will recommend their students take advantage of such services. Thus, while they lack firsthand knowledge of higher education, family members can be a conduit to connecting first-generation students to campus resources. Activity 5.2 asks you to think more deeply about asset-based approaches.

Activity 5.2: Reflecting on Asset-Based Thinking

Individually or with a group of classmates, select a group of learners you might work with, such as recent immigrants, English-language learners, international students, or older adults.

  • What gaps in knowledge or skills are typically ascribed to this group? Are these viewed as simple gaps or as deficits?
  • What strengths will this group of learners bring to the classroom?
  • How could you use an asset-based approach to build on these strengths in designing instruction?

Cultural Competency

Cultural competency is the ability to work effectively with people from varied cultural backgrounds. Cultural competency is an essential skill for librarians; it prepares us to recognize barriers to information use, to work with colleagues and patrons of diverse backgrounds, and to develop culturally responsive services and programs (Cooke et al., 2017; Kim & Sin, 2006; Morris, 2007; Overall, 2009). Instructors who are culturally competent understand how culture influences teaching and learning, and are able to engage learners from diverse backgrounds in the classroom.

Cultural differences can emerge in our classrooms in numerous ways. For example, contemporary American classrooms tend to be student-centered; students are expected to ask questions during lectures, discuss ideas and even disagree with instructors and peers, and engage in self-directed learning activities. In contrast, some cultures value teacher-centered classrooms where learners are expected to listen respectfully as teachers share their expertise. International students and recent immigrants who are accustomed to teacher-centered instruction may be uncomfortable during discussions and student-led activities and may even feel instructors are abdicating their responsibility to share expertise. They may also be reluctant to “bother” the instructor by asking questions or admitting they did not understand something. Culturally competent instructors can attend to these differences by interspersing discussion and active learning with direct instruction, encouraging questions and participation in discussions, and explaining how the planned activities support learning. In addition, librarians can create more culturally inclusive classrooms by:

  • Speaking slowly and clearly, especially when working with learners from different cultures and language backgrounds.
  • Avoiding slang, idioms, and sarcasm, none of which translates well across cultures, and using humor judiciously.
  • Avoiding library jargon, which is likely to be unfamiliar to international students and recent immigrants, as well as to novice learners in general.
  • Respecting cross-cultural rules for personal space and touching.
  • Making expectations for participation explicit.

Cultural differences may surface in surprising ways. Bunner (2017, p. 43) provides an example of a student who got in trouble for answering a question in class, not realizing that the teacher was asking a rhetorical question, something that does not exist in his culture. The student explained, “in my culture when an adult asks you a question, you are supposed to answer.” Osa et al. (2006) highlight the care we must take in using or interpreting body language and facial expressions; they provide the example of raised eyebrows, which can indicate surprise, interest, approval, skepticism, or disapproval, depending on the culture of the speaker. Whether or not to make eye contact as a sign of respect and the appropriate finger with which to point also differ by culture.

These are only a few examples of cultural differences. Cultural differences also influence written and conversational communication styles, preferences for individual or cooperative problem solving and study, tolerance for uncertainty, conventions of politeness, and expectations for how children will interact with adults (Brook et al., 2015; Cifuentes & Ozel, 2006; Gay, 2002; Weinstein et al., 2003). Activity 5.3 asks you to think about cultural differences you have experienced.

Activity 5.3: Reflecting on Cultural Differences

Think of a specific instance of a cultural difference or misunderstanding that you have observed.

  • What behaviors were central to the situation?
  • What values, beliefs, or assumptions are reflected in the behaviors of each person involved?
  • How might these values, beliefs, or assumptions influence a person’s experience in the classroom?
  • How might your recognition of these values, beliefs, and assumptions impact your understanding of your students and your instruction?

In order to provide culturally competent instruction, librarians must develop their cultural knowledge and translate that knowledge into strategies for action. Villagran (2018) suggests librarians use the Cultural Intelligence (CQ) model as a framework for reflection and professional development. This model, shown in Figure 5.1, has four components: drive, knowledge, strategy, and action (Cultural Intelligence Center, n.d.).

  • Drive: This component reflects our interest, persistence, and confidence in learning about other cultures and working in culturally diverse environments. For example, librarians might be motivated to learn about other cultures in order to improve their ability to design and deliver inclusive services for members of their community.
  • Knowledge: This component is our understanding of cultural similarities and differences. Instruction librarians who want to improve their cross-cultural knowledge might seek out readings and professional development opportunities on how culture impacts teaching and learning.
  • Strategy: This component reflects the metacognitive element of cultural competence; it is our ability to plan for and reflect on multicultural encounters. Culturally competent instruction librarians recognize their learners will come from varied backgrounds, develop strategies to create inclusive instruction, and reflect on their teaching experiences in order to identify areas for improvement.
  • Action: This component is our ability to use appropriate behaviors during multicultural interactions. Instruction librarians can translate cultural competence into action through their instructional design and delivery and through their interactions with individual learners.

Figure 5.1: The Cultural Intelligence Model

how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

An example may demonstrate how librarians can use the Cultural Intelligence model as a guide to professional development. Early in her career as an academic librarian, one of the authors, Melissa, heard that international students from Asia would answer questions such as “Do you understand?” with “yes” out of politeness, whether or not they understood the material being taught. Concerned that she might not be teaching international students effectively (drive), Melissa sought out articles about library services for international students and talked with a colleague with expertise in the area (knowledge). This research helped her better understand cultural differences in teaching and learning, and confirmed the need to modify the instructional strategies she used in the classroom and at the reference desk (strategy). As a result, Melissa became conscientious about speaking slowly, avoiding slang and library jargon, using open-ended questions that could not be answered with “yes,” providing written handouts, and using a pencil or her entire hand to point, instead of the index finger (action).

Librarians can use a number of strategies to develop their cultural knowledge, including reading books and articles, participating in relevant conferences and webinars, and attending cultural events such as festivals, museum exhibits, and film screenings. Reflection is an important part of cultural competence; a teaching journal, discussed in more detail in Chapter 14, can prompt librarians to reflect on classroom experiences, record teaching success, and identify areas for improvement. Conversations with colleagues are also a way to increase cultural knowledge, reflect on one’s teaching, and develop new strategies for inclusive pedagogy. Activity 5.4 is an exercise to reflect on your own learning and instructional practices using the Cultural Intelligence model.

Activity 5.4: Building Cultural Competency

Using the Cultural Intelligence Model shown in Figure 5.1, reflect on your cultural competence, either in general or with regard to a specific patron group with whom you anticipate working.

  • How would you rate your cultural competence? Are you stronger in some areas, such as Drive or Knowledge, than others?
  • What motivates you to improve your cultural competency?
  • How have you built your cultural knowledge? What resources can you use to continue building your knowledge?
  • Do you feel confident applying your cultural competence in the classroom? What strategies would you use as you plan and deliver instruction?

While learning about different cultures can empower librarians to provide more culturally relevant instruction, librarians should avoid categorizing or stereotyping specific learners. Cultural groups are not static or homogeneous, meaning learners from the same broad cultural group will not necessarily share all of the same values, beliefs, and understandings, or react in exactly the same way to instructional experiences. In addition, learners are comprised of multiple identities, of which culture is only one aspect. Thus, we should use the knowledge we develop about different cultures as a way to be alert to potential differences that could lead to misunderstandings, but not to pigeonhole or predict the behavior and experience of an individual learner.

Strategies for Inclusive Teaching

Increasing our knowledge and understanding of other cultures is only a first step toward cultural competence and inclusive teaching. We also need to parlay that understanding into instructional practices that acknowledge, appreciate, and attend to the rich diversity of our classrooms. This section presents strategies for inclusive teaching, including fostering a positive classroom climate, integrating diverse content, and using inclusive pedagogies.

Fostering a Positive Classroom Climate

Our sense of belonging in the classroom influences our motivation to learn. The Center for Teaching and Learning (2019) at Columbia University identifies four types of classroom environments:

  • Explicitly Marginalizing: The instructor or other students say or do things, such as committing microaggressions or repeating stereotypes, that exclude learners and perspectives from marginalized backgrounds.
  • Implicitly Marginalizing: The instructor excludes some learners through subtle actions such as calling primarily on male students or using examples solely from the predominant culture.
  • Implicitly Centralizing: The instructor will discuss issues of marginalization and diversity if a student raises the topic, but such conversations are not planned or presented as essential.
  • Explicitly Centralizing: The instructor intentionally integrates marginalized perspectives into course content, raises issues of diversity and inclusion, and takes action to foster sensitivity, such as establishing norms for discussion and group work.

While the environment in any classroom can fluctuate, the overall classroom climate is often less inclusive and welcoming than instructors realize. In one study, instructors rated their course as falling midway between implicitly and explicitly centralizing, while learners rated the same course as implicitly marginalizing (Center for Teaching and Learning, 2019).

One conclusion we might take away from this research is the need for critical self-reflection on the part of instructors. In addition, the research suggests that instructors must make a concerted effort to create an inclusive classroom environment. Some strategies we can use include:

  • Express interest in students. Welcoming participants as they enter the room and learning their names help participants feel recognized (if you are worried about remembering names, you can have them create a table tent or name tag). In addition, instructors should come out from behind podiums, which can be perceived as distancing, to engage with participants. Reflective activities such as minute papers also offer opportunities to respond to individuals and demonstrate interest in their learning (Center for Teaching and Learning, n.d.; Bunner, 2017).
  • Establish ground rules for discussions. Establishing guidelines for civil, constructive interaction is becoming more common in credit courses; oftentimes, instructors engage students in creating these guidelines in order to foster a sense of ownership. The time constraints of library workshops may not allow for lengthy or collaborative agreements; however, librarians can establish simple ground rules, such as respecting the opinions of others and valuing diverse perspectives, at the beginning of sessions (Watts, 2017).
  • Foster student-to-student relationships. Instructional strategies that foster interaction such as think-pair-share, small group work, and class discussions promote positive classroom relationships.
  • Make expectations explicit. As mentioned earlier, cultural background can influence classroom behaviors such as participation styles and how, or whether, to ask questions. Instructors should make their expectations explicit with comments such as “I hope you will ask a lot of questions as we go along,” or “Right now we are going to work independently, but later we’ll share our work with others.”
  • Express high expectations for all students. Instructors should use an encouraging, positive tone, while also setting high expectations for all learners. Gay (2002) and Weinstein et al. (2003) point out that stereotypes based on race and/or gender can cause instructors to lower expectations for certain groups of students. Weinstein et al. (2003) offer the example of a non-native speaker of English who was offended when a teacher told him his English was “good,” rather than suggesting he continue to practice. He felt the former was patronizing and did not help him improve his language skills.
  • Address microaggressions and other forms of bias. As discussed earlier, instructors should be mindful of stereotypes and take care not to perpetuate them, and to practice intervention strategies that can be used when microaggressions occur in the classroom.
  • Ask for feedback. Instructors can use course evaluations and classroom observations to gather feedback on how well they foster an inclusive classroom environment.

Integrating Diverse Content

All learners have a right to instructional offerings that address their needs and interests. At the program level, we should offer workshops and other instructional resources on a wide variety of topics that are suitable for patrons of varied ages and ability levels. We should take care to schedule classes and programs at varied times to ensure access for the widest number of people. For example, a traditional storytime program on a weekday morning will serve families with a stay-at-home parent as well as families where parents work the late shift or on weekends, while a pajama storytime held in the evening will serve families where parents and other caregivers work during the day.

In addition, our course content should reflect the diversity of our communities and the larger world. Not only does this allow learners to “see” themselves in the curriculum, it provides opportunities for all learners to learn about diversity and equity and to develop cultural competence. In addition, integrating discussions of diversity and equity throughout the curriculum ensures these issues are not “othered” or treated as an addendum to a curriculum where whiteness and heterosexuality are the norm. Further, we must engage these topics in authentic ways, rather than with benign or superficial celebrations of multiculturalism (Bunner, 2017, p. 42; Kumasi & Hill, 2011, p. 252). Some strategies librarians can use to integrate diversity and inclusion into instructional content:

  • Use diverse examples. For instance, a librarian teaching a workshop on Overdrive can conduct sample searches featuring authors of diverse identities. An academic librarian or archivist teaching students to locate primary documents from World War II might highlight sites with materials from the Tuskegee Airmen or the all Japanese-American 442nd Regiment. Hinchliffe (2016) notes that librarians can call attention to issues of human rights through the examples used in class.
  • Choose metaphors and analogies carefully. While metaphors and analogies can help learners build on prior knowledge and make concepts more concrete, they are often embedded in cultural knowledge or experiences that not everyone will share. Similarly, pop culture references may exclude learners based on their age or cultural background, although in some cases librarians can pause to offer a brief explanation.
  • Discuss how issues of race, class, and gender impact the material being covered. Gorski and Swalwell (2015, p. 36) argue, “at the heart of a curriculum that is meaningfully multicultural lie principles of equity and social justice—purposeful attention to issues like racism, homophobia, sexism, and economic inequality.” Gay (2002) suggests that instructors address topics such as racism, historical atrocities, and structures of power, and contextualize issues within race, class, and gender. While librarians may initially feel uncomfortable discussing challenging topics in the classroom, Bunner (2017, p. 43) found that ignoring issues of race is more problematic for students of color than imperfect conversations.
  • Model how participants can seek out marginalized voices and perspectives. In addition to incorporating a wide range of perspectives into our own teaching, we can encourage others to adopt a wider perspective and demonstrate resources and search strategies to uncover marginalized voices.

As part of creating a more inclusive curriculum, librarians will need to build collections that incorporate the histories and voices of marginalized groups. After all, it will be difficult to use diverse examples or demonstrate strategies for surfacing marginalized voices if our print and online collections do not contain that material. In addition, we need to be skilled at working within these collections. Curry (2005, p. 70) found that small behaviors like raised eyebrows, biting one’s lip, or a reserved or even neutral affect communicated discomfort while helping a patron research LGBTQIA+ topics, leading the patron to be less likely to ask for help in the future. In the same study, Curry (2005, p. 71) found that even librarians who indicated a willingness to help the patron lacked the necessary knowledge to identify appropriate sources of information. While Curry’s study focused on assisting patrons at the reference desk, her findings are very applicable to the classroom.

Part and parcel with building our knowledge of resources, we must understand the biases and weaknesses built into existing search systems, and develop strategies to find information within (or despite) those systems. Drabinski (2008) shares her experience of teaching with a colleague who incorrectly assumed that if LCSH has a heading for “African American women,” it must also have a heading for “white women” and advised students to use that phrase when searching. Noble (2012, 2018) shows that search engines such as Google are not neutral; rather, they replicate the biases inherent in society, delivering search results that reinforce stereotypical depictions of women and people of color. Ultimately, librarians who are committed to integrating equity and inclusion into the classroom must step back to look at the totality of their library’s spaces, collections, and systems.

Inclusive Pedagogy

Pedagogy is our approach to teaching. It reflects our understanding of the learning process, our goals for the classroom environment and student learning, and, subsequently, the activities one plans for the classroom. Instructors who practice inclusive pedagogy recognize that students have varied preferences for and comfort levels with different learning activities such as lecture, whole-class discussion, and small group work, and offer varied ways for learners to engage in the classroom.

Instructors can select from a wide variety of activities when planning instructional sessions. In fact, novice instructors are sometimes overwhelmed by the seemingly endless array of options. Chávez and Longerbeam (2016, pp. 8-9) suggest cultural approaches to teaching and learning range from “individuated,” which tend to compartmentalize content and treat learning as an individual experience, to “integrated,” which are more interconnected and focus on shared learning experiences. Instructors might seek to balance activities that reflect an individuated approach such as lecture, independent practice, and reflective writing, with activities that reflect an integrated approach such as discussion, case studies, and collaborative work.

Another approach we can take is balancing instructor-centered and learner-centered activities. Instructor-centered activities are those in which the instructor has a strong role in directing course content and the process of student learning, such as lecture and demonstration. In student-centered activities, students direct and shape their own learning; examples of student-centered activities include small group work, case-based and problem-based learning, and practice exercises that allow students to explore their own interests.

In addition to varying classroom activities, instructors can offer learners choices. For example, during an online searching activity, we might give learners the option of trying a task on their own or collaborating with their neighbor. Instructors can also adapt activities to create a more inclusive environment. For example, workshop participants might be reluctant to engage in a discussion with others they do not know well, especially if the topic is sensitive. A think-pair-share, which offers time for individual reflection and ordering one’s thoughts, or a small group discussion, where one shares ideas with just a few others, may feel safer for participants and can be used as a lead-in to a whole-class discussion or activity.

Emancipatory Education

While inclusive pedagogy outlines the strategies we can take as instructors to honor our learners’ experiences and make our classrooms and instruction welcoming and accessible to all learners, critical pedagogy also recognizes learners as agents in the classroom and in the world. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Freire (2000) discusses the emancipatory aspects of education, or how education can be structured so as to empower marginalized and oppressed communities to liberate themselves from systems of oppression. Crucial to Freire’s approach is that the learners are the agents of their own liberation. Instructors can facilitate this process by recognizing and mitigating bias and through the inclusive strategies outlined in this chapter, but ultimately, learners should be empowered to act on their own behalf.

We can foster emancipatory education within the library classroom by surfacing oppressive practices not only within education but within library systems and structures, facilitating dialogues about these practices, and encouraging students to imagine and adopt roles for themselves in challenging those systems. Chapter 2 outlines steps we could take in the context of critical information literacy, such as helping students recognize how prevailing publishing practices and notions of authority favor some voices and marginalize others, and encouraging them to seek out those voices that have been marginalized to include their perspectives. We can also work with learners to take action in the wider world, as librarians at Dartmouth College did when they collaborated with students to petition the Library of Congress to eliminate the term “illegal aliens” from its official subject headings (Albright, 2019).

Our learners bring varied backgrounds, identities, and educational needs to the classroom. Using critical pedagogy as a guide, librarians can adopt inclusive teaching practices that create classrooms, libraries, and, ultimately, communities that are more just and equitable for all members.

Key takeaways from this chapter include:

  • Instructors should understand the role unconscious bias plays in discrimination and inequity, and develop strategies to prevent and address microaggressions, othering, and deficit thinking.
  • Cultural competence is a set of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable librarians to interact effectively with patrons from diverse backgrounds. Instruction librarians need to understand how culture affects teaching and learning, and develop strategies for inclusive pedagogy.
  • Elements of inclusive teaching include fostering a positive classroom climate, integrating diverse perspectives and issues of diversity and equity into course content, and using inclusive pedagogies.

Activity 5.5 asks you to reflect on inclusive teaching.

Activity 5.5: Reflecting on Inclusive Teaching

Find (or draw) an image, photo, gif, etc., that captures your thoughts on inclusive teaching. Share your image and a brief explanation with your classmates.

Suggested Readings

Accardi, M. T., Drabinski, E., & Kumbier, A. (Eds.). (2010). Critical library instruction: Theories and methods . Library Juice Press.

Edited by leading writers on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in LIS, this book offers a series of authored chapters that apply feminist, critical race, queer, and anti-oppressive theory and strategies to the library classroom. Chapters range from a broad examination of social power in the library classroom to application of specific strategies such as service learning and problem-based learning.

Adichie, C. N. (2009). The Danger of a Single Story. TED: Ideas Worth Spreading . https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

Adichie’s warning about how seeing others through a “single story” reflects systems of power and leads to deficit thinking is an important one for instruction librarians.

Banaji, M. R., & Greenwald, A. G. (2013). Blind spot: Hidden biases of good people . Delacorte.

Based on the authors’ extensive research, this is an excellent and highly readable introduction to unconscious bias.

Bunner, T. (2017). When we listen: Using student voices to design culturally responsive and just schools.  Knowledge Quest, 45(3), 38–45.

Bunner worked with students in grades 4 through 12 to identify strategies for culturally responsive teaching. In this article, she outlines six strategies and uses student voices to illustrate their importance and examples of successful implementation. The article includes an activity where instructors can reflect on their own practice.

Ettarh, F. (2018). Vocational awe and librarianship: The lies we tell ourselves. In the Library with the Lead Pipe . http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2018/vocational-awe/

Ettarh coined the term “vocational awe” to describe the perception that librarianship is a calling that requires sacrifice. As a result of vocational awe, librarians are hesitant or unable to critique libraries and the work of librarians, not only leading to workplace problems but oftentimes preventing us from solving (or even acknowledging) those problems.

Feminist Teacher . https://feministteacher.com .

By noted critical pedagogist Ileana Jiménez, this blog explores a variety of issues around critical pedagogy, diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching, with a focus on the K-12 classroom.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th anniversary edition). Bloomsbury.

Freire’s foundational text examines the ways in which traditional models of education replicate oppressive structures and argues for an educational model that centers the learners’ experiences in order to empower them to challenge those systems.

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106-116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102053002003

Gay provides four strategies for culturally responsive pedagogy: developing knowledge about cultural diversity, designing culturally relevant curricula, developing cross-cultural communication skills, and demonstrating caring.

Inclusive teaching: Supporting all students in the college classroom. Center for Teaching. Columbia University. https://www.edx.org/course/inclusive-teaching-supporting-all-students-in-the

Available from edX, this professional development course offers a thoughtful introduction to inclusive teaching. Although aimed at faculty teaching credit courses, instructors in all types of libraries will find valuable tips for creating an inclusive classroom environment, diversifying content, and engaging in critical self-reflection. A print resource with similar information, Guide to inclusive teaching at Columbia , is available online at https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/inclusive-teaching-resources/ and numerous videos from the course are available from Columbia Learn on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/CCNMTL/playlists?view=50&sort=dd&shelf_id=26

Jensen, R. (2004). The myth of the neutral professional. Progressive Librarian, 24, 28-34. http://www.progressivelibrariansguild.org/PL/PL24/028.pdf

Jensen challenges the myth of neutrality within libraries, arguing that to claim to be neutral is to support the existing political system. His critique of library programming is particularly relevant for instruction librarians.

Leckie, G. J., Given, L. M, & Buschman, J. E. (2010). Critical theory for library and information science: Exploring the social from across the disciplines . Libraries Unlimited.

Through a series of essays, chapter authors explore various aspects of library and information science through different critical lenses and apply the work of specific theorists to examine current practices in LIS. Chapter 8 proposes a model for transformative pedagogy based on the work of Freire, but readers will find inspiration and ideas for integrating critical theory into their work throughout the text.

McCombs School of Business. (2018). Implicit bias. University of Texas. https://ethicsunwrapped.utexas.edu/video/implicit-bias

This brief, nine-minute video offers a cogent introduction to unconscious bias.

Southern Poverty Law Center. (2015). Speaking up: Responding to everyday bigotry. https://www.splcenter.org/20150125/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry

The Southern Poverty Law Center offers strategies and scripts for responding to microaggressions and other forms of bigotry in workplace, educational, social, and family settings.

Souza, T. (2018, April 30). Responding to microaggressions in the classroom: Taking ACTION. Faculty Focus . https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/effective-classroom-management/responding-to-microaggressions-in-the-classroom

Souza provides a framework and helpful scripts for instructors to address microaggressions.

Storti, C. (1997). Culture matters: The Peace Corps cross-cultural workbook. Peace Corps Information Collection and Exchange. https://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/library/T0087_culturematters.pdf

Developed for Peace Corps volunteers, this interactive workbook is an excellent introduction to cultural competence. Chapters address how people of different cultures understand the concept of self, personal and social obligations, time, and locus of control, and how these differences impact communication, interpersonal relationships, and the workplace.

Sue, D. W., Alsaidi, S., Awad, M. N., Glaeser, E., Calle, C. Z., & Mendez, N. (2019). Disarming racial microaggressions: Microintervention strategies for targets, white allies, and bystanders. American Psychologist, 74 (1) , 128-42. https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000296

Sue et al. provide a concise introduction to microaggressions and the harm they cause and suggest strategies that targets, allies, and bystanders can use to disarm them. Although the discussion and examples focus on racial microaggressions, the strategies are applicable to all types of microaggressions.

Tewell, E. (2015). A decade of critical information literacy: A review of the literature. Communications in Information Literacy, 9 (1) , 24-43. https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2015.9.1.174

Tewell provides a concise, cogent explanation of critical pedagogy and its application to library instruction.

Weinstein, C., Curran, M., & Tomlinson-Clarke, S. (2003). Culturally responsive classroom management: Awareness into action. Theory into Practice, 42(4), 269-276. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4204_2

This article is rich with examples of how culture affects expectations for teaching and learning, and provides strategies for developing a culturally responsive classroom practice.

Albright, C. (2019, April 22). ‘Change the subject’: A hard-fought battle over words. Dartmouth News . https://news.dartmouth.edu/news/2019/04/change-subject-hard-fought-battle-over-words

Berman, S. (1969, February 15). Chauvinistic headings. Library Journal, 94, 695.

Berman, S. (1993). Prejudices and antipathies: A tract on the LC subject heads concerning people. McFarland.

Bertrand, M., & Mullainathan, S. (2003). Are Emily and Greg more employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination (NBER Working Paper No 9873). https://www.nber.org/papers/w9873

Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.C. (2000). Reproduction in education, society, and culture (2nd edition). Sage Publications.

Brook, F., Ellenwood, D., & Lazzaro, A. E. (2015). In pursuit of antiracist social justice: Denaturalizing whiteness in the academic library.  Library Trends, 64, 246-284. https://doi.org/10.1353/lib.2015.0048

Bunner, T. (2017). When we listen.  Knowledge Quest, 45(3), 38–45.

Center for Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Guide to inclusive teaching at Columbia . Columbia University. https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/inclusive-teaching-resources/

Center for Teaching and Learning. (2019). Common challenges related to course climate [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=441&v=blM6IPlu2nM

Chávez, A. F., & Longerbeam, S. D. (2016). Teaching across cultural strengths: A guide to balancing integrated and individuated cultural frameworks in college teaching. Stylus.

Cifuentes, L., & Ozel, S. (2006). Resources for attending to the needs of multicultural learners. Knowledge Quest, 35 (2) , 14-21.

Cooke, N. A., Spencer, K., Jacobs, J. M., Mabbott, C., Collins, C., & Loyd, R. M. (2017). Mapping topographies from the classroom: Addressing whiteness in the LIS curriculum. In G. Schlesselman-Tarango (Ed.), Topographies of whiteness: Mapping whiteness in library and information science (pp. 235-250). Library Juice Press.

Cultural Intelligence Center. (n.d.). CQ model. https://culturalq.com/about-cultural-intelligence/research/

Curry, A. (2005). If I ask, will they answer? Evaluating public library reference service to gay and lesbian youth. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 45, 65-75.

Drabinski, E. (2008). Teaching the radical catalog. In K. R. Roberto (Ed.), Radical cataloging: Essays at the front . McFarland. http://www.emilydrabinski.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/drabinski_radcat.pdf

Elmborg, J. (2006). Critical information literacy: Implications for instructional practice. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32 (2) , 192-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2005.12.004

Ferguson, S. (2015). Calling in: A quick guide on when and how. Everyday Feminism . https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/guide-to-calling-in/

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53 (2) , 106-116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487102053002003

Goldin, C., & Rouse, C. (2000). Orchestrating impartiality: The impact of “blind” auditions on female musicians. American Economic Review, 90 (4) , 715-741. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.90.4.715

Gonzaga, A. M., Ufomata, E., Bonifacino, E., & Zimmer, S. (2019, August 29). Microaggressions: What are they? How can we avoid? How can we respond? [PowerPoint slides]. https://www.chp.edu/-/media/chp/healthcare-professionals/documents/faculty-development/microaggressions.pdf?la=en

Gorski, P. C., & Swalwell, K. (2015). Equity Literacy for All. Educational Leadership, 72(6), 34-40.

Heinbach, C., Fiedler, B. P., Mitola, R., & Pattni, E. (2019, February 6). Dismantling deficit thinking: A strengths-based inquiry into the experiences of transfer students in and out of academia. In the Library with the Lead Pipe. http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2019/dismantling-deficit-thinking/

Hinchliffe, L. J. (2016). Loading examples to further human rights education. In N. Pagowsky & K. McElroy (Eds.), Critical library pedagogy handbook 1: Essays and workbook activities (pp. 75-84). ACRL. http://hdl.handle.net/2142/91636

Howard, S. A., & Knowlton, S. A. (2018). Browsing through bias: The Library of Congress classification and subject headings for African American studies and LGBTQIA studies. Library Trends, 67 (1) , 74-88. http://doi.org/10.1353/lib.2018.0026

Ilett, D. (2019). A critical review of LIS literature on first-generation students. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 19 (1) , 177-96. http://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2019.0009

Kim, K., & Sin, S. J. (2006). Recruiting and retaining students of color in LIS programs: Perspectives of library and information professionals. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 47 (2) , 81-95.

Knowlton, S. A. (2005). Three decades since Prejudices and Antipathies : A study of changes in the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Cataloging and Classification Quarterly , 40 (2), 123-145. https://doi.org/10.1300/J104v40n02_08

Kocevar-Weidinger, E., Cox, E., Lenker, M., Pashkova-Balkenhol, T. T., & Kinman, V. (2019). On their own terms: First-year student interviews about everyday life research can help librarians flip the deficit script.  Reference Services Review, 47 (2) , 169–192.   https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-02-2019-0007

Kumasi, K. D., & Hill, R. F. (2011). Are we there yet? Results of a gap analysis to measure LIS students’ prior knowledge and actual learning of cultural competence concepts. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 52 (4) , 251-264.

Longwell-Grice, R., Adsitt, N. Z., Mullins, K., & Serrata, W. (2016). The first ones: Three studies on first-generation college students.” NACADA Journal, 36(2), 34-46. https://doi.org/10.12930/NACADA-13-028

Matteson, M. L., & Gersch, B. (2019). Unique or ubiquitous: Information literacy instruction outside academia. Reference Services Review 47 (1) , 73-84. https://doi.org/10.1108/RSR-12-2018-0075

Morris, V. J. (2007, January). A seat at the table: Seeking culturally competent pedagogy in library education [Conference presentation]. American Library Association Midwinter Meeting / Association of Library and Information Science Education Annual Conference, Forum on Library Education, Seattle, WA, United States. http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~gdc27/final/documents/seatatthetable.pdf

Noble, S. U. (2012, Spring). Missed connections: What search engines say about women. Bitch, 54 . https://safiyaunoble.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/54_search_engines.pdf

Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism . New York University.

Osa, J. O., Nyana, S. A., & Ogbaa, C. A. (2006). Effective cross-cultural communication to enhance reference transactions: Training guidelines and tips. Knowledge Quest, 35(2), 22-24.

Overall, P. M. (2009). Cultural competence: A conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, and Policy, 79 (2), 175-204. https://doi.org/10.1086/597080

Portnoi, L. M., & Kwong, T. M. (2011). Enhancing the academic experiences of first-generation master’s students. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48 (4) , 411-27. https://doi.org/10.2202/1949-6605.6268

Princing, M. (2019, September 3). What microaggressions are and how to prevent them. Right as Rain . https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/life/relationships/microaggressions

Reinert Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning. (n.d.). Avoiding microaggressions in the classroom. https://www.slu.edu/cttl/resources/resource-guides/microaggressions.pdf

Schingler, M. A. (2015, August 18). How Dewey do: Head-scratching library categorizations. Book Riot. https://bookriot.com/2015/08/18/head-scratching-dewey-decimal-systemhead-scratching-dewey-decimal-system-categorizations/

Shachaf, P., & Horowitz, S. (2006). Are virtual reference services color blind? Library & Information Science Research, 28 (4) , 501-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2006.08.009

Sue, D. W. (2010a). Microaggressions: More than just race. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/microaggressions-in-everyday-life/201011/microaggressions-more-just-race

Sue, D. W. (2010b). Racial microaggressions in everyday life. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/microaggressions-in-everyday-life/201010/racial-microaggressions-in-everyday-life

Sue, D. W., Lin, A. I., Torino, G. C., Capodilupo, C. M., & Rivera, D. P. (2009). Racial microaggressions and difficult dialogues on race in the classroom. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15 (2) , 183-90. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014191

Tewell, E. (2020). The problem with grit: Dismantling deficit thinking in library instruction. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 20 (1) , 137-59. https://doi.org/10.1353/pla.2020.0007

Villagran, M. A. L. (2018). Cultural intelligence: Ability to adapt to new cultural settings.  Knowledge Quest, 46 (5), 8–14.

Watts, J. (2017). Inclusive cultural and social pedagogy in the library classroom. LOEX Quarterly, 44 (1) , 8-10. https://commons.emich.edu/loexquarterly/vol44/iss1/4/

Weinstein, C., Curran, M., & Tomlinson-Clarke, S. (2003). Culturally responsive classroom management: Awareness into action. Theory into Practice, 42 (4) , 269-276. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15430421tip4204_2

Instruction in Libraries and Information Centers Copyright © 2020 by Laura Saunders and Melissa A. Wong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

Putting Pedagogy Principles to Use in Your Classroom

Explore shawnee state.

  • Online Degrees
  • Tuition & Aid
  • Education & Teaching
  • Health Science

Many of today’s teachers may have grown up in teacher-centered classrooms, but more and more contemporary schools expect learner- or learning-centered instruction from their educators.

The way educators understand the fundamentals of teaching and learning shifts from generation to generation and from culture to culture. Like anything else, teaching philosophies move in and out of fashion. Still, the fundamentals of good pedagogy methods stay much the same, in spite of educational trends.

Putting the most effective pedagogy principles to use in the classroom can be tough, though, especially if those principles are new to the instructor. Nevertheless, teachers who understand the principles, approaches, and strategies of pedagogy can employ effective instructional methods for a variety of learners.

Types of Pedagogy

All the great teachers of history, from Plato and Socrates to Confucius, understood the principles of good teaching, and they used specific pedagogies to address their audiences. Modern educators divide the field of instruction into three distinct types of pedagogy, each designed for different contexts and environments.

Teacher-centered pedagogy

In this approach, the teacher assumes the central focus of the class. As such, the instructor takes the active role of giving information to students, and the students assume the passive role of receiving the information that the teacher provides.

For example, the teacher talks while the student listens. The teacher corrects when the student makes mistakes. The teacher chooses topics and strategies, while the student has little or no choice in how learning happens.

Teacher-centered pedagogy usually produces orderly, quiet classrooms. It may, however, create dependency in students, reducing their initiative and creativity in learning. In general, this approach works most effectively when a teacher needs to communicate large amounts of complex information in a short amount of time.

Learner-centered pedagogy

In a learner-centered classroom, students take on more responsibility for their own learning than they do in a traditional environment.

According to educational consultant John McCarthy , “Teachers encourage student-centered learning by allowing students to share in decisions, believing in their capacity to lead, and remembering how it feels to learn.” The learner-centered approach is more empathy-driven than its teacher-centered counterpart, and it emphasizes shared decision making in learning.

A teacher who employs a learner-centered pedagogy might offer several different learning activities for students to choose from. This approach works best when students are learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  

Learning-centered pedagogy

Advocates of learning-centered pedagogy say their approach removes the person as the central focus of the classroom. Instead, this method places the emphasis on the action rather than the actor.

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education said learning-centered pedagogy balances achievement with learner needs and motivations. A learning-centered teacher, therefore, moves between the roles of content expert and learning coach.

Pedagogy Principles

Pedagogy in teaching and learning can have ramifications that extend far beyond textbook theories of classroom instruction, so it’s important to understand the theory and goals behind each type.

In his landmark book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed, ”Brazilian educator Paulo Freire said teacher-centered pedagogy, which tilts the balance of power in the classroom towards the teacher, perpetuates oppressive class systems . He called this pedagogical approach dehumanizing and suggested a cooperative classroom was more appropriate, particularly for students from marginalized cultures.

Other educators and social theorists have taken distinctly different, though sometimes related, approaches from Freire. Maria Montessori, for instance, believed in a learner-directed environment, in which the emphasis was on the student. Montessori saw initiative and curiosity as the primary drivers of learning. Today, specialized Montessori schools design their instruction around her philosophy, but many traditional elementary schools have appropriated parts of her approach as well.

William C. Bagley , an educational theorist in the early 20th century, advocated a different approach from either Montessori or Freire. Bagley said the role of education was to preserve society, not to alter it. Consequently, Bagley proposed a teacher-centered educational model still practiced in many U.S. schools. His ideas reached their peak of popularity with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2005.

The principle of pedagogy adopted in a classroom affects everything from the content being taught to the goals of student evaluation. A traditional, teacher-centered pedagogy sees evaluation as a measurement of retention, which then gets encoded into a grade. It also gives a teacher complete power over what students learn and how. This approach mimics the traditional industrial or corporate structure in the U.S. but may feel out of date in an increasingly entrepreneurial economy.

In a learner-centered environment, on the other hand, evaluation may include self- or peer-directed evaluation tools. Students might also be given some measure of control over the content they learn and will likely be expected to show application of the ideas they’ve explored. These methods can help develop independent thinking more suited to the contemporary job market.

Methods of Pedagogy

Methods of classroom instruction differ depending on the types of pedagogy that underpins the teacher and institution . According to an article on Teach.com, some of those methods include:

  • Methods in teacher-centered pedagogy: Since teacher-centered pedagogy relies on the instructor’s expertise, the teacher in this setting primarily uses direct instruction. This can include technology, such as pre-recorded lectures, along with kinesthetic activities such as drawing, role playing, or sports. In a teacher-centered environment, the instructor selects and monitors all activities.
  • Methods in learner-centered pedagogy: Teachers who operate in learner-centered classrooms may provide personalized, differentiated instruction based on each student’s preferred learning style. Online games, small groups, and differentiated reading communities are popular learner-centered methods. In this pedagogical type, teachers might also encourage students to research and compile information on their own.
  • Methods in learning-centered pedagogy: Learning-centered pedagogy may borrow from both teacher-centered and learner-centered pedagogy methods. The emphasis in a learning-centered classroom is on content rather than personality, making nearly any method of instruction viable. In many cases, the challenge in a learning-centered environment is to determine how to create benchmarks that define success.

Understanding the goals and challenges of an educational environment allows educators to select the pedagogical methods best suited to their particular learning context.

 Pedagogical Strategies

Some people simply call pedagogical strategies instructional design. At this level, the educator has chosen to implement a specific pedagogical type, adopted its principles, and restricted themselves to its methodologies. Now, the educator goes one step further to select a single strategy to promote learning.

These strategies might include lectures, videos, group work, or games. Nearly any strategy could be teacher-centered, learner-centered, or learning-centered depending upon how it is used. For instance, a lecture might seem teacher-centered by nature, but a short, powerful lecture can provide the perfect lead-in to a learner-chosen activity. PowerPoint can be teacher-centered if the instructor creates it and uses it, or it can be learner-centered if the students create it using their own ideas. Podcasts that deliver teacher-designed lectures can fit into a teacher-centered approach, but student-created podcasts may be learner-centered or learning-centered.

There may be some misconception that modern or high-tech strategies are inherently learner-centered while traditional ones are teacher-centered, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Selecting a strategy often means adapting an instructional approach to a pre-existing pedagogical type and methodology. Just as lectures can have a role in a learner-centered environment, collaborative learning or digital labs can be presented in a teacher-centered fashion. Pedagogical types influence how strategies are presented, but they don’t have to dictate the strategies are chosen.

In his autobiography, “The Thread That Runs So True,” teacher Jesse Stuart recalled how as a 17-year-old starting his career at a rural Kentucky school in the early 20th century, he struggled to instruct first graders who slept through classes. Though he didn’t have the terminology to describe pedagogical strategy then, Stuart knew he had to innovate on the teacher-centered model prized at the time.

So, he created pictures, number cards, and other hands-on learning tools for his disenchanted first graders. In doing so, Stuart introduced a learning-centered pedagogy to a one-room school during an era in which few models existed other than the teacher-centered approach. Though practical application will vary according to context, educators who understand how to put pedagogy principles to use in their classrooms like Stuart did will be able to move comfortably between teacher-, learner-, and learning-centered models as needed. Shawnee State University’s online M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction helps educators enhance their planning, instruction, and assessment techniques to work within a variety of pedagogical styles. Our flexible, fully online program makes it easy for practicing teachers to return to school while keeping up with the responsibilities of work and life. If you’re interested in taking your teaching career to the next level, it’s time to learn what SSU can do for you.

IMAGES

  1. why is Importance of Critical Thinking Skills in Education

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  2. How To Use Critical Thinking in Your Classroom

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  3. Infographic Design The 6 Keys to Critical Thinking Teacher Classroom

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  4. Tools Of Critical Thinking

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  5. Using Critical Thinking in The Classroom

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

  6. Critical thinking is an essential skill for secondary students. Here's

    how would you implement critical thinking in your classroom

VIDEO

  1. How to Foster Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in the Classroom

  2. Σεμινάριο Erasmus+: "Integrating AI in the classroom with critical thinking"

  3. Teacher De-Wokefies Student By Teaching Critical Thinking

  4. CRITICAL THINKING CLASSROOM Day 77 LIVE Sept, 6 @ 10::45 a.m. EST Dr. Annette Feravich, Teacher

  5. Developing Critical Thinking in classroom in Pakistan

  6. How to Implement AI in Your Classroom

COMMENTS

  1. How To Promote Critical Thinking In Your Classroom

    You can encourage students to emulate this by using them in demonstrations, asking them to "think out loud" in order for classmates to observe how they reason through a problem. Develop the habit of asking questions that require students to think critically, and tell students that you really expect them to give answers!

  2. How to Implement Critical Pedagogy into your Classroom

    Present alternative views. In step 1, you, the teacher had to encounter views that were contrary to the dominant narrative. Now, present these views to your class alongside the traditional ones. Have them discuss both and encourage them to draw their own conclusions. If a student presents a viewpoint, encourage him or her to dig further.

  3. Eight Instructional Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking

    Students grappled with ideas and their beliefs and employed deep critical-thinking skills to develop arguments for their claims. Embedding critical-thinking skills in curriculum that students care ...

  4. Integrating Critical Thinking Into the Classroom (Opinion)

    Critical thinking blasts through the surface level of a topic. It reaches beyond the who and the what and launches students on a learning journey that ultimately unlocks a deeper level of ...

  5. PDF Critical Thinking in the Classroom…and Beyond

    Critical thinking in the classroom is a common term used by educators. Critical thinking has been called "the art of thinking about thinking" (Ruggiero, V.R., 2012) with the intent to improve one's thinking. ... Students who implement critical thinking skills approach the courseware in a more thoughtful and effective manner, ask more ...

  6. Cut Through the Buzz: 8 Ways to Teach Critical Thinking

    The ability to reflect and be clear about what your assumptions are is the first and most crucial step toward becoming a critical thinker. A primary theme of my classes and in my textbook Psychology: Perspectives and Connections is to teach students to challenge their own and other people's assumptions. I also use the phrase "Don't ...

  7. Integrating critical thinking into the classroom: A teacher's

    The general approach suggests that critical thinking is a cross-curricular skill that requires specific knowledge of how it works. The teaching of critical thinking must therefore focus on explicitly teaching its guiding principles, as well as putting the skill into practice through exercises that promote its use.

  8. A Critical Thinking Framework for Elementary School

    Maskot Images / Shutterstock. Critical thinking is using analysis and evaluation to make a judgment. Analysis, evaluation, and judgment are not discrete skills; rather, they emerge from the accumulation of knowledge. The accumulation of knowledge does not mean students sit at desks mindlessly reciting memorized information, like in 19th century ...

  9. Teaching, Measuring & Assessing Critical Thinking Skills

    Teaching Critical Thinking Skills. The definitions of critical thinking constructs were only useful to us in as much as they translated into practical skills that teachers could teach and students could learn and use. Consequently, we have found that to teach a set of cognitive skills, we needed thinking routines that defined the regular ...

  10. Practical Classroom Implementations for Critical Pedagogy

    To implement the foundational aspects of Critical Pedagogy in the classroom requires some art, a lot of creativity, and a bit of luck. It also helps to discuss possible classroom implementations with someone who is practiced in Critical Pedagogy methodologies. To describe possible implementations is the goal of this blog.

  11. Thinking Classrooms: How To Promote Critical Thinking In Class

    The fourteen principles of a Thinking Classroom are designed to promote a classroom environment that encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration. Here's a summary of each principle to help teachers create an engaging and effective learning environment: 1. Classroom Culture of Thinking. Create a classroom culture that ...

  12. Critical Thinking in the Classroom: A Guide for Teachers

    Critical thinking is a key skill that goes far beyond the four walls of a classroom. It equips students to better understand and interact with the world around them. Here are some reasons why fostering critical thinking is important: Making Informed Decisions: Critical thinking enables students to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation ...

  13. How to Teach and Develop Critical Thinking of Your Students in the

    Teaching critical thinking skills to students is like planting the seeds of inquiry to help them develop analytical minds. It is essential to foster these skills amidst the overwhelming amount of information available today. Picture a classroom where students are not just absorbing facts but actively engaging in constructing their own knowledge of the world. […]

  14. How to Implement Critical Pedagogy into your Classroom

    In step 1, you, the teacher had to encounter views that were contrary to the dominant narrative. Now, present these views to your class alongside the traditional ones. Have them discuss both and encourage them to draw their own conclusions. If a student presents a viewpoint, encourage him or her to dig further.

  15. Integrating Critical Thinking into your English classroom

    Critical thinking is a key skill needed for everyday life. It should be applied to all aspects of a learner's studies, no matter their age or ability. It's a way of adding perspective, questioning intent and understanding ways of improving. Take a minute to watch this short video. It will help you to understand what we mean by Critical ...

  16. How to Promote Critical Thinking in the Classroom

    Questioning Techniques. One of the most effective ways to promote critical thinking is through questioning. Teachers can employ various questioning techniques to stimulate thought, such as Socratic questioning. By asking open-ended questions that require students to think deeply, analyze, and evaluate, teachers can guide students to explore ...

  17. 11 Activities That Promote Critical Thinking In The Class

    6. Start a Debate. In this activity, the teacher can act as a facilitator and spark an interesting conversation in the class on any given topic. Give a small introductory speech on an open-ended topic. The topic can be related to current affairs, technological development or a new discovery in the field of science.

  18. Implementing the skills of critical thinking in the classroom

    A large part of critical thinking is the ability to reflect on things that have happened and our reactions to them. It is therefore crucial that we offer our students time and space to reflect, and the guidance to understand themselves.The Critical Incident Technique used by many intercultural trainers (e.g. in Chong, 2018) is a useful tool ...

  19. How To Use Critical Thinking in Your Classroom

    Build Questions and Use Them Effectively. This step focuses on creating and asking questions, and puts what you have previously prepared into practice. Questions are your best friends when planning how to improve critical thinking skills of your students, but they have to be used wisely. Remember: questions are not pointed sticks, but tools.

  20. Critical Thinking: A Guide For The Classroom And Beyond

    Analytical Thinking is a linear process which allows you to break down and review complex information. This type of thinking uses reasoning and logic to analyze the information presented, identify patterns and trends, and present facts and evidence. Critical Thinking includes an element of analytical thinking but goes much further.

  21. Critical Pedagogy: Challenging Bias and Creating Inclusive Classrooms

    Deficit-Based Thinking. Learners, by their very nature, come to our libraries and classrooms with gaps in their knowledge and skills. Oftentimes, instructors seek out research that will help them identify these gaps in order to develop relevant content. ... identities, and educational needs to the classroom. Using critical pedagogy as a guide ...

  22. Putting Pedagogy Principles to Use in Your Classroom

    Teacher-centered pedagogy. In this approach, the teacher assumes the central focus of the class. As such, the instructor takes the active role of giving information to students, and the students assume the passive role of receiving the information that the teacher provides. For example, the teacher talks while the student listens.

  23. PDF Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking in the Classroom

    critical thinking and problem-solving skills among nursing students. In fact, critical thinking enables students to make informed decisions by analyzing evidence, weighing the pros and cons, and considering different perspectives. This can be valuable in personal decision-making as well as professional decision-making (Orhan, 2022).