Critical Thinking Skills Training

At the end of the program, students were tested again.The students with critical thinking training showed greater improvement in their analytical skills, and not just for biology problems.

And at home, parents may consider these recommendations made by Peter Facione and a panel of experts convened by the American Philosophical Association (Facione 1990). Young children might not be ready for lessons in formal logic.

But they can be taught to give reasons for their conclusions. The effect of the biology critical thinking project on the development of critical thinking.

And the experiments mentioned above suggest that middle school students aren't too young to learn about logic, rationality, and the scientific method.

If your school isn’t teaching your child these things, then it might be a good idea to find some educational materials and work on critical thinking skills at home.

I also wonder about the need to counteract the forces of irrationality.

As I’ve complained elsewhere, TV, books, “educational” software, and misinformed authority figures can discourage critical thinking in children. Recent research suggests that our schools can improve critical thinking skills by teaching kids the art of debate. You might wonder if kids will work it out for themselves.After all, lots of smart people have managed to think logically without formal instruction in logic.In another experimental study, researchers Anat Zohar and colleagues tested 678 seventh graders’ analytical skills.Then they randomly assigned some students to receive critical thinking lessons as part of their biology curriculum.In fact, research suggests that explicit instruction in critical thinking may make kids smarter, more independent, and more creative.Here are some examples--and some expert tips for teaching critical thinking to kids.Richard Herrnstein and his colleagues gave over 400 seventh graders explicit instruction in critical thinking--a program that covered hypothesis testing, basic logic, and the evaluation of complex arguments, inventiveness, decision making, and other topics.After sixty 45-minute lessons, the kids were tested on a variety of tasks, including tests the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test and Raven Progressive Matrices (both used to measure IQ). Compared to students in a control group, the kids given critical thinking lessons made substantial and statistically significant improvements in language comprehension, inventive thinking, and even IQ (Herrnstein et al 1986).Moreover, studies show that kids become better learners when they are forced to explain how they solve problems. Studies suggest that students become remarkably better problem-solvers when we teach them to Do such lessons stifle creativity? Critical thinking is about curiosity, flexibility, and keeping an open mind (Quitadamo et al 2008).So maybe kids will discover principles of logic spontaneously, as they discuss their ideas with others. Perhaps the most effective way to foster critical thinking skills is to teach those skills. And, as Robert De Haan has argued, creative problem solving depends on critical thinking skills (De Haan 2009).


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