Critical Thinking


Quality critical thinking involves casting one's prejudices, bias, and passions aside for rational, open-minded and evidence-based decision-making. 

This workshop will focus on the careful scaffolding or teaching of the cognitive verbs for critical thinking. This means that the appropriate thinking tools are aligned to the cognitive verbs, students are supported with their written or oral responses and that feedback is provided to the students at the key junctures. 

A pratical thinking skills framework for assessment and unit design will be offered. This workshop will also emphasise the importance of designing critical thinking taks and supporting these tasks with the appropriate thinking tools and language. 

Time: 90 minutes - Full Day

A. Explicit lesson design and a 4-step model

•    Silent Card Shuffle - introduction / re-visit of the 4-step process for scaffolding cognitive verbs.
•    Overview of the 4-step model, including design of explicit tasks for extension and challenge using the online itc thinking skills framework (Draft 1)
•    Analyse and the Icon Prompt
•    Fishbone diagram - sorting information for consolidation

B. Critical thinking tools

•    Evaluate and the Extent Barometer
•    DecideRecommend and the Decision- Making Matrix
•    Analyse and the SWOT
•    Critical thinking for deeper creative thinking - Word Association 

C. Sequential Unit Planning and Student Feedback

•    Designing the BIG question - what is the overarching question / task for the unit?
•    Designing sequential tasks for the different levels of thinking -creating the spine of a unit (Draft 2)
•    Checking for engagement and purpose - re-designing the BIG question
•    How will the students organise their research? Supporting students with aligned thinking tools for each task. Presenter to provide examples
•    Identifying the key junctures for feedback
•    Feedback tools: e.g. Feedback Summary Crib Sheet, First Impression and Exemplar Rustler
•    Lesson Consolidation - the 3:2:1:RIQ

Supporting research

High Impact Teaching Strategies - Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2017

  • Scaffolding - planned sequencing, specific steps / activities - effect size: 0.53
  • Metacognition strategies – planning and evaluating progress – effect size: 0.69
  • Feedback – student performance / learning goals - effect size: 0.73

Note: An effect size of 1.0 would improve the rate of learning by 50% and would mean that, on average, students receiving that treatment would exceed 84% of students not receiving that treatment.