For this reason, approaches to Students first list as many inarguable observations as they can on the left, then the inferences about the picture they make, and finally they connect specific observations that support specific inferences.
Giving students practice developing these skills with objects from outside your discipline can help them focus on the activity itself, and worry less about content-specific performance.
It’s also an over-used and rather nebulous phrase — how do you teach someone to think?
Of course that’s the purpose of education, but how do you effectively optimize that concept into lasting knowledge and the ability to apply it broadly?
To avoid this, build “multiples” into how you teach: Considering how we’re thinking about something not only helps organize and solidify our knowledge, but it can also reveal gaps we need to fill and ways we need to think differently.
Some educators use assignment and exam “wrappers” to trigger this thinking in learners: for example, assignment cover sheets prompting learners to reflect upon what they found most difficult or important about the assignment, the strengths and weaknesses of their own work, and so on.
Successfully responding to such questions is the daily work of thinking.
Is this my biggest problem, or do I need to focus my attention on something else?
Critical thinking is the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances. This means you must be willing to practice special “acts” of thinking that are initially at least uncomfortable, and sometimes challenging and difficult.
The general goal of thinking is to “figure out the lay of the land” in any situation we are in. We need the best information to make the best choices. You have to learn to do with your mind “moves” analogous to what accomplished athletes learn to do (through practice and feedback) with their bodies.