Here we examine how critical thinking skills can be used by students across all content areas and its importance in processing large amounts of data.
What is critical thinking?
The Australian Curriculum defines critical thinking as "at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems."
This definition includes behaviours such as explaining, evaluating, analysing and hypothesising. Critical thinking is also classified as a general capability. This means that it can be developed both across and within different subject domains.
It is widely agreed that critical thinking is a necessary capability across all content areas, and in a rapidly changing world.
How to teach critical thinking
Teaching critical thinking is an area of continued research and understanding. Some common features that students need to become critical thinkers include:
deep content-rich knowledge to tackle cross-disciplinary, and diverse problems
inquiry and self-correction based on reflection on other's arguments
experience in applying critical thinking skills
flexible and content-rich curriculum
To find out more:
- read Peter Ellerton's paper on critical thinking and listen to his Edspresso
- read Daniel Willingham's paper on critical thinking
- read our conversation starter on thinking skills [PDF 650kb]
- listen to Sandra Lynch's Edspresso interview
- listen to Mary Roche's Edspresso interview
The position of critical thinking as a general capability, highlights its importance across all key learning areas. This is likely to become increasingly important as students will need to sift through large amounts of data, understand its source, and make decisions as to its accuracy.
Critical thinking resources
- Professional learning resources
- General capabilities: A perspective from cognitive science from CESE