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Each of the critical thinking skills included in the taxonomy is defined in terms of a corresponding mental action and is followed by a trio of sample questions designed to promote that particular form of thinking.The questions have been constructed in a generic manner that allows them to be adapted for use in specific courses and academic disciplines.
National surveys of college faculty reveal that their number-one instructional goal is to promote critical thinking (Milton, 1982; Stark et al., 1990), and national reports on the status of American higher education have consistently called for greater emphasis on the development of college students’ critical thinking skills (Association of American Colleges, 1985; National Institute of Education, 1984).
While the call for critical thinking has remained consistent since the early 1980s, there has been much less consistency in how critical thinking is defined or described by those who endorse it (Fisher & Scriven, 1997).
It also involves a shift away from viewing learning as the reception of information from teacher or text (in pre-packaged and final form) to viewing learning as an elaboration and transformation of received information into a different form by the learner.
This broad definition of critical thinking does not equate critical thinking with the cognitive process of evaluation or critique; instead, it incorporates evaluation as one specific form or type of critical thinking.
On other occasions, I have students write a minute paper first and then discuss their written responses.
I have found that this strategy benefits the more reflective students by allowing them time to gather their thoughts prior to verbalizing them.
Considerable research evidence indicates that such generic question stems can serve as effective prompts for promoting student use of specific thinking skills in different contexts (King, 1990, 1995).
Research indicates that college instructors spend little class time posing questions to students, and when questions are posed, the vast majority of them are memory-level questions that ask for factual recall rather than critical thinking (Gardiner, 1994).
For instance, following a 25-year review of the critical thinking literature, Mc Millan concluded that, “What is lacking in the research is a common definition of critical thinking and a clear definition of the nature of an experience that should enhance critical thinking” (1987, p. Scholarly definitions of critical thinking have ranged from the very narrow—a well-reasoned evaluative judgment (King & Kitchener, 1994), to the very broad—all thinking that involves more than the mere acquisition and recall of factual information (Greeno, 1989).
In this article, I adopt a more inclusive definition of critical thinking that embraces all thought processes that are “deeper” than memorization and recall of factual information.