Critical Thinking Questions For Students

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Furthermore, questions calling for factual recall are the type of questions that are least likely to promote student involvement.

In contrast, studies show that “open-ended” questions calling for divergent thinking (i.e., questions that allow for a variety of possible answers and encourage students to think at a deeper level than rote memory) are more effective in eliciting student responses than “closed” questions calling for convergent thinking (i.e., questions that require students to narrow-in or converge on one, and only one, correct answer) (Andrews, 1980; Bligh, 2000).

text) is known to promote teaching students the skill of asking “beautiful” questions.

Naturally, this raises another question: “What makes a question “beautiful?

Classroom-based research conducted by Alison King (1990, 1995) demonstrates that students can also learn to generate their own higher-level thinking questions.

Using a technique she calls “guided peer questioning,” students are first provided with a series of generic question stems that serve as cognitive prompts to trigger or stimulate different forms of critical thinking, such as: After students have communicated their ideas, either orally via group discussions or in writing via minute papers, I periodically ask them to reflect on what type of critical thinking my question was designed to promote and whether they think they demonstrated that critical thinking in their response.

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.

Ironically, and fortuitously, these results indicate that students are more likely to respond to questions that require deeper-level thought (critical thinking) than rote memory.

I insert open-ended, divergent-thinking questions (such as those included in the linked taxonomy) into my lecture notes as a reminder to pose them at certain points in class.


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