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There are many taxonomies of critical thinking skills; some
excellent examples can be found in Anderson and Krathwohl
(2001), Chafee (1997), Nelson (2005), Paul (1995), and Wolcott (2006). In an attempt
to be both concise and inclusive, the following skills were chosen based
upon reviews of the literature and classroom teaching experience.
Determining Causality - Identifying where influence exists and
the direction of that influence.
Accurately determining why something has happened is clearly an important intellectual skill, but vigilance must be maintained to avoid common fallacies and assumptions.
Analysis - Identifying the elements of something complex and
the relationships among those elements.
Understanding the structure of something is crucial for thinking critically about it, and this module will help you develop your students' abilities to understand how parts of something relate to each other and to a whole.
Inference - Drawing a logical conclusion from premises,
evidence and sometimes assumptions.
Slowing down the meaning-making process to identify its logical steps can equip students to evaluate the validity of claims made both in and out of the classroom.
Synthesis - Combining separate elements to create something
Cultivating this intellectual skill enables colleges and universities fulfill their mission of equipping students to create new knowledge.
Writing - Using writing assignments of various kinds to
stimulate critical thinking.
This module provides insights and techniques to help you support your students learning with formal, informal, and personal writing assignments.
Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for
learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of
educational objectives. New York: Longman.
Chaffee, J. (1997). Thinking critically.Boston, MA:
Paul, R.W. (1995). Critical thinking: How to prepare students for
a rapidly changing world . Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical
Nelson, J. (2005). Cultivating judgment: A sourcebook for teaching
critical thinking. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
Wolcott, S.K. (2006, February). Steps for better thinking: A
developmental problem solving process. [online] at