Skip to main content | Back to Navigation | Flash site | About this site
Overview (Start Here)
Research and resources
Under 50 students
Over 50 students
Out of class activity
Media and Technology
Under 50 students
Resource: The Cornell Note-Taking Method (handout)
A simple but powerful method enabling students to put their notes to many kinds of instructional use. (Described in 'Getting Students who Take Excellent Notes'.)
Commentary: Science is a Verb
Most non-majors take only a handful of science courses, usually in lecture format. Having realized that, this teacher now has his students DO science in class whenever he can.
Commentary: Engaging Students in Mid-Reflection
Calling attention to good thinking as it is happening can support students' growth into their own new perspectives.
Commentary: Reasoning through Value Conflicts
One teacher tackles emotional topics by illuminating the logics underlying the conflict generating the emotion.
Commentary: Introducing Causal Skepticism
Some ways to get students thinking about the quality of causal inferences and how to detect intellectual "cheap shots."
Commentary: Letting Students Choose their own Problem Solving Inquiry
One teacher's experience with the galvanizing effect upon his class when students are allowed to choose their own problem-solving inquiry topic.
Commentary: An Inquiry-Based Creative Problem Solving Course
A concise description of how an "inquiry" course can be organized, with a unique culminating presentation format.
Commentary: Why Student Self-Reflection is Critical to Inquiry
In the conversation of knowledge-creation, students must be prompted to ready themselves for constructive participation.
Commentary: The Nuts and Bolts of Portfolios
How one teacher uses portfolios in his class to track students' growth across the semester.
Teaching Tip: Reflective Listening
Insist upon critical thinking by probing deeper into a student's responses. This video shows one teacher helping her students learn this powerful engagement strategy to become counselors.
Teaching Tip: Reflection Notebooks and "Stickies"
Commenting upon students' writing is important, and this teacher has found a way to enrich those written conversations by making them self-referential.
Teaching Tip: Low-Stakes Assessments Early and Often
Challenging our own assumptions about our students can help us better meet them where they are and give us the feedback we need to prevent frustration.
Teaching Tip: Choosing or Writing Good Cases
Practical design suggestions for what to include in your case and how to structure it.
Teaching Tip: Discussion Papers
Two ways to address the age-old frustration of students not having read before coming to class.
Teaching Tip: Moving among Evidence-Based Approaches
Critical thinkers adjust their approach as the nature of the problem is revealed. Teaching students to "switch gears" can help them generate increasingly effective solutions.
Teaching Tip: Setting a Tone for Engaged Discussion
You do not have much time to set students' expectations for engagement. Three teachers share how they do it.
Teaching Tip: Recording Feedback as an Audio File
Retiring the red pen: technology has enabled us to give students more socially-engaged feedback on their writing.
Teaching Tip: Generating Your Own Case-Based Ethical Dilemmas
Ethical dilemmas provide rich insights into any field. Here are some ways to think about and places to look for dilemmas in your field.
Teaching Tip: Potential Portfolio Contents
Never taught with learning portfolios before? Here are some things you can include in them.
Teaching Tip: Evaluating the Portfolio
It is best to decide from the outset how you will evaluate student learning portfolios. Here are a few ways to do that.
Teaching Tip: Learning Contracts
Letting students choose how they will pursue course material can motivate them. Learning contracts clarify and document from the outset what that pursuit will look like.
Teaching Tip: Replicating the Scientific Publishing Process in Class
Help students learn the scientific review process by living it themselves.
Teaching Tip: Helping Students Contextualize their Opinions
Opening students' eyes to many perspectives on an emotional issue can be tricky. Here's how one teacher does it.
Teaching Tip: Drawing Students into an Ethical Case
Ethical discussions are difficult, but this teacher taps into an acute sensibility that students already possess.
Teaching Tip: Finding Good Cases in Popular Entertainment
Concrete examples can require detailed, backstory explanation. Here's where one teacher found ready-made cases his students already know.
Teaching Tip: Coaching Students how to Study
A few minutes telling your students how to study in science can make a world of difference. Here's what you can tell them.
Teaching Tip: Getting Students who Take Excellent Notes
Not all students arrive on campus knowing how to take effective class notes. A simple note-taking method can serve your students in many ways: for use as in-class notes, review, and high-quality exam preparation.
Teaching Tip: Cause and Effect from a First-Person Perspective
Cause-and-effect thinking can be stimulated by this unique writing assignment and peer evaluation process.
Teaching Tip: Turning Causal Conclusions around
Develop students' intellectual flexibility by having them build cases for a cause-effect hypothesis, then have them probe other hypotheses and the weaknesses of their own arguments.
Teaching Tip: Stimulating Critical Thinking with "Think Sheets"
Engage students in class readings with these brief writing assignments that demand divergent thinking.
Teaching Tip: Modeling Flexibility of Thought for your Students
How two teachers build flexibility into their own classroom behavior and syllabus, allowing for thinking-on-the-fly and instructionally relevant tangents.
Teaching Tip: How I Have Learned Portfolios Work Best
From experience, this teacher has learned a valuable lesson about what kinds of autonomy students should be given and what kinds they should not.
Teaching Tip: The Importance of Personalizing Critical Thinking
Inspire independent thought by connecting characteristics of historical thinkers to students' own lives.
Activity: Helping Students See Conceptual Relationships: Graphic Organizers
These simple activties leverage the power of visualizing information to help students make conceptual distinctions.
Activity: The Rhetorical Precis
Help your students begin learning how to summarize complex readings by giving them this simple set of prompts.
Activity: "Problematizing" a Graph or Image
A simple but surprisingly powerful in-class method for putting students in the shoes of a researcher.
Activity: Diagramming Arguments
Directing students' attention to how an argument is constructed is critical to helping them assess arguments made by others and make better arguments, themselves.
Activity: Necessary and Sufficient
Understanding a problem means learning more about what is necessary and sufficient to solve it. This exercise gives students practice identifying those elements.
Activity: After This, Therefore Because of This
Sensitize students to fallacies in causal reasoning by asking them to generate and then reverse causal inferences.
Activity: Facilitating a Case Discussion
Cases are excellent springboards into engaged discussion. A few moves on your part can help students make the most of that conversation.
Activity: Constructive Controversy
A sequential small-group exercise designed to engage students deeply in many sides of a complex issue.
Activity: The Third Variable Problem
Giving students practice generating alternative hypotheses is crucial to their critical thinking development. This activity can begin that process.
Activity: Evaluating Media Reports
Critical analysis of popular news stories can demonstrate to students the everyday usefulness of critical thinking skills.
Activity: Fishbowl Discussion
Watching others in discussion can sometimes trigger thinking that being a participant would not. This flexible format allows for both.
Activity: The Observation/Inference Chart
This exercise gives students practice identifying what meaning they draw from a given set of data, and evaluating the quality of their inferences.
Activity: How Good Are These Questions?
Give students practice assessing the quality of a question before deciding whether or how to answer it.
Activity: Information Literacy Activities
Students do not arrive on campus knowing how to make good use of information sources. Here are some ideas on how to get them started.
Activity: Problem-Solving Activities
A popular format for giving students practice grappling with problems that are realistically "messy."
Activity: Critical Thinking "In The Wild"
Giving students language to describe the kind of thinking done around them is the first stem toward equipping them as independent thinkers.
Activity: Develop a Deep Understanding of the Problem
Problem solving can leap too quickly to solution-finding, without enough attention paid to the nature of the problem. Here are some questions with which to slow things down.
Often used to describe any process of "coming up with ideas," brainstorming actually involves a specific set of discrete activities.
Activity: The "Hierarchical Solution Generation" Method
Brainstorming is only the first step to generating solutions: this method mines what has already been brainstormed to generate additional possibilities.
Among the simplest and most popular ways to activate any classroom. In as little as two minutes, students get time to reflect, compare thoughts with their peers, then give you feedback as a class.
Activity: Design a Perfect...
Releasing students from practical constraints can unleash creative brainstorming power.
Activity: Embellish Your Answer(s) to "What If?"
Extrapolating from current trends can be a doorway into creative problem-solving. This activity helps open that doorway.
Activity: Formal Writing: Making Research Papers "Proposals"
Take the traditional research paper up a notch by asking students to employ their research as support for a persuasive argument to a specific audience.
Activity: Informal Writing: A Few In-Class Activities
Fast and easy in-class writing assignments can provide the moment of reflection your students need to engage and contribute in discussion.
Activity: Personal Writing: Two Forms of Critical Thinking Journal
Critical thinking journals are a powerful way to stimulate student reflection and integration of course content into students' daily lives.
Activity: Reflection Assignments
Reflecting upon course-related experience is often a new kind of assignment for them. Reflection guides like this can help prompt them in constructive directions.
Activity: Synthesizing a "True" Statement from Competing Factions
One teacher's creative approach to putting students in the shoes of competing factions who have to generate a joint statement upon which they can all agree.
Activity: Collaborative Editing
To be a good writer, you must be a good editor. Here's how one teacher helps his students learn both skills at once.
Activity: Modeling How to Receive Criticism
Open students up to receiving criticism by showing them how you respond when you are criticized yourself.
Activity: Living an Ethical Case - The "Tragedy of the Classroom"
Telling a resource-depletion story pales in comparison to making students live it, with real grade points attached. Here's how one teacher does it.
Activity: Four S Activities
A powerful small-group discussion assignment that focuses students' attention on applying course material in order to make and justify a specific decision.