How to teach your students to think critically.

How to teach critical thinking skills online

Critical thinking is the quality of applying logical principles and careful reasoning to the claims and discussion of issues. This is a very important quality for every student to possess. Here’s a couple of benefits of critical thinking to your students.

  • Stimulates curiosity
  • Helps improve decision making
  • Enhances problem-solving abilities
  • Refines their researching skills
  • Polishes their creativity.

This, in turn translates into high academic excellence on the students’ part. Besides academics, students develop a good character, since they tend to have the capacity to control their actions, by thinking carefully about the outcomes. So, how do students learn to think critically?

1. Promote self-knowledge.

Many solutions to human problems start introspectively. One of the best ways to teach your students how to think critically is to teach them how to ask and answer questions inside of them, like;

  • What is worth understanding? Amid all the information that students can access these days, it’s pretty hard to tell what’s worthy and what’s not.
  • What problems and opportunities are within my reach? The world has so many problems right now, and without prioritization, it’s easy for a young person to get lost in trying to solve things that arent in their locus of control.
  • What important problems and solutions have others before me created? If we don’t know where we’ve been, we certainly cant know where we are going. For one to become a critical thinker, they have to have a context of the situation they’re in.

2. Ask questions

For people to have answers, there always has to be a question. By asking questions, you leave a room for a solution to be found, and for a thinking process to start. Here are examples of questions you can ask.

  • Why?
  • How do you know this?
  • How would your perspective be different if you were on the opposing side?
  • How would you solve this problem?
  • Do you agree or disagree – and why?
  • Why does it matter? Etcetera

When students are faced with questions like these, their minds are opened, and they get to learn to solve problems from different domains.

3. Use analogies

Finding connections between things, is one of the best ways to learn and possess critical thinking among students. This is how you can use analogies;

  • Explain the origin of different subjects.
  • Explain the similarities between ideas.
  • Explain the differences between ideas.
  • Task students to find these correlations by themselves.

By using analogies, you help your students learn how to connect the dots between things, which is a valuable trait for all critical thinkers.

4. Promote interaction among students.

Through interactions, students can always achieve amazing results. Through interactions, students can do the following;

  • Teach and explain to one another until everyone understands.
  • Freely raise questions about the things they can barely understand.
  • Express their opinions on different subjects, some of which they can’t express in the classroom due to fear of being judged or looking stupid.

Some students feel absolutely comfortable in a small discussion groups and are more comfortable with their fellow students than with their teachers.

Therefore, promoting discussions among them enables more than it teaches them to think critically.

5. Promote journaling.

A journal is one of the best ways that anyone can keep track of their thoughts.

Since a normal human thinks about 6,000 thoughts per day, according to a study in 2020. This makes it almost hard to keep track of any thought that hits your mind. This is how journaling enhances critical thinking.

  • It brings one’s most distant thoughts into clarity.
  • Stores thoughts for reflection.
  • Writing directly correlates with thinking, so the brain is at work.
  • Allows students to keep track of their brainwork.

Since majority of the people in Africa are not used to journaling, it is usually hard to teach someone to incorporate that into their daily life. Also, many people are concerned it might risk revealing their darkest secrets.

6. Allow reflection time.

Reflection is so important as far as critical thinking is concerned. Students learn a lot in the classroom, and they almost feel like they are robots, assigned with just one role of storing information without thinking.

By allowing and allocating special time for students to reflect on all the ideas they learn, form opinions and ask questions, you enhance their capacity to view things from a more critical perspective.

7. Use real-life problems.

One of the things that science has always been right about is the fact that adversity enhances critical thinking. By making students look into the world’s problems, you encourage them to think critically. Here’s some of the ways;

  • Expose them to news stories
  • Tell them about real-life problems that have happened to other people..
  • Ask them what they would do in case they were trapped in the same situations.

Students learn a lot of things when they are faced with other people’s problems and what they did to solve them, because it makes them less judgmental, which is another trait of critical thinkers.

8. Allow for thinking practice

All the above strategies are part of thinking practice. However, there are more fun ways that you can let students practice critical thinking, and make it a huge part of themselves, including;

  • Chess
  • Scrabble
  • Writing competitions
  • Debates
  • Crossword puzzles

When students are given an opportunity to exercise their brain just like every other muscle, it’s easy for them to get to enjoy it in time. This almost guarantees that they’ll become critical thinkers.


So many people, including adults these days yearn  to learn critical thinking as a skill, and that’s where they get it all wrong. Critical thinking has to be more of a trait, as it will then be employed in almost every area of one’s life. It is therefore paramount, that your students get to learn to think critically – and then form a tendency out of it.

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