Critical Thinking Worksheets

Critical thinking is more than just a simple thought process. It involves thinking on a much deeper underlying level rather than just at the surface. There is so much information available to us in this world that we don't know what is true and what is not. That's why it's important for students to analyze, think effectively, and understand that not everything is black and white.

Activities That Improve Student Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is perhaps the most important skill we need. It is paramount not just for job success but also for making the best decisions in crucial life matters.

As an educator, you should explain to your students that almost all our mistakes can be attributed to a lack of critical thinking. You can pick just about any big blunder you made in the past. You will invariably find that it transpired because of a failure to think critically.

Remember, the best thing you can do as a teacher is to inculcate a strong sense of critical thinking in your students.

Here are the activities that will help students to develop critical thinking.

Discuss Cognitive Biases

There are myriad cognitive biases.

The fact of the matter is we succumb to these biases at some point in our lives. Hence, it pays to study these biases.

You can pick those biases you think are the most detrimental and insidious. You should then explain them to your students to learn to identify and avoid these biases.

Perhaps the most dangerous bias by far is the Optimism bias. It may sound rather innocuous because of the word ‘optimism’. However, it is far more sinister in reality.

Optimism bias tends to think that bad things won't happen to us - they will happen to others only. For example, many think they won't suffer a fatal car crash. Hence, some get involved in overspeeding and texting while driving despite knowing their perils. No wonder these two reckless acts are the main reasons for fatal car crashes.

Writing About Biases

After elucidating various biases and providing simple examples to help them grasp these concepts, you can instruct your students to write about adverse events in their lives when they succumbed to these biases.

What did you learn? What were the consequences? These are further questions you can ask.

Talking about one’s mistakes is never easy. It is hard to concede that we are wrong at times. However, if we want to become better human beings and find success, we must learn from our mistakes. But the first step entails admitting one’s mistakes.

This will also instill humility and reduce overconfidence.

Avoiding Biases – The Easy Way 

All biases and ensuring blunders are avoidable with one simple trick.

It just takes one word to get smarter – “why”. That is, you should question everything. As simple as that.

In particular, you should question all that you do and think.

Write it down first whenever you are about to take action or form an opinion about something. Then in front of it, just write “why?” You can then brainstorm and write for and against the idea in logical points.

If you make this a regular habit, you will avoid many mistakes and regrets. You will also maximize positive returns from your decisions.

Explain It to a 6-Year Old

This is something that can greatly benefit students in their academic endeavors.

We are inclined to think that we understand what has been just said. But just nodding along is not enough. You should be able to explain it to others.

The good news is that this goes far beyond altruism. In truth, it is self-empowerment. When you explain an abstruse concept to others, you bolster your own understanding of the same. Reiterating something embeds it more deeply into your long-term memory.

The social factor may also be beneficial and fruitful.

Do Your Research

Teach students to challenge common perceptions and conventional wisdom.

Explain carefully that this entails walking a fine line. You don't want to be dismissive, nor do you want to be naive. Instead, you should have an open mind and a willingness to do your research carefully.

Inform students about consulting reliable online sources. Explain that it is best to consider multiple authentic sources. Don't be satisfied with just the first entry in Google search results.

Here's how you can instill the importance of research in your students.

Instruct your students to research air pollution in the US. Those who do their research more meticulously will find that indoor air pollution is far deadlier than outdoor air pollution.

Tell them that they found out this key health fact courtesy of research. You can further instruct them to find ways of mitigating these risks.

Motivate your students to do research by telling them that they will be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of knowledge that they can uncover via dedicated research.

Beware of Disinformation

Disinformation is ubiquitous these days. It has become a weapon of choice for bad actors ranging from rogue states to unscrupulous individuals.

Critical thinking can help dispel misinformation and prevent you from becoming its victim.

You should help kids to detect and deal with weapons of mass distraction.

There was a time when fake news was disseminated largely via social media.

It is being spread by state-sponsored groups masquerading as legitimate media outlets on the internet. The scope and scale of these fake news campaigns are staggering to say the least.

One such fake news campaign involved no less than 750 fake sites posing as media outlets. Disinformation from this notorious racket reached millions around the globe and even found its way to UN and European Parliament meetings.

You can instruct kids in your class to do a project on internet disinformation, complete with case studies. You should also tell them to write about all possible ways to spot fakes and scams.

Bottom Line

Shown above are the activities to develop critical thinking in students.

You might agree that cultivating this key ability in your students is one of the best things you did for them.