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Structuring Assignments To Promote Critical Thinking
Thinking Assignments
11/26/2006, by The Critical Thinking Co.™ Staff
Writing assignments are an excellent vehicle for promoting critical thinking. In a paper, you can require students to provide valid evidence and arguments in favor of claims that they support and those they do not, thus encouraging them to consider more than their own perspectives. Writing requires students to plan and organize their thoughts in logical order, and if well done, it necessitates thorough and fluent knowledge of their topic.

Creating activities by which students can practice applying knowledge learned in class to new problems or everyday experience, encourages them to examine their assumptions and make judgments about the fit between theory and application, principle and practice. Problem-solving assignments are obviously an integral part of courses in mathematics, statistics, and the sciences, as they allow students to develop and refine the reasoning and hypothesis-testing abilities necessary for success in these disciplines. However, instructors in other subject areas can also consider how to help students develop discipline-relevant problem-solving skills, particularly concerning ill-structured and novel problems. Possibilities for this kind of activity are endless and are best developed by instructors to meet the unique needs of their students, disciplines, and subject matter.