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Engaging Students in Critical Thinking

This course is designed as a framework for engaging students in active, critical thinking through content area subjects within the regular classroom.  As a global society, it is imperative that students learn to base their thinking on reasoned judgment and for that they need critical thinking skills. This course blends theory and practical application so teachers can ready their students for the lifelong journey of being critical thinkers. The strategies and topics discussed in this course make a positive difference in academic levels for students when applied to the classroom.  

Carlow University ED 630 • The College of Saint Rose EDC 694

Please note that this class is currently offered as a face-to-face class only. 

The required text for this course is Developing Minds: A Resource Book for Teaching Thinking, 3rd Edition by Arthur L. Costa. 978-0-8712-0379-3

Graduate participants earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit and will receive a transcript from one of our partner institutions below. Professional development participants will receive a certificate of completion for 45 hours of professional developments credit for face-to-face classes and 60 hours of professional development credit for online classes.

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Session Outline

Session One: The Rationale for Teaching Thinking

  • School Reform and the Need to Teach Thinking
  • Defining Critical Thinking
  • Reasoned Judgment and Critical Thinking
  • Thinking Skills and Standards Based Assessment: What is the Fit?

Assignment: Compare the delivery of the content area that you instruct to the thinking and reasoning skills identified from the McREL research.  Provide a written analysis of your findings.


Session Two: Characteristics of Critical Thinkers

  • Intellectual Traits for Critical Thinking
  • Universal and Global Standards for Thinking
  • Elements of Critical Thinking

Assignment: Reflect on Costa’s Habits of Mind and Paul’s Elements of Reasoning.  Note similarities between the two as relevant to critical thinking characteristics and skills. 

State the similarities (chart form is okay) and discuss two elements that you believe relate to characteristics of critical thinkers.

Session Three:  Why Teach Critical Thinking

  • Research Findings: Critical Thinking and Academic Achievement
  • Why Critical Thinking Counts
  • Why Critical Thinking is of Value
  • The Role of Critical Thinking in Education for Life

Assignment:  From your readings in this session and the text, outline the importance of teaching critical thinking in your classroom.

Session Four:  Instructional Strategies for Critical Thinking

  • Redirection/Probing/Reinforcement
  • Questions/Higher Order/Socratic
  • Wait Time and Research Findings
  • Instructional Practice


  1. Conduct a lesson in your educational setting in which you use “wait time” for questions. Record the students’ comments about the “wait time.”  Use probing questions to solicit the students’ ideas and comments about how the “wait time” affected the instruction.  Outline the findings making sure to include the probing questions.

Session Five:  Problem-Based Learning

  • Define and work through a Problem-Based Learning model as a model to teach critical thinking.

Assignment: Reflect on reading in session.

Session Six:  Instructional Strategies for Transfer of Thinking Skills

  • The work of Richard Paul: Thinking about Thinking
  • Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking
  • Socratic Questioning

Assignment: Target five Socratic Questions to incorporate into a lesson you will use with your students. Present the framework for the lesson.  Suggest an anticipated response to each question.

Session Seven:  Instructional Strategies for Transfer of Thinking Skills

  • Cueing Thinking in the Classroom
  • Teacher Behaviors which Promote Critical Thinking
  • Reflection on Ways of Teaching Thinking

Assignment:  Compare and contrast the problem solving-model with Problem-Based Learning and discuss how you will use it in your instruction.

Session Eight:  Creating the Environment Conducive to Critical Thinking

  • The Art of Transfer through Critical Thinking Programs
  • Teaching for Transfer
  • Frames for Teaching Critical Thinking

Assignment:  Select an article in Section VII of the text that is meaningful to you. Discuss how the article will impact your teaching and changes that will occur as a result of your knowledge.

Session Nine:  Addressing Critical Thinking through Various Learning Styles

  • Organizing Thinking Thru Visual Diagrams
  • The Visual Spatial Learner
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Critical Thinking for the Right and Left Brain Learner
  • Teaching the Language of Thinking in the Classroom


  1. Compare the instructional strategies that you are currently using with best practices for the visual spatial learner and/or the right-brained learner. Discuss how your instruction will change based on what you have learned in this session. Provide specific examples.
  2. Design a presentation for a group of teachers in which you target crucial points from one article that is pertinent to your instructional domain.

Session Ten:  Assessing Critical Thinking

  • Thinking and State and National Assessments
  • Resources for Teaching Critical Thinking
  • Self-Reflection and Classroom Instruction
  • Checklist for Critical Thinking Programs

Assignment: Develop a plan to implement the critical thinking skill strategies which you have learned through this course.  Include reflections on the checklist for critical thinking programs.  In your plan describe areas you will target for one year.  Also reflect on resources that you will need to implement this plan.     




  • Examine the role of infusing critical thinking skills in today’s standards driven curriculum.
  • Discuss definitions of critical thinking.
  • Study the correlation of infusing thinking skills into the curriculum and an increase in student achievement.





  • Analyze characteristics of critical thinkers.
  • Reflect on the logic of critical thinking.
  • Analyze the role of critical thinking and education for life.
  • Discuss the ethics of critical thinking.
  • Develop instructional strategies for critical thinking.
  • Compare and contrast thinking skills programs.
  • Establish guidelines for teacher behaviors that promote an environment conducive to critical thinking skills.
  • Analyze readings from experts in the field.
  • Develop lessons to infuse critical thinking into existing content area.
  • Conduct a self-appraisal on models of teaching related to critical thinking.
Important Information

Online 3-graduate credit courses are 13 weeks in length.

On-site weekend courses are held Friday evening from 6:00pm-9:00pm and Saturday/Sunday, 8:30am-5:30pm.

Weekday courses are Monday-Friday from 8:00am- 6:00pm.

It is the responsibility of the student to check with their state, county, district, or school to ensure that all requirements are being met by the course you're taking.  

Check the Partner Universities page for specific university information as well as course numbers which are specific to the university partner. 

Students are required to purchase their own textbook, the information for which can be found here. If no book is required it will be specified on the list. We have copies of many of the textbooks should you wish to purchase directly from TEI. 

Professional development (PD) participants receive a certificate of completion from TEI for 45 hours of PD credit for face to face classes and 60 hours of PD credit for online classes. These certificates are mailed within one week of the end of the class and reflect the course title, dates of attendance, and credit hour information. 

Student Academic Integrity
Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.