Thinking critically requires a complex combination of skills and dispositions, including but not limited to the capacity to recognise argument structures, to objectively assess reasons, to draw valid inferences, to question assumptions, to and identify biases. Students who can master the logical structure of a deductive argument are better able to master mathematical proofs, textual analysis, and persuasive writing. Inductive or probabilistic reasoning is foundational to hypothesis formation and testing and thus a core aspect of the scientific process. Since students of critical thinking learn how to master both forms of reasoning, their learning across all core areas of the curriculum is supported.
At a deeper level, students who have a tolerance for uncertainty and confidence in their ability to drive inquiry are more likely to persevere as they navigate through these intellectual structures and embrace change as an opportunity rather than a threat. These are exactly the virtues students will need once they graduate to thrive at work and life, and as effective citizens.
Last but not least, students who frequently and reflectively engage in critical inquiry become better aware of their intellectual skills, more self-confindent, and less prone to feel overwhelmed by complex intellectual tasks. They are therefore better prepared for the challenges of university life, and more likely to pursue their academic aspirations.
Thinking critically, at the same time, is not about knowing that. Rather, it is about knowing how. It is not about learning a piece of information, but rather how that information was produced, how it is supported, and how it should be evaluated.
Consistently with this insight, the pedagogical schema has been developed by Dr Peter Ellerton in response to two driving pedagogical imperatives:
Educators ought to speak and plan in the language of cognition.
The focus of learning experiences and assessment should be shifted from knowledge to inquiry.
The Pedagogical Schema for Teaching for Thinking, is designed to guide teachers in meeting these imperatives. It integrates a range of cognitive skills and values of inquiry to demonstrate how a non-discispline based suite of thinking capabiities can be realised in the classroom.