Teach the Earth > Web-Based Resources > Educational Design > Fostering Critical Thinking > What is Critical Thinking?

What do we mean by "Critical Thinking" and "Inquiry?"

This issue was discussed in depth at the workshop and participants were polled for their answers to these questions.

Workshop participants' responses:

What are the key elements of critical thinking?

  • Process to create the ability to assemble knowledge of intellectual merit, to appraise, by using reflection with a healthy dose of skepticism, to logically formulate the "big picture."
  • [The ability to evaluate] different lines evidence, synthesize, and apply to new situations.

What do we mean by the term "Inquiry"?

  • Inquiry is a five-step activity or process that includes:
    1. Posing a question
    2. Determining what information is needed
    3. Getting the information
    4. Evaluation of the information
    5. Communication of findings
  • These stages are iterative, especially 2, 3, and 4
  • Inquiry based learning offers opportunities to formulate questions, and to use data and information to construct understanding.

How can we incorporate these steps and abilities into web resources?

  • We know it when we see it.
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