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Critical Thinking Exercises for Students

Aastha Dogra Mar 12, 2019
The critical thinking exercises given here are especially designed to help the students develop an impartial view of things, people, situations, and their surroundings.
As we grow up, the kind of experiences we have in life, the kind of upbringing we have, our interactions with other people, the beliefs handed over to us by our parents - all these things contribute to us forming certain assumptions about the things, events, and people around us.
Our thinking, understanding and the decisions that we take in life are all clouded by these assumptions. That's why, in order to think rationally and clearly, without any biases and assumptions, it is important that critical thinking is developed, during one's growing up years.
Critical thinking exercises have always been a part of college curriculum, although now, the same are being introduced in schools as well. Solving puzzles, brain teasers, and quizzing are the most commonly used ones. However, if you are looking for some innovative ones, then read the following write-up.

Fact or Opinion?

The best practices are those which help children differentiate between opinions (which are based on assumptions) and facts (which are universal truths). So, teachers can develop a worksheet, wherein a number of statements are given.
The children have to write, whether the statement is an opinion or fact in front of each of these statements. Some examples of statements that can be used are given here.
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. _______
Ms. Thompson is the best teacher in school. ______
My parents are honest. _______
Most people watch American Idol. ________
Christmas is celebrated on December 25th every year. _______
Everybody looks forward to Christmas holidays. _______
After the children have filled the worksheet, each and every statement should be discussed. The teacher should explain that statements, which can be debated are opinions, and those, which cannot be debated are facts.

What's Going to Happen Next?

Here, students are given two-three sentences, which depict a story. Based on these sentences, students have to predict what is going to happen next. Here are two examples of stories that you can use.
Example #1

Joseph was in two minds whether to go to college or take up a job. He discussed this issue with his father who was hell-bent that Joseph continued with his studies. Joseph had always been an independent sort of person, so ______________________________________
Example #2

Nancy was working part-time along with her studies so that she could save enough money to buy her own apartment. When Charles, who was an extremely rich guy, proposed her, she _____________________________________________
After the students have finished writing, ask them to read out their predictions. Each one will have his own story to tell, based upon his own assumptions, which may or may not be the actual truth.
Thus, such exercises will help the students to realize that their opinion of people or situations, is most of the time not based on logic. They will understand that opinions, emotions, and experiences always cloud rational thinking.

Tour of Class

Such practices need not be always serious. A fun way of developing a critical approach in students is to include role plays while teaching. Ask one of the students to pretend that someone who has come from a foreign country, say India.
Now, the other students have to one by one introduce each and every student of the class to him, including their habits, likings, strengths, weaknesses, something peculiar about them, etc. As the students introduce their classmates, they will realize that the traits which they find annoying in some are actually liked by others who are friends with them.
The students may also come to know a lot of new things about certain people, which can change their opinions about them completely. Thus, this will help the students to develop lateral thinking, i.e., seeing a situation from all points of view, before taking a decision.
Critical thinking exercises, such as these, are very useful in developing clarity of thought, logic, and reasoning in students. This kind of mentality helps a student to be impartial in decision-making. This trait will immensely help them in their personal as well professional life in future.