Professional Development Training

TOPs - Incorporating Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills into Your Classroom



Barbara Hart

Start Date: 

November 2, 2016, 3:00 pm

End Date: 

November 2, 2016, 4:00 pm


Burrell 102D


A discussion of why critical thinking is so important in preparing our student for the 21st century workplace will lead to practical advice as to how we can encourage critical thinking in our classrooms. How can we model the skills we hope to teach? As a science instructor I find that taking time to explain not just the material we are covering, but how to critically interpret data is very important. I hope to teach not just a series of facts, but how to become a critical thinker. I will include examples of how to explain information presented in charts and graphs, mathematical models, statistical differences and the differences between correlation and causation, and fact and opinion. Another topic that I will cover is how to explain to students the differences between potential sources of information used to prepare college level assignments (academic vs. popular sources, primary vs. secondary resources) and why being able to discern these differences is so important.

Since critical thinking is a process, models of critical thinking and problem solving will be presented, including The Scientific Method, which has been one of history's most successful templates for discovery and problem solving. I will demonstrate how the steps of the scientific method can be applied to problem solving in a variety of fields.

Examples of hands-on exercises to stimulate critical thinking, that I have successfully used in my classroom, will be presented (surface area to volume ratio, measuring to volume of irregular objects).

Learning Objectives: 

  • understand the importance of critical thinking to the jobs of the future
  • understand the importance of teaching students how to think
  • provide examples from their field of study that can be used to illustrate how discoveries were made and the thought processes/problem solving skills of those involved
  • create hands-on exercises to challenge student's problem solving skills
  • create challenging exam questions that require students to take information from the material presented in class and apply it to questions not addressed in the classroom