NPDL Critical Thinking

What is Critical Thinking?

Think critically to design and manage projects, solve problems, make effective decisions using a variety of digital tools and resources.

The ability to think critically is essential in virtually any field of study or practice where ideas need to be communicated, decisions need to be made and problems need to be found, analysed and solved.

Today's students are often referred to as "digital natives" (Marc Prensky, 2001) who can use digital technology intuitively and who have never known a life without the internet or mobile phones. They have more access to content, and each other, than ever before in human history. They are connected and global. And yet, being able to ‘use’ a vast range of technologies is only a part of the story: our students need to be able to think and reflect deeply and be logical, inquisitive, discriminating and analytical learners.

Today's students need to be able to think critically, to be able to evaluate, compare, contrast, synthesise information and apply it appropriately to different contexts. The ability to think critically enables and empowers them to conceptualise, organise and classify knowledge from different dimensions and multiple angles. This is essential for them to be able to succeed in life after the classroom.

What does Critical Thinking look like?

Evaluating information and arguments

Learners are skilled at determining – both logically and intuitively – whether information is trustworthy, relevant, and useful. They are skilled evaluators of logical arguments and can identify unfounded assumptions, flawed premises, logical leaps, faulty reasoning, and unjustified conclusions. Further, they can clearly and concisely explain their own reasoning in ways that make sense to others and show good insight and clarity of thinking.

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Can't Lie on the Internet

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Making connections and identifying patterns

Learners are skilled in making connections, identifying patterns and seeing relationships. They are well equipped to construct deep understanding and to navigate the massive sea of knowledge effectively in an inter‐connected global world.

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Meaningful knowledge construction

Learners have strong critical thinking and reasoning skills, including interpretation, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Knowledge construction is deep, insightful, interdisciplinary or connected across multiple perspectives, and characterised by sound practical and critical thinking. Learners also use their skills to reflect on, evaluate, and improve their own learning processes, products, and outcomes.

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Ted Talks Education

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Collaborative knowledge construction

Learners think and work together with a powerfully synergistic shared cognition that is almost intuitive. The new knowledge created leverages both individual and collective expertise, and the quality of the shared thinking ensures that new knowledge is highly applicable to the real world. They can articulate how they "think together" to improve results.

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Experimenting, reflecting and taking action on their ideas in the real world

Learners have a strong ability to apply critical thinking, logic, and reasoning to evaluating their ideas. They also reflect well on their own processes, and work out how to transfer knowledge into new contexts and take action that makes some difference, based on what they discovered. They have likely identified processes that are particularly effective for identifying and evaluating ideas for creative applications of the knowledge in new contexts. Further, they can demonstrate how this helps them look at what they have learned in a new way that deepens their learning.

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Ewan McIntosh: TedX London

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Leveraging digital: exploiting the potential of the digital tools and resources available

Learners use digital elements ubiquitously throughout the task in powerful ways to deepen the quality and value of thinking together and critical thinking. Learners can articulate in detail about how each digital element has enhanced their ability to think critically and apply that understanding to new and different contexts.

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