Task 2 of Learning and Innovation Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Reason Effectively

  • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Use Systems Thinking

  • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems 

Make Judgments and Decisions

  • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
  •  Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
  • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
  • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
  • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

Solve Problems

  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
  • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions 

What activities contribute to the development of critical thinking skills?

Debates | Media Analysis | Problem – Solution Tasks


Debates demand that students examine all sides of an issue. Choose a debate topic that is relevant to your students’ interests, or better yet, let them nominate topics to be voted on by the class. Preparation can take place in face-to-face or computer-mediated communication. Debates can be made more real by having a class at another school take the opposing side and debate through teleconferencing software (Skype or Google Hangouts  are free and can be recorded for later evaluation) A service is provided by Skype in the Classroom to connect teachers for this kind of activity.

Media Analysis

Students can pick any age-appropriate news story and ask critical questions about it: Why was it written? Who is this story for? Why did the writer choose to interview the people in the story?  How does this story make you feel? Is there any bias involved in the reporting?Among the resources for news are News For You Online (easy to read stories for new ESL readers), Press Reader (international newspapers, read aloud), and Voice of America Learning English.

As a follow-up, students can create their own newspaper, using one of a number of online newspaper templates, such as MakeMyNewspaper.

Problem-Solution Tasks

What are the problems or challenges your students face?

You can ask them to solve the huge world problems like pollution but it might be better to give them the chance to think critically and innovatively about a problems closer to home.  A school community is an excellent place to apply systems thinking.

Part of the process of choosing what to tackle will be decision-making skills that involve prioritizing, analyzing arguments, and using judgement.  Using an electronic poll such as the ones you can generate through Google Forms may be incorporated into the choice of what problem to tackle.

Another method of making group selections is through Student Response Systems. See a review: Seven Good Response Systems that Work with All Devices.