An article defining critical thinking and discussing the importance of the skill. Chan states, "Critical thinking is a domain-general skill. The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do. If you work in education, research, finance, management or the legal profession, then critical thinking is obviously important. But critical thinking skills are not restricted to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career."
"Overcoming Bias to Learn about Controversial Topics," V.G. Vinod Vydiswaran, ChengXiang Zhai, Dan Roth, and Peter Pirolli,Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, Aug. 2015
A study about overcoming confirmation bias and other biases about controversial issues. The study used ProCon.org's Milk and Alternative Energy sites to examine how biases were invoked in readers who were reading about controversial topics. The authors determined that "showing contrasting viewpoints by default helped significantly reduce strong biases in favor of or against topics and helped participants learn about new subtopics in an unbiased fashion."
A discussion of the psychology of morality and the underlying differences in perception between liberals and conservatives.
"Teaching About Controversial Issues" (50 KB) Andrea Lorek Strauss, National Information and Education Director of the International Wolf Center, and Jen Westlund, Program Director of the International Wolf Center, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website (accessed June 20, 2012)
An article about how teaching controversial issues benefits students. The article discusses effective teaching techniques for controversial issues, examples of bias, promoting thinking and discussion, and guidelines for resolving conflicts.
"Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth" Jonah Lehrer, New Yorker, Jan. 30, 2012
Article argues that debate and critical thinking stimulates creativity far better than brainstorming.
A study on the various approaches social studies teachers utilize for teaching controversial issues in the classroom and the ways in which controversial issue study prepares students for engaged citizenship.
"Teaching Controversial Issues...Where Controversial Issues Really Matter" Keith Barton and Alan McCully, Teaching History, June 2007
An article presenting suggestions about how teachers could handle controversial issues in the classroom, based on teaching in Northern Ireland.
"Cooperative Learning, Responsibility, Ambiguity, Controversy and Support in Motivating Students" Ronald Brecke, Park University, and Jacy Jensen, Park University, InSight, 2007
A study exploring how studying controversial issues in the classroom helps stimulate students and motivate them to take ownership in their own education.
An approach to teaching controversial issues with a "de-mystification strategy," giving students a way to make sense of complex and confusing issues.
"How Do Teachers' Political Views Influence Teaching about Controversial Issues?" Diana E. Hess, Social Education, Jan. 2005
A discussion of the extent to which teachers should disclose their personal views and a description of different approaches to teaching controversial issues, including: denial, avoidance, privilege, and balance.
A sourcebook providing teachers with 50 classroom-tested activities and assignments that stimulate and develop student critical thinking across the curriculum.
"Controversial Issues - Teachers' Attitudes and Practices in the Context of Citizenship Education" Christopher Oulton, et al., Oxford Review of Education, Dec. 2004
A paper researching the issue of teachers' use of controversial issues in the classroom and offering support materials to help teachers become more effective at teaching controversial issues.
"Teaching Controversial Issues" Center for Teaching and Learning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sep. 2004
A guide to successfully prepare for, and negotiate discussions of, controversial issues, whether planned or spontaneous, in the classroom.
"Controversies about Controversial Issues in Democratic Education" Diana E. Hess, PS: Political Science and Politics, Apr. 2004
An article on the benefits of teaching controversial issues in the classroom, an examination of disagreements over what kind of democratic participation should be encouraged in schools, and different ways teachers respond to these challenges.
A sourcebook that provides instruction on researching controversial issues and explains techniques for evaluating Web information sources critically.
"Advocacy, Critical Thinking, and the Classroom" Fisheries, Sep. 2003
An article on advocacy and critical thinking on controversial natural resource management issues.
"Enhancing Critical Thinking with Structured Controversial Dialogues" Hanizah Zainuddin, Florida Atlantic University, and Rashid A. Moore, Nova Southeastern University, The Internet TESL Journal, June 2003
An article discussing a "structured controversial dialogue technique" for developing critical thinking in English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
"Understanding and Developing Controversial Issues in College Courses" Briana K. Payne and Randy R. Gainey, College Teaching, Spring 2003
An article explaining strategies to enhance class discussions using the death penalty, gun control, alternative sanctions, and drug legalization as case studies.
"Academic Controversy: The Key to Teaching Thinking in the University" Y.K. Ip, National University of Singapore, National University of Singapore website, Feb. 2003
A short article on teaching critical thinking in the university along with a short list of suggested reading.
"The Impact of Academic Controversy on Subsequent Conflict Resolution and Relationships Among Students" James M. Mitchell, California State University at Hayward, David W. Johnson, University of Minnesota, and Roger T. Johnson, University of Minnesota, Journal of Research in Education, 2003
A study of the effects of teaching academic controversy versus individualistic learning and the ways in which these techniques influence conflict resolution strategies among students.
"Using Structured Controversy to Teach Diversity Content and Cultural Competence" Sue Steiner, Stephanie Bruzuzy, Karen Gerdes, and Donna Hurdle, Journal of Teaching and Social Work, 2003
A paper discussing the teaching of the structured controversy process and how it is used to teach diversity content in the classroom.
A study on critical thinking in classrooms including how teaching controversial issues in class helps students confront and resolve the dissonance of conflicting ideas.
"Classroom Conflict: Controversy Versus Debate in Learning Groups" David W. Johnson, University of Minnesota, and Roger Johnson, University of Minnesota, American Educational Research Journal, June 20, 1985
A study on controversial issue research and debate in the classroom. The results indicated that using pros and cons for classroom debate promotes "the most verbal rehearsal and exchange of the assigned material, the most concern that all students master the assigned material, the most active search for more information about the topic being studied, the most reevaluation of one’s position and the most attitude change" as well as "the most liking for the subject matter."
An article discussing the importance of teaching controversial issues in the classroom and how teachers who teach these issues in public schools can prepare for possible negative community response to the topics they cover.