Teaching Critical Thinking


Video: Critical Thinking Explained
Critical Thinking Seminar: How to Host Your Own
Teaching Controversial Issues: Why It's Important
Books, Articles, & Studies on Critical Thinking

The mission of ProCon.org is to promote
critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship, primarily by presenting controversial issues in a pro/con format. Teachers using ProCon.org in their classrooms can encourage critical thinking as students are presented with both (or more) sides of an issue, prompting debate, deeper thought, and careful consideration of the controversy and the students’ own positions.

According to
numerous studies on critical thinking and quotes about critical thinking from famous thinkers spanning Aristotle to Zinn, when students learn critical thinking by discussing controversial issues, those students, in turn, go on to become more civically involved and engaged citizens, capable of dissecting information presented by biased sources to come to more informed conclusions.

What makes critical thinking so important? Here are just two examples:

  • 93% of higher education faculty believe critical thinking is an essential learning outcome. A 2005 report by the Association of American Colleges and Universities demonstrated the need for efforts to promote critical thinking by highlighting the disparity between the 93% of higher education faculty that perceive critical thinking to be an essential learning outcome and the 6% of undergraduate seniors that actually demonstrated critical thinking proficiency.
    Source: Ian J. Quitadamo and Martha J. Kurts, "Learning to Improve: Using Writing to Increase Critical Thinking Performance in General Education Biology,” CBE Life Sciences Education, Feb. 2007.

  • Critical thinking is considered the second most important life skill after interpersonal skill. In a 1994 survey of over 11,000 college graduates, the "ability to think critically” ranked as the second most important skill out of 16 in their daily life (#1 was interpersonal skills).
    Source: Cooperative Institutional Research Program, "1994 Nine Year Follow-Up Survey (of 1985 Freshmen),” Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 1995.

    ---Related Links---

    - Teachers' Corner - main page for ProCon.org educator resources

    - Free Lesson Planning with ProCon.org - lesson plan ideas, educational standards, and Common Core information

    - Teaching Critical Thinking - critical thinking videos and seminar, plus a curated collection of books and studies about the importance of critical thinking

    - Critical Thinking Quotes - illustrated quotes about critical thinking from famous minds

    - How Educators Use ProCon.org - see how thousands of educators incorporate ProCon.org into their curricula, and take the survey so we can add your insights to the list