College and university attendees learn many transferable skills while pursuing their studies. Critical thinking for college students helps them analyze information in a way that may predict a desired outcome, so they can choose the best course of action. Teachers can incorporate critical thinking skills into their coursework in the form of active learning and paired courses, where students have opportunities to exercise and reinforce them.
Critical thinking has been defined as an evaluation of thought processes that enables the thinker to project outcomes that lead to good decision-making. Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to examine a situation from all angles and choose an informed solution, without any bias or prejudice against available information. Students can learn critical reading skills that enable them to choose the best information from different sources to complete well-constructed projects.
Not only does this discipline of thought help students do well in school, but it gives them an advantage in the work world and in life as well. Critical thinking for college students teaches them comparative analysis, something they will need to make informed and thoughtful choices instead of impulsive ones. It helps them view ideas from different perspectives, which improves understanding. This leads to a mature thoughtfulness that many employers find valuable. It is one reason why many of them prefer candidates with a degree, because they know college-educated people are more likely to have learned this form of cognition.
Another valuable legacy of critical thinking for college students comes from the ability to engage in constructive communication. This skill involves seeking more information, reflecting back the original thought to be certain it is understood, and offering positive feedback rather than negative criticism. For example, a manager communicating a desire for improvement to an employee can focus on using strengths to solve the problem rather than summarizing the employee’s weaknesses. Classmates working on group projects have a golden opportunity to practice constructive communication, instead of getting bogged down in arguments over individual contributions or construction of the task at hand.
Schools have recognized that there is a distinct advantage to teaching critical thinking to college students. In an age of technology, information changes so rapidly and is disseminated so fast that some form of mental analysis is required to sort through it all. Sources of knowledge on the Internet are not necessarily reliable, and they must be evaluated on an individual basis. Students who learn how to think critically will be able to do this in every aspect of their lives, from buying consumer products to choosing the right career path.
No amount of teaching critical thinking for college students can force the students to use those skills, however. Instructors must employ techniques designed to practice them and that stimulate the desire to do so. Active learning with quizzes and problems is fun and engaging. Pairing a critical thinking course with another curriculum reinforces the lessons by allowing students to immediately apply what they have learned.