Critical Thinking Skills in New Contexts

What Bloom (1956) and Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) call "application," cognitive psychologists call "transfer." Both words describe the process of putting a skill to use in a new context. To learn to do this, Halpern (2003) argues that students require "structure training" in which they learn the important features of a situation in which a given thinking skill is appropriate. This way, they'll be able to recognize those features in new contexts and be cued to use the right thinking skill at the right time. 

Critical Thinking Skills

Multiple Solutions - Generating more than one option to meet a given set of criteria.

Multiple Solutions provides resources on ways to discourage satisficing and encourage flexible and divergent thinking in your students. Learn More

Students can assume all problems have one "right answer." The strategy involves confronting students with their own divergent thinking, and then asks them to synthesize these ideas into a "best" answer.

Ethics - Reasoning based upon the fulfillment of one's moral duties.

In any real context, determining what actions will have both impact and integrity requires a special kind of critical thinking. Learn More

Ethical discussions are difficult, but this teacher taps into an acute sensibility that students already possess.

Featured Teaching Strategy

Case Studies - Using a story with a carefully arranged set of facts to stimulate critical thinking.

In class, events and situations from outside the classroom are often simulated or represented using cases studies, so this module provides insights and techniques on how to find, create, and use case studies well. Learn More

A case study in the use of case studies: How to select good cases for your students to analyze, evaluate, and integrate.

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Halpern's Framework for Teaching Critical Thinking

Develop Critical Thinking Attitude
Critical Thinking Skills Training
Use Skills in New Contexts

Critical Thinking Skills

Multiple Solutions

Teaching Strategy

Case Studies


Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill,W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy ofeducational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay.

Halpern, D.F. (2003). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking (4th Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.