Creating a Critical Thinker

College Teaching

A college education is expected to improve students’ critical thinking skills. Keeping students active in class—through writing activities and class discussion—has been shown to help students think critically. In this article, creative hands-on activities, which are common in engineering courses, are shown to improve students’ critical thinking skills in a general education course. The activities were sandwiched between pre-writing, reflecting, and writing assignments. Improvements in critical thinking skills were evaluated by comparing student pre-writing with the final paper. Overall, carefully developed hands-on activities increased student critical thinking, especially when students wrote reflections in a journal shortly after completing an activity.