10+ Critical Thinking Questions to Build Your Skills
What is critical thinking for leaders, why do you need critical thinking skills at work, critical thinking questions for managers and teams, critical thinking questions for decision-making and planning, critical thinking questions for team building, thinking, critically, critical thinking questions faqs.
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- Problem-solving: In any workplace, there are bound to be problems that arise. Critical thinking enables employees to analyze the problem from different angles, identify the root cause, and develop effective solutions.
- Decision-making: Critical thinking is crucial when making important decisions. Employees with strong critical thinking skills can better weigh the pros and cons of various options, anticipate potential outcomes, and make informed decisions.
- Innovation: Critical thinking enables employees to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions to problems. Employees can identify new and creative ways to approach problems by examining the situation from different perspectives.
- Communication: Effective communication is essential in any workplace. Critical thinking helps employees to communicate their ideas clearly and persuasively. It also enables employees to listen actively, ask insightful questions, and respond thoughtfully.
- Time management: In fast-paced work environments, employees must make decisions quickly. Critical thinking lets employees quickly analyze information and make informed decisions without sacrificing quality.
What problem or issue are we trying to solve, and what are the underlying causes?
A manager leads a team that needs help meeting its sales targets. Rather than simply increasing sales numbers, the manager first tries to understand the issue’s root causes. After conducting research and analysis, the manager identifies that the team needs more sales training and skills to engage with potential customers effectively . With this understanding, the manager can develop targeted training and coaching programs to improve the team’s sales skills, ultimately leading to better sales performance.
What are the potential consequences of different courses of action, and how can I mitigate risks?
A manager is considering launching a new product line. Before making a decision, the manager should evaluates the consequences of different courses of action. They consider factors such as market demand, production costs, and potential profitability, as well as potential risks such as supply chain disruptions or low sales volume. With this understanding, the manager then develops strategies to mitigate risks and maximize the chances of success. By taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to decision-making, the manager can increase the chances of success and minimize potential negative consequences.
What data do I need to make an informed decision, and how can I ensure its accuracy and reliability?
A manager is considering expanding into a new market. To make an informed decision, the manager needs data on market size, consumer demographics, competitor analysis, and potential regulatory barriers. The manager then works to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this data, which involves validating sources, cross-checking data against multiple sources, and engaging experts in the field to provide additional insights.
What are the potential unintended consequences of the actions, and how can I minimize them?
A manager is considering implementing a new cost-cutting measure, such as reducing employee benefits. While this may help the organization save money in the short term, it could also have unintended consequences, such as reduced employee morale and increased turnover. To minimize these unintended consequences, the manager could consider alternative cost-cutting measures or work to mitigate the impact on employees by providing additional support or incentives.
How can I test the assumptions and hypotheses, and what metrics can I measure success?
A manager is considering launching a new product. The manager has assumptions about the market demand for the product, customer preferences, and production costs. To test these assumptions, the manager conducts market research, analyzes customer feedback, and conducts cost-benefit analyses to determine the product’s viability. The manager then sets metrics for success, such as sales targets or customer satisfaction ratings, and tracks these metrics over time to determine if the product is meeting expectations.
How can I anticipate and prepare for potential roadblocks or obstacles and develop contingency plans?
A manager oversees the development of a new product dependent on a key supplier for a critical component. The manager anticipates potential roadblocks, such as delays or quality issues with the supplier, and develops contingency plans to identify alternate suppliers or develop in-house capabilities for the component. In addition to developing contingency plans, the manager also communicates and aligns these plans with relevant stakeholders, including team members and leadership. It helps ensure everyone is on the same page and prepared to pivot if necessary.
How can I learn from past experiences and mistakes and apply those lessons to the current situation?
A manager oversaw a marketing campaign that failed to generate the desired results. After analyzing the campaign, the manager identified that the messaging was unclear and did not effectively communicate the product’s value proposition. When planning a new campaign for a similar product, the manager could apply the lessons learned by ensuring the messaging is clear and effectively communicates the value proposition.
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How can I leverage our team’s diverse perspectives and expertise to generate creative solutions?
A manager is tasked with improving customer satisfaction ratings. The manager could convene a cross-functional team, including representatives from sales, customer service, marketing, and product development. The team could then use brainstorming sessions or design thinking techniques to generate creative solutions, drawing on their diverse perspectives and expertise to create innovative ideas. By involving the team in the solution process, the manager not only taps into the collective knowledge and experience of the team but also increases buy-in and engagement around the solution.
What is the long-term impact of my decisions, and how can I ensure they align with our organization’s mission and values?
A manager overseeing a manufacturing operation may need to make decisions about sourcing raw materials or disposing of waste products. By considering the long-term impact of these decisions, the manager could work to identify suppliers who prioritize sustainability and implement practices that reduce waste and minimize environmental harm.
How can we effectively communicate our decisions to the team to gain buy-in and support?
A manager observes that their team feels disconnected from the work being done daily. Upon thinking, the manager understands that the team needs to be made aware of the rationale behind decisions made by the management. They can explore various communication strategies and channels to ensure team members understand the rationale behind decisions.
What feedback mechanisms can we implement to regularly assess and enhance our processes?
A manager observes little performance improvement even after reviews and appraisals are over. They conclude that the feedback mechanisms are insufficient as they work infrequently and without coordination for follow-ups. It helps them search for better processes to implement with their team.
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100+ Critical Thinking Questions for Students To Ask About Anything
Critical thinkers question everything.
In an age of “fake news” claims and constant argument about pretty much any issue, critical thinking skills are key. Teach your students that it’s vital to ask questions about everything, but that it’s also important to ask the right sorts of questions. Students can use these critical thinking questions with fiction or nonfiction texts. They’re also useful when discussing important issues or trying to understand others’ motivations in general.
“Who” Critical Thinking Questions
Questions like these help students ponder who’s involved in a story and how the actions affect them. They’ll also consider who’s telling the tale and how reliable that narrator might be.
- Is the protagonist?
- Is the antagonist?
- Caused harm?
- Is harmed as a result?
- Was the most important character?
- Is responsible?
- Is most directly affected?
- Should have won?
- Will benefit?
- Would be affected by this?
- Makes the decisions?
“What” Critical Thinking Questions
Ask questions that explore issues more deeply, including those that might not be directly answered in the text.
- Background information do I know or need to know?
- Is the main message?
- Are the defining characteristics?
- Questions or concerns do I have?
- Don’t I understand?
- Evidence supports the author’s conclusion?
- Would it be like if … ?
- Could happen if … ?
- Other outcomes might have happened?
- Questions would you have asked?
- Would you ask the author about … ?
- Was the point of … ?
- Should have happened instead?
- Is that character’s motive?
- Else could have changed the whole story?
- Can you conclude?
- Would your position have been in that situation?
- Would happen if … ?
- Makes your position stronger?
- Was the turning point?
- Is the point of the question?
- Did it mean when … ?
- Is the other side of this argument?
- Was the purpose of … ?
- Does ______ mean?
- Is the problem you are trying to solve?
- Does the evidence say?
- Assumptions are you making?
- Is a better alternative?
- Are the strengths of the argument?
- Are the weaknesses of the argument?
- Is the difference between _______ and _______?
“Where” Critical Thinking Questions
Think about where the story is set and how it affects the actions. Plus, consider where and how you can learn more.
- Would this issue be a major problem?
- Are areas for improvement?
- Did the story change?
- Would you most often find this problem?
- Are there similar situations?
- Would you go to get answers to this problem?
- Can this be improved?
- Can you get more information?
- Will this idea take us?
“When” Critical Thinking Questions
Think about timing and the effect it has on the characters or people involved.
- Is this acceptable?
- Is this unacceptable?
- Does this become a problem?
- Is the best time to take action?
- Will we be able to tell if it worked?
- Is it time to reassess?
- Should we ask for help?
- Is the best time to start?
- Is it time to stop?
- Would this benefit society?
- Has this happened before?
“Why” Critical Thinking Questions
Asking “why” might be one of the most important parts of critical thinking. Exploring and understanding motivation helps develop empathy and make sense of difficult situations.
- Is _________ happening?
- Have we allowed this to happen?
- Should people care about this issue?
- Is this a problem?
- Did the character say … ?
- Did the character do … ?
- Is this relevant?
- Did the author write this?
- Did the author decide to … ?
- Is this important?
- Did that happen?
- Is it necessary?
- Do you think I (he, she, they) asked that question?
- Is that answer the best one?
- Do we need this today?
“How” Critical Thinking Questions
Use these questions to consider how things happen and whether change is possible.
- Do we know this is true?
- Does the language used affect the story?
- Would you solve … ?
- Is this different from other situations?
- Is this similar to … ?
- Would you use … ?
- Does the location affect the story?
- Could the story have ended differently?
- Does this work?
- Could this be harmful?
- Does this connect with what I already know?
- Else could this have been handled?
- Should they have responded?
- Would you feel about … ?
- Does this change the outcome?
- Did you make that decision?
- Does this benefit you/others?
- Does this hurt you/others?
- Could this problem be avoided?
More Critical Thinking Questions
Here are more questions to help probe further and deepen understanding.
- Can you give me an example?
- Do you agree with … ?
- Can you compare this with … ?
- Can you defend the actions of … ?
- Could this be interpreted differently?
- Is the narrator reliable?
- Does it seem too good to be true?
- Is ______ a fact or an opinion?
What are your favorite critical thinking questions? Come exchange ideas on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .
Plus, check out 10 tips for teaching kids to be awesome critical thinkers ., you might also like.
10 Tips for Teaching Kids To Be Awesome Critical Thinkers
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- Defining Critical Thinking
- A Brief History of the Idea of Critical Thinking
- Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
- Our Conception of Critical Thinking
- Sumner’s Definition of Critical Thinking
- Research in Critical Thinking
- Critical Societies: Thoughts from the Past
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Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers
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85 Fun Critical Thinking Questions for Kids & Teens
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Have you ever thought about using fun questions to practice critical thinking?
Students may need a little guidance to think their way through questions that lack straightforward answers.
But it is that process that is important!
How the Right Questions Encourage Critical Thinking
Every parent knows how natural it is for children to ask questions.
It should be encouraged. After all, asking questions helps with critical thinking.
As they grow older, however, training them to answer questions can be equally beneficial.
Posing questions that encourage kids to analyze, compare, and evaluate information can help them develop their ability to think critically about tough topics in the future.
Of course, critical thinking questions for kids need to be age-appropriate—even better if you can mix a little fun into it!
That’s what I hope to help you with today. I’ve organized the questions below into three different ages groups:
- Upper elementary
- Middle school
- High school
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Students in upper elementary grades can be reluctant to put themselves out there, especially with answers that seem weird.
In some cases, such hesitancy is actually fear of differing from their peers (and a barrier to critical thinking ).
But that’s exactly why it’s important to practice answering ambiguous questions.
We want our children to stand firm for their beliefs—not cave to peer pressure.
Additionally, students may feel uneasy about answering serious questions, uncertain of tackling “big” problems.
However, with careful use of creative questions for kids, it’s possible to engage even the most reluctant children in this age group.
The idea is to simply get them interested in the conversation and questions asked.
If you have an especially reserved student, try starting with the funny critical thinking questions.
Humor is a natural icebreaker that can make critical thinking questions more lighthearted and enjoyable.
Of course, most younger kids just like to be silly, so playing upon that can keep them active and engaged.
With that said, here are some great questions to get you started:
1. Someone gives you a penguin. You can’t sell it or give it away. What do you do with it?
2. What would it be like if people could fly?
3. If animals could talk, what question would you ask?
4. If you were ice cream, what kind would you be and why?
5. Do you want to travel back in time? If yes, how far back would you go? If no, why not?
6. What could you invent that would help your family?
7. If you could stay up all night, what would you do?
8. What does the man on the moon do during the day?
9. What makes something weird or normal?
10. Can you describe the tastes “salty” and “sweet” without using those words?
11. What does it feel like to ride a rollercoaster?
12. What makes a joke funny?
13. What two items would you take if you knew you would be stranded on an island and why?
14. Do you have a favorite way of laughing?
15. What noise makes you cringe and cover your ears? Why?
16. If you could be the parent for the day, what would you do?
17. If you could jump into your favorite movie and change the outcome, which one would you pick and why?
18. If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
19. What makes a day “perfect”?
20. If you owned a store, what kind of products would you sell?
21. If your parents were your age, would you be friends with them?
22. Would you still like your favorite food if it tasted the same as always, but now had an awful smell?
23. What would you do if you forgot to put your shoes on before leaving home?
24. Who would you be if you were a cartoon character?
25. How many hot dogs do you think you could eat in one sitting?
26. If you could breathe under water, what would you explore?
27. At what age do you think you stop being a kid?
28. If you had springs in your legs, what would you be able to do?
29. Can you describe the color blue to someone if they’re blind?
At this point, students start to acquire more complex skills and are able to form their own conclusions based on the information they’re given.
However, we can’t expect deep philosophical debates with 12 and 13 year olds.
That said, as parent-teachers, we can certainly begin using more challenging questions to help them examine and rationalize their thought processes.
Browse the fun critical thinking questions below for students in this age range.
You might be surprised to see how receptive middle school kids can be to such thought-provoking (yet still fun) questions .
30. What would happen if it really did rain cats and dogs?
31. What does it mean to be lucky?
32. If you woke up in the middle of a dream, where would you be?
33. Is it ever okay to lie? Why or why not?
34. If you were solely responsible for creating laws, what one law would you make?
35. What makes a person a good friend?
36. What do you think is the most important skill you can take into adulthood?
37. If you had to give up lunch or dinner, which would you choose? Why?
38. How much money would you need to be considered rich?
39. If you knew you wouldn’t get caught, would you cheat on a test?
40. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
41. What is your greatest strength? How is that an asset?
42. If you had an opportunity to visit the International Space Station, would you do it?
43. Is it better to keep the peace or speak your mind?
44. Imagine yourself as your favorite animal. How would you spend your day?
45. Would you be friends with someone who didn’t have the same values as you?
46. How much screen time do you think is too much?
47. Can you describe your favorite color without naming it?
48. If you suddenly became blind, would you see things differently?
49. Would you ever go skydiving?
50. Describe the time you were the happiest in your life. Why did this make you happy?
51. If you had a million dollars, what would you do?
52. If you had to move to a new city, would you change how you present yourself to others?
53. What do you need to do in order to be famous?
54. If you could rewrite the ending of your favorite book or movie, what changes would you make?
55. How would you tackle a huge goal?
56. How would you sell ice to an eskimo in Alaska successfully?
57. What makes you unique?
Critical thinking takes on an entirely different role once students reach high school.
At this age, they have a greater sense of right and wrong (and what makes things so) as well as a better understanding of the world’s challenges.
Guiding teens to delve deeper and contemplate such things is an important part of developing their reasoning and critical thinking skills.
Whether it’s fun questions about hypothetical superpowers or tough critical thinking questions about life, older teens typically have what it takes to think their way to a logical conclusion .
Of course, use your discernment as you choose discussion topics, but here are some questions to help get you started:
58. How can you avoid [common problem] in the future?
59. Do you think it’s okay to take a life in order to save 5, 10, 20 or more people?
60. If you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would it be?
61. Is it better to give or receive a gift?
62. How important is it to be financially secure? Why?
63. If it was up to you, what one rule would you change in your family?
64. What would you do if a group of friends wanted to do something that you thought was a bad idea?
65. How do you know that something is a fact rather than an opinion?
66. What would it take to get you to change your mind?
67. What’s the most important thing in your life?
68. If money were of no concern, what job would you choose and why?
69. How do you know if you’re happy?
70. Do you think euthanasia is moral?
71. What is something you can do today that you weren’t able to do a year ago?
72. Is social media a good thing or not?
73. Is it right to keep animals in a zoo?
74. How does your attitude affect your abilities?
75. What would you do if you found out a friend was doing something dangerous?
76. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
77. What will life on Earth look like in 50 years?
78. Which is more important, ending world hunger or global warming?
79. Is it a good idea to lower the voting age to 16? Why or why not?
80. If the electrical power went out today, how would you cook if using wood wasn’t an option?
81. If you could magically transport yourself to any other place, where would that be and why?
82. When should teenagers be able to stay out all night?
83. Does the number zero actually exist?
84. What defines a generous person?
85. Does an influential person influence everyone?
Feel free to print out these fun critical thinking questions and incorporate them into your homeschool week!
will your children recognize truth?
About the author.
9 Provoking Critical Thinking Questions to Ignite Deep Reflective Discourse
Besides radical skepticism. Critical thinking can be defined by these three questions:
- What is true?
- Why is it true?
- What else is true?
Your ability to question a piece of incoming information. Doubt it, so you can come up with the best possible solution is more important than any certificate or diploma you’ll ever receive during your life.
Think about it.
In a typical company. People don’t hire other people to just stare at a screen and click buttons. If the job was to sit behind a monitor all day and tick random boxes. A company wouldn’t require a whole hiring team. Every corporation in need of staff would simply go outside the tall building they reside in and pick the first person passing by willing to sell his soul to the corporate regime.
No. What HRs are really interested in when they conduct interviews is this: They are trying to evaluate how you think.
Can you press the right buttons for the needed tools? Yes, surely they are looking for that, too. But more importantly, can you solve a challenge in an elegant way? Can you find your way out of a situation when things get sideways? Can you properly evaluate difficult cases and find the best possible solution without ruining the established systems and values?
These are the actual skills HR members are after.
Cognitive skills. Not mouse-clicking skills.
And while you can easily teach a smart person how to operate a particular software. What you can’t teach. Or at least will require a substantial amount of effort and nerves. Is to try to teach a dump person how to think properly.
But as I said in my recent post on how to improve critical thinking skills . We are systematically not challenged.
No matter the work you do – unless you work for NASA. Between 2 and 3 years. A job usually starts to feel like a venomous tonic of bitterness.
The repeated mundane tasks not only lead to a lack of drive. But also deteriorate your thinking.
If you happen to be in such an unchallenging and depressive state. Or if you are simply looking for ways to shake the cocktail of thoughts that circle inside your brain.
The following critical thinking questions will resurrect your enthusiasm and remove the rust from your gray matter.
Note: To better engage with the text. I highly recommend grabbing a notebook and answering the questions on paper. No rush. You can tackle them in the order you like. Also, don’t need to answer them all now. Tackle one question now and the rest when you have the time.
9 Provoking Questions to Foster Critical Thinking:
1. what are we absolutely sure is true, 2. what would my ideal life look like in x years, 3. if i had to write a book, what would it be about, 4. what’s the one thing i can do that will make everything else easier or even unnecessary, 5. what am i currently avoiding, 6. what kind of problems do i want in my life, 7. what can i learn from this person (or situation), 8. would could be, 9. what do i want to want.
The standard way we think about a problem or when we face a certain situation is to reason by analogy. We approach a situation looking at what someone else did to solve it. Then, we copy the solution and slightly adjust it to fit our case.
But a more sophisticated way to look at incoming situations is by reasoning based on first principles.
That’s precisely the question above: “What are we absolutely sure is true?”
For example, in an interview where Elon Musk talks about first principles. He explained that Tesla was able to become what it is – one of the largest companies that offers affordable electric cars. Not by doing what everyone else did with batteries – buy the expensive batteries and put them in a car. No, the Tesla team figured out what batteries are made of. What are their core materials? Once the team saw that the spot market value of these core materials is really cheap. They simply had to find a clever, and better way to assemble the pieces in a battery shape.
All of this means that when you are presented with a task. Don’t blindly copy what everyone around you is doing. Think about what is surely true. Then reason from there to find the best solution.
The second critical thinking question is: “What would my ideal life look like in X years?”
You can replace the X value with the number of years you fancy. But probably the prior question you should ask yourself is this: “What does my ideal life look like – in general?”
We rarely think in that direction. And even if we do. I don’t think we think enough about this.
If you ask yourself this question now. You’ll probably say something general like: Working a meaningful job; Traveling the world, etc., etc.
But what kind of job? Where do you want to travel?
What makes this question great is that it creates a series of sub-questions. Questions that are equally deep and challenging.
Additionally, you can tailor it to a product or for your job.
For example, “How do I imagine the best possible version of this product?” Or, “How do I imagine the perfect day in my day job?”
What makes this critical thinking question great is that it forces you to think about what you know. And more precisely, to try to package what you know in a volume. Furthermore, it will reveal what you value most.
If you think that you should write a business book. Then probably you value money. Or innovation more than anything else.
If your answer is a psychology book to understand human behavior , for example. Your interests are probably around the spectrum of understanding yourself along with others.
We are used to having endless to-do lists. We imagine that the more things we do. The more our value will increase.
Looking at the top companies in the world and the most successful athletes will show you otherwise.
The best in the business are not good at everything. They are masters of one specific category.
For instance, a basketball player is superb at playing basketball. Does that mean that he’s good with math? He can be. But probably he is not. Surely, though, he’s doing OK in life.
The point is to figure out what one thing you should focus on that can remove things from your list of tasks and help you achieve better results.
And this question can be applied to everything:
- Fitness : I can train at home with a set of dumbbells, which will make going to the gym unnecessary. I will save time and money and still be in shape.
- Business : I can focus on creating a single product. I don’t need a range of products in the same category. This will remove the need for additional machines and staff.
- Investing : I can focus on investing only in these 3 companies. This will prevent me from trying to learn about the rest of the industry – and stress about the rest of the industry. Plus, increase my return on investment because my cash will be focused on a small portfolio.
Do you avoid talking about an important topic with your spouse? Do you avoid changing your career? Are you purposely drowning yourself in endless social media posts to avoid thinking about your future? Are you purposefully not starting to work on the current task because you are no longer motivated by the work you do?
There are many things we can avoid.
You can even avoid thinking about avoiding things.
Once you crystallize what you are avoiding. You can then ask yourself why.
Why are you avoiding this? What’s the core reason?
The more you ask why, the more terrain from your puzzled unconsciousness you’ll uncover.
Probably you don’t want to bring a certain topic for discussion with your spouse because you’re afraid of her answer. Or, you avoid taking a leap to another career because you are afraid that you’ll suck.
Fortunately, the more you discover. The more you unclothe your inner thoughts. The better you’ll understand yourself and what you need to focus on next.
Life is basically a series of problems. The good news is, that we get to choose some of our problems.
I know, it sounds a bit absurd. But you’ll see why in a minute…
When you purchase a car, for example. While you surely solve most of your transportation-related issues – i.e., you won’t have to rely on public transportation. Another set of problems comes attached to the ownership of a car. In particular, you’ll now have to handle all the car-related problems – gas bills, changing tires, repairs, etc. And the magnitude of some of the issues will depend on the car you got. For instance, a heavy truck will require more gas and a lot more cash for maintenance than an ordinary sedan.
A similar way of thinking can be observed in every other area of life.
If you don’t want the frustrating experience of the daily commute. You can find a remote job or start your own online business . By doing so, however, your life doesn’t become issue-free. You’ll now have remote job problems – feeling isolated, lonely, etc. – or business problems – need to hire people, figure out how to grow your business, etc.
A subset of questions arises from the “What kind of problems do I want in my life?” Probably the most interesting one is the following: “What kind of problems am I willing to deal with?”
Owning a pet can be observed from the problem lens.
Surely having a dog is an extremely joyful experience. But it’s definitely not a walk in the park. You have to devote a substantial amount of time to care for the animal – feed him, take him out, etc. Yet, people get pets all the time because they are willing to deal with the challenges that come with the ownership of a pet.
What I want to say is that at times, the world might seem totally fucked . Like everyone is against us, and like someone ordered a horde of problems to come our way. This is not entirely true. We choose most of the issues that eventually occur. And we have the power to reduce the number of problems with critical thinking.
Negative feedback makes us uncomfortable. Something that turned out to be not so pleasant is purposefully avoided by the brain. But whether we like it or not. Feedback and trying, failing, and then improving are two of the best ways to grow, become an adaptive thinker , and hammer critical thinking barriers .
There is one extra option, though. A harm-free way to get better.
It’s: To safely observe life from the side bench and take notes while other people do stuff.
If a colleague is doing better than you in your day job. Calling him names won’t do you any good. A much better alternative will be to see what you can learn from this person.
The same concept applies even if someone is underperforming or simply acting like a jerk. There’s a lot of gold not only in “what to do”, but also in “what not to do”.
If you’re struggling to find people to mimic in your physical life. Simply read books written by smart folks.
Reading is probably the best way to expand your thinking skills and outsmart the competition.
My favorite ones in relation to thinking are:
- Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke
- Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows
- Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin
Thinking only considering what’s already available is not original thinking. You’re simply browsing the catalog of what’s already been made.
The question “What could be?” encourages critical thinking. Furthermore, it ignites creativity and passing the ordinary.
With this question, you break apart from the everydayness and press break from the mundane. You create space to think and to dream.
“What could be” is a mindset.
Just because something is the way it is, doesn’t mean it has to be like this forever. Also, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.
So, when the time comes. When something requires a change. Or if you are thinking about solving a problem. Don’t only rely on what’s already been made by others. Ask “What could be?”
With a question. This question: “What do we want to want?” Is how the ground-breaking book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari ends. Arguably the most difficult critical question of all.
Because we copy what others want – called mimetic desire . We usually want things everyone around us is longing for. A big house. A stable job. A social media profile with a lot of followers. A wardrobe full of clothes you only wear once.
A dramatically better way to look at life – and essentially at what you want. Is not to preoccupy your mind with what others have and thus copy their desires. But to ask yourself: “What do I want to want?”
Then, further questioning your answer with: “Do I want this because it aligns with my personal values , or do I want it because others are craving it?”
Our goals and our habits are based on our wants.
To ensure that you’ll end up in a place you like – not just land in a random job you’ll regret, for example. The best way to approach your life is by first figuring out what you want.
By far, “what do I want to want?” is the best question I have found that can help you determine the proper direction of your life.
Some Closing Thoughts
There are numerous articles online that aim to improve the way we think. How to approach critical thinking and thinking in general.
I’ve personally covered a lot on the subject in the following entries:
- Thinking Strategies for The 21st Century;
- 5 Critical Thinking Strategies to Enhance Problem-Solving
- What Are The 7 Critical Thinking Skills ;
- What To Think About ;
- Powerful Critical Thinking Quotes (Deconstructed);
- How To Think Better .
And while there are many good articles and books on the topic. They give you a false sense of knowledge. As if the mere possession of a book or simply reading an article about critical thinking can improve your ability to reason.
Essentially, these are all words on a page – a printed page or a web page, it doesn’t matter.
Reading the words won’t make you superiorly smarter. Using the words will.
And the first step toward using the words we digest is asking yourself questions. Hard questions. Critical questions.
A unique feature of our brain is that if you feed it questions. It will do its best to answer them. Even if nothing initially comes to mind.
So, don’t just scroll through what I’ve labeled above as critical thinking questions. Go to a quiet place. Undust your old desk – the one you used to study when you were a student. Then, take some time to think about the questions above.
Are the answers start to make you feel uncomfortable?
Good. You’re in the right direction.
Do yourself a favor:
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Examples of Critical Thinking Questions for Students
By Med Kharbach, PhD | Last Update: November 10, 2023
Critical thinking is an essential cognitive skill that entails the ability to reason, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. It goes beyond mere acquisition of knowledge. Instead, it involves deep, reflective thought, demanding us to question our assumptions, weigh evidence, and consider consequences. It’s about making clear, reasoned judgments. In essence, critical thinking is thinking about thinking, in a manner that allows us to improve the quality of our thinking.
In our daily lives, critical thinking helps us better understand ourselves, other people, and the world around us. It aids in problem solving, aids in the formation of beliefs and opinions, and encourages curiosity and creativity.
For example, when you’re faced with a major decision like purchasing a house, critical thinking enables you to weigh the pros and cons, assess the credibility of your sources of information, consider alternative options, and make a well-informed decision.
In professional situations, critical thinking is equally important. It helps us navigate complex work situations, make informed decisions, solve problems efficiently, and think creatively. For instance, if a company faces a decline in sales, critical thinking would help diagnose the root cause of the issue, evaluate different strategies to address the problem, and make effective decisions to rectify the situation.
The importance of critical thinking is particularly crucial for students. It provides them with the necessary skills to understand complex concepts, evaluate the credibility of sources, engage in thoughtful discussions, and develop reasoned arguments. It lays the foundation for lifelong learning and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.
This brings us to the concept of critical thinking questions . These are questions that are specifically designed to promote critical thinking. They go beyond factual inquiries, prompting individuals to analyze, synthesize, apply, and evaluate information. Critical thinking questions challenge the conventional wisdom and encourage individuals to think deeper, questioning the why’s and how’s.
They serve as a tool to spark intellectual engagement and stimulate thoughtful and reflective responses. As we delve further into this blog post, we will explore different types of critical thinking questions and how they can be applied in various contexts.
Related: Best TED Ed Lessons on Critical Thinking
Tips on Formulating Critical Thinking Questions
Creating good critical thinking questions involves understanding the basics of inquiry and knowing how to stimulate higher order thinking. Here are some tips and steps on formulating effective critical thinking questions:
Characteristics of Good Critical Thinking Questions:
- Open-Ended: Good critical thinking questions are typically open-ended, meaning they don’t have a single, simple answer. They invite students to think deeply and come up with their unique insights.
- Thought-Provoking: Effective questions challenge assumptions and encourage students to think creatively and critically. They provoke curiosity and exploration.
- Promote Discussion: The questions should stimulate meaningful discussions. The responses to these questions should not end the conversation, but rather, foster a deeper exploration of the topic.
- Clear and Understandable: The question should be framed in such a way that it is clear and easy to understand. Confusing questions can deter students from critical thinking.
Steps to Create Effective Critical Thinking Questions:
- Identify Your Learning Goals: Start by figuring out what you want your students to learn or achieve. Your question should align with these learning goals.
- Consider the Cognitive Level: Depending on the depth of thinking you want to stimulate, frame your questions accordingly. For instance, for higher order thinking, you might want to ask analysis, evaluation, or creation questions.
- Draft Your Question: Begin drafting your question. Remember, the best questions are open-ended and require more than a yes or no answer.
- Refine Your Question: Review your question. Is it clear? Does it promote discussion? Does it align with your learning goals? Refine as necessary.
- Test Your Question: Try out your question with a few students or colleagues to see if it stimulates the kind of discussion you’re hoping for. Be open to further refining your question based on the results.
Keep in mind that the goal of asking questions is not to ‘stump’ the students, but to promote intellectual engagement and thought. The best questions often lead to more questions, igniting a passion for learning and exploration.
Types of critical thinking questions
Critical thinking questions can be divided into the following categories:
1. Analysis Questions
Analysis questions ask the respondent to break a concept or idea into its component parts for examination. These questions can help uncover underlying structures, patterns, or meanings. They often involve words like “compare”, “contrast”, “classify”, “divide”, etc.
Example: “Compare the political ideologies of democratic socialism and laissez-faire capitalism. What are the similarities and differences between them?”
2. Evaluation Questions
Evaluation questions call for the respondent to make a judgment about the value of something, based on defined criteria. They often use terms like “critique”, “justify”, “validate”, “defend”, etc.
Example: “Evaluate the effectiveness of the government’s pandemic response measures. What were the successes and shortcomings?”
3. Inference Questions
Inference questions require the respondent to go beyond what is explicitly stated and make logical conclusions or predictions based on the information provided. Key words often include “infer”, “deduce”, “predict”, “conclude”, etc.
Example: “Given the recent surge in online shopping trends, what can you infer about the future of brick-and-mortar retail stores?”
4. Application Questions
Application questions involve applying knowledge or concepts to new situations or contexts. These questions often involve “applying”, “utilizing”, “implementing”, or “executing” learned knowledge.
Example: “How would you apply the principles of conflict resolution that we studied to resolve a disagreement in your workplace?”
5. Synthesis Questions
Synthesis questions invite the respondent to combine different pieces of information, ideas, or concepts to form a new whole or propose a solution. Words often associated with these questions are “design”, “formulate”, “propose”, “create”, etc.
Example: “Based on your understanding of climate change and renewable technologies, propose a comprehensive strategy for a city to reduce its carbon footprint.”
These types of questions, when used in the appropriate contexts, can help foster a deep level of understanding and stimulate higher-level thinking.
Examples of Critical thinking Questions
Here are some examples of critical questions that you can use to stimulate students’ critical thinking skills, encouraging them to analyze, evaluate, and create new ideas based on what they’ve learned.
- What do you think would happen if…?
- Can you explain why…?
- How would you solve this problem using different strategies?
- Can you compare and contrast these two concepts?
- How can you demonstrate your understanding of this concept in a different way?
- How would you categorize these items, and why did you choose to do it that way?
- What patterns or connections do you see in the information provided?
- How might you interpret these findings from another perspective?
- Can you design a…to…?
- How would you prove or disprove this statement?
- How can we improve…?
- What would be the consequences if…?
- Can you predict the outcome if…?
- What is the relationship between…?
- How can this be applied to other situations?
- What are the possible solutions for…?
- Why do you think that… happened?
- How can we test the validity of…?
- What alternative would you suggest for…?
- How can you illustrate this concept in a diagram?
- What would you recommend, and why?
- How is this similar to…?
- Can you make a general rule about…?
- How would you evaluate…?
- What evidence do you have for your claim?
- What are the implications of…?
- How does this contradict or confirm your understanding of…?
- Can you think of an example where…?
- How would you justify…?
- What do you think is the significance of…?
In conclusion, critical thinking questions are an indispensable tool for stimulating and nurturing the intellectual capabilities of students. They’re not just questions, but sparks that ignite the curiosity, analytical ability, and problem-solving skills in a learner. They invite students to dig deeper, challenge their preconceptions, and engage with material on a more profound level.
These questions play a pivotal role in taking learning beyond the simple absorption of facts into the realm of true understanding and application. They prepare students for the complexities of the real world, honing their ability to analyze situations, make decisions, and innovate solutions.
As educators and teachers, fostering this skill in students through the strategic use of critical thinking questions should be a top priority. So, let’s continue to question, to probe, and to encourage our students to do the same, for it’s in the exploration of these questions that true learning lies.
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Meet Med Kharbach, PhD
Dr. Med Kharbach is an influential voice in the global educational technology landscape, with an extensive background in educational studies and a decade-long experience as a K-12 teacher. Holding a Ph.D. from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada, he brings a unique perspective to the educational world by integrating his profound academic knowledge with his hands-on teaching experience. Dr. Kharbach's academic pursuits encompass curriculum studies, discourse analysis, language learning/teaching, language and identity, emerging literacies, educational technology, and research methodologies. His work has been presented at numerous national and international conferences and published in various esteemed academic journals.
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85 Critical Thinking Questions to Carefully Examine Any Information
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The ability to think critically will often determine your success in life.
Let’s face it. Every day, we are bombarded by news, social media updates, and an avalanche of information. If you take all of this at face value, it’s easy to be deceived, misled or ripped off.
That’s why it’s important to develop a mindset that focuses on critical thinking . This is a skill that needs to be developed in the classroom. But it’s also a valuable life skill.
With that in mind, the following post will share 85 critical thinking questions you can use to increase your awareness about different problems by carefully examining available information.
Let’s get started…
Table of Contents
What Are Critical Thinking Questions?
Critical thinking questions are inquiries that help you think rationally and clearly by understanding the link between different facts or ideas. These questions create a seemingly endless learning process that lets you critique, evaluate, and develop a depth of knowledge about a given subject. Moreover, you get to reinforce your viewpoints or see things in a new way.
We make decisions every day, whether at work or home. Adopting logical, rational, and practical approaches in addressing various issues requiring critical thinking is essential in decision-making. Therefore, before arriving at a decision, always ask yourself relevant questions and carefully analyze the matter’s pros and cons.
Critical Thinking Questions When in an Argument
When you make an argument using a critical thinking approach, you focus on justified claims that are valid and based on evidence. It helps one establish a strong argument.
- Do I disagree with the other person? Might the person I'm arguing with be misinformed on what they are saying?
- Would I be comfortable saying what I am telling him/her if I was in front of a group of people?
- What would happen if I lose this argument? Is engaging in this argument worth my time and energy? How will I feel if I lose?
- Is there room for ambiguity or misinterpretation? Are we arguing because I didn't make my point explicit? Should I take my time to understand his school of thought?
- Do I need some rest before saying something? Am I arguing because of other reasons other than the issues at hand? Do I need to take some time and cool down?
- Is it more important that I’m right? Am I trying to ask to prove an unnecessary point?
- Is this argument inductive, deductive, or abductive? Is it a weak or strong argument that I need to engage in? Is it compelling or sound?
- Is my opponent sincere? Given that they are wrong, are they willing to admit that they are wrong? Can they depend on available evidence, wherever it leads?
- Are my opponents only trying to shift their burden to me? What is the best way to prove them wrong without making them feel bad?
- Are the people I'm arguing with only interested in winning, or are they trying to pass some information across and help me discover the truth?
Critical Thinking Questions When Reading a Book
When you read a book, you probably ask yourself many “why” questions. Why is this a problem? Why did the character say that? Why is this important? The most challenging part of reading a book is assessing the information you are reading. These questions can help.
- If I learn only two things from this book, what will they be? How will they help me? How will I apply them in my daily life?
- What message are the authors trying to pass across? Are they making suggestions or providing evidence for their arguments?
- Given that almost every book is about solving problems, what is the most prevalent issue that the author is trying to solve?
- What is the author’s writing style? What strategy or master plan does the author employ to convey his/her main ideas throughout the book?
- Do I have background information about the book’s topic? If so, how is what the author is saying different from what I already know?
- What didn’t I understand from the book? Should I re-read the book to understand everything the writer is trying to convey?
- Which sections of the book do I love the most, and why? Generally, do I like this book? Should I look for more books that are written by the same author?
- If I had a chance to meet this book’s author, what questions would I ask him/her? What would I tell the writer about the book? Is it a great book worth recommending to your friends and family members?
- Who are the main characters of the book? If there is only one main character, what overarching goal does the character accomplish?
- In what ways did the protagonist change from the start of the book to the end? What caused the changes? Was the protagonist reckless in some ways? Which ways?
Critical Thinking Questions to Spot a Scam
Asking questions when you feel that a fraud or a scam is being presented to you is a good way to stretch your critical thinking muscles. Are you being emailed or messaged by a stranger? Or maybe there are other red flags you are unsure about. If so, ask these questions.
- Does it seem to be too good to be true? Is this stranger pushy or trying to lure me into making a poor decision?
- When trying out online dating: Is my new “friend” professing strong feelings towards me although we’ve only interacted for a few hours?
- Why is a stranger calling me to ask about my Social Security Number (SSN), personal contact information, or bank details while claiming they are from the bank or a phone company?
- When buying products online, why does the seller ask me to pay for goods using an insecure payment option like Bitcoin or money order?
- Does the email I have received have any spelling or grammatical errors? Is the language used overly formal or informal?
- If I do a quick search about the exact words of the email I received, does Google indicate it's a fraud or scam?
- Why should a stranger manipulate me using obvious questions like “Would you want to be rich or poor?” While they already know the answer?
- Is the email asking me to download an attachment? Or click a link to some insecure website?
- Is the person trying to make me feel selfish or guilty for not sending them money, whether for a donation or buying a product?
- Is the stranger portraying a sense of urgency and using pressure tactics? Are they telling me that their family member needs urgent medical attention?
Critical Thinking Questions About Your Life
It can also help to ask yourself a few critical thinking questions about your life. This way, you can gather basic information and uncover solutions to problems you might not have otherwise thought of.
- Where do I wish to be in a few years, probably two, three, or five years? What short-term and long-term goals should I set?
- What have I achieved so far from the time I set my previous goals? What should I be grateful for?
- Do I have any values that guide me in life? If so, what are these values? Am I always true to these values?
- Am I always worried about what people around me think? Can I act independently without the need to meet social expectations?
- What should people say about me at my funeral? Would they talk about how good I made them feel or how rich and flashy I was?
- If I wasn't afraid of anyone or anything, what would I have done? What if I didn't have any fear in me?
- If today was my last day, what extraordinary thing would I do? Can I do it right now?
- What should I do with the things that matter the most to me?
- What things will make the greatest difference in my future life if I take action now?
- How should I react when I feel unwanted by the people I love the most? Should I tell them?
Critical Thinking Questions for a Debate or Discussion
When you are in the middle of a debate or discussion, you need to know that what you are saying is fact, have evidence to support your claim, and position yourself as an expert in what you are saying. Here are some critical thinking questions to ask when you are in a debate or discussion.
- Is there fairness in this discussion? Is the moderator supporting one side? Do they want to make one side look stupid or wrong?
- What is the aim of this discussion? Is there a major problem that needs to be solved? If so, how can I help solve it?
- Who are the people affected by this discussion? If they were here, what would they say?
- Do my views on this discussion matter? If I raise my point, will I be redundant?
- What am I supposed to learn from this debate, and how can I use what I have learned in my daily life?
- Does the audience seem to be biased towards one side? Are they booing one side? What can I do even if it's our opponents being booed?
- Who are the discussion panel members? What views have they held about this kind of discussion or any other related discussions in the past?
- How can I make my point without being ambiguous? Before I speak, should I take down some notes to avoid any confusion during my speech?
- Am I ready to apologize if I make a mistake during the discussion? If so, what are the limits?
- What information does my team, or I need before this discussion?
Critical Thinking Questions About Lying
Admitting when you are wrong, choosing not to cheat, and sharing constructive feedback are all ways to show your honesty. Here are some critical thinking skills to ask regarding lying.
- Will the lie hurt those I am telling, or will it help them? What if being honest might cause my friend unnecessary pain?
- Should I be the one telling this person a lie, or I let someone else do it?
- Will I be the one hurt if I tell this lie? Will my friend feel I am a betrayer? Will it affect our friendship?
- Do they answer my questions in detail, or are they always trying to ignore and dodge the main problem?
- What if I ask these people the same question using different terms and wording? Will they give me the same response?
- Did the tone of my friend suddenly change after I asked him/her this question? Do they sound louder, faster, or slower compared to how they usually speak?
- Does this person have something to gain by lying to me? What is their motive?
- Does this person take a sudden pause or hesitate more than usual when responding to my question?
- When I look at these people's faces, do their facial expressions match what they say?
- Should I believe this person or not? What are my intuitions? Does it look like they are telling the truth?
- Do they blink like other days when I ask them questions? Are they always trying to avoid direct eye contact?
- Why do they seem uncomfortable when it’s just a normal conversation?
Critical Thinking Questions When Presented With a Claim
Critical thinking is much more than just evaluating whether a claim is true or not. It also means a critical thinker reflects on what follows from true claims.
- What does this claim mean, and what are its implications? What if it's a false claim?
- Which of my morals, values, or beliefs do I have to give up to accept this claim?
- Do professionals in this field agree or disagree with the claim that has been made?
- Do they have evidence to back their claim? Which is the most robust evidence to support the claim?
- What argument can I come up with to refute this claim? Or what is the best view that can support this claim?
- Who is the primary source of the claim being made? Is the basis of the claim reliable?
- Is it a claim, or it's just an opinion?
- Is the claim likely to be 100% false, true, or partially true?
- Am I allowed to refute the claim and table my evidence, or is it one-sided?
Critical Thinking Interview Questions
Critical thinking skills are valuable in any industry or field and for almost all roles. During a job interview, you will be asked questions so the potential employer can assess your skills and see how you use logic. Your critical thinking ability is just one vital part that can play into your professional development.
- Is there a time you had to convince someone to use an alternate approach to solve a problem?
- Have you ever had to make a difficult decision quickly?
- How would you handle a situation where your supervisor handled something wrong or made a mistake?
- What is one of the most difficult decisions you have ever had to make at work?
- How would you solve a disagreement between coworkers when approaching a project?
- Can you describe a time when you anticipated a problem ahead of time and took the appropriate steps to stop the problem from becoming an issue?
- If you discover a cheaper way to do something or a better solution to a problem and try to explain it to your supervisor, but they don’t understand, what do you do?
Critical Thinking Questions for Kids
We can’t leave the kids out either. Critical thinking questions for kids get them thinking and talking. It also allows a parent to get to know their child better.
- How many grains of sand do you think are on the beach?
- What would happen if it stopped raining?
- Do you think there is life on other planets?
- Should children be able to set their own bedtimes?
- How would you describe what a tree looks like without saying green or leaves?
- Can you name five different emotions?
- Can you talk for five minutes without uttering “um?”
What Are the Basic Principles of Critical Thinking?
Your critical thinking skills involve gathering complete information, understanding and defining terms, questioning the methods by which we get facts, questioning the conclusions, and looking for hidden assumptions and biases.
Additionally, we can’t expect to find all of the answers, and we need to take the time to examine the big picture of it all.
Here are the basic principles:
- Disposition: Someone with critical thinking skills is often skeptical, open-minded, and practices fair-mindedness. They can look at different viewpoints and change positions if the evidence and reason lead them to do so.
- Criteria: In order to think critically, one must also apply criteria. Certain conditions must be met before someone believes in something. The information needs to be from credible sources.
- Argument: An argument is simply a statement or proposition that is shown with supporting evidence. When you use your critical thinking skills, you identify, evaluate, and construct your argument.
- Reasoning: With critical thinking comes reasoning. You must examine logical relationships among the statements being made.
- Point of View: Critical thinkers can see things from different perspectives and different points of view.
What Are Good Analysis Questions?
Analysis is a part of critical thinking that allows you to examine something carefully. Someone with analytical skills can examine the information presented, understand what that information means, and then properly explain that information to others. Analysis in critical thinking provides more clarity on the information you process.
When analyzing, you may ask yourself, “how do I know this,” how would I solve this problem,” and “why does it matter?”
Why Is Critical Thinking an Important Skill?
Critical thinking skills allow you to express thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in a better way. It also leads to improved communication while allowing others to understand you better. Critical thinking fosters creativity and encourages out-of-the-box thinking. This is a skill that can be applied to many different areas of your life.
For example, knowing the answers to critical thinking questions for a job interview will better prepare you for the interview. Many employers, during questioning, are likely to ask you critical thinking questions to assess if you have the ability to evaluate information effectively so you can make more informed decisions.
Final Thoughts on Critical Thinking Questions
Although it's common to get torn between making two or more choices, nobody wants to make the wrong decision. The only thing you can do to avoid this is use critical thinking questions to examine your situation. The answers to these questions will help you make informed decisions and help you comprehend crucial matters in your life.
Want to learn more about critical thinking and decision-making using a real-life example? Here is how Jeff Bezos uses critical thinking to make some of the most challenging life decisions.
Finally, if you want to ask better questions, then watch this short, 20-minute course to learn how to have a great conversation with virtually anyone .