About This Blog

Brian C. Steinberg has over 15 years of Academic and Student Affairs experience. He has managed residence halls and apartments, advised Multicultural and International Students, and taught geography, diversity, college orientation, and technology courses at many campus and online colleges and universities.

Brian received his M.A. in Post Secondary Education: Student Affairs and Geography from The University of Northern Iowa. Brian is also a June 2002 graduate of the Social Justice Training Institute and is currently finishing up his PhD in The Leadership for Higher Education Program at Capella University. Brian also received his Diversity Graduate Certificate from Capella University.

Brian currently works for a diversity and multicultural education training and consulting firm and teaches and designs courses for a few online colleges and universities near Buffalo, NY.

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Critical Thinking Skills for Online Students

One of the main skills needed to be a successful online student is critical thinking skills. You may ask yourself, what exactly are critical thinking skills and how can I improve my own critical thinking skills? You can’t improve your overall critical thinking skills over night, but once you are going to school online, you can slowly improve them by starting to question everything and anything.

You can start to question everything and anything by using something called the Socratic Method of Questioning. This is the who, what, when, where, why and how of everything and anything. When you are writing your online assignments and answering your online discussion questions, you should always be asking yourself these questions to help your critical thinking skills to better understand the course and assignment objectives.

Some online colleges will actually require you to take a class in critical thinking. I know most online criminology and law programs do require you to take these classes. Also, most online institutions will require you to take an introductory course in student success where critical thinking becomes a large part of the online course. I actually teach both critical thinking and student success online classes for a number of online institutions and know this.

And finally, it may be difficult to self-assess your own critical thinking skills. One good method of assessing them is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy. The University of West Florida provides a good example of what Bloom’s Taxonomy is and how you can use it to assess and increase your overall critical thinking skills. Here is the link to it: http://uwf.edu/cutla/assessstudent.cfm You basically want to move from the bottom (knowing and remembering) to the top (creating). Many online instructors will grade your assignments and discussion responses based on the level of your critical thinking skills. It is key to make sure you are using higher order thinking skills which involves using both the Socratic and Bloom methods outlined above.

Here are some good websites if you want to find out more about critical thinking:


The Critical Thinking Community http://www.criticalthinking.org/

A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking: http://skepdic.com/essays/haskins.pdf

The Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing: http://www.criticalreading.com/

University of Louisville Critical Thinking Resources: http://louisville.edu/ideastoaction/what/critical-thinking/critical-thinking-webliography.html


Did this blog post help you to improve your overall  critical thinking skills? Please be sure to check back next week for another great blog post!