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!