Resources for Educators

Teaching Tip

From the Teacher’s Aide Newsletter

2016 September

Teach Your Students to Think About Thinking

Many licensing and certification exam items require the student to think through their own body of knowledge and experience, and apply that collective body toward the situation at hand. This is indeed the very same process we hope licensed practitioners employ as they work with their clients’ healthcare needs. We call that critical thinking, and we assume that this critical thinking is naturally occurring in our classrooms as we present content and ideas for students to consider.

Most programs focus primarily on the acquisition of knowledge, practical skills, and professionalism, not necessarily the skills of critical thinking. We encourage you to make a more direct effort to include these skills in your curriculum, to prepare your students for their licensing exams and for their future practices. Here are two ways to begin promoting critical thinking in your classroom:

  1. Talk about the different cognitive levels. For example, show them a picture of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Talk about what level they will need to be at to begin their professional practice (understand, apply, and potentially analyze). Then show them where they will need to be to become a successful advanced practitioner (analyze, evaluate, and create).
  2. Teach meta-cognition. In other words, teach your students to think about thinking. For example, show them that learning assessments (exams) are not only useful for the teacher to monitor progress, they are extremely useful for the student’s own self-reflection. They can do that by asking questions about their learning process:

    What worked well for me in preparing for my last exam, and what did not work so well? What should I remember to do next time and what should I change about my exam preparation? What questions did I miss? Why? How did my answer compare to the suggested correct answer? What am I still confused about? How can I get the clarification I need?