Critical Thinking

The practices involved in “Making” have been called problem solving, process thinking, critical engagement and critical thinking. We believe that the intentional practice of supporting learners to develop their thinking and provide them with tools to conduct their independent problem solving are best encompassed by the domain of critical thinking. These practices are often modeled and supported by educators, which in turn can be adopted as “dispositions” that a learner employs independently. While tools for measuring critical thinking have typically taken the forms of questionnaires or essays, we aim to explore how products and processes inherent in making might also show evidence of critical thinking skills, with the goal of developing an observational rubric of these practices.

We plan to identify the sub-skills of critical thinking most relevant to making so that educators may select which skills their space best supports. Our initial list of these sub-skills, based on research on critical thinking in the arts, humanities, and sciences, include Observing, Interpreting, Evaluating, Associating, Curiosity, Honesty, Problem-Finding, Open Mindedness, Systems Thinking.

In developing this observational tool, we also hope to support educators to improve their practice through the formative feedback the tool might provide. As such, the tools will also address three types of evidence, guided by the following questions:

  • How are youth demonstrating critical thinking skills? (individual)
  • In what was am I (educator) supporting critical thinking skills? (collaborative)
  • In what ways is my space set up to support the practice of critical thinking skills? (contextual)