Critical thinking in an online course

Critical Thinking in Online Courses


This discussion forum examines critical thinking in the classroom and how to write discussion board questions that stimulate critical thinking. For this board, you will develop a discussion question for your online course (that stimulates creative thinking and dialog) to share with your colleagues for feedback and input. 

The Critical Thinking Community hosts a robust website with several tools, resources, and research to bring critical thought into the classroom. Scan the following two documents about the role of question and inquiry:

Next, familiarize yourself with the essential elements of critical thought by reviewing the description of a model developed by the Critical Thinking Community: Overview of the Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking.

Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking

Explore the Elements and Standards Interactive Model as you think about a discussion board question to write for your online course. Which areas of the elements of critical thinking would you like your learners to explore in relationship to your topic? Consider the higher levels of thinking from the model: interpretation and inferences, concepts, assumptions, implications and consequences, question at issue or purpose, goal or objective. 

Once you have formulated an idea for your question, review these additional two resources on critical thinking developed at Ashford University, by the Critical Thinking Taskforce: Enhancing thinking in discussion boards & Discussion board job aid for curriculum developers.

Enhancing thinking in discussion boards describes ways to address five key aspects of critical thinking in class discussions: 

  • Establishing relationships
  • Maintaining high expectations
  • Fostering critical thinking
  • Incorporating instructor expertise
  • Providing instructive feedback to students

Discussion board job aid for curriculum developers details how to write a great question. It suggests that variety is key when developing questions. Some ways to vary the format and experiences within discussion boards include:

  • Image analysis
  • Multimedia
  • Debate
  • Case studies / scenarios
  • Quotes
  • Concept maps

These two resources should give you enough guidance and information to help you write a discussion question for your own course that extends the dialog and engages learners in higher levels of thinking.

Now, develop a discussion prompt for your own online classroom using one of the strategies above to elicit critical thinking in your learners. Share your prompt with your peers in the initial posting. 

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