Developing teaching practice


Critical thinking is recognised as instrumental for positive, personal and professional, long-term outlooks. It is also widely accepted that the development of students’ critical thinking skills can be achieved through explicit interventions. This paper documents the outcomes of a pilot study that investigated the value and impact of an instructional model for guiding critical thinking skills. The model was implemented as an explicit framework, with pre-tertiary students, at a regional campus of an Australian university. Student participants were tasked with using the Review, Connect, Extend, Apply (RCEA) Framework (James, 2015) to support their analysis and critical reflection on the concepts explored in a unit of study. Data revealed that students exhibited limited critical thinking skills prior to participation in the pilot program and evidenced improvement after engaging with the RCEA framework. However, some students struggled with expressing their reflections, evaluations, and applications of knowledge, which resulted in considerations about the importance of vocabulary. The findings directed the authors to note the importance of qualifying the notion of explicit interventions for teaching critical thinking. Accordingly, they propose the use of an explicit teaching model for enabling students’ critical thinking, which encompasses a structured format, a thinking framework, and pedagogy that incorporates the modelling of metacognition and metalanguage for critical thinking.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Critical thinking skills require explicit instruction and educators should prioritise the deliberate instruction of critical thinking skills and provide opportunities for students to apply these skills in diverse contexts.
  2. The explicit teaching of critical thinking should include constructivist processes, explicit pedagogy, and the development of metalanguage.
  3. For students to develop the skill of critical thinking, they students require a broader vocabulary repertoire to facilitate the application of terminology to cognitive processes.
  4. When educators use an explicit think-aloud approach, it demonstrates and models what critical thinking looks like in action.
  5. The Multifaceted Explicit Teaching Model presented endorses that critical thinking can be taught by combining a thinking framework, embedded within a structured format, and a pedagogical strategy of explicit think–aloud that facilitates exposure to the metacognition and metalanguage associated with critical thinking behaviours.