Topic 4: Using online tools to teach critical thinking skills

Critical thinking skills (CTS) accompanied by e-learning encourage students to be ready to be part of the modern society. Some researchers are pro-students-based e-learning system, as they believe that it saves students’ time and it provides them a possibility to think deeply when they are encountered with questions or assignments (Benson & Samarawickrema, 2009). E-learning may be applied in two different environments based on the level of usage of the internet; blended and distributed learning environment. Some researchers propose models to cultivate critical thinking in these environments such as project-based and electronic curriculum for the blended learning environment; and conference systems and online discussion for distributed learning environments. Furthermore, several approaches are used in e-learning environments to cultivate critical thinking which includes collaborative learning and web-based. A visualization of this taxonomy is provided in the figure below.

Activity 2

This activity is dedicated for the application of the Socratic method (Socrates dialogue), which in education is primarily based on thoughtful series of questions. These questions open up new questions and new explanations, which could be divided into six basic types. An exemplary task for thinking/discussion was formulated and used as an example below.

Imagine that you are part of a small ice-cream factories and you would like to find out what actions you have to initiate in order to improve your sales of ice-cream in the Mediterranean countries, where you and your sales are mainly based.

1. Questions for clarification: Why do you say that? How does this relate to our discussion?

  • Do we need to improve sales of ice-cream?
  • Why we need to sell more ice-cream?
  • Why in the Mediterranean countries?

2. Questions that probe assumptions: What could we assume instead? How can we verify or disprove that?

  • What is the benefit of more ice-cream? Just more money? But, for more money we need to work more? Do we need that?
  • If we sell more ice-cream then we need to hire more confectioners? How to find good confectioners? We need more and more financial work, then we need to hire more accountants, more drivers.
  • If we become bigger company, what we will get? Just more money? But more and more responsibilities?

3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence: What would be an example? What is X analogous to? What do you think causes to happen Y? Why?

  • Why we really need to sell more ice-cream? Does this plan make sense? Is it logical?
  • If all of this happens, then we will have less and less time for family and friends? Do we really need that?
  • But we will have more money and we will easily buy more things? Do we become better persons if we do this?

4. Questions about viewpoints and perspectives: What would be an alternative? What is another way to look at it? Would you explain why it is necessary or beneficial, and who benefits? Why it is the best? What are the strengths and weaknesses of X? How are X and Y similar? What is a counterargument for Z?

  • If we do not improve sales, what happens? What is a better situation in this case?
  • What is good in improving sales? What is a good from not improving sales?

5. Questions that probe implications and consequences: What generalizations can you make? What are the consequences of that assumption? What are you implying? How does X affect Y? How does X relate to what we learned before?

  • How all of this will affect our good situation at existing market? Do we lose our regular customers because we will concentrate in expanding business in the Mediterranean?
  • What were difficulties when we started to make and sell ice-cream? Do we expect to have the same difficulties when we started to grow? From what we learnt before, how to prevent these difficulties?
  • How much time we need to finish this plan of growing at the Mediterranean countries?

6. Questions about the question: What was the point of this question? Why do you think I asked this question? What does mean? How does X apply to everyday life?

  • What is the real question? Sales or how to sale? Is it a good question? First we need to know if we need to increase sales?
  • Then we need to know how to improve sales? In the Mediterranean or somewhere else? Maybe it not good solution, because there is high competition of ice-cream sales in the Mediterranean countries.

If we manage to answer all of these questions and all sub-questions, after a few hours we will know what to do, we will know the direction where to go, the answer to the main question will be clear.

Source: SHOUT, 2022. Retrieved from: