In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Thinking Skills in Educational Settings

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Edited Volumes
  • Meta-Analysis Studies
  • Journals
  • Definitions
  • Component Skills
  • The Role of Peers
  • Development
  • Processing and Assessment Models
  • Assessment Guidelines
  • Student Achievement and Learning

Psychology Thinking Skills in Educational Settings
Gregory Schraw
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0069


Thinking skills (TS) refer to a large collection of individual skills and strategies that enable individuals to control, monitor, and regulate their learning and memory. Researchers and instructors have identified a core set of thinking skills and have developed a variety of instructional programs that sequence these skills in an effective manner. Nevertheless, debate continues as to how to define thinking skills, to select an essential set of skills for instruction, to teach these skills in the classroom, and to assess their utility. This article addresses a number of issues related to thinking skills in educational settings. Definitions focuses on different ways to define thinking skills. Component Skills discusses different components of thinking skills. Instructional Practices reviews several important instructional strategies, including general instructional principles and comparative studies that focus on the utility of infusion methods. The Role of Peers considers the role of peer learners in teaching and assessing thinking skills. The next section addresses the Development of thinking. Processing and Assessment Models and Assessment Guidelines consider cognitive models and guidelines for assessing critical thinking. Student Achievement and Learning provides a variety of references and bibliographic resources for additional reading.

General Overviews

A number of reviews have appeared that provide comprehensive discussions of critical thinking skills. Pithers and Soden 2000 provided an overview of methods and practices related to teaching critical thinking. Ritchhart and Perkins 2005 discusses the importance of critical thinking, as well as a variety of challenges to school-based instruction. Yanchar, et al. 2008 provides comprehensive discussion of critical thinking, focusing on its philosophical roots and epistemological assumptions. Zohar 2008 summarizes the rationale for a national educational policy in Israel called “Pedagogical Horizons for Learning.”

  • Pithers, R. T., and R. Soden. 2000. Critical thinking in education: A review. Educational Research 42.3: 237–249.

    DOI: 10.1080/001318800440579

    This review focuses on ways to develop and infuse programs of critical thinking skills into classrooms. The authors discuss a variety of methods to enhance critical thinking, as well as what is required to improve students’ thinking skills.

  • Ritchhart, R., and D. N. Perkins. 2005. Learning to think: The challenges of teaching thinking. In The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. Edited by K. J. Holyoak and R. G. Morrison, 775–802. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This thoughtful article discusses a variety of challenges in critical thinking, focusing on four dilemmas that face teachers and researchers.

  • Yanchar, S. C., B. D. Slife, and R. Warne. 2008. Critical thinking as disciplinary practice. Review of General Psychology 12.3: 265–281.

    DOI: 10.1037/1089-2680.12.3.265

    This review provides a very detailed and comprehensive discussion of critical thinking. It considers different types of critical thinking skills, their development, and guidelines for instruction and assessment.

  • Zohar, A. 2008. Teaching thinking on a national scale: Israel’s pedagogical horizons. Thinking Skills and Creativity 3.1: 77–81.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.tsc.2008.03.002

    This article describes a national educational policy in Israel called “Pedagogical Horizons for Learning,” which focuses on changes to curriculum, learning materials, and standards; professional development; and assessment. The article reviews the first stages of the implementation process.

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