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What Are Some Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Avoid questions that have an easy one-dimensional answer.
  2. Plan your questions in advance, utilise Bloom's Taxonomy to identify whether they are likely to prompt, “higher order thinking”.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Cognitive Processes

6. Creation / Synthesis: the ability to put facts together into a coherent whole, or, creatively achieve a new understanding by linking facts together
5. Evaluation: the ability to make judgements using criteria and standards
4. Analysis: ability to determine internal relationships
3. Application: the ability to apply what is learned to a new situation
2. Comprehension: the ability to interpret information in one’s own words
1. Knowledge: the ability to recall facts, opinions and concepts

From: Anderson et al (2001)

Example Question Constructs

1: Knowledge Exhibits previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers.

  • What is . . . ?
  • When did ____ happen?
  • How would you explain . . . ?
  • Why did . .. ?
  • How would you describe . .. ?
2: Comprehension Demonstrating understanding of facts and ideas by organising, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions and stating main ideas.
  • How would you compare . .. ? contrast.. ?
  • Explain in your own words . . . ?
  • What facts or ideas show . .. ?
  • What evidence is there that…?
3: Application Solving problems by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way.
  • What examples can you find to . . . ?
  • How would you show your understanding of. .. ?
  • What approach would you use to ... ?
  • What might have happened if. . . ?
4: Analysis Examining and breaking information into parts by identifying motives or causes; making inferences and finding evidence to support generalisations.
  • What inference can you make from. . . ?
  • How would you classify . . . ?
  • How would you categorise . .. ?
  • Can you identify the difference parts... ?
5: Evaluation Presenting and defending opinions by making judgements about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria.
  • How would you compare ……?
  • Which do you think is better….?
  • Evaluate contribution of ….. to …………….
  • What was the value or importance of …….. in …………..?
  • What would you have recommended if you had been ……?
6: Creation / Synthesis: Compiling information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions.
  • What might have happened if… ?
  • Can you propose an alternative interpretation to that of ……. . ?
  • Is there a marmite solution [1] here?


Use the question constructs to compose relevant questions for your own practice, include these in your example session plans.

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6 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Situation

by TeachThought Staff

While it’s true that critical thinking is a foundation rather than a brick, how you build that foundation depends on the learning process itself: exposing students to new thinking and promoting interaction with that thinking in a gradual release of responsibility approach.

The following graphic from learningcommons is most useful for its universal applicability via its simplicity–six basic questions that characterize critical thinking.

The questions are general enough that they can be used with almost anything–different age groups, content areas, and various learning contexts.

Whether you’re exploring math theories with a high school classroom, astronomical phenomena in a university, or a picture book in the elementary classroom, the questions can be used with few changes to promote critical thinking.

In addition to 28 Critical Thinking Question Stems For Any Content Area, the questions below might prove useful to you as you help your students better understand what ‘critical thinking’ means and how it can improve their own lives.

6 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Situation

1. What’s happening

Establish the basics and begin forming questions.

2. Why is it important?

Ask yourself why this is or isn’t significant.

3. What don’t I see?

Consider, alone or with others, if there’s any crucial information or perspective you might be missing, or that the ‘thing’ in question is missing.

See also 6 Alternatives To Bloom’s Taxonomy For Teachers

4. How do I know?

Identify how you know what you think you know, and how that meaning was constructed.

5. Who is saying it?

Identify the ‘position’ of the ‘thing’–a speaker and their position on an issue, for example–and then consider how that position could be influencing their thinking.

6. What else? What if?

Ask, ‘What else should we consider?’ and ‘If we consider it, how will it change X or Y?”

6 Critical Thinking Questions For Any Situation; image attribution learningcommons