NEE Indicator 4.1

Uses instructional strategies leading to student problem-solving and critical thinking

This indicator addresses the teacher's ability to draw students into skillfully applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach a conclusion or solve a problem. Promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills is difficult and fairly uncommon in typical classrooms. Yet there are a variety of ways teachers can promote critical thinking.

        • asking challenging questions (not just yes/no questions)
        • giving students complex, demanding tasks that require persistent effort, concentration, and various cognitive and metacognitive strategies
        • requiring students to determine what makes an argument valid, assess possible solutions, categorize problems, map concepts or explain a worked example
        • asking students to justify or evaluate their thinking (or other's thinking)
        • asking students to generate questions and problems, independently collect and assess relevant information in the content and come to an extended conclusion/justification that works to solve complex issues

Not every incident of the phrase "solve a problem" involves critical thinking. For example, in math classes a teacher may ask students to "solve the problems on page 17" or "come to the board and solve the problem." Such tasks only qualify as critical thinking if they have the properties listed above. However, if they merely involve a student applying a scripted algorithm, such "problem-solving" is not critical thinking.

In the classroom, this might look like:

  • Teacher uses instructional strategies that promote student involvement
  • Teacher uses engagement strategies that maintain or increase student thinking
  • Teacher incorporates learning processes students can use to build prior knowledge into advanced applications
  • Teacher develops questions that lead to deeper thinking and/or problem solving for students
  • Teacher facilitates and organizes instruction to encourage problem solving
  • Teacher requires students to justify their answers, weigh credibility of evidence, develop an informed argument, or ask higher-order questions, etc.

In the unit of instruction, teacher includes essential or guiding questions that all clearly promote depth-of-knowledge levels 3 and 4 or the higher levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

EdHub Content related to this Indicator is listed below


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