Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

How do we define critical thinking and problem solving?

We use the term “expert thinking” to refer to critical thinking and problem solving. Expert thinking involves developing a deep fund of knowledge that students can apply in a variety of settings beyond a single discipline. Expert thinking skills may be applied in a particular way in a biology class, but the same skills can transfer to a literature class or to jobs in our modern economy. Expert thinking includes the ability to analyze information and formulate creative solutions to complex problems.

Specifically, we identify five core components of expert thinking:

1. Schema Development:
The ability to learn vast amounts of information and organize it in ways that are useful for understanding
2. Metacognition and Evaluation:
The ability to think critically about what one is doing and evaluate many potential choices
3. Effective Reasoning:
The ability to create claims and support them with logical evidence
4. Problem Solving:
The ability to identify the key questions in a problem, develop possible paths to a solution, and follow through with a solution
5. Creativity and Innovation:
The ability to formulate new ideas that are useful within a particular context