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Critical Thinking Skills

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Add more Critical Thinking practice in schools

OK, for our non-U.S. members, the title of this Washington Post opinion piece by 6-time National Basketball League champion and social justice, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, sounds like a play on the U.S. President's campaign slogan.  But it really is more than that. It is a serious argument to highlight that in today's society, where almost 2/3 of us get news from social media, we need to start very early (kindergarten through high school) with educating students to think critically about what they read, and ultimately, about what they know.

Once they arrive at the university and to their veterinary training, could it be too late to change the trajectory?  This is certainly possible, and we have conducted some research (Ferguson et al., J. Vet Med Education, 2017) reported earlier in this blog, which shows that even a year's additional practice at clinical critical thinking exercises does not statistically alter the average performance of a first year veterinary class on a test of general critical thinking skills (Cornell Critical Thinking Skills Test).  However, as judged by a performance rubric, we could improve their skills associated with discipline (i.e. veterinary)-specific skills at the analysis of a clinical case and application of evidence-based content principles.

So, while efforts to spend more time on process and (perhaps) less on content during the K-12 period of education would undoubtedly help prepare our students not only to be more informed citizens, it might also provide students a headstart at solving the kinds of problems they need to face as medical professionals.

Image: Wikimedia