Deeper Learning. Critical Thinking

In the modern educational space of deeper learning, special attention is paid to the development of critical thinking, and experts look for ways to develop it and offer their technologies and methodologies. Critical thinking is an important subject in philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy. In addition, it is one of the major elements of the deeper learning, which deepens one’s capability apply the acquired knowledge. There is no single definition of critical thinking, and each education scientist offers his or her own. Critical thinking is one that has depth, consistency, independence, flexibility, and speed. Critical thinking in deeper learning can be seen as a pragmatic consideration of various approaches in order to select informed judgments and make informed decisions. This skill is a special form of mental activity, the characteristic features of which are the development of strategies for choosing the right way to solve any problems on the basis of a hypothesis, analysis, information processing, and the implementation of reflective actions.

A balanced analysis of various opinions and views, the manifestation of one’s own position, an objective assessment of the process and the results of both one’s own and third-party activities are essential elements of critical thinking. A critical mind fits within the deeper learning framework because it develops a quality of a person’s cognitive activity, which is based on the ability to independently logically competent thoughts and judgments, the ability to correctly evaluate different opinions, to see strengths and weaknesses in them.

Literature Review

Critical thinking is considered an approach that relies on the ability to evaluate events, statements, actions, facts, make conscious choices, argue, formulate relevant questions, distinguish between facts and opinions, find new solutions, define criteria for analysis, find evidence to support assumptions, build logical connections. This is highly relevant in deeper learning because the latter is a set of skills, which help students to properly apply their knowledge (“Helping education leaders create,” 2020). In addition, critical thinking is one of the six major components of deeper learning (“What is deeper learning?” n.d.). The task and ability are not mechanisms, but the psychological aspect of critical thinking is embodied in the mechanisms of reflection – design – objectification, which ensure the advancement of a person in cognitive activity. Some experts speak of critical thinking as rational, reflective thinking, which aims to decide what is to be believed or what actions should be applied (Hewlett Foundation, 2017). This concept of thinking is a person’s ability to see discrepancies between expressed thoughts or human behavior and generally accepted norms or their own ideas about them, the ability to recognize the truth or allegories of a theory, thoughts and respond to them, the ability to analyze, prove or refute certain thoughts.

A person with a critical mindset never considers his or her own judgments to be absolutely correct and comprehensive. He or she is able to reject certain conclusions if they are not true and look for new ways to solve the problem. The critical mind is disciplined and responsible because it takes nothing on faith. The main signs of critical thinking include the ability to reasonably express thoughts, to control the correctness of one’s own judgments. That is, there is a certain aspect of effective communication. Critical thinking is the ability to make the right decisions, see the difficulties that arise in the real world, look for ways to rationally solve them using modern technologies. Critically analyze the knowledge gained, and apply it to solve new problems, clearly realize where and how the acquired knowledge can be applied in the surrounding reality. One can also identify such important signs of critical thinking as analyticity – selection, comparison, the juxtaposition of facts and phenomena. Associativity is the establishment of associations with previously studied facts, phenomena, while logic is the ability to build the logic of evidence for solving a problem, a sequence of actions. A systematic approach is the ability to consider an object, a problem in the integrity of their relationships and characteristics (McPeck, 2016). In addition, one can include in the structure of critical thinking the presence of objective assessments, views on various life phenomena, events, the person himself, the meaning of his life, and thanks to this the development of skills to resist the expansive imposition of ready-made standards, orientations from the outside.

Criticality is such a personality trait that requires awareness of the need to manifest one’s position, the ability not to succumb to the influence of thoughts without proper analysis and awareness. This skill is a process during which a person can properly comprehensively characterize a phenomenon or object, express his attitude to it by polemic or argumentation of his own opinion, find a way out of any situation. Critical thinking is informative thinking, which begins with the question, strives for convincing argumentation, and has a social character. When the task is based on the principles of critical thinking, each student forms his ideas, assessments, and beliefs. Critical thinking is an individual, and it is independent thinking. Information is the starting point of critical thinking, not the ultimate. The task for students should not be a heap of new information, but the ability to work with it. For the development of critical thinking, it is necessary to intensify the educational interest of students. D. Halpern, an American psychologist, has his own view on critical thinking. She believes that critical thinking is the use of cognitive techniques or strategies that increase the likelihood of obtaining the desired result (De Bie, Wilhelm, & van der Meij, 2015). This is the type of thinking that is addressed when solving problems, formulating conclusions, implementing probabilistic assessment, and decision making.

Critical thinking can be called directed thinking because it aims to obtain the desired result. In this sense, critical thinking is opposed to the template, automatic thinking, that is not aimed at achieving a specific goal. Critical thinking also includes an assessment of the thought process itself – the course of reasoning that led to specific conclusions or those factors that people considered when making a decision (De Bie et al., 2015). The development of critical thinking begins from the moment when students begin to actively engage in a specific problem.

Effective Communication

One of the major components of the deeper learning concept is effective communication, which is tightly interlinked with critical thinking. These two aspects require a separate consideration due to the fact that one’s critical assessment needs to be expressed through proper and precise communicative methods. It is stated that there is a strong correlation between a nursing student’s GPA score and his or her communication and critical thinking abilities (Mi-Ran & Su-Jeong, 2016). In other words, the overall academic performance can be significantly enhanced by integrating deeper learning framework in the education process. It is especially true in regards of critical thinking and effective communication, because both of them in conjunction develop a student. One the main reasons can be manifested in the fact that critical thinking improves a student’s mental and cognitive capabilities, whereas effective communication allows him or her to acquire important and valuable feedback. Therefore, a learner can improve both individually and collectively. Although all six components are intertwined with each other to some extent, effective communication and critical thinking are can be categorized as one group of academically essential abilities.


In order to develop students’ critical thinking, the school leaders need to guide teachers to combine problematic, research, search, and creative methods and techniques in their work. The educational process should be organized as a search for the answer to problematic questions since such work always helps to activate the search activity of students. In order to stimulate students’ educational interest, the school leaders should cooperate with educators to choose interesting topics that are close to the students and develop intrinsic motivation, in the presence of which students realize the practical significance of the subject. In the classroom, it is necessary to create a favorable psychological climate in which the student will not be afraid to try, create, feel the support of the teacher.

It is important to give each student the opportunity to express an opinion, as students will be set to work if they know that their opinions are valued, respected. In his work, the teacher should use tasks that contribute to the development of students’ creativity, thereby forming people who are able to express a wide variety of ideas, have flexible thinking, and can consider the problem from different angles. In the lessons, the teacher should pose different types of questions, adhere to the principles of continuity, use a question of a problem level that orient a person to thoughts, analysis.

In order to form students’ ability to ask questions, to teach schoolchildren to compose questions of various types, involving knowledge testing, understanding of information and certain conclusions, assessment. In the educational process, it is necessary to combine both individual, group and paired forms of work, as well as individual tasks that enable each child to show their abilities more, and group forms of work combine the efforts of all members of the group to achieve a common goal: students learn to listen to peers, understand that the result depends on the work of each. There is a kind of methods and techniques that will help the teacher develop critical thinking. The lecture method promotes the development of critical thinking only when the teacher in his message logically and consistently reveals a certain problem, proposes an algorithm for discussion, and teaches students to work with educational material.


In conclusion, it is important to understand the role of critical thinking in deeper learning. There are a number of theoretical frameworks and definitions regarding critical thinking, where it can be considered as skill or trait. However, the overall implementation is not complex, where the major elements of the critical thinking induction are highly dependent on an educator. He or she can apply effective strategies in order to diminish passive information consumption among students and initiate a critical approach. In addition, critical thinking yields more benefits if used in conjunction with effective communication.


De Bie, H., Wilhelm, P., & van der Meij, H. (2015). The Halpern critical thinking assessment: Toward a Dutch appraisal of critical thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 17, 33-44.

Helping education leaders create learning conditions that boost college & career readiness for every student. (2020). Web.

Hewlett Foundation. (2017). Deeper learning – teacher. Web.

Mi-Ran, K., & Su-Jeong, H. (2016). Critical thinking and communication skills in nursing students. Advanced Science and Technology Letters, 128, 33-37.

McPeck, J. E. (2016). Critical thinking and education (1st ed.). Routledge.

What is deeper learning? (n.d.). Web.

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