Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Critical Thinking Exercises

Silent Debate 

Split into two groups with a flipchart or a whiteboard each. Start with a question (perhaps an old essay question or an issue on to get you started) and debate as a team in complete silence. This encourages you to work as a team and allows people who aren’t comfortable with public speaking the opportunity to contribute (Macat, 2017).  

Critical Songs

Take the lyrics of a popular song and see if you can use the evidence in the lyrics to convey the structure of an argument. Language in songs is often vague and open to a lot of interpretation, so you can use the lyrics to convey an argument. For example:

Up in the club (club)

Just broke up (up)

I’m doing my own little thing

You decided to dip (dip)

But now you wanna trip (trip)

‘Cause another brother noticed me

I’m up on him (him)

He up on me (me)

Don’t pay him any attention

I cried my tears (tears)

For three good years (years)

You can’t be mad at me

In this extract, the author expresses that she is recently single following a break up and is seemingly angry about the fact. She lists several reasons for her actions, including her emotional state, and indicates that she is ignoring her ex-partner. This could indicate that the author wishes to move on with her life and feels that she should make this clear to her ex-partner. The lyrics indicate female empowerment, through decisive action and displays of strength and courage.

(Stewart, Nash, Howell & Knowles, 2008, disc 2, track 1)

Some extra sources for critical thinking exercises:

ThoughtCo – two online activities that are great for developing your analytical skills

The Critical Thinking Workbook – online workbook developed by Global Digital Citizen Foundation with a variety of tasks to develop all aspects of critical thinking

Learning to Learn – University of Sydney Critical Thinking exercises and general guidance on developing your critical thinking