October 23, 2018

A Reader’s OPEN TO THINK Question About Critical Thinking & Students

A reader reached out to me with a question. They are in the middle of the book, immersed in the section devoted to Critical Thinking. Their profession is as a higher education professor.

I found it to be a compelling question, one that I’d like to share with you replete with my response.


Dear Dan,

I’m currently reading OPEN TO THINK and enjoying it.  May buy a hat! Just started chapter 5 on Critical Thinking and have a question.  Do grades within a post-secondary setting reduce students propensity for Critical Thinking partially due to rubrics and partially out of fear?


Dear Professor <name withheld>,

First, thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to write and, of course, for picking up a copy of the book.

To your question, quite simply, yes! You are spot on.

I would add, however, that critical thinking is also impacted by the sheer load on a student. I’m not necessarily accusing the academic load that professors put on a student, rather an entire load of activity that is part of a student’s life.

I’m referring to the increased load that includes the need for part-time jobs but also the student’s addiction to content, texts, social streams (e.g. Instagramification), and dopamine hits from their mobile device.

Add it all up and I believe students are far busier than ever, which negatively affects their critical thinking. Compound the point with their desire to meet the grading system of the prof’s rubric and a fear of failing (versus a joy of learning) and you have a recipe for disaster.

Finally, go for the pork pie hat! 😀




Dan’s Newest Book

Click for details about Dan’s latest book, Work-Life Bloom.

Buy Dan's Books
Listen to Dan's Podcast
Read Dan's Column On