At the ADEA Annual Session in Dallas, ADEA CCI Liaisons were invited
to attend a special session where Dr. Linda Behar-Horenstein presented
on critical thinking skills and the Critical Thinking Skills Toolkit.
While there are many definitions of critical thinking skills, Dr. BeharHorenstein provided an overarching definition: "Critical thinking is
regarded as intellectually engaged, skillful, and responsible thinking that
facilitates good judgment because it requires the application of
assumptions, knowledge, competence, and the ability to challenge one's
own thinking." She said it also requires the use of self-correction and
monitoring to judge the reasonableness of thinking.
Dr. Behar-Horenstein stated that "the need to teach dental students how
to develop and use critical thinking skills has been a dominant theme in
dental education for more than a decade." However, she said, the ways
faculty teach these skills and how students demonstrate these skills in
didactic basic science courses and the predoctoral dental learning
environments is less understood.
Dr. Behar-Horenstein provided a list of questions faculty can ask
themselves as a way to gauge if they are teaching critical thinking skills to
- I encourage students to explain or demonstrate what they know?
- Do I dominate teaching in the classroom or clinic with teacher-talk?
- Do I include teacher-student talk in the classroom or clinic?
- Do I devote teaching time in the classroom or clinic to having students
provide a rationale for "what" they think and to explain "how" and "why"
- Do I use questions to check for student understanding?
- Do I ask students to identify the cues that indicate or contraindicate
treatment and to explain why these cues are relevant to prospective
- Do I ask students to describe how their understanding of body
systems, like the cardiovascular system and related diseases, impact oral
- Do I ask students to rephrase what I have just told them?
- Do I help a student by asking questions to identify why a patient is not
responding to treatment in ways that are anticipated?
- Do I explicitly explain to students how they will be evaluated on their
- Do I ask students to explain the differences between a poor and an
excellent tooth preparation?
Encouraged by your answers to find out more? Liaisons may request a
copy of the Critical Thinking Toolkit from Ms. Faduma Hayir at 202-289-
7201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.