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Enhancing Critical Thinking Skill Formation: Getting Fast Thinkers to Slow Down


  • John List


In the past several decades academics and policymakers have grappled with how to augment the traditional classroom approach to enhance critical thinking skill formation. In this not, I take a different approach. I begin by developing a Critical Thinking Hierarchy, where from the bottom of the hierarchy upwards two key skills evolve: developing/assimilating empirical evidence to update one's beliefs (connecting the dots with empiricism) and putting the puzzle pieces together with conceptual reasoning (connecting the dots with abstract thought). Skills lower down in the hierarchy must be achieved before individuals can gain skills higher up. A key aspect of the CT skill formation process revolves around student's maturation from "fast thinking" to "slow thinking". My overall approach is useful because it at once defines critical thinking, pinpoints where improvements must be made for development, and provides a classroom playbook to enhance critical thinking skill formation.

Suggested Citation

  • John List, 2021. "Enhancing Critical Thinking Skill Formation: Getting Fast Thinkers to Slow Down," Artefactual Field Experiments 00726, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00726

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    1. repec:feb:framed:0081 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. John A. List, 2004. "Testing Neoclassical Competitive Theory in Multilateral Decentralized Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1131-1156, October.
    3. John A. List, 2014. "Using Field Experiments to Change the Template of How We Teach Economics," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(2), pages 81-89, June.
    4. Jason M Cowell & Anya Samek & John List & Jean Decety, 2015. "The Curious Relation between Theory of Mind and Sharing in Preschool Age Children," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(2), pages 1-8, February.
    5. Charness, Gary & List, John A. & Rustichini, Aldo & Samek, Anya & Van De Ven, Jeroen, 2019. "Theory of mind among disadvantaged children: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 174-194.
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