Of course, we want to do this in such a way as not to commit the "Harvard Fallacy;" the mistaken notion that because graduates from Harvard are very successful, that the teaching at Harvard necessarily had something to do with it. Yes or No answers can really drag out the process of getting the answers and information that you want. The end result is a new creation; the writer's thinking for the first time now exists within the reader's mind. If there is no problem there is no point in thinking critically.
Let's take up the challenge together and make, with our students, a new and better world. Without critical thinking, collaborative learning is likely to become collaborative mis-learning. We need to know where students stood at the beginning, to assess the instruction they received on their way from the beginning to the end. And why this other thing? So there are a lot of important educational goals deeply tied into critical thinking just as critical thinking is deeply tied into them.
Hence, even though a student may just be asserting things, not reasoning things out at all, if she is doing so with vivacity and flamboyance, teachers are apt to take this to be equivalent to good reasoning. With respect to intellectual standards, we are quite able to design prompts that require students to recognize clarity in contrast to unclarity; distinguish accurate from inaccurate accounts; decide when a statement is relevant or irrelevant to a given point; identify inconsistent positions as well as consistent ones; discriminate deep, complete, and significant accounts from those that are superficial, fragmentary, and trivial; evaluate responses with respect to their fairness; distinguish well-evidenced accounts from those unsupported by reasons and evidence; and tell good reasons from bad. If there is no problem there is no point in thinking critically. How would you feel about …? How, as a practical matter, can we solve it? Make sure that you set up an accurate framework in which your questions can be answered.
We do our students a disservice if we imply that all we need is unbridled curiosity, that with it alone knowledge comes to us with blissful ease in an atmosphere of fun, fun, fun. Asking questions that will not only give you the answers you are looking for but also open up a heap more information that than you were searching for.
What good is curiosity if we don't know what to do next or how to satisfy it? The student is required to understand the problem in its entirety rather than just memorizing the approach used for specific conditions. The State Department in Hawaii has just such a long-term, quality, critical thinking program see " mentor program ".