Using Critical Thinking Skills in New Contexts

What Bloom (1956) and Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) call "application," cognitive psychologists call "transfer." Both words describe the process of putting a skill to use in a new context. To learn to do this, Halpern (2003) argues that students require "structure training" in which they learn the important features of a situation in which a given thinking skill is appropriate. This way, they'll be able to recognize those features in new contexts and be cued to use the right thinking skill at the right time.

This section's thinking skill modules

Multiple Solutions - Generating more than one option to meet a given set of criteria.
This module provides resources on ways to discourage satisficing and encourage flexible and divergent thinking in your students.

Ethics - Reasoning based upon the fulfillment of one's moral duties.
In any real context, determining what actions will have both impact and integrity requires a special kind of critical thinking.

This section's featured instructional method

Case Studies - Using a story with a carefully arranged set of facts to stimulate critical thinking.
In class, events and situations from outside the classroom are often simulated or represented using cases studies, so this module provides insights and techniques on how to find, create, and use case studies well.


Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.), Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill,W.H., & Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy ofeducational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay.

Halpern, D.F. (2003). Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking (4th Edition). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.