gms | German Medical Science

15. Grazer Konferenz – Qualität der Lehre: Teaching and Learning – Expanding our Resources

28. - 30. April 2011, Wien, Österreich

Teaching critical thinking: Can it be done?

Meeting Abstract

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15. Grazer Konferenz – Qualität der Lehre: Teaching and Learning – expanding our resources. Wien, Österreich, 28.-30.04.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2012. Doc11grako03

doi: 10.3205/11grako03, urn:nbn:de:0183-11grako038

Published: April 25, 2012

© 2012 Fulton.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


If the coach and the horses and the footmen and the beautiful clothes all turned back into the pumpkin and the mice and the rags, then how come the glass slipper didn’t turn back, too? (see Figure 1 [Fig. 1])

It is often observed that good teachers are born, that is, that effective teaching is a skill that cannot be learned. In this workshop we will explore the question whether the critical thinker is born, or whether critical thinking can be learned.

One of the most important outcomes of a university education is the ability to reason cogently. Students’ critical thinking skills should be developed in every course in the university curriculum, but can these skills be taught? We will consider the evidence for and against the thesis that students can be taught to think, including some lessons from cognitive science that relate to it.