Question stems are more than just for leading to answers—they are the pathways to developing exceptional critical thinking skills. When we ask an essential question to our learners, we also incorporate "herding" questions throughout the journey. These are progressively specific questions that lead to more and more focused answers and knowledge refinement. In the same way, question stems provide avenues for looking at what we know with sharper critical thinking lenses.
The following 28 critical thinking question stems come from the gang at TeachThought. They describe them as being part of a process in which students build critical thinking as a lifelong learning practice that challenges them constantly:
"Critical thinking isn’t a skill, nor is it content knowledge or even evidence of understanding. While it involves and requires these ideas, critical thinking is also very much a state of mind — a willingness and tendency to sit with an idea and ‘struggle wonderfully’ with it."
That's exactly what these questions are designed to do. It's not about reaching a conclusion; it's more about adapting to changing circumstances in knowledge, seeking newer insights, and gaining broader vision. After all, critical thinking is thinking on purpose. It’s clear, rational, logical, and independent thinking. It means thinking in a self-regulated and self-corrective manner. We can make this happen gradually with our students by exposing them to question stems like the ones below.
28 Question Stems That Boost Critical Thinking
A Whole Lotta Thinkin' Goin' On
Enjoy using these tools from TeachThought in your classrooms. In addition to these, you can also benefit from our own critical thinking tools. First, explore the question stems offered on the Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet. Before you know it you'll be ready for the full critical thinking experience with the Critical Thinking Teacher's Companion. Happy critical thinking!