iPad Apps to Develop Students Critical Thinking Skills

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January 14, 2018
Critical thinking is a metacognitive skill, or what is generally known as 'thinking about thinking' (Howard et al. 2014). Critical thinking is a general competence that comprises several sub-skills (e.g., inferencing, deducing, interpreting, synthesizing, conceptualizing, evaluating, creating, and analyzing). While it is a higher order form of thinking, critical thinking is much more than the ability to think in a complex and sophisticated way. It is rather using these complex thinking processes to deconstruct, analyze and ultimately make informed decisions (e.g., stances, assumptions, viewpoints…etc). According to Nicoteri (1998), “ Critical thinking involves identifying the problem, assessing your resources, and generating possible solutions. This allows  you to decide which solution is the most reasonable under the circumstances, taking into consideration the "what ifs" and how they will affect the end result. If you can only see one solution, you're setting yourself up for failure” (pp. 64-65).

Following Howard et al’s (2014) conceptualization, we highlight three main cognitive skills (analyzing, evaluating, and creating) as being intricately related to the development of critical thinking skills. These skills are also part of Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001). For each of these skills we came up with a collection of iPad apps students can use to realize it. The focus is on the process and not end product.

I- Analyze
These are apps that can help students engage in analytic thinking processes using different techniques that include: capture, edit and create notes;

1-  Google Keep
Capture, edit, share and collaborate on notes

2- Padlet
Organize, create, save,and share digital content

3- Paper by Fifty Three
Draw, sketch, outline, highlight, and share ideas

4- Notability
Sketch, take notes, and annotate PDFs

5- Skitch
Visualize ideas through annotations and mark-ups

II- Create
Under this category we suggest the following apps as being ideal for engaging students in different creative activities:

1- Adobe Spark Video
Produce compelling short video stories.

2- iMovie
Create, edit, and share beautiful movies and video clips.

3- Thinglink
Create and share hyperlinked multimedia content

4- Glogster
Create beautiful visuals and hyperlinked posters

5- MindMeister
Create, edit and share mind maps.

III- Evaluate
For evaluating, we suggest the following apps:

1- Seesaw
An ideal app for reflecting on learning and for collaborating.

2- Quizlet
Create and share flashcards

3- Google Sheets
Create and analyze content using spreadsheets

4- Evernote
Take analytic and illustrative notes to help you evaluate content

5- ShowMe
Create and share visually illustrated video tutorials.

iPad Apps to Develop Students Critical Thinking Skills
1- Howard, L., Tang, T., & Austin, J. (2014). Teaching critical thinking skills: ability, motivation, intervention, and the Pygmalion effect. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(1), pp. 133-147.
2- Nicoteri, A. (1998). Critical thinking skills. The American Journal of Nursing, 98(10), pp.62-65.
3- Anderson, L. W., & D., Krathwohl. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Addison Wesley