I. Course Design Principles > B. Course Content

I.B.5. The content and activities help develop student critical thinking abilities.

Values Supported



In the process of achieving the learning objectives, the content and activities should help people develop from lower-order thinking skills to higher-level thinking skills.

This element supports Transparency, because expectations are made clear; Alignment, because developing higher-order thinking requires a progression of activities; and Responsibility, because students are required to draw on their own prior knowledge to acquire higher-order skills.


Create activities and assignments that require students to analyze, evaluate, synthesize (according to Bloom’s taxonomy).

Action verbs for higher-order objectives:
Analyze –
  • Classify, arrange, outline, contrast, separate
Synthesize –
  • Combine, compose, structure, reorganize, plan
Evaluate –
  • Criticize, assess, defend, summarize, rank


The example action verbs above are from “Critical and Creative Thinking – Bloom’s Taxonomy,” which provides many links to other relevant resources.

Another excellent resource for crticial thinking can be found at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/faculty/pedagogies/argument.shtml While this web page is targeted to writing faculty, there is much of value to other disciplines, as well.