To succeed in school, life, and career, students can build critical thinking with microcredentialing to demonstrate that they’ve mastered it.

Why you should teach your students critical thinking

To succeed in school, life, and their career, students need this so-called “durable skill” and a clear way to show others that they’ve mastered it

Key points:

Out of all the skills today’s students need to develop, critical thinking is perhaps the most important. Critical thinking not only helps students make stronger connections to information they learn in the classroom, but it helps them navigate the avalanche of information that exists in the world and prepares them for the future.

While many leaders in all levels of education have woven elements of critical thinking into curricula, few explicitly focus on developing the skill and even fewer have been able to measure it effectively.  Using microcredentialing platforms can help students master this important skill and demonstrate their abilities to educators and, more importantly, employers.

The need for actionable critical thinking skills

Teaching critical thinking skills is as much about practice as it is instruction. In a classroom, that can look like adopting a competency-based curriculum, adding role-playing activities, or connecting skills development to future job opportunities. These steps help make learning grounded and actionable while supporting students as they learn how to break down a problem and engage in decision-making processes.

The shift from knowledge to skill

Making learning pathways actionable and grounded in the real world also nurtures the shift from memorization to skills development. Students no longer need to memorize dates, facts, and formulas. And in fact, encouraging students to memorize information may hurt engagement. Young people understand that the information they need to know is changing at a more rapid rate than ever before, giving them less motivation to memorize it—especially since they have access to anything they want to know within a few seconds. They don’t need to memorize information when checking an accurate source is just as quick as recalling information that was presented in a lesson. 

Instead of memorization, educators can help students develop the ability to analyze information, make decisions, and adapt to changing circumstances. Focusing on critical thinking skills gives students the tools they need to evaluate what they see, learn, and experience–a competency that’s as valuable in the classroom as it is in a career.

The role of critical thinking in the workplace

Employers value critical thinking. They are looking for people who can not only fill roles but help solve problems and develop solutions. With the rise of AI, this need will grow. While AI can perform many low-skill tasks faster than an employee, and often for a lower cost, humans are still needed for higher-order thinking. As AI is infused into or even takes over more jobs, critical thinking skills will be in higher demand. Developing strong critical thinking skills will help students understand how AI can be used effectively in their future jobs.

Microcredentials help demonstrate critical thinking

Knowing the importance of critical thinking skills is just part of the puzzle. To make critical thinking a hireable skill, students need to be able to demonstrate their capability consistently.

Employers also need more uniform ways to evaluate critical thinking. Traditionally, employers have relied on interview questions or instincts to assess job candidates’ “durable skills.” This approach can have hidden biases. Microcredentials are a more reliable way to gauge whether candidates can apply soft skills in a real-life situation.

Microcredential programs empower students to gain and demonstrate critical thinking skills. Students might engage in activities that have real-world connections and offer experiential learning, providing them with ways to develop and apply these skills. When they apply for a job, they can show employers their microcredentials and talk about their experience developing critical thinking skills. 

Implementation and integration

To launch a microcredentialing program that can help students develop essential critical thinking skills, high school and higher education leaders must think through the practical aspects of implementing a program, including integration with a current learning management system. A few considerations for educators include:

  • What platforms do you currently use? What features do they have, and will they integrate with a microcredentialing system?
  • What skills do students need? What curriculum gaps need to be filled?
  • What barriers exist? Are there educators or students who will need additional tools to be successful?

By thinking through those barriers ahead of time, educators can create the best possible framework for students to develop the critical thinking skills they need to face the challenges of the modern world. By focusing on skill-building rather than mere knowledge acquisition, educators can equip students with the ability to analyze information, make informed decisions, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Microcredentials provide students a way to confidently show employers their abilities, but successful implementation and integration of critical thinking programs require careful consideration of existing systems and platforms. By embracing these key points, education leaders can empower students with the critical thinking skills they need to succeed in today’s workforce.

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

eSchool Media Contributors

Oops! We could not locate your form.