7 Puzzles to Challenge Your Critical Thinking
Can you spot the connections and sort these items.
Posted March 5, 2015 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
The theme of this post is critical thinking—and the kinds of puzzles that can be constructed around it. This term is used frequently in psychology and education . There are various definitions, but the one that best suits our purpose and which is, in the end, perhaps the best, is the ability to comprehend the logical connections among ideas, words, phrases, and concepts . In the relevant scientific literature, of course, the term is used much more broadly as a framework for understanding human cognition . But in my opinion, the best way to understand things is to construct puzzles to illustrate their basic essence.
Critical thinking involves skill at recognizing a pattern in given information and especially recognizing how the information is connected to the real world. Here are a couple of very simple examples. First, consider the five words below:
- Cruise ship
- Walking on foot
- Automobile (not a race car)
Now, put them in order from the slowest to the fastest, when they are going at maximum speed. The solution, of course, is: 4-2-5-1-3.
As with all such puzzles, there might be slightly different solutions—one could claim that some automobiles go faster than cruise ships. This “indeterminacy” characterizes this kind of thinking. However, some puzzles are straightforward. For instance, what do the following five things have in common?
The answer? These are all words referring to shades of blue.
The seven puzzles below are to the ones above, though hopefully more challenging. Some involve knowledge of facts, but critical thinking is still involved in such cases because the organization of the facts according to some principle is always involved—for example, a puzzle may ask you to put five items in order of their dates of invention.
The following tongue-in-cheek definition of critical thinking by Richard W. Paul, a leading expert on critical thinking theory, says it all: “Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”
I. What do the following 5 things have in common?
- Orange juice
II. Put the following buildings or structures in order of height, from the shortest to the tallest.
- Typical camping tent
III. What do the following animals have in common?
IV. Put the following inventions in order from earliest to most recent.
V. What feature do the following words have in common?
VI. Put these bodies of water in order in terms of volume, from smallest to largest .
VII. What do the following landmasses have in common?
I. They are all drinkable liquids. II. 5-1-4-3-2 III. They all have a tail. They are also all quadrupeds. IV. To the best of my knowledge: 5-4-3-1-2 V. They start with a vowel: a, e, i, o, u VI. 4-2-1-5-3 VII. They are all peninsulas.
Marcel Danesi, Ph.D. , is a professor of semiotics and anthropology at Victoria College, University of Toronto. His books include The Puzzle Instinct and The Total Brain Workout .
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Mission, Values, Objectives, & Outcomes
At wcu, we combine student-centric learning with leading-edge training opportunities to transform healthcare education., university mission.
At West Coast University, we embrace a student-centric learning partnership that leads to professional success. We deliver transformational education within a culture of integrity and personal accountability. We design market-responsive programs through collaboration between faculty and industry professionals. We continuously pursue more effective and innovative ways through which students develop the competencies and confidence required in a complex and changing world.
Our organization puts students and their long-term success at the center of our values. We do not believe that customer-service as it applies to our students is mutually exclusive from student centricity, thus we are committed to serving our students even as we partner with them on the transformational educational journey they are engaged in.
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As a learning organization, we are committed to helping each member of our organizational community learn, and in so doing, get just a little better all the time. We are committed to the notion that in a time of hyperturbulence, helping both our students and our associates continue to learn ultimately leads to their growth.
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There are two definitions that are equally apropos for this value: that authority would be equally vested in a number of colleagues, and that collegiality is reflected by a sense of camaraderie amongst those colleagues.
We are committed to ensuring visibility into the work and the outcomes of each associate, and ever-so-much-the-more when it comes to illuminating “bad news” so as to quickly intervene.
We believe that in the multitude of input, risk is diminished and quality decisions are more apt to be achieved, ultimately leading to improved outcomes.
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The following characteristics represent the qualities, attitudes and values that students should possess by the time they have completed their studies at West Coast University.
- Professionalism: Graduates should treat all patients and clients with respect and dignity. They should also always maintain and safeguard the confidentiality of every patient and client. Maintaining a professional appearance and conduct themselves with professionalism is essential at all times. Graduates should understand the value of professional association affiliation.
- Currency, Adaptability, and Lifelong Learning: Graduates should seek to adapt and remain current with the guidelines and scope of their practice. They should also espouse lifelong learning, and should exhibit this commitment via scholarly inquiry, including educational achievements in public and/or global health services, evidence based clinical care, and the sciences.
- Interprofessionalism: Graduates should be prepared as health professionals to collaborate and work cohesively in interprofessional teams. They should strive to develop a safe, patient-centered, and population-based health care system to achieve optimal health and wellness.
- Global Awareness: In addition to the commitment to local, state, regional, national, and public service, graduates should demonstrate an awareness and appreciation for international healthcare models and practices, while also adhering to university values and goals.
- Clinical Application: Graduates should be prepared to apply their clinical skills and knowledge in a variety of diverse settings, both global and local, to promote public health. Graduates should be able to adapt to a variety of clinical situations.
- Diversity and Cultural Sensitivity as ‘Health Care Citizens’: Graduates should embrace a commitment to diversity and cultural sensitivity. Graduates should be prepared to meet the broad and disparate needs of their patients, clients, and the communities within which they serve. Graduates should be advocates for health care change and health promotion.
- Service-Oriented and Community Advocacy: Graduates should demonstrate a sustained and meaningful sense of service to their patients, clients, and communities. Graduates should have participated in community service opportunities that have increased their sensitivity to and awareness of the communities within which they serve as part of their personal mission and values
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- Team Player: Graduates should be willing to execute their professional skills as a member of a team. They should exhibit a keen awareness of team dynamics, and be willing to be open-minded, seek common ground, and support and encourage all members of an inter-disciplinary health care team.
- Legal and Ethical Responsibilities: Graduates should be aware of the legal parameters of their scope of practice. They should abide by their respective professional code of ethics and/or oaths, as prescribed by each profession, and/or licensure body.
- Leadership Skills: Graduates should contribute as leaders in their profession and understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and the importance of being flexible, and possessing good organizational and time-management skills to achieve a common goal.
- Interpersonal Communication Skills: Graduates should be active listeners and communicate well with patients, clients, and families to understand their needs and explain treatments. Graduates should also communicate competently in written, oral, and electronic forms with patients, clients, and the healthcare team and should be sensitive to verbal and non-verbal cues.
- Critical Thinking Skills: Graduates should think critically and address problems proactively. They should exhibit sound judgment and reasoning such as the ability to measure, calculate, analyze, and synthesize information pertinent to problem solving when making decisions.
- Knowledge Attainment: Graduates should be qualified and knowledgeable practitioners, as demonstrated by passing board and/or licensure examinations, course grades, and by clinical evaluations, such as preceptorships and field experiences.
- Acquisition of Evidence-Based Resources: Graduates should demonstrate knowledge of information resources and databases, to identify strategies for locating additional evidence-based resources to expand knowledge and skill bases, for referrals and reference. Graduates should also possess the ability to utilize computer technology and apply this expertise in professional and clinical settings.
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11 Activities That Promote Critical Thinking In The Class
Updated: Oct 24
What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is a 21st-century skill that enables a person to think rationally and logically in order to reach a plausible conclusion. A critical thinker assesses facts and figures and data objectively and determines what to believe and what not to believe. Critical thinking skills empower a person to decipher complex problems and make impartial and better decisions based on effective information.
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Critical thinking skills cultivate habits of mind such as strategic thinking, skepticism, discerning fallacy from the facts, asking good questions and probing deep into the issues to find the truth.
Importance of Acquiring Critical Thinking Skills
Acquiring critical thinking skills was never as valuable as it is today because of the prevalence of the modern knowledge economy. Today, information and technology are the driving forces behind the global economy. To keep pace with ever-changing technology and new inventions, one has to be flexible enough to embrace changes swiftly.
Read our article: How to Foster Critical Thinking Skills in Students? Creative Strategies and Real-World Examples
Today critical thinking skills are one of the most sought-after skills by the companies. In fact, critical thinking skills are paramount not only for active learning and academic achievement but also for the professional career of the students. The lack of critical thinking skills catalyzes memorization of the topics without a deeper insight, egocentrism, closed-mindedness, reduced student interest in the classroom and not being able to make timely and better decisions.
Benefits of Critical Thinking Skills in Education
Certain strategies are more eloquent than others in teaching students how to think critically. Encouraging critical thinking in the class is indispensable for the learning and growth of the students. In this way, we can raise a generation of innovators and thinkers rather than followers. Some of the benefits offered by thinking critically in the classroom are given below:
It allows a student to decipher problems and think through the situations in a disciplined and systematic manner
Through a critical thinking ability, a student can comprehend the logical correlation between distinct ideas
The student is able to rethink and re-justify his beliefs and ideas based on facts and figures
Critical thinking skills make the students curious about things around them
A student who is a critical thinker is creative and always strives to come up with out of the box solutions to intricate problems
Critical thinking skills assist in the enhanced student learning experience in the classroom and prepares the students for lifelong learning and success
The critical thinking process is the foundation of new discoveries and inventions in the world of science and technology
The ability to think critically allows the students to think intellectually and enhances their presentation skills, hence they can convey their ideas and thoughts in a logical and convincing manner
Critical thinking skills make students a terrific communicator because they have logical reasons behind their ideas
11 Activities that Promote Critical Thinking in the Class
We have compiled a list of 11 activities that will facilitate you to promote critical thinking abilities in the students.
1. Worst Case Scenario
Divide students into teams and introduce each team with a hypothetical challenging scenario. Allocate minimum resources and time to each team and ask them to reach a viable conclusion using those resources. The scenarios can include situations like stranded on an island or stuck in a forest. Students will come up with creative solutions to come out from the imaginary problematic situation they are encountering. Besides encouraging students to think critically, this activity will enhance teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills of the students.
Read our article: 10 Innovative Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking in the Classroom
2. If You Build It
It is a very flexible game that allows students to think creatively. To start this activity, divide students into groups. Give each group a limited amount of resources such as pipe cleaners, blocks, and marshmallows etc. Every group is supposed to use these resources and construct a certain item such as building, tower or a bridge in a limited time. You can use a variety of materials in the classroom to challenge the students. This activity is helpful in promoting teamwork and creative skills among the students.
It is also one of the classics which can be used in the classroom to encourage critical thinking. Print pictures of objects, animals or concepts and start by telling a unique story about the printed picture. The next student is supposed to continue the story and pass the picture to the other student and so on.
4. Keeping it Real
In this activity, you can ask students to identify a real-world problem in their schools, community or city. After the problem is recognized, students should work in teams to come up with the best possible outcome of that problem.
5. Save the Egg
Make groups of three or four in the class. Ask them to drop an egg from a certain height and think of creative ideas to save the egg from breaking. Students can come up with diverse ideas to conserve the egg like a soft-landing material or any other device. Remember that this activity can get chaotic, so select the area in the school that can be cleaned easily afterward and where there are no chances of damaging the school property.
6. Start a Debate
In this activity, the teacher can act as a facilitator and spark an interesting conversation in the class on any given topic. Give a small introductory speech on an open-ended topic. The topic can be related to current affairs, technological development or a new discovery in the field of science. Encourage students to participate in the debate by expressing their views and ideas on the topic. Conclude the debate with a viable solution or fresh ideas generated during the activity through brainstorming.
7. Create and Invent
This project-based learning activity is best for teaching in the engineering class. Divide students into groups. Present a problem to the students and ask them to build a model or simulate a product using computer animations or graphics that will solve the problem. After students are done with building models, each group is supposed to explain their proposed product to the rest of the class. The primary objective of this activity is to promote creative thinking and problem-solving skills among the students.
8. Select from Alternatives
This activity can be used in computer science, engineering or any of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes. Introduce a variety of alternatives such as different formulas for solving the same problem, different computer codes, product designs or distinct explanations of the same topic.
Form groups in the class and ask them to select the best alternative. Each group will then explain its chosen alternative to the rest of the class with reasonable justification of its preference. During the process, the rest of the class can participate by asking questions from the group. This activity is very helpful in nurturing logical thinking and analytical skills among the students.
9. Reading and Critiquing
Present an article from a journal related to any topic that you are teaching. Ask the students to read the article critically and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in the article. Students can write about what they think about the article, any misleading statement or biases of the author and critique it by using their own judgments.
In this way, students can challenge the fallacies and rationality of judgments in the article. Hence, they can use their own thinking to come up with novel ideas pertaining to the topic.
10. Think Pair Share
In this activity, students will come up with their own questions. Make pairs or groups in the class and ask the students to discuss the questions together. The activity will be useful if the teacher gives students a topic on which the question should be based.
For example, if the teacher is teaching biology, the questions of the students can be based on reverse osmosis, human heart, respiratory system and so on. This activity drives student engagement and supports higher-order thinking skills among students.
11. Big Paper – Silent Conversation
Silence is a great way to slow down thinking and promote deep reflection on any subject. Present a driving question to the students and divide them into groups. The students will discuss the question with their teammates and brainstorm their ideas on a big paper. After reflection and discussion, students can write their findings in silence. This is a great learning activity for students who are introverts and love to ruminate silently rather than thinking aloud.
Read our next article: 10 Innovative Strategies for Promoting Critical Thinking in the Classroom
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B.S. Criminal Justice - Residential
Students in the Criminal Justice Program complete a course of study that includes the examination of crime, criminals, courts, policing, corrections, and victims. The program is concerned with both theory and practice.
The Criminal Justice, B.S. requires 42 Liberal Studies hours, 48 major hours, and 30 elective hours. The curriculum also offers an internship (CJ/EMGT 483), a unique way to gain work experience while earning a maximum of 12 hours of academic credit.
Criminal Justice Major Requirements
Eight-Semester Degree Plan
Minor in Criminal Justice
Students pursuing a degree in another discipline may choose to include a minor in Criminal Justice. The minor requires 21 hours, including CJ 250 and CJ 355 plus 15 hours of CJ electives approved by the department head.
Admission to the Criminal Justice Program
- Undergraduate Students
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Admission requirements for undergraduate students can be found at WCU Admissions .
Transfer students must meet the application requirements of the University (above) and:
- Have an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree or an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree from an accredited community college
- Have an Associate’s of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from an accredited community college or
- Have substantial progress toward the “44 General Core” courses that satisfy the General Education/Liberal Studies requirement for a North Carolina community college
Special Opportunities for Criminal Justice Students
Getting involved in extracurricular activities can help boost understanding of your chosen field and give you the chance to collaborate, socialize, and network with your peers. Browse below for opportunities awaiting you.
Student Association of Criminal Justice Affairs (SACJA)
SACJA is a student-run club open to all students who are majoring or minoring in criminal justice at WCU. Dedicated to promoting criminal justice, both as an academic discipline and as a career choice, SACJA is active in community volunteerism, criminal justice-related student activities, and promoting a higher standard of education.
To learn more, call 828.227.2172.
Alpha Phi Sigma - National Criminal Justice Honor Society
Alpha Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma promotes critical thinking, academic excellence, service, leadership, and unity in the field of criminal justice. Contact Dr. Tasha Youtsin .
Criminal Justice Internship
The criminal justice curriculum offers an internship (CJ/EMGT 483) as a way to gain work experience while earning a maximum of 12 hours of academic credit. For more information, contact Internship Coordinator Dr. Andy Hansen .
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