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How to Teach Critical Thinking Skills That Motivate Students to Learn

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When planning classroom lessons or online tutoring sessions with a curriculum, working out the best way to break up subjects and topics in the curriculum into sections or chunks is the first part of the planning process. Designing lessons in the classroom and in an online tutoring platform can be one part of an overall plan for increasing student motivation to learning.

Secondly, the time available as well as ways for student to make progress and build up skills and knowledge gradually, should be looked at critically. The teacher/tutor should be mindful of the fact that they may return to previous learning in different ways and at different times in future lessons when other topics are covered or a subjects is extended.

 The single most important element of learning is student motivation, so far as we know, learning is hard work; fortunately the student is assured that a good teacher can do a lot to motivate them to learn.

The central theme of good learning in a live online tutoring session and in classroom learning is motivating the student to learn. This theme builds on the fact that the teacher/tutor understands that learning always proceeds from the know to the new and to promote interest in learning the teacher or tutor should begin each session by stating key learning outcomes and skills each session will afford the student.

An example of key learning outcome and skills for math online tutoring help will look like this;

a. How to support struggling student to develop interest in math.

b. Advocating strategies to help students deal with being stuck by themselves so they develop personal strategies for getting unstuck.

c. To help the student build a better understanding of math.

d. Promote effective ways to teach students to visualize the mathematical system.


This design process should create awareness on why the session in math is important, valuable and intellectually interesting.

In all math online tutoring session plans and indeed all classroom teaching, tutor/teacher need to be clear about:

a. What the student need in order to make progress

b. How you are going to teach in a way the student will understand so as to meet their needs.

c. How to maintain flexibility to respond to what you observe as each lesson progresses.

d. What the student has learnt in order to plan for the future. This can come about after the teacher looks back at how well the lesson went.

This design plan should be continuous and helps teacher/tutor prepare both individual lessons as well as series of lessons, each one building on the last.

The third way to motivate the student is to provide some needed measure of challenge in the live online tutoring session and to provide feedback as to how well the student is meeting the challenge.

Tasks that the student view as challenging but the student successfully completes are highly motivating and should be encouraged.

Live math online tutoring that builds critical thinking skills in struggling students


Teachers and tutors should be interested in designing and planning lessons that will help the student build their thinking skills, as learning and thinking are related.

It is glaring in our education environment that most students are lagging in thinking. It will be pertinent to note that generation of ideas and evaluation of ideas are skills needed for problem solving.

In the first instance, a person who thinks deeply and seriously can be called a thinker. An effective thinker must be willing to think and be able to think.

In the second instance, a critical thinker is inquisitive, self confident in reasoning, prudent in making judgment, flexible in considering outcomes, well informed, clear about issues, fair minded in evaluation of alternatives, willing to reconsider, careful in seeking relevant information and persistent in seeking best solutions.

The role of the teacher/tutor is to encourage critical thinking in the student in each content field and should be included in the design and planning of the live online tutoring session or classroom learning.

As Mcmillan (1986) noted, "it really boils down to whether teachers are creating an environment that stimulates critical enquiry". Logic and logical evaluation is the essence of critical thinking. Evaluating knowledge is easy when compared to evaluating thinking skills and every teacher knows that this requires a different teaching strategy.


The most powerful and useful teaching tactic in promoting critical thinking in every learning environment is Socratic teaching. This teaching focuses on giving students questions not answers.

In classroom and online tutoring platforms, teachers and tutors can teach critical thinking by exposing the student to critical questioning skills like questioning the who, what, where, when, why and how in each thinking session. This technique should be applied to the relevant field of study or topic area.

The following different teaching techniques will help promote critical thinking in every learning environment;


Student Collaboration

Student collaboration in classroom discussion can promote critical thinking. Teachers encouraging students to observe reasoning skills of other students is another student collaboration technique that can promote critical thinking. Another technique that promotes critical thinking in classroom learning is for teacher to encourage students to study the pros and cons grid or advantages and disadvantages of an issue.


Critical thinking questions and indeed all thinking questions should begin and end with phrases or words like "why, "how", "explain", "what is the solution to the problem?", "do you agree or disagree with the speaker?", "what is your opinion in the issue?".

Questions in online tutoring session need to be designed to encourage thorough synthesis and evaluation of facts and concepts.


Promoting classroom and online tutoring assignment will encourage students to expand their thinking processes. This is also a powerful vehicle that promotes critical thinking.

In learn it online tutoring and in classroom learning, the disposition of the student to critical thinking is a major factor and as soon as the teacher or tutor observes that the right disposition is lacking or deficient the right disposition should be encouraged and nurtured.

As pointed out by loving and Wilson (2000) and Derman MH (1997), thought develops with practice and evaluation over time, using multiple strategies.


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Written by Charles Onwugbene of FX-FCTUTOR (@fxfctutor1)




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