With just a few more traits to explore, we proceed with our series about the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™. The previous posting in this blog series presented a brief overview about the trait examine. This post features the critical thinking trait inquire.

I seek information that excites my curiosity and inspires my learning.

When students grasp an understanding of the trait inquire, they initiate learning or display inquisitive attitudes by asking probing and more in-depth questions, questioning responses, and challenging the status quo. Students also exhibit self-direction as they seize opportunities to problem solve, showing an interest in a continuance to learn and grow.

As students explore their passions or interests, the questions they pose help them delve deeper to expand their knowledge. You might observe students searching for new and better solutions, then testing ideas to determine the reasonableness rather than accepting ideas as they are. Students with a firm grasp of the trait inquire are willing to learn from experiences, willing to admit mistakes they make.

Students may engage in research and use inquiry charts to gather information about a topic from several sources, participate in project-based learning where individual interests are explored with questions used as springboards for collecting data, or work in pairs or groups to use their questioning attitudes to explore, discuss, and produce data in the investigation of problems. Learning to use this trait is beneficial no matter your station in life (e.g., student, teacher, homemaker, scientist, businessman, physician, lawyer, government official, baker, computer programmer, mechanic, truck driver, hair stylist). The development of an inquisitive mind can heighten awareness of skills, helping you discover better techniques or ways to work, and simply improve your actions in whatever job you undertake.

The following questions can be asked of students to facilitate focus and application of the trait inquire. Feel free to adjust the vocabulary to promote understanding among students.

  • Do you ask questions to explore, extend, and deepen learning?
  • Do you actively pursue topics related to your strengths, interests, or passions?
  • How open are you to seeking opportunities to expand your learning?
  • Are you satisfied with the status quo or do you explore alternatives or options?
  • How do you use technology to enhance meaning or learning?
  • What action do you take to continue to learn and grow?
  • What are examples that show how the trait inquire might be used in school, at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere in life?

In the next blog post, we’ll explore a seventh trait link.