The Effects of Critical Thinking & Long-term Memory


Both critical thinking and long-term memory are necessary components of a vibrant, intelligent mind. Although scholars disagree whether either can be taught, actions that later become habits can help develop these components. Teaching students the way to consciously and efficiently stimulate critical thinking and long-term memory will help make them better scholars.

Critical Thinking

  • An important aspect of problem solving, critical thinking revolves around making accurate judgments about a particular situation. Assessing the entire situation, a critical thinker is very methodological in his analysis, interpretation and evaluation. Using the results of his inquiry, the critical thinker reflects on the situation and posits a logical conclusion to the question at hand.

Long-term Memory

  • Relatively permanent, long-term memory sometimes proves to be inaccurate. Shaped by our previous experiences, long-term memory is the result of strengthening synapses in the brain. Long-term memory contrasts with working or sensory memory in that long-term memory captures events that happened many years ago. A strong emotional attachment exists to those memories.

Critical Thinking and Long-term Memory

  • A person with a fantastic memory may lack the skills of a critical thinker. The opposite also holds true. Both of these crucial functions develop in different parts of the brain. Thus, training is necessary to make a connection between one and the other.

For Teachers

  • To develop both critical thinking and long-term memory, ask the students to put ideas into their own words as precisely as possible. This exercise will force the students to reevaluate the words they use; students may remember to repeat the process in the future. With enough regular practice, this procedure may become a habit. Also, students need to connect what they are learning to personal experiences. Only in that way will the material transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory.

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