The Evidence Portal

Learning and development activities to enable critical thinking

Flexible activity

Learning and development activities that underpin aspects of the Self-concept, self-efficacy and confidence core component. Specifically, these learning and development activities enable skill-building around critical thinking such as cognitive reappraisal, responsible decision-making and problem solving.

Learning and development activities in critical thinking offers young people important foundational information to develop skills that can aid in responsible decision-making, problem solving and cognitive reappraisal.

How can it be implemented?

This content can be delivered via structured or unstructured learning, multimedia or social media platforms, interactive sessions, review sessions and through home-learning, homework and at-home practice.

Structured learning:

  • Structured learning includes lessons or educational messages that follow a protocol, plan or guide. Examples include established curriculum delivered by trained facilitators.

Unstructured learning:

  • Unstructured learning includes lessons or educational messages that do not follow a prescribed pattern or sequence. This allows facilitators to deliver content in a manner more tailored and responsive to their program participants.

Multimedia or social media platforms:

  • Educational content can be delivered via web platforms, social media platforms, audio and/or visual streaming platforms and via text messaging.

Interactive sessions:

  • Educational content can also be delivered via interactive sessions including via group discussion, group work, peer learning, modelling and/or performances.

Review sessions:

  • Review sessions that reinforce learned educational content can assist to summarise key messages and embed learning.

Homework, at-home practice and written assignments:

  • Homework, at-home practice and written assignments can also reinforce learned content.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • 18-24 year-olds who identify as African American
  • University students who do not have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or endorsed clinically significant levels of symptoms of anxiety, depression or eating disorders
  • Students in grades 5-8
  • Students enrolled in middle schools where the majority of students are classified as economically disadvantaged
  • 11-12 year-olds
  • 14-17 year-old male students
  • Sexual and gender minority youths aged 15-16

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In Color it Real, participants discuss problem solving in small groups.
  • In No program name: Coping skills, problem solving and cognitive reappraisal were taught through didactic instruction and homework assignments.
  • In Mindfulness-based stress reduction (adapted version), didactic material relating to problem solving barriers to effective mindfulness was delivered.
  • In Speaking to the Potential, Ability and Resilience Inside Every Kid (SPARK) Pre-Teen Mentoring Curriculum, a series of coordinated lessons delivered in a specific order and incorporating multiple learning activities target problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  • In D.A.R.E.’s The Elementary keepin’ it REAL (EkiR), ten 45-minute lessons canvass core social and emotional learning skills including decision-making and handling responsibilities. Each lesson begins with a summary of the previous lesson and then transitions to an animated video presenting a narrative about a challenging situation relating to the lesson topic. Lessons are concluded with a summary discussion and assignment of homework for further application and practice.
  • In Guy Talk, one of eight interactive lessons focuses on establishing independence through responsible decision-making. These lessons are delivered in small group practice sessions and individual and paired activities.
  • In No program name: online intervention, one of three sessions led by an animated young adult narrator focused on a five-step guide for making decisions.

What else should I consider?

Delivery of learning and development activities should take into account the age and developmental maturity of the targeted cohort. Educational materials and lessons should be age-appropriate and where relevant, culturally sensitive and appropriate.

If online or video activities are going to be implemented, service providers and participants will require access to devices and/or software to view and engage with the content.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

Was this content useful?
We will use your rating to help improve the site.
Please don't include personal or financial information here
Please don't include personal or financial information here

We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

Top Return to top of page Top