5 Interesting Activities & Games for Boosting Critical Thinking Skills in Adults

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With their superior intellect, humans have constantly been evolving to overcome their environment and barriers to their goals. Necessity, the adage says, is the mother of invention; indeed, the process of systematic analysis of an issue at hand to come to a conclusive judgment is how one solves the issue. This process is termed “critical thinking“. 

Akin to Sherlock Holmes’s deductive reasoning, critical thinking entails using one, or a combination, or all of the following steps:

  1. Observation of a given situation
  2. Feeling
  3. Wondering or formulating a question 
  4. Imagining (“what could be the possible answers?”)
  5. Drawing inferences from the gathered information, assuming one of the possible answers was accurate. If there is sufficient relevant evidence, one may come to a definitive conclusion.
  6. Using stored Knowledge related to the subject matter to generate possible solutions or drawing inferences 
  7. Experimenting, aka systematic observation/trial-and-error, to predict whether the inferences (as deduced from the above) will occur.
  8. Consulting or researching the situation to extract credible information from one or many sources, judging the acceptability of this information 
  9. Identifying and analyzing arguments
  10. Judging based on all evidence
  11. Deciding on what to do

Critical thinking games push participants to go “out-of-the-box”, shatter “group-think” tendencies, and take non-conventional routes to reach a decision. Adults can handle more complex problems, and the settings in which such games are played may require them to socialize, making use of multi-dimensional skillsets and sources of Knowledge. Employees may be involved in brain training activities, but games can prove to be better for upskilling them.

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List of activities that involve adults thinking critically!

1. Shrinking Vessel

This is a team-building activity that is best played with more than 30 participants. The population is split up into small teams of 2-4, and everyone is enclosed in a shrinking space that can be achieved by flexible boundaries—rope, cones, etc.

As the area reduces, each team has to work in tandem to stand together. If the playing group is large, teams may need to eliminate opponent group members or reorganize themselves to fit the area until there is no room to accommodate.

Skills developed: Strategizing, space utilization, organization skills, awareness of the surroundings

2. Solving Mystery

When it comes to critical thinking, nothing can be better than playing detective. Split up the members into teams of 4-5 and give each team member a sheet of clues/information. Now, the list of information is incomplete or jumbled up. For example:

Member 1 gets a sheet with clues 1, 4, 5

Member 2 gets a sheet with clues 7, 3, 6

Member 3 gets a sheet with clues 2, 8

Member 4 gets the problem statement (the actual question that they need to solve).

Teams must follow the clues to crack the mystery (objectives may be hypothetical or uncovering the root cause of a real problem). With effective communication, participants learn to work on the problem by gathering all sources of information.

Skills developed: Collecting relevant information, eliminating redundant or irrelevant facts, problem-solving, effective communication

3. Film or Book Review

This individual activity aims to develop the participant’s keen eye and go beyond superficial aspects of a given movie/book. Participants can be asked to review their favourite literary/artistic piece over the weekend and present their critical appreciation. It will set them thinking on the purpose of their consuming rather than passively reading or watching. 

When done in a group, there may be people who have watched it previously. The activity invites stimulating debate and discussion and brings to light many facets of a standard item. Some people may go above and beyond, seeking information about its music, author, director, etc., and draw inferences on the mood and contemporary times when the piece was written/set in. 

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Skills developed: Collecting relevant information, effective communication, multi-way thinking, creative thinking

4. Fact vs Opinion

In modern society, the difference between fact and opinion is a highly blurred line. While a fact can be proven true or false, opinions express one’s feeling or point-of-view, and therefore cannot be differentiated as true or false. The Socratic method of inquiry, which pushes participants to ask “why”, is the motivation behind this activity. 

Here, participants are shown several statements on a screen/board that are either fact or opinion. Participants will mark each of these statements as “F” (if it is a fact) or “O” if it is an opinion. The next part is to have the participants explain why the statement can or cannot be proven to be a fact. Some questions that can be used to guide the discussion are available here.  

Skills developed: Reasoning, logical conclusions, discussion

5. Connect 4

This beloved and popular strategy game can be played physically or online by people of all age groups. The objective is to connect four-player A’s colored coins in a straight line by dropping them into the coin holder before the opposition party does.

It requires the players to apply anticipatory thinking, thinking about all possible outcomes. It can be considered to be a simpler version of chess.

Skills developed: Problem-solving, anticipation.

Wrapping Up,

While critical thinking demands a highly systematic approach, it does not mean you can’t tweak the rules. A cognitive bias is encountered when one generalizes a problem to be the same in all contexts; for example, water scarcity in village A may not arise from the same environmental factors as in village B. Therefore, the same solution cannot be applied to both scenarios. 

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Games are not just fun: they break the monotony and get participants to involve multisensory order thinking skills. These activities will help the workers and the organizations, boosting output and productivity. 

Some games help us acquire critical thinking skills, making us productive and increasing our output in the workplace. It fosters trust and problem-solving skills.


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