The Writing and Critical Thinking Connection

How Writing A-Z Helps Students Become Better Critical Thinkers

Writing is an exercise in critical thinking. Every writing assignment demands that students think ahead, consider their audience, and rethink their wording or organization to ensure that their composition meets a specific goal: to persuade, to inform or explain, to communicate ideas, or to tell a story.

"Writing is thinking on paper."
William Zinsser, On Writing Well, p.vii

As students explore the world of writing and experiment with their own styles and approaches, they develop critical thinking skills in multiple ways, and Writing A-Z has resources that can help you use writing as a critical thinking exercise in your classroom.

Audience Consideration

Writing does not happen in a vacuum—there is always an audience and context for every composition. The more students write, the better they become at analyzing not only who is reading their compositions (students, parents, teachers, etc.), but also what their audience wants or expects. Encourage students to be mindful of their audience’s needs, and with time, they will develop a repertoire of persuasive strategies for various audiences.


The revision process encourages students to think about their own thinking. When students re-read a draft, they confront the ideas and priorities that were most salient when they wrote it. A student may have learned a new skill or fact that can be incorporated into a future draft, and this new knowledge helps them see their ideas in a different light during revision. When students practice the metacognitive habits embedded in the revision process often enough, they improve their critical thinking skills and predictive reading abilities.


Along with revision, peer review is a key element of the writing process and it supports a student’s understanding of their audience. When students collaborate through peer review, they train themselves to anticipate the thoughts, concerns, and analyses of their peers. The constructive feedback students get from their peers develops not only a sense of community, but also opens students’ minds to different perspectives and approaches to understanding writing.

"Critical thinking is that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it."
The Critical Thinking Community,

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