Using Magic to conjure up critical thinking skills

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsWorkshopResearch


Developing critical thinking skills of students is key across all subject areas. This session reflects upon a workshop which aimed to use the performance of magic to develop critical thinking skills in an engaging, fun and accessible learning environment. Using magic is a relatively novel concept although using metaphor as a pedagogical aid is not. The aim of the project was to make learning dualistic so that students gain meaning and remember the elements of critical thinking. Without the use of magic performance as metaphor students would be faced with an abstract concept. A workshop was developed using the ‘illusion’ of a magic trick, as a metaphor, to help students unpack and question the information they face, without just accepting it. A magic trick, relies on sleight of hand, the assumptions that observers make and misdirection. Students witnessed the performance of a simple trick. The fact of the ‘trickery’ of the illusion was revealed, although not the full ‘how it’s done’, and students were involved in discussion and analysis about the elements that were used to persuade them. Students reflected on their experience of the trick and how they felt once they knew that had been ‘cheated’. They also identified the skills they use to analyse and evaluate more general information that they are exposed to. They then made links between this experience and the skills of critical thinking, and how these can be applied in academic reading and writing.

Delegates might even get a chance to see the trick itself.
Period15 Jun 2021
Event titleUniversity of Northampton Learning and Teaching Conference 2021
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Magic
  • Critical Thinking
  • Metaphor