Critical thinking and source criticism in social science education

Review question

How can social science teaching strengthen students’ ability for critical thinking and source criticism?


The education system in Sweden, as well as in many other countries, has a dual mission to convey knowledge and promote democratic values. Social science education is of central importance to succeed in this mission. Moreover, it is within social science education that students learn to critically evaluate and relate to political information and other types of targeted messages that confront them in a complex world of analogue and digital media.

The Swedish curriculum states that students should develop their ability to critically evaluate information, facts and circumstances and to recognize the consequences of different alternatives. It also states that students should be given the opportunity to develop a critical and responsible approach to digital technology, to be able to see opportunities and understand risks of digital information.

In the Swedish Institute for Educational Research’s needs inventory, teachers expressed a need for knowledge about teaching methods that strengthen students’ ability for critical thinking and source criticism. This systematic review compiles relevant research that can provide teachers with knowledge to enhance their teaching practices.

Project group

The project is carried out by a project team consisting of external researchers (specialists in the field) and employees at the Swedish Institute for Educational Research.

External researchers

  • Cecilia Arensmeier, Senior lecturer, Örebro University
  • Thomas Nygren, Senior lecturer, Uppsala University

From the Institute

  • Pontus Wallin, PhD, Researcher/Project manager
  • Ilana Manneh, PhD, Assistant project manager
  • Aiko Nakano Hylander, PhD, Information specialist
  • Maria Bergman, Project assistant

For further information, please contact

Pontus Wallin, PhD
Researcher/Project manager
tel: +46 8 523 29 818