Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Definition of Critical Thinking

We think so because other people all think so; or because - or because - after all we do think so; or because we were told so, and think we must think so; or because we once thought so, and think we still think so; or because, having thought so, we think we will think so...~Henry Sidgwick

Critical thinking is the ability to apply logic, open-mindedness, rigor, and logical principles, to analyze and discuss topics, claims, situations, and issues in a clear and precise manner, citing supportive evidence. 

“Take-away” Realizations - Key Elements
  • ability to review with an ANALYTICAL approach - what is being said, factually?
  • ability to discern what is being INFERRED - what conclusions are being drawn from observations and hypotheses?
  • ability to INTERPRET - what does it all mean - how do the puzzle pieces fit together?
  • ability to SELF-REGULATE - how does one examine one's own interpretation and assumptions and self-correct?
  • ability to EVALUATE - what is the logical strength of the claim?
  • ability to EXPLAIN - what are the results and evidence of one's reasoning? 

From the readings and our discussion, I am increasing aware of the impact of bias on the critical thinking process. Emotions, as we have discussed, are a strong component, to be recognized and given due examination. Assumptions are often endemic and seem to be a part of what one deems as factual. Perhaps, this is the first question when reviewing academic questions - what are my assumptions and biases? And then applying rigorous attention to evidence. A hearty task, indeed.

On the Lighter Side
from Dept of Linguistics