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*taken from The Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.org Critical Thinking in Education & Life.

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1 *taken from The Foundation for Critical Thinking Critical Thinking in Education & Life

2 Thinking Critically: About critical thinking –It’s true: I read it in the newspaper! –You’re welcome to your opinion, but mine is right! –Of course it’s art: It’s in the Art Gallery! –Why? Why? Why?

3 Key Questions What is critical thinking? Why is critical thinking particularly important in college? What are the attributes of a critical thinker? How should I evaluate sources of information? What are the elements of a good argument? What are logical fallacies? What are propaganda techniques?

4 Critical thinking Do you ‘read between the lines’ when you’re reading a newspaper or magazine? Do you avoid taking things at face value? Do you think beyond the obvious? Are you skeptical about the claims made in commercials? If so, you have started on the road to becoming a critical thinker!

5 Critical thinkers: Ask relevant and pertinent questions. Are curious. Are aware of their own biases. Are open to changing their opinions based on new information Formulate well-reasoned arguments. Reserve judgment until they have all the facts.

6 To Do’s: Become actively involved in your learning by questioning the information presented to you. Accept the statement that ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’ and make it your new credo! Be careful not to slip into the habit of accepting what you read or are told by ‘experts’.

7 Are Your Sources of Information Reliable? As a critical thinker you must first learn to evaluate the source of your information. Lectures/discussions: –Who it the speaker? What is his/her experience in the chosen topic? Does he/she have any obvious biases? Is he/she considered an expert in his/her field?

8 Written material: –Books, journals, magazines, and newspapers – allow you to know the name of the author and the name of the publishing body. A little research will tell you whether you can trust the source; i.e., is the author well-respected in the field? Is the publishing body well-established, with a good reputation? Is the information up-to-date? Film, videos, television, and radio: –Be aware of the target audience of the media. Are the views expressed balanced? Is the production designed to inform, educate, or make a profit? The internet: –Must be a very discerning consumer when you ‘surf the net’. Check the credentials of the author and the publisher. There are many excellent websites; the trick is to avoid those created with little or no subject knowledge or those with a hidden agenda.

9 6 Stages in Development of Critical Thinking Skills: (Paul & Elder, 2002) Stage 1: The Unreflective Thinker –(we are unaware of significant problems in our thinking) Stage 2: The Challenged Thinker –(we become aware of problems in our thinking)

10 Stages cont’d Stage 3: The Beginning Thinker – (we try to improve, but without regular practice) Stage 4: The Practicing Thinker –(we recognize the necessity of regular practice) Stage 5: The Advanced Thinker –(we advance in accordance with out practice) Stage 6: The Master Thinker –(skilled and insightful thinking becomes second nature)

11 Universal Structures of Thought To ‘answer a question or solve a problem’ WHENEVER WE THINK we think for a ‘purpose’ What is the question I am trying to answer? What is my fundamental purpose? Within a ‘point of view’ What is my point of view with respect to the issue ? Based on ‘assumptions’ What assumptions am I using in my reasoning? Leading to ‘implications and consequences’ What are the implications of my reasoning (if I am correct)? We use ‘data, facts and experiences’ What information do I need to answer my question? To make ‘ inferences and judgments’ What are my most fundamental inferences or conclusions? Based on ‘concepts and theories’ What is the most basic concept in the question?

12 Elements of Thought It is important to understand the elements of critical thinking and practice your thinking skills regularly until they become “second nature” (Paul & Elder, 2002). All reasoning has a PURPOSE. –Take time to state your purpose clearly –Check periodically to be sure you are still on target –Choose significant and realistic purposes All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some QUESTION, to solve some problem. –Clearly state the question at issue –Break question into sub-questions –Identify if question has one right answer, is a matter of mere opinion or requires reasoning from more than one point of view

13 All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS. –Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable –Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW –Identify your point of view –Seek other views and identify their strengths and weaknesses –Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view

14 All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE –Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have –Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, CONCEPTS AND IDEAS –Identify key concepts and explain them –Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts

15 All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS. Infer only what the evidence implies. –Check inferences for their consistency with each other –Identify assumptions underlying your inferences All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES. –Search for negative as well as positive implications –Consider all significant consequences

16 Analyzing Arguments You may be called upon to analyze a position that you disagree with deeply. This is an important part of critical thinking because before you can evaluate a position reasonably, you have to understand it accurately. Acknowledge your feelings and biases towards the topic under discussion. Are your own pre- conceived ideas preventing you from appreciating another point of view?

17 Analyzing Problems (cont’d) Identify some problem you need to reason through. Then complete the following: What exactly is the problem: (Study the problem to make clear the kind of problem you are dealing with. Figure out, for example, what sorts of things you are going to have to do to solve it. Distinguish problems over which you have some control from problems over which you have no control. Pay special attention to controversial issues in which it is essential to consider multiple points of view.) –The key question that emerges from my problem is….. (state the question as clearly and precisely as you can. Details are very important.

18 –My purpose in addressing this problem is… (know exactly what you are after. Make sure you are not operating with a hidden agenda and that your announced and real purposes are the same). –Actively seek the information most relevant to the question. (include in that information options for action, both short-term and long-term. Recognize limitations in terms of money, time and power.) –Some important assumptions I am using in my thinking are… (figure out what you are taking for granted. Watch out for self-serving or unjustified assumptions.)

19 –If we solve this problem, some important implications are….. If we fail to solve this problem, some important implications are…. (evaluate options, taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of possible decisions before acting. What consequences are likely to follow from this or that decision?) –The most important concepts, theories, or ideas I need to use in my thinking are… (figure out all significant ideas needed to understand and solve the problem. You may need to analyze these concepts. Use a good dictionary.)

20 A Standards Check Clear –Is my reasoning clear? Do I understand this clearly? Do I know the implications? –Have I given enough? Examples? Contrasting examples? Hypothetical cases? Analogies?

21 –Have I elaborated enough? –Is my presentation of my reasoning clear? Have I said clearly what I meant? Accurate –Is my reasoning accurate? –Is this in accord with The best knowledge I have? The findings of the discipline? Reliable sources?

22 –Do I need to check this out? Check: could this be based on: –Wishful thinking –Unexamined background stories? –Hearsay, questionable sources? Does my presentation display accuracy? –Have I supported the accuracy of my claims With reasons? With good reasons?

23 Important, Relevant –In my reasoning, have I focused on what is most important, give My purpose? The question at issue? The context? Do I have an overview? Can I outline my reasoning? Can I summarize my reasoning? Have I presented my reasoning in a way that displays what is important?

24 Sufficient –Have I reasoned this through enough, given My purpose? The question at issue? The context? –Have I left out crucial steps? –Have I jumped to conclusions? –Are there other essential issues to consider? In my presentation –Have I said enough to show my audience that it is reasonable to come to my conclusions?

25 Deep and Breadth –In my reasoning, have I looked beneath the surface? At underlying explanations, theories? At complexities of the issue? Have I taken account of other relevant perspectives? –In my presentation, have I presented my reasoning in a way that displays its Depth? Breadth?

26 Precise –Is my reasoning precise enough, specific enough? Do I need more details? Do I need more exactness? –Have I stated the details and degree of exactness my audience needs? Reasonable overall –Is my reasoning reasonable overall? –Have I presented a reasonable overall case?

27 Critical thinking is about questioning everything, first your own thinking and biases and then everything about the material you are examining or creating.

28 Resources American Educator: Can Critical Thinking Be Taught? American Federation of Teachers, Sum 2007 Nosich, G Learning to Think Things Through: A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum, 3 rd ed., Upper Saddle River NJ: Pearson. Ruggiero, V.R Becoming a critical thinker, 5 th ed. Houghton-Miflin Company: Boston.


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