Before deciding on a definition for critical thinking, please take a look at this snappy four minute video: Do You Think? by DigitalSplashMedia. On the basis of the concepts presented in the video, do you believe that you are critical thinker?
You might also like to work through this case study to check out your understanding of critical thinking skills.
One of the students in class has been accessing Facebook on her laptop. Emilia does not want to embarrass the girl so after class she asks a colleague (Jane) what she should do.
Jane asks Emilia, "Is the student completing the work?" Emilia replies, "Yes she is". "So why is it an issue?" "I don't feel comfortable with it, because she could distract the others" says Emilia. "But is she?" "No." Jane says, "So why do you really have a problem with it? What are your reasons." "Well, she may be rushing her tasks to go on FB, but they are done much better than the others, so this doesn't seem to be the case. I don't like her being distracted, but then it is probably better than sitting there talking."
Definitions of critical thinking
- Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. (Scriven & Paul, 1987.)
To read more about this definition, and the complexities that surround the concept of critical thinking, please visit The Critical Thinking Community website.
The Foundation for Critical Thinking has developed the concept further and published this definition:
- 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. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well as a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism (2011).
Another prominent name in the field of critical thinking is Dr Peter Facione. In his popular essay: Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts, he presents his research-based ideas. He uses questions to help readers to think critically to develop a definition for themselves, and grasp the meaning of critical thinking. He also describes six core critical thinking skills:
- Interpretation - deconstruction of experiences, beliefs, situations, judgments etc. to understand and describe their significance and what they mean.
- Analysis - identifying the relationships within representations (statements, questions, concepts, descriptions) associated with an interpretation.
- Evaluation - assessing the credibility of representations and the strength of the relationships that emerge from analysis.
- Inference - extracting the potential meaning from the data that is presented.
- Explanation - presenting a clear, logical and consistent argument of the outcomes.
- Self-regulation - monitoring the critical thinking process to confirm, validate or change the outcomes.(Facione, 2011.)
- Questions for Assessing Critical Thinking Usefully - a presentation by Peter Facione (2012).