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  • What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

  • Is free from research bias
  • Provides evidence to support its research findings
  • Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

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examples of critical thinking in university

Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
  • What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?
  • When did they say this? Is the source current?
  • Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed ?
  • Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

  • Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
  • Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
  • Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

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Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

  • Know how to find credible sources
  • Use relevant sources to inform your research
  • Understand what constitutes plagiarism
  • Know how to cite your sources correctly

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

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Critical thinking

Advice and resources to help you develop your critical voice.

Developing critical thinking skills is essential to your success at University and beyond.  We all need to be critical thinkers to help us navigate our way through an information-rich world. 

Whatever your discipline, you will engage with a wide variety of sources of information and evidence.  You will develop the skills to make judgements about this evidence to form your own views and to present your views clearly.

One of the most common types of feedback received by students is that their work is ‘too descriptive’.  This usually means that they have just stated what others have said and have not reflected critically on the material.  They have not evaluated the evidence and constructed an argument.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the art of making clear, reasoned judgements based on interpreting, understanding, applying and synthesising evidence gathered from observation, reading and experimentation. Burns, T., & Sinfield, S. (2016)  Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (4th ed.) London: SAGE, p94.

Being critical does not just mean finding fault.  It means assessing evidence from a variety of sources and making reasoned conclusions.  As a result of your analysis you may decide that a particular piece of evidence is not robust, or that you disagree with the conclusion, but you should be able to state why you have come to this view and incorporate this into a bigger picture of the literature.

Being critical goes beyond describing what you have heard in lectures or what you have read.  It involves synthesising, analysing and evaluating what you have learned to develop your own argument or position.

Critical thinking is important in all subjects and disciplines – in science and engineering, as well as the arts and humanities.  The types of evidence used to develop arguments may be very different but the processes and techniques are similar.  Critical thinking is required for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study.

What, where, when, who, why, how?

Purposeful reading can help with critical thinking because it encourages you to read actively rather than passively.  When you read, ask yourself questions about what you are reading and make notes to record your views.  Ask questions like:

  • What is the main point of this paper/ article/ paragraph/ report/ blog?
  • Who wrote it?
  • Why was it written?
  • When was it written?
  • Has the context changed since it was written?
  • Is the evidence presented robust?
  • How did the authors come to their conclusions?
  • Do you agree with the conclusions?
  • What does this add to our knowledge?
  • Why is it useful?

Our web page covering Reading at university includes a handout to help you develop your own critical reading form and a suggested reading notes record sheet.  These resources will help you record your thoughts after you read, which will help you to construct your argument. 

Reading at university

Developing an argument

Being a university student is about learning how to think, not what to think.  Critical thinking shapes your own values and attitudes through a process of deliberating, debating and persuasion.   Through developing your critical thinking you can move on from simply disagreeing to constructively assessing alternatives by building on doubts.

There are several key stages involved in developing your ideas and constructing an argument.  You might like to use a form to help you think about the features of critical thinking and to break down the stages of developing your argument.

Features of critical thinking (pdf)

Features of critical thinking (Word rtf)

Our webpage on Academic writing includes a useful handout ‘Building an argument as you go’.

Academic writing

You should also consider the language you will use to introduce a range of viewpoints and to evaluate the various sources of evidence.  This will help your reader to follow your argument.  To get you started, the University of Manchester's Academic Phrasebank has a useful section on Being Critical. 

Academic Phrasebank

Developing your critical thinking

Set yourself some tasks to help develop your critical thinking skills.  Discuss material presented in lectures or from resource lists with your peers.  Set up a critical reading group or use an online discussion forum.  Think about a point you would like to make during discussions in tutorials and be prepared to back up your argument with evidence.

For more suggestions:

Developing your critical thinking - ideas (pdf)

Developing your critical thinking - ideas (Word rtf)

Published guides

For further advice and more detailed resources please see the Critical Thinking section of our list of published Study skills guides.

Study skills guides  

This article was published on 2024-02-26

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a widely accepted educational goal. Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal. Conceptions differ with respect to the scope of such thinking, the type of goal, the criteria and norms for thinking carefully, and the thinking components on which they focus. Its adoption as an educational goal has been recommended on the basis of respect for students’ autonomy and preparing students for success in life and for democratic citizenship. “Critical thinkers” have the dispositions and abilities that lead them to think critically when appropriate. The abilities can be identified directly; the dispositions indirectly, by considering what factors contribute to or impede exercise of the abilities. Standardized tests have been developed to assess the degree to which a person possesses such dispositions and abilities. Educational intervention has been shown experimentally to improve them, particularly when it includes dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring. Controversies have arisen over the generalizability of critical thinking across domains, over alleged bias in critical thinking theories and instruction, and over the relationship of critical thinking to other types of thinking.

2.1 Dewey’s Three Main Examples

2.2 dewey’s other examples, 2.3 further examples, 2.4 non-examples, 3. the definition of critical thinking, 4. its value, 5. the process of thinking critically, 6. components of the process, 7. contributory dispositions and abilities, 8.1 initiating dispositions, 8.2 internal dispositions, 9. critical thinking abilities, 10. required knowledge, 11. educational methods, 12.1 the generalizability of critical thinking, 12.2 bias in critical thinking theory and pedagogy, 12.3 relationship of critical thinking to other types of thinking, other internet resources, related entries.

Use of the term ‘critical thinking’ to describe an educational goal goes back to the American philosopher John Dewey (1910), who more commonly called it ‘reflective thinking’. He defined it as

active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and the further conclusions to which it tends. (Dewey 1910: 6; 1933: 9)

and identified a habit of such consideration with a scientific attitude of mind. His lengthy quotations of Francis Bacon, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill indicate that he was not the first person to propose development of a scientific attitude of mind as an educational goal.

In the 1930s, many of the schools that participated in the Eight-Year Study of the Progressive Education Association (Aikin 1942) adopted critical thinking as an educational goal, for whose achievement the study’s Evaluation Staff developed tests (Smith, Tyler, & Evaluation Staff 1942). Glaser (1941) showed experimentally that it was possible to improve the critical thinking of high school students. Bloom’s influential taxonomy of cognitive educational objectives (Bloom et al. 1956) incorporated critical thinking abilities. Ennis (1962) proposed 12 aspects of critical thinking as a basis for research on the teaching and evaluation of critical thinking ability.

Since 1980, an annual international conference in California on critical thinking and educational reform has attracted tens of thousands of educators from all levels of education and from many parts of the world. Also since 1980, the state university system in California has required all undergraduate students to take a critical thinking course. Since 1983, the Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking has sponsored sessions in conjunction with the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association (APA). In 1987, the APA’s Committee on Pre-College Philosophy commissioned a consensus statement on critical thinking for purposes of educational assessment and instruction (Facione 1990a). Researchers have developed standardized tests of critical thinking abilities and dispositions; for details, see the Supplement on Assessment . Educational jurisdictions around the world now include critical thinking in guidelines for curriculum and assessment.

For details on this history, see the Supplement on History .

2. Examples and Non-Examples

Before considering the definition of critical thinking, it will be helpful to have in mind some examples of critical thinking, as well as some examples of kinds of thinking that would apparently not count as critical thinking.

Dewey (1910: 68–71; 1933: 91–94) takes as paradigms of reflective thinking three class papers of students in which they describe their thinking. The examples range from the everyday to the scientific.

Transit : “The other day, when I was down town on 16th Street, a clock caught my eye. I saw that the hands pointed to 12:20. This suggested that I had an engagement at 124th Street, at one o’clock. I reasoned that as it had taken me an hour to come down on a surface car, I should probably be twenty minutes late if I returned the same way. I might save twenty minutes by a subway express. But was there a station near? If not, I might lose more than twenty minutes in looking for one. Then I thought of the elevated, and I saw there was such a line within two blocks. But where was the station? If it were several blocks above or below the street I was on, I should lose time instead of gaining it. My mind went back to the subway express as quicker than the elevated; furthermore, I remembered that it went nearer than the elevated to the part of 124th Street I wished to reach, so that time would be saved at the end of the journey. I concluded in favor of the subway, and reached my destination by one o’clock.” (Dewey 1910: 68–69; 1933: 91–92)

Ferryboat : “Projecting nearly horizontally from the upper deck of the ferryboat on which I daily cross the river is a long white pole, having a gilded ball at its tip. It suggested a flagpole when I first saw it; its color, shape, and gilded ball agreed with this idea, and these reasons seemed to justify me in this belief. But soon difficulties presented themselves. The pole was nearly horizontal, an unusual position for a flagpole; in the next place, there was no pulley, ring, or cord by which to attach a flag; finally, there were elsewhere on the boat two vertical staffs from which flags were occasionally flown. It seemed probable that the pole was not there for flag-flying.

“I then tried to imagine all possible purposes of the pole, and to consider for which of these it was best suited: (a) Possibly it was an ornament. But as all the ferryboats and even the tugboats carried poles, this hypothesis was rejected. (b) Possibly it was the terminal of a wireless telegraph. But the same considerations made this improbable. Besides, the more natural place for such a terminal would be the highest part of the boat, on top of the pilot house. (c) Its purpose might be to point out the direction in which the boat is moving.

“In support of this conclusion, I discovered that the pole was lower than the pilot house, so that the steersman could easily see it. Moreover, the tip was enough higher than the base, so that, from the pilot’s position, it must appear to project far out in front of the boat. Moreover, the pilot being near the front of the boat, he would need some such guide as to its direction. Tugboats would also need poles for such a purpose. This hypothesis was so much more probable than the others that I accepted it. I formed the conclusion that the pole was set up for the purpose of showing the pilot the direction in which the boat pointed, to enable him to steer correctly.” (Dewey 1910: 69–70; 1933: 92–93)

Bubbles : “In washing tumblers in hot soapsuds and placing them mouth downward on a plate, bubbles appeared on the outside of the mouth of the tumblers and then went inside. Why? The presence of bubbles suggests air, which I note must come from inside the tumbler. I see that the soapy water on the plate prevents escape of the air save as it may be caught in bubbles. But why should air leave the tumbler? There was no substance entering to force it out. It must have expanded. It expands by increase of heat, or by decrease of pressure, or both. Could the air have become heated after the tumbler was taken from the hot suds? Clearly not the air that was already entangled in the water. If heated air was the cause, cold air must have entered in transferring the tumblers from the suds to the plate. I test to see if this supposition is true by taking several more tumblers out. Some I shake so as to make sure of entrapping cold air in them. Some I take out holding mouth downward in order to prevent cold air from entering. Bubbles appear on the outside of every one of the former and on none of the latter. I must be right in my inference. Air from the outside must have been expanded by the heat of the tumbler, which explains the appearance of the bubbles on the outside. But why do they then go inside? Cold contracts. The tumbler cooled and also the air inside it. Tension was removed, and hence bubbles appeared inside. To be sure of this, I test by placing a cup of ice on the tumbler while the bubbles are still forming outside. They soon reverse” (Dewey 1910: 70–71; 1933: 93–94).

Dewey (1910, 1933) sprinkles his book with other examples of critical thinking. We will refer to the following.

Weather : A man on a walk notices that it has suddenly become cool, thinks that it is probably going to rain, looks up and sees a dark cloud obscuring the sun, and quickens his steps (1910: 6–10; 1933: 9–13).

Disorder : A man finds his rooms on his return to them in disorder with his belongings thrown about, thinks at first of burglary as an explanation, then thinks of mischievous children as being an alternative explanation, then looks to see whether valuables are missing, and discovers that they are (1910: 82–83; 1933: 166–168).

Typhoid : A physician diagnosing a patient whose conspicuous symptoms suggest typhoid avoids drawing a conclusion until more data are gathered by questioning the patient and by making tests (1910: 85–86; 1933: 170).

Blur : A moving blur catches our eye in the distance, we ask ourselves whether it is a cloud of whirling dust or a tree moving its branches or a man signaling to us, we think of other traits that should be found on each of those possibilities, and we look and see if those traits are found (1910: 102, 108; 1933: 121, 133).

Suction pump : In thinking about the suction pump, the scientist first notes that it will draw water only to a maximum height of 33 feet at sea level and to a lesser maximum height at higher elevations, selects for attention the differing atmospheric pressure at these elevations, sets up experiments in which the air is removed from a vessel containing water (when suction no longer works) and in which the weight of air at various levels is calculated, compares the results of reasoning about the height to which a given weight of air will allow a suction pump to raise water with the observed maximum height at different elevations, and finally assimilates the suction pump to such apparently different phenomena as the siphon and the rising of a balloon (1910: 150–153; 1933: 195–198).

Diamond : A passenger in a car driving in a diamond lane reserved for vehicles with at least one passenger notices that the diamond marks on the pavement are far apart in some places and close together in others. Why? The driver suggests that the reason may be that the diamond marks are not needed where there is a solid double line separating the diamond lane from the adjoining lane, but are needed when there is a dotted single line permitting crossing into the diamond lane. Further observation confirms that the diamonds are close together when a dotted line separates the diamond lane from its neighbour, but otherwise far apart.

Rash : A woman suddenly develops a very itchy red rash on her throat and upper chest. She recently noticed a mark on the back of her right hand, but was not sure whether the mark was a rash or a scrape. She lies down in bed and thinks about what might be causing the rash and what to do about it. About two weeks before, she began taking blood pressure medication that contained a sulfa drug, and the pharmacist had warned her, in view of a previous allergic reaction to a medication containing a sulfa drug, to be on the alert for an allergic reaction; however, she had been taking the medication for two weeks with no such effect. The day before, she began using a new cream on her neck and upper chest; against the new cream as the cause was mark on the back of her hand, which had not been exposed to the cream. She began taking probiotics about a month before. She also recently started new eye drops, but she supposed that manufacturers of eye drops would be careful not to include allergy-causing components in the medication. The rash might be a heat rash, since she recently was sweating profusely from her upper body. Since she is about to go away on a short vacation, where she would not have access to her usual physician, she decides to keep taking the probiotics and using the new eye drops but to discontinue the blood pressure medication and to switch back to the old cream for her neck and upper chest. She forms a plan to consult her regular physician on her return about the blood pressure medication.

Candidate : Although Dewey included no examples of thinking directed at appraising the arguments of others, such thinking has come to be considered a kind of critical thinking. We find an example of such thinking in the performance task on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+), which its sponsoring organization describes as

a performance-based assessment that provides a measure of an institution’s contribution to the development of critical-thinking and written communication skills of its students. (Council for Aid to Education 2017)

A sample task posted on its website requires the test-taker to write a report for public distribution evaluating a fictional candidate’s policy proposals and their supporting arguments, using supplied background documents, with a recommendation on whether to endorse the candidate.

Immediate acceptance of an idea that suggests itself as a solution to a problem (e.g., a possible explanation of an event or phenomenon, an action that seems likely to produce a desired result) is “uncritical thinking, the minimum of reflection” (Dewey 1910: 13). On-going suspension of judgment in the light of doubt about a possible solution is not critical thinking (Dewey 1910: 108). Critique driven by a dogmatically held political or religious ideology is not critical thinking; thus Paulo Freire (1968 [1970]) is using the term (e.g., at 1970: 71, 81, 100, 146) in a more politically freighted sense that includes not only reflection but also revolutionary action against oppression. Derivation of a conclusion from given data using an algorithm is not critical thinking.

What is critical thinking? There are many definitions. Ennis (2016) lists 14 philosophically oriented scholarly definitions and three dictionary definitions. Following Rawls (1971), who distinguished his conception of justice from a utilitarian conception but regarded them as rival conceptions of the same concept, Ennis maintains that the 17 definitions are different conceptions of the same concept. Rawls articulated the shared concept of justice as

a characteristic set of principles for assigning basic rights and duties and for determining… the proper distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation. (Rawls 1971: 5)

Bailin et al. (1999b) claim that, if one considers what sorts of thinking an educator would take not to be critical thinking and what sorts to be critical thinking, one can conclude that educators typically understand critical thinking to have at least three features.

  • It is done for the purpose of making up one’s mind about what to believe or do.
  • The person engaging in the thinking is trying to fulfill standards of adequacy and accuracy appropriate to the thinking.
  • The thinking fulfills the relevant standards to some threshold level.

One could sum up the core concept that involves these three features by saying that critical thinking is careful goal-directed thinking. This core concept seems to apply to all the examples of critical thinking described in the previous section. As for the non-examples, their exclusion depends on construing careful thinking as excluding jumping immediately to conclusions, suspending judgment no matter how strong the evidence, reasoning from an unquestioned ideological or religious perspective, and routinely using an algorithm to answer a question.

If the core of critical thinking is careful goal-directed thinking, conceptions of it can vary according to its presumed scope, its presumed goal, one’s criteria and threshold for being careful, and the thinking component on which one focuses. As to its scope, some conceptions (e.g., Dewey 1910, 1933) restrict it to constructive thinking on the basis of one’s own observations and experiments, others (e.g., Ennis 1962; Fisher & Scriven 1997; Johnson 1992) to appraisal of the products of such thinking. Ennis (1991) and Bailin et al. (1999b) take it to cover both construction and appraisal. As to its goal, some conceptions restrict it to forming a judgment (Dewey 1910, 1933; Lipman 1987; Facione 1990a). Others allow for actions as well as beliefs as the end point of a process of critical thinking (Ennis 1991; Bailin et al. 1999b). As to the criteria and threshold for being careful, definitions vary in the term used to indicate that critical thinking satisfies certain norms: “intellectually disciplined” (Scriven & Paul 1987), “reasonable” (Ennis 1991), “skillful” (Lipman 1987), “skilled” (Fisher & Scriven 1997), “careful” (Bailin & Battersby 2009). Some definitions specify these norms, referring variously to “consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends” (Dewey 1910, 1933); “the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning” (Glaser 1941); “conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication” (Scriven & Paul 1987); the requirement that “it is sensitive to context, relies on criteria, and is self-correcting” (Lipman 1987); “evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations” (Facione 1990a); and “plus-minus considerations of the product in terms of appropriate standards (or criteria)” (Johnson 1992). Stanovich and Stanovich (2010) propose to ground the concept of critical thinking in the concept of rationality, which they understand as combining epistemic rationality (fitting one’s beliefs to the world) and instrumental rationality (optimizing goal fulfillment); a critical thinker, in their view, is someone with “a propensity to override suboptimal responses from the autonomous mind” (2010: 227). These variant specifications of norms for critical thinking are not necessarily incompatible with one another, and in any case presuppose the core notion of thinking carefully. As to the thinking component singled out, some definitions focus on suspension of judgment during the thinking (Dewey 1910; McPeck 1981), others on inquiry while judgment is suspended (Bailin & Battersby 2009, 2021), others on the resulting judgment (Facione 1990a), and still others on responsiveness to reasons (Siegel 1988). Kuhn (2019) takes critical thinking to be more a dialogic practice of advancing and responding to arguments than an individual ability.

In educational contexts, a definition of critical thinking is a “programmatic definition” (Scheffler 1960: 19). It expresses a practical program for achieving an educational goal. For this purpose, a one-sentence formulaic definition is much less useful than articulation of a critical thinking process, with criteria and standards for the kinds of thinking that the process may involve. The real educational goal is recognition, adoption and implementation by students of those criteria and standards. That adoption and implementation in turn consists in acquiring the knowledge, abilities and dispositions of a critical thinker.

Conceptions of critical thinking generally do not include moral integrity as part of the concept. Dewey, for example, took critical thinking to be the ultimate intellectual goal of education, but distinguished it from the development of social cooperation among school children, which he took to be the central moral goal. Ennis (1996, 2011) added to his previous list of critical thinking dispositions a group of dispositions to care about the dignity and worth of every person, which he described as a “correlative” (1996) disposition without which critical thinking would be less valuable and perhaps harmful. An educational program that aimed at developing critical thinking but not the correlative disposition to care about the dignity and worth of every person, he asserted, “would be deficient and perhaps dangerous” (Ennis 1996: 172).

Dewey thought that education for reflective thinking would be of value to both the individual and society; recognition in educational practice of the kinship to the scientific attitude of children’s native curiosity, fertile imagination and love of experimental inquiry “would make for individual happiness and the reduction of social waste” (Dewey 1910: iii). Schools participating in the Eight-Year Study took development of the habit of reflective thinking and skill in solving problems as a means to leading young people to understand, appreciate and live the democratic way of life characteristic of the United States (Aikin 1942: 17–18, 81). Harvey Siegel (1988: 55–61) has offered four considerations in support of adopting critical thinking as an educational ideal. (1) Respect for persons requires that schools and teachers honour students’ demands for reasons and explanations, deal with students honestly, and recognize the need to confront students’ independent judgment; these requirements concern the manner in which teachers treat students. (2) Education has the task of preparing children to be successful adults, a task that requires development of their self-sufficiency. (3) Education should initiate children into the rational traditions in such fields as history, science and mathematics. (4) Education should prepare children to become democratic citizens, which requires reasoned procedures and critical talents and attitudes. To supplement these considerations, Siegel (1988: 62–90) responds to two objections: the ideology objection that adoption of any educational ideal requires a prior ideological commitment and the indoctrination objection that cultivation of critical thinking cannot escape being a form of indoctrination.

Despite the diversity of our 11 examples, one can recognize a common pattern. Dewey analyzed it as consisting of five phases:

  • suggestions , in which the mind leaps forward to a possible solution;
  • an intellectualization of the difficulty or perplexity into a problem to be solved, a question for which the answer must be sought;
  • the use of one suggestion after another as a leading idea, or hypothesis , to initiate and guide observation and other operations in collection of factual material;
  • the mental elaboration of the idea or supposition as an idea or supposition ( reasoning , in the sense on which reasoning is a part, not the whole, of inference); and
  • testing the hypothesis by overt or imaginative action. (Dewey 1933: 106–107; italics in original)

The process of reflective thinking consisting of these phases would be preceded by a perplexed, troubled or confused situation and followed by a cleared-up, unified, resolved situation (Dewey 1933: 106). The term ‘phases’ replaced the term ‘steps’ (Dewey 1910: 72), thus removing the earlier suggestion of an invariant sequence. Variants of the above analysis appeared in (Dewey 1916: 177) and (Dewey 1938: 101–119).

The variant formulations indicate the difficulty of giving a single logical analysis of such a varied process. The process of critical thinking may have a spiral pattern, with the problem being redefined in the light of obstacles to solving it as originally formulated. For example, the person in Transit might have concluded that getting to the appointment at the scheduled time was impossible and have reformulated the problem as that of rescheduling the appointment for a mutually convenient time. Further, defining a problem does not always follow after or lead immediately to an idea of a suggested solution. Nor should it do so, as Dewey himself recognized in describing the physician in Typhoid as avoiding any strong preference for this or that conclusion before getting further information (Dewey 1910: 85; 1933: 170). People with a hypothesis in mind, even one to which they have a very weak commitment, have a so-called “confirmation bias” (Nickerson 1998): they are likely to pay attention to evidence that confirms the hypothesis and to ignore evidence that counts against it or for some competing hypothesis. Detectives, intelligence agencies, and investigators of airplane accidents are well advised to gather relevant evidence systematically and to postpone even tentative adoption of an explanatory hypothesis until the collected evidence rules out with the appropriate degree of certainty all but one explanation. Dewey’s analysis of the critical thinking process can be faulted as well for requiring acceptance or rejection of a possible solution to a defined problem, with no allowance for deciding in the light of the available evidence to suspend judgment. Further, given the great variety of kinds of problems for which reflection is appropriate, there is likely to be variation in its component events. Perhaps the best way to conceptualize the critical thinking process is as a checklist whose component events can occur in a variety of orders, selectively, and more than once. These component events might include (1) noticing a difficulty, (2) defining the problem, (3) dividing the problem into manageable sub-problems, (4) formulating a variety of possible solutions to the problem or sub-problem, (5) determining what evidence is relevant to deciding among possible solutions to the problem or sub-problem, (6) devising a plan of systematic observation or experiment that will uncover the relevant evidence, (7) carrying out the plan of systematic observation or experimentation, (8) noting the results of the systematic observation or experiment, (9) gathering relevant testimony and information from others, (10) judging the credibility of testimony and information gathered from others, (11) drawing conclusions from gathered evidence and accepted testimony, and (12) accepting a solution that the evidence adequately supports (cf. Hitchcock 2017: 485).

Checklist conceptions of the process of critical thinking are open to the objection that they are too mechanical and procedural to fit the multi-dimensional and emotionally charged issues for which critical thinking is urgently needed (Paul 1984). For such issues, a more dialectical process is advocated, in which competing relevant world views are identified, their implications explored, and some sort of creative synthesis attempted.

If one considers the critical thinking process illustrated by the 11 examples, one can identify distinct kinds of mental acts and mental states that form part of it. To distinguish, label and briefly characterize these components is a useful preliminary to identifying abilities, skills, dispositions, attitudes, habits and the like that contribute causally to thinking critically. Identifying such abilities and habits is in turn a useful preliminary to setting educational goals. Setting the goals is in its turn a useful preliminary to designing strategies for helping learners to achieve the goals and to designing ways of measuring the extent to which learners have done so. Such measures provide both feedback to learners on their achievement and a basis for experimental research on the effectiveness of various strategies for educating people to think critically. Let us begin, then, by distinguishing the kinds of mental acts and mental events that can occur in a critical thinking process.

  • Observing : One notices something in one’s immediate environment (sudden cooling of temperature in Weather , bubbles forming outside a glass and then going inside in Bubbles , a moving blur in the distance in Blur , a rash in Rash ). Or one notes the results of an experiment or systematic observation (valuables missing in Disorder , no suction without air pressure in Suction pump )
  • Feeling : One feels puzzled or uncertain about something (how to get to an appointment on time in Transit , why the diamonds vary in spacing in Diamond ). One wants to resolve this perplexity. One feels satisfaction once one has worked out an answer (to take the subway express in Transit , diamonds closer when needed as a warning in Diamond ).
  • Wondering : One formulates a question to be addressed (why bubbles form outside a tumbler taken from hot water in Bubbles , how suction pumps work in Suction pump , what caused the rash in Rash ).
  • Imagining : One thinks of possible answers (bus or subway or elevated in Transit , flagpole or ornament or wireless communication aid or direction indicator in Ferryboat , allergic reaction or heat rash in Rash ).
  • Inferring : One works out what would be the case if a possible answer were assumed (valuables missing if there has been a burglary in Disorder , earlier start to the rash if it is an allergic reaction to a sulfa drug in Rash ). Or one draws a conclusion once sufficient relevant evidence is gathered (take the subway in Transit , burglary in Disorder , discontinue blood pressure medication and new cream in Rash ).
  • Knowledge : One uses stored knowledge of the subject-matter to generate possible answers or to infer what would be expected on the assumption of a particular answer (knowledge of a city’s public transit system in Transit , of the requirements for a flagpole in Ferryboat , of Boyle’s law in Bubbles , of allergic reactions in Rash ).
  • Experimenting : One designs and carries out an experiment or a systematic observation to find out whether the results deduced from a possible answer will occur (looking at the location of the flagpole in relation to the pilot’s position in Ferryboat , putting an ice cube on top of a tumbler taken from hot water in Bubbles , measuring the height to which a suction pump will draw water at different elevations in Suction pump , noticing the spacing of diamonds when movement to or from a diamond lane is allowed in Diamond ).
  • Consulting : One finds a source of information, gets the information from the source, and makes a judgment on whether to accept it. None of our 11 examples include searching for sources of information. In this respect they are unrepresentative, since most people nowadays have almost instant access to information relevant to answering any question, including many of those illustrated by the examples. However, Candidate includes the activities of extracting information from sources and evaluating its credibility.
  • Identifying and analyzing arguments : One notices an argument and works out its structure and content as a preliminary to evaluating its strength. This activity is central to Candidate . It is an important part of a critical thinking process in which one surveys arguments for various positions on an issue.
  • Judging : One makes a judgment on the basis of accumulated evidence and reasoning, such as the judgment in Ferryboat that the purpose of the pole is to provide direction to the pilot.
  • Deciding : One makes a decision on what to do or on what policy to adopt, as in the decision in Transit to take the subway.

By definition, a person who does something voluntarily is both willing and able to do that thing at that time. Both the willingness and the ability contribute causally to the person’s action, in the sense that the voluntary action would not occur if either (or both) of these were lacking. For example, suppose that one is standing with one’s arms at one’s sides and one voluntarily lifts one’s right arm to an extended horizontal position. One would not do so if one were unable to lift one’s arm, if for example one’s right side was paralyzed as the result of a stroke. Nor would one do so if one were unwilling to lift one’s arm, if for example one were participating in a street demonstration at which a white supremacist was urging the crowd to lift their right arm in a Nazi salute and one were unwilling to express support in this way for the racist Nazi ideology. The same analysis applies to a voluntary mental process of thinking critically. It requires both willingness and ability to think critically, including willingness and ability to perform each of the mental acts that compose the process and to coordinate those acts in a sequence that is directed at resolving the initiating perplexity.

Consider willingness first. We can identify causal contributors to willingness to think critically by considering factors that would cause a person who was able to think critically about an issue nevertheless not to do so (Hamby 2014). For each factor, the opposite condition thus contributes causally to willingness to think critically on a particular occasion. For example, people who habitually jump to conclusions without considering alternatives will not think critically about issues that arise, even if they have the required abilities. The contrary condition of willingness to suspend judgment is thus a causal contributor to thinking critically.

Now consider ability. In contrast to the ability to move one’s arm, which can be completely absent because a stroke has left the arm paralyzed, the ability to think critically is a developed ability, whose absence is not a complete absence of ability to think but absence of ability to think well. We can identify the ability to think well directly, in terms of the norms and standards for good thinking. In general, to be able do well the thinking activities that can be components of a critical thinking process, one needs to know the concepts and principles that characterize their good performance, to recognize in particular cases that the concepts and principles apply, and to apply them. The knowledge, recognition and application may be procedural rather than declarative. It may be domain-specific rather than widely applicable, and in either case may need subject-matter knowledge, sometimes of a deep kind.

Reflections of the sort illustrated by the previous two paragraphs have led scholars to identify the knowledge, abilities and dispositions of a “critical thinker”, i.e., someone who thinks critically whenever it is appropriate to do so. We turn now to these three types of causal contributors to thinking critically. We start with dispositions, since arguably these are the most powerful contributors to being a critical thinker, can be fostered at an early stage of a child’s development, and are susceptible to general improvement (Glaser 1941: 175)

8. Critical Thinking Dispositions

Educational researchers use the term ‘dispositions’ broadly for the habits of mind and attitudes that contribute causally to being a critical thinker. Some writers (e.g., Paul & Elder 2006; Hamby 2014; Bailin & Battersby 2016a) propose to use the term ‘virtues’ for this dimension of a critical thinker. The virtues in question, although they are virtues of character, concern the person’s ways of thinking rather than the person’s ways of behaving towards others. They are not moral virtues but intellectual virtues, of the sort articulated by Zagzebski (1996) and discussed by Turri, Alfano, and Greco (2017).

On a realistic conception, thinking dispositions or intellectual virtues are real properties of thinkers. They are general tendencies, propensities, or inclinations to think in particular ways in particular circumstances, and can be genuinely explanatory (Siegel 1999). Sceptics argue that there is no evidence for a specific mental basis for the habits of mind that contribute to thinking critically, and that it is pedagogically misleading to posit such a basis (Bailin et al. 1999a). Whatever their status, critical thinking dispositions need motivation for their initial formation in a child—motivation that may be external or internal. As children develop, the force of habit will gradually become important in sustaining the disposition (Nieto & Valenzuela 2012). Mere force of habit, however, is unlikely to sustain critical thinking dispositions. Critical thinkers must value and enjoy using their knowledge and abilities to think things through for themselves. They must be committed to, and lovers of, inquiry.

A person may have a critical thinking disposition with respect to only some kinds of issues. For example, one could be open-minded about scientific issues but not about religious issues. Similarly, one could be confident in one’s ability to reason about the theological implications of the existence of evil in the world but not in one’s ability to reason about the best design for a guided ballistic missile.

Facione (1990a: 25) divides “affective dispositions” of critical thinking into approaches to life and living in general and approaches to specific issues, questions or problems. Adapting this distinction, one can usefully divide critical thinking dispositions into initiating dispositions (those that contribute causally to starting to think critically about an issue) and internal dispositions (those that contribute causally to doing a good job of thinking critically once one has started). The two categories are not mutually exclusive. For example, open-mindedness, in the sense of willingness to consider alternative points of view to one’s own, is both an initiating and an internal disposition.

Using the strategy of considering factors that would block people with the ability to think critically from doing so, we can identify as initiating dispositions for thinking critically attentiveness, a habit of inquiry, self-confidence, courage, open-mindedness, willingness to suspend judgment, trust in reason, wanting evidence for one’s beliefs, and seeking the truth. We consider briefly what each of these dispositions amounts to, in each case citing sources that acknowledge them.

  • Attentiveness : One will not think critically if one fails to recognize an issue that needs to be thought through. For example, the pedestrian in Weather would not have looked up if he had not noticed that the air was suddenly cooler. To be a critical thinker, then, one needs to be habitually attentive to one’s surroundings, noticing not only what one senses but also sources of perplexity in messages received and in one’s own beliefs and attitudes (Facione 1990a: 25; Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo 2001).
  • Habit of inquiry : Inquiry is effortful, and one needs an internal push to engage in it. For example, the student in Bubbles could easily have stopped at idle wondering about the cause of the bubbles rather than reasoning to a hypothesis, then designing and executing an experiment to test it. Thus willingness to think critically needs mental energy and initiative. What can supply that energy? Love of inquiry, or perhaps just a habit of inquiry. Hamby (2015) has argued that willingness to inquire is the central critical thinking virtue, one that encompasses all the others. It is recognized as a critical thinking disposition by Dewey (1910: 29; 1933: 35), Glaser (1941: 5), Ennis (1987: 12; 1991: 8), Facione (1990a: 25), Bailin et al. (1999b: 294), Halpern (1998: 452), and Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo (2001).
  • Self-confidence : Lack of confidence in one’s abilities can block critical thinking. For example, if the woman in Rash lacked confidence in her ability to figure things out for herself, she might just have assumed that the rash on her chest was the allergic reaction to her medication against which the pharmacist had warned her. Thus willingness to think critically requires confidence in one’s ability to inquire (Facione 1990a: 25; Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo 2001).
  • Courage : Fear of thinking for oneself can stop one from doing it. Thus willingness to think critically requires intellectual courage (Paul & Elder 2006: 16).
  • Open-mindedness : A dogmatic attitude will impede thinking critically. For example, a person who adheres rigidly to a “pro-choice” position on the issue of the legal status of induced abortion is likely to be unwilling to consider seriously the issue of when in its development an unborn child acquires a moral right to life. Thus willingness to think critically requires open-mindedness, in the sense of a willingness to examine questions to which one already accepts an answer but which further evidence or reasoning might cause one to answer differently (Dewey 1933; Facione 1990a; Ennis 1991; Bailin et al. 1999b; Halpern 1998, Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo 2001). Paul (1981) emphasizes open-mindedness about alternative world-views, and recommends a dialectical approach to integrating such views as central to what he calls “strong sense” critical thinking. In three studies, Haran, Ritov, & Mellers (2013) found that actively open-minded thinking, including “the tendency to weigh new evidence against a favored belief, to spend sufficient time on a problem before giving up, and to consider carefully the opinions of others in forming one’s own”, led study participants to acquire information and thus to make accurate estimations.
  • Willingness to suspend judgment : Premature closure on an initial solution will block critical thinking. Thus willingness to think critically requires a willingness to suspend judgment while alternatives are explored (Facione 1990a; Ennis 1991; Halpern 1998).
  • Trust in reason : Since distrust in the processes of reasoned inquiry will dissuade one from engaging in it, trust in them is an initiating critical thinking disposition (Facione 1990a, 25; Bailin et al. 1999b: 294; Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo 2001; Paul & Elder 2006). In reaction to an allegedly exclusive emphasis on reason in critical thinking theory and pedagogy, Thayer-Bacon (2000) argues that intuition, imagination, and emotion have important roles to play in an adequate conception of critical thinking that she calls “constructive thinking”. From her point of view, critical thinking requires trust not only in reason but also in intuition, imagination, and emotion.
  • Seeking the truth : If one does not care about the truth but is content to stick with one’s initial bias on an issue, then one will not think critically about it. Seeking the truth is thus an initiating critical thinking disposition (Bailin et al. 1999b: 294; Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo 2001). A disposition to seek the truth is implicit in more specific critical thinking dispositions, such as trying to be well-informed, considering seriously points of view other than one’s own, looking for alternatives, suspending judgment when the evidence is insufficient, and adopting a position when the evidence supporting it is sufficient.

Some of the initiating dispositions, such as open-mindedness and willingness to suspend judgment, are also internal critical thinking dispositions, in the sense of mental habits or attitudes that contribute causally to doing a good job of critical thinking once one starts the process. But there are many other internal critical thinking dispositions. Some of them are parasitic on one’s conception of good thinking. For example, it is constitutive of good thinking about an issue to formulate the issue clearly and to maintain focus on it. For this purpose, one needs not only the corresponding ability but also the corresponding disposition. Ennis (1991: 8) describes it as the disposition “to determine and maintain focus on the conclusion or question”, Facione (1990a: 25) as “clarity in stating the question or concern”. Other internal dispositions are motivators to continue or adjust the critical thinking process, such as willingness to persist in a complex task and willingness to abandon nonproductive strategies in an attempt to self-correct (Halpern 1998: 452). For a list of identified internal critical thinking dispositions, see the Supplement on Internal Critical Thinking Dispositions .

Some theorists postulate skills, i.e., acquired abilities, as operative in critical thinking. It is not obvious, however, that a good mental act is the exercise of a generic acquired skill. Inferring an expected time of arrival, as in Transit , has some generic components but also uses non-generic subject-matter knowledge. Bailin et al. (1999a) argue against viewing critical thinking skills as generic and discrete, on the ground that skilled performance at a critical thinking task cannot be separated from knowledge of concepts and from domain-specific principles of good thinking. Talk of skills, they concede, is unproblematic if it means merely that a person with critical thinking skills is capable of intelligent performance.

Despite such scepticism, theorists of critical thinking have listed as general contributors to critical thinking what they variously call abilities (Glaser 1941; Ennis 1962, 1991), skills (Facione 1990a; Halpern 1998) or competencies (Fisher & Scriven 1997). Amalgamating these lists would produce a confusing and chaotic cornucopia of more than 50 possible educational objectives, with only partial overlap among them. It makes sense instead to try to understand the reasons for the multiplicity and diversity, and to make a selection according to one’s own reasons for singling out abilities to be developed in a critical thinking curriculum. Two reasons for diversity among lists of critical thinking abilities are the underlying conception of critical thinking and the envisaged educational level. Appraisal-only conceptions, for example, involve a different suite of abilities than constructive-only conceptions. Some lists, such as those in (Glaser 1941), are put forward as educational objectives for secondary school students, whereas others are proposed as objectives for college students (e.g., Facione 1990a).

The abilities described in the remaining paragraphs of this section emerge from reflection on the general abilities needed to do well the thinking activities identified in section 6 as components of the critical thinking process described in section 5 . The derivation of each collection of abilities is accompanied by citation of sources that list such abilities and of standardized tests that claim to test them.

Observational abilities : Careful and accurate observation sometimes requires specialist expertise and practice, as in the case of observing birds and observing accident scenes. However, there are general abilities of noticing what one’s senses are picking up from one’s environment and of being able to articulate clearly and accurately to oneself and others what one has observed. It helps in exercising them to be able to recognize and take into account factors that make one’s observation less trustworthy, such as prior framing of the situation, inadequate time, deficient senses, poor observation conditions, and the like. It helps as well to be skilled at taking steps to make one’s observation more trustworthy, such as moving closer to get a better look, measuring something three times and taking the average, and checking what one thinks one is observing with someone else who is in a good position to observe it. It also helps to be skilled at recognizing respects in which one’s report of one’s observation involves inference rather than direct observation, so that one can then consider whether the inference is justified. These abilities come into play as well when one thinks about whether and with what degree of confidence to accept an observation report, for example in the study of history or in a criminal investigation or in assessing news reports. Observational abilities show up in some lists of critical thinking abilities (Ennis 1962: 90; Facione 1990a: 16; Ennis 1991: 9). There are items testing a person’s ability to judge the credibility of observation reports in the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests, Levels X and Z (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005). Norris and King (1983, 1985, 1990a, 1990b) is a test of ability to appraise observation reports.

Emotional abilities : The emotions that drive a critical thinking process are perplexity or puzzlement, a wish to resolve it, and satisfaction at achieving the desired resolution. Children experience these emotions at an early age, without being trained to do so. Education that takes critical thinking as a goal needs only to channel these emotions and to make sure not to stifle them. Collaborative critical thinking benefits from ability to recognize one’s own and others’ emotional commitments and reactions.

Questioning abilities : A critical thinking process needs transformation of an inchoate sense of perplexity into a clear question. Formulating a question well requires not building in questionable assumptions, not prejudging the issue, and using language that in context is unambiguous and precise enough (Ennis 1962: 97; 1991: 9).

Imaginative abilities : Thinking directed at finding the correct causal explanation of a general phenomenon or particular event requires an ability to imagine possible explanations. Thinking about what policy or plan of action to adopt requires generation of options and consideration of possible consequences of each option. Domain knowledge is required for such creative activity, but a general ability to imagine alternatives is helpful and can be nurtured so as to become easier, quicker, more extensive, and deeper (Dewey 1910: 34–39; 1933: 40–47). Facione (1990a) and Halpern (1998) include the ability to imagine alternatives as a critical thinking ability.

Inferential abilities : The ability to draw conclusions from given information, and to recognize with what degree of certainty one’s own or others’ conclusions follow, is universally recognized as a general critical thinking ability. All 11 examples in section 2 of this article include inferences, some from hypotheses or options (as in Transit , Ferryboat and Disorder ), others from something observed (as in Weather and Rash ). None of these inferences is formally valid. Rather, they are licensed by general, sometimes qualified substantive rules of inference (Toulmin 1958) that rest on domain knowledge—that a bus trip takes about the same time in each direction, that the terminal of a wireless telegraph would be located on the highest possible place, that sudden cooling is often followed by rain, that an allergic reaction to a sulfa drug generally shows up soon after one starts taking it. It is a matter of controversy to what extent the specialized ability to deduce conclusions from premisses using formal rules of inference is needed for critical thinking. Dewey (1933) locates logical forms in setting out the products of reflection rather than in the process of reflection. Ennis (1981a), on the other hand, maintains that a liberally-educated person should have the following abilities: to translate natural-language statements into statements using the standard logical operators, to use appropriately the language of necessary and sufficient conditions, to deal with argument forms and arguments containing symbols, to determine whether in virtue of an argument’s form its conclusion follows necessarily from its premisses, to reason with logically complex propositions, and to apply the rules and procedures of deductive logic. Inferential abilities are recognized as critical thinking abilities by Glaser (1941: 6), Facione (1990a: 9), Ennis (1991: 9), Fisher & Scriven (1997: 99, 111), and Halpern (1998: 452). Items testing inferential abilities constitute two of the five subtests of the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (Watson & Glaser 1980a, 1980b, 1994), two of the four sections in the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level X (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005), three of the seven sections in the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level Z (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005), 11 of the 34 items on Forms A and B of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Facione 1990b, 1992), and a high but variable proportion of the 25 selected-response questions in the Collegiate Learning Assessment (Council for Aid to Education 2017).

Experimenting abilities : Knowing how to design and execute an experiment is important not just in scientific research but also in everyday life, as in Rash . Dewey devoted a whole chapter of his How We Think (1910: 145–156; 1933: 190–202) to the superiority of experimentation over observation in advancing knowledge. Experimenting abilities come into play at one remove in appraising reports of scientific studies. Skill in designing and executing experiments includes the acknowledged abilities to appraise evidence (Glaser 1941: 6), to carry out experiments and to apply appropriate statistical inference techniques (Facione 1990a: 9), to judge inductions to an explanatory hypothesis (Ennis 1991: 9), and to recognize the need for an adequately large sample size (Halpern 1998). The Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level Z (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005) includes four items (out of 52) on experimental design. The Collegiate Learning Assessment (Council for Aid to Education 2017) makes room for appraisal of study design in both its performance task and its selected-response questions.

Consulting abilities : Skill at consulting sources of information comes into play when one seeks information to help resolve a problem, as in Candidate . Ability to find and appraise information includes ability to gather and marshal pertinent information (Glaser 1941: 6), to judge whether a statement made by an alleged authority is acceptable (Ennis 1962: 84), to plan a search for desired information (Facione 1990a: 9), and to judge the credibility of a source (Ennis 1991: 9). Ability to judge the credibility of statements is tested by 24 items (out of 76) in the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level X (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005) and by four items (out of 52) in the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level Z (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005). The College Learning Assessment’s performance task requires evaluation of whether information in documents is credible or unreliable (Council for Aid to Education 2017).

Argument analysis abilities : The ability to identify and analyze arguments contributes to the process of surveying arguments on an issue in order to form one’s own reasoned judgment, as in Candidate . The ability to detect and analyze arguments is recognized as a critical thinking skill by Facione (1990a: 7–8), Ennis (1991: 9) and Halpern (1998). Five items (out of 34) on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Facione 1990b, 1992) test skill at argument analysis. The College Learning Assessment (Council for Aid to Education 2017) incorporates argument analysis in its selected-response tests of critical reading and evaluation and of critiquing an argument.

Judging skills and deciding skills : Skill at judging and deciding is skill at recognizing what judgment or decision the available evidence and argument supports, and with what degree of confidence. It is thus a component of the inferential skills already discussed.

Lists and tests of critical thinking abilities often include two more abilities: identifying assumptions and constructing and evaluating definitions.

In addition to dispositions and abilities, critical thinking needs knowledge: of critical thinking concepts, of critical thinking principles, and of the subject-matter of the thinking.

We can derive a short list of concepts whose understanding contributes to critical thinking from the critical thinking abilities described in the preceding section. Observational abilities require an understanding of the difference between observation and inference. Questioning abilities require an understanding of the concepts of ambiguity and vagueness. Inferential abilities require an understanding of the difference between conclusive and defeasible inference (traditionally, between deduction and induction), as well as of the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Experimenting abilities require an understanding of the concepts of hypothesis, null hypothesis, assumption and prediction, as well as of the concept of statistical significance and of its difference from importance. They also require an understanding of the difference between an experiment and an observational study, and in particular of the difference between a randomized controlled trial, a prospective correlational study and a retrospective (case-control) study. Argument analysis abilities require an understanding of the concepts of argument, premiss, assumption, conclusion and counter-consideration. Additional critical thinking concepts are proposed by Bailin et al. (1999b: 293), Fisher & Scriven (1997: 105–106), Black (2012), and Blair (2021).

According to Glaser (1941: 25), ability to think critically requires knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning. If we review the list of abilities in the preceding section, however, we can see that some of them can be acquired and exercised merely through practice, possibly guided in an educational setting, followed by feedback. Searching intelligently for a causal explanation of some phenomenon or event requires that one consider a full range of possible causal contributors, but it seems more important that one implements this principle in one’s practice than that one is able to articulate it. What is important is “operational knowledge” of the standards and principles of good thinking (Bailin et al. 1999b: 291–293). But the development of such critical thinking abilities as designing an experiment or constructing an operational definition can benefit from learning their underlying theory. Further, explicit knowledge of quirks of human thinking seems useful as a cautionary guide. Human memory is not just fallible about details, as people learn from their own experiences of misremembering, but is so malleable that a detailed, clear and vivid recollection of an event can be a total fabrication (Loftus 2017). People seek or interpret evidence in ways that are partial to their existing beliefs and expectations, often unconscious of their “confirmation bias” (Nickerson 1998). Not only are people subject to this and other cognitive biases (Kahneman 2011), of which they are typically unaware, but it may be counter-productive for one to make oneself aware of them and try consciously to counteract them or to counteract social biases such as racial or sexual stereotypes (Kenyon & Beaulac 2014). It is helpful to be aware of these facts and of the superior effectiveness of blocking the operation of biases—for example, by making an immediate record of one’s observations, refraining from forming a preliminary explanatory hypothesis, blind refereeing, double-blind randomized trials, and blind grading of students’ work. It is also helpful to be aware of the prevalence of “noise” (unwanted unsystematic variability of judgments), of how to detect noise (through a noise audit), and of how to reduce noise: make accuracy the goal, think statistically, break a process of arriving at a judgment into independent tasks, resist premature intuitions, in a group get independent judgments first, favour comparative judgments and scales (Kahneman, Sibony, & Sunstein 2021). It is helpful as well to be aware of the concept of “bounded rationality” in decision-making and of the related distinction between “satisficing” and optimizing (Simon 1956; Gigerenzer 2001).

Critical thinking about an issue requires substantive knowledge of the domain to which the issue belongs. Critical thinking abilities are not a magic elixir that can be applied to any issue whatever by somebody who has no knowledge of the facts relevant to exploring that issue. For example, the student in Bubbles needed to know that gases do not penetrate solid objects like a glass, that air expands when heated, that the volume of an enclosed gas varies directly with its temperature and inversely with its pressure, and that hot objects will spontaneously cool down to the ambient temperature of their surroundings unless kept hot by insulation or a source of heat. Critical thinkers thus need a rich fund of subject-matter knowledge relevant to the variety of situations they encounter. This fact is recognized in the inclusion among critical thinking dispositions of a concern to become and remain generally well informed.

Experimental educational interventions, with control groups, have shown that education can improve critical thinking skills and dispositions, as measured by standardized tests. For information about these tests, see the Supplement on Assessment .

What educational methods are most effective at developing the dispositions, abilities and knowledge of a critical thinker? In a comprehensive meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies of strategies for teaching students to think critically, Abrami et al. (2015) found that dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring each increased the effectiveness of the educational intervention, and that they were most effective when combined. They also found that in these studies a combination of separate instruction in critical thinking with subject-matter instruction in which students are encouraged to think critically was more effective than either by itself. However, the difference was not statistically significant; that is, it might have arisen by chance.

Most of these studies lack the longitudinal follow-up required to determine whether the observed differential improvements in critical thinking abilities or dispositions continue over time, for example until high school or college graduation. For details on studies of methods of developing critical thinking skills and dispositions, see the Supplement on Educational Methods .

12. Controversies

Scholars have denied the generalizability of critical thinking abilities across subject domains, have alleged bias in critical thinking theory and pedagogy, and have investigated the relationship of critical thinking to other kinds of thinking.

McPeck (1981) attacked the thinking skills movement of the 1970s, including the critical thinking movement. He argued that there are no general thinking skills, since thinking is always thinking about some subject-matter. It is futile, he claimed, for schools and colleges to teach thinking as if it were a separate subject. Rather, teachers should lead their pupils to become autonomous thinkers by teaching school subjects in a way that brings out their cognitive structure and that encourages and rewards discussion and argument. As some of his critics (e.g., Paul 1985; Siegel 1985) pointed out, McPeck’s central argument needs elaboration, since it has obvious counter-examples in writing and speaking, for which (up to a certain level of complexity) there are teachable general abilities even though they are always about some subject-matter. To make his argument convincing, McPeck needs to explain how thinking differs from writing and speaking in a way that does not permit useful abstraction of its components from the subject-matters with which it deals. He has not done so. Nevertheless, his position that the dispositions and abilities of a critical thinker are best developed in the context of subject-matter instruction is shared by many theorists of critical thinking, including Dewey (1910, 1933), Glaser (1941), Passmore (1980), Weinstein (1990), Bailin et al. (1999b), and Willingham (2019).

McPeck’s challenge prompted reflection on the extent to which critical thinking is subject-specific. McPeck argued for a strong subject-specificity thesis, according to which it is a conceptual truth that all critical thinking abilities are specific to a subject. (He did not however extend his subject-specificity thesis to critical thinking dispositions. In particular, he took the disposition to suspend judgment in situations of cognitive dissonance to be a general disposition.) Conceptual subject-specificity is subject to obvious counter-examples, such as the general ability to recognize confusion of necessary and sufficient conditions. A more modest thesis, also endorsed by McPeck, is epistemological subject-specificity, according to which the norms of good thinking vary from one field to another. Epistemological subject-specificity clearly holds to a certain extent; for example, the principles in accordance with which one solves a differential equation are quite different from the principles in accordance with which one determines whether a painting is a genuine Picasso. But the thesis suffers, as Ennis (1989) points out, from vagueness of the concept of a field or subject and from the obvious existence of inter-field principles, however broadly the concept of a field is construed. For example, the principles of hypothetico-deductive reasoning hold for all the varied fields in which such reasoning occurs. A third kind of subject-specificity is empirical subject-specificity, according to which as a matter of empirically observable fact a person with the abilities and dispositions of a critical thinker in one area of investigation will not necessarily have them in another area of investigation.

The thesis of empirical subject-specificity raises the general problem of transfer. If critical thinking abilities and dispositions have to be developed independently in each school subject, how are they of any use in dealing with the problems of everyday life and the political and social issues of contemporary society, most of which do not fit into the framework of a traditional school subject? Proponents of empirical subject-specificity tend to argue that transfer is more likely to occur if there is critical thinking instruction in a variety of domains, with explicit attention to dispositions and abilities that cut across domains. But evidence for this claim is scanty. There is a need for well-designed empirical studies that investigate the conditions that make transfer more likely.

It is common ground in debates about the generality or subject-specificity of critical thinking dispositions and abilities that critical thinking about any topic requires background knowledge about the topic. For example, the most sophisticated understanding of the principles of hypothetico-deductive reasoning is of no help unless accompanied by some knowledge of what might be plausible explanations of some phenomenon under investigation.

Critics have objected to bias in the theory, pedagogy and practice of critical thinking. Commentators (e.g., Alston 1995; Ennis 1998) have noted that anyone who takes a position has a bias in the neutral sense of being inclined in one direction rather than others. The critics, however, are objecting to bias in the pejorative sense of an unjustified favoring of certain ways of knowing over others, frequently alleging that the unjustly favoured ways are those of a dominant sex or culture (Bailin 1995). These ways favour:

  • reinforcement of egocentric and sociocentric biases over dialectical engagement with opposing world-views (Paul 1981, 1984; Warren 1998)
  • distancing from the object of inquiry over closeness to it (Martin 1992; Thayer-Bacon 1992)
  • indifference to the situation of others over care for them (Martin 1992)
  • orientation to thought over orientation to action (Martin 1992)
  • being reasonable over caring to understand people’s ideas (Thayer-Bacon 1993)
  • being neutral and objective over being embodied and situated (Thayer-Bacon 1995a)
  • doubting over believing (Thayer-Bacon 1995b)
  • reason over emotion, imagination and intuition (Thayer-Bacon 2000)
  • solitary thinking over collaborative thinking (Thayer-Bacon 2000)
  • written and spoken assignments over other forms of expression (Alston 2001)
  • attention to written and spoken communications over attention to human problems (Alston 2001)
  • winning debates in the public sphere over making and understanding meaning (Alston 2001)

A common thread in this smorgasbord of accusations is dissatisfaction with focusing on the logical analysis and evaluation of reasoning and arguments. While these authors acknowledge that such analysis and evaluation is part of critical thinking and should be part of its conceptualization and pedagogy, they insist that it is only a part. Paul (1981), for example, bemoans the tendency of atomistic teaching of methods of analyzing and evaluating arguments to turn students into more able sophists, adept at finding fault with positions and arguments with which they disagree but even more entrenched in the egocentric and sociocentric biases with which they began. Martin (1992) and Thayer-Bacon (1992) cite with approval the self-reported intimacy with their subject-matter of leading researchers in biology and medicine, an intimacy that conflicts with the distancing allegedly recommended in standard conceptions and pedagogy of critical thinking. Thayer-Bacon (2000) contrasts the embodied and socially embedded learning of her elementary school students in a Montessori school, who used their imagination, intuition and emotions as well as their reason, with conceptions of critical thinking as

thinking that is used to critique arguments, offer justifications, and make judgments about what are the good reasons, or the right answers. (Thayer-Bacon 2000: 127–128)

Alston (2001) reports that her students in a women’s studies class were able to see the flaws in the Cinderella myth that pervades much romantic fiction but in their own romantic relationships still acted as if all failures were the woman’s fault and still accepted the notions of love at first sight and living happily ever after. Students, she writes, should

be able to connect their intellectual critique to a more affective, somatic, and ethical account of making risky choices that have sexist, racist, classist, familial, sexual, or other consequences for themselves and those both near and far… critical thinking that reads arguments, texts, or practices merely on the surface without connections to feeling/desiring/doing or action lacks an ethical depth that should infuse the difference between mere cognitive activity and something we want to call critical thinking. (Alston 2001: 34)

Some critics portray such biases as unfair to women. Thayer-Bacon (1992), for example, has charged modern critical thinking theory with being sexist, on the ground that it separates the self from the object and causes one to lose touch with one’s inner voice, and thus stigmatizes women, who (she asserts) link self to object and listen to their inner voice. Her charge does not imply that women as a group are on average less able than men to analyze and evaluate arguments. Facione (1990c) found no difference by sex in performance on his California Critical Thinking Skills Test. Kuhn (1991: 280–281) found no difference by sex in either the disposition or the competence to engage in argumentative thinking.

The critics propose a variety of remedies for the biases that they allege. In general, they do not propose to eliminate or downplay critical thinking as an educational goal. Rather, they propose to conceptualize critical thinking differently and to change its pedagogy accordingly. Their pedagogical proposals arise logically from their objections. They can be summarized as follows:

  • Focus on argument networks with dialectical exchanges reflecting contesting points of view rather than on atomic arguments, so as to develop “strong sense” critical thinking that transcends egocentric and sociocentric biases (Paul 1981, 1984).
  • Foster closeness to the subject-matter and feeling connected to others in order to inform a humane democracy (Martin 1992).
  • Develop “constructive thinking” as a social activity in a community of physically embodied and socially embedded inquirers with personal voices who value not only reason but also imagination, intuition and emotion (Thayer-Bacon 2000).
  • In developing critical thinking in school subjects, treat as important neither skills nor dispositions but opening worlds of meaning (Alston 2001).
  • Attend to the development of critical thinking dispositions as well as skills, and adopt the “critical pedagogy” practised and advocated by Freire (1968 [1970]) and hooks (1994) (Dalgleish, Girard, & Davies 2017).

A common thread in these proposals is treatment of critical thinking as a social, interactive, personally engaged activity like that of a quilting bee or a barn-raising (Thayer-Bacon 2000) rather than as an individual, solitary, distanced activity symbolized by Rodin’s The Thinker . One can get a vivid description of education with the former type of goal from the writings of bell hooks (1994, 2010). Critical thinking for her is open-minded dialectical exchange across opposing standpoints and from multiple perspectives, a conception similar to Paul’s “strong sense” critical thinking (Paul 1981). She abandons the structure of domination in the traditional classroom. In an introductory course on black women writers, for example, she assigns students to write an autobiographical paragraph about an early racial memory, then to read it aloud as the others listen, thus affirming the uniqueness and value of each voice and creating a communal awareness of the diversity of the group’s experiences (hooks 1994: 84). Her “engaged pedagogy” is thus similar to the “freedom under guidance” implemented in John Dewey’s Laboratory School of Chicago in the late 1890s and early 1900s. It incorporates the dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring that Abrami (2015) found to be most effective in improving critical thinking skills and dispositions.

What is the relationship of critical thinking to problem solving, decision-making, higher-order thinking, creative thinking, and other recognized types of thinking? One’s answer to this question obviously depends on how one defines the terms used in the question. If critical thinking is conceived broadly to cover any careful thinking about any topic for any purpose, then problem solving and decision making will be kinds of critical thinking, if they are done carefully. Historically, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘problem solving’ were two names for the same thing. If critical thinking is conceived more narrowly as consisting solely of appraisal of intellectual products, then it will be disjoint with problem solving and decision making, which are constructive.

Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives used the phrase “intellectual abilities and skills” for what had been labeled “critical thinking” by some, “reflective thinking” by Dewey and others, and “problem solving” by still others (Bloom et al. 1956: 38). Thus, the so-called “higher-order thinking skills” at the taxonomy’s top levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation are just critical thinking skills, although they do not come with general criteria for their assessment (Ennis 1981b). The revised version of Bloom’s taxonomy (Anderson et al. 2001) likewise treats critical thinking as cutting across those types of cognitive process that involve more than remembering (Anderson et al. 2001: 269–270). For details, see the Supplement on History .

As to creative thinking, it overlaps with critical thinking (Bailin 1987, 1988). Thinking about the explanation of some phenomenon or event, as in Ferryboat , requires creative imagination in constructing plausible explanatory hypotheses. Likewise, thinking about a policy question, as in Candidate , requires creativity in coming up with options. Conversely, creativity in any field needs to be balanced by critical appraisal of the draft painting or novel or mathematical theory.

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  • –––, 1984, The Design of a Critical Thinking Test on Appraising Observations , St. John’s, NL: Institute for Educational Research and Development, Memorial University of Newfoundland. ERIC Document ED260083.
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  • OCR [Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations], 2011, AS/A Level GCE: Critical Thinking – H052, H452 , Cambridge: OCR. Past papers available at https://pastpapers.co/ocr/?dir=A-Level/Critical-Thinking-H052-H452; last accessed 2022 07 16.
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  • The Nature of Critical Thinking: An Outline of Critical Thinking Dispositions and Abilities , by Robert H. Ennis

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Critical thinking

A model for critical thinking.

Critical thinking is an important life skill, and an essential part of university studies. Central to critical thinking is asking meaningful questions.

This three-stage model, adapted from LearnHigher , will help you generate questions to understand, analyse, and evaluate something, such as an information source.

Description

Starting with the description stage, you ask questions such as: What? Where? Why? and Who? These help you establish the background and context.

For example, if you are reading a journal article, you might ask questions such as:

  • Who wrote this?
  • What is it about?
  • When was it written?
  • What is the aim of the article?

If you are thinking through a problem, you might ask:

  • What is this problem about?
  • Who does it involve or affect?
  • When and where is this happening?

These types of questions lead to descriptive answers. Although the ability to describe something is important, to really develop your understanding and critically engage, we need to move beyond these types of questions. This moves you into the analysis stage.

Here you will ask questions such as: How? Why? and What if? These help you to examine methods and processes, reasons and causes, and the alternative options. For example, if you are reading a journal article, you might ask:

  • How was the research conducted?
  • Why are these theories discussed?
  • What are the alternative methods and theories?
  • What are the contributing factors to the problem?
  • How might one factor impact another?
  • What if one factor is removed or altered?

Asking these questions helps you to break something into parts and consider the relationship between each part, and each part to the whole. This process will help you develop more analytical answers and deeper thinking.

Finally, you come to the evaluation stage, where you will ask 'so what?' and 'what next?' questions to make judgments and consider the relevance; implications; significance and value of something.

You may ask questions such as:

  • What do I think about this?
  • How is this relevant to my assignment?
  • How does this compare to other research I have read?

Making such judgments will lead you to reasonable conclusions, solutions, or recommendations.

The way we think is complex. This model is not intended to be used in a strictly linear way, or as a prescriptive set of instructions. You may move back and forth between different segments. For example, you may ask, 'what is this about?', and then move straight to, 'is this relevant to me?'

The model is intended to encourage a critically questioning approach, and can be applied to many learning scenarios at university, such as: interpreting assignment briefs; developing arguments; evaluating sources; analysing data or formulating your own questions to research an answer.

Watch the ‘Thinking Critically at University’ video for an in-depth description of a critical thinking model. View video using Microsoft Stream (link opens in a new window, available for University members only). The rest of our Critical thinking pages will show you how to use this model in practice.

This model has been adapted from LearnHigher under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0.

examples of critical thinking in university

Course details

An introduction to critical thinking.

This is an In-person course which requires your attendance to the weekly meetings which take place in Oxford.

In print, online and in conversation, we frequently encounter conflicting views on important issues: from climate change, vaccinations and current political events to economic policy, healthy lifestyles and parenting. It can be difficult to know how to make up one’s own mind when confronted with such diverse viewpoints.

This course teaches you how to critically engage with different points of view. You are given some guidelines that will help you decide to what extent to trust the person, organisation, website or publication defending a certain position. You are also shown how to assess others’ views and arrive at your own point of view through reasoning. We discuss examples of both reasoning about facts and the reasoning required in making practical decisions. We distinguish risky inferences with probable conclusions from risk-free inferences with certain conclusions. You are shown how to spot and avoid common mistakes in reasoning. 

No previous knowledge of critical thinking or logic is needed. This course will be enjoyed by those who relish the challenge of thinking rationally and learning new skills. The skills and concepts taught will also be useful when studying other areas of philosophy.

Programme details

Term Starts:  23rd April 2024

Week 1: What is critical thinking? What is the difference between reasoning and other ways of forming beliefs?

Week 2: What is a logical argument? How do arguments differ from conditionals, explanations and rhetoric?

Week 3: Certainty versus probability: the distinction between deductive and inductive reasoning.

Week 4: Deductive validity and logical form. 

Week 5: When do arguments rely on hidden premises? A closer look at probability. 

Week 6: Inductive generalisations: Reasoning from samples. 

Week 7: Reasoning about causes and inference to the best explanation.

Week 8: Practical reasoning: Reasoning about what to do.

Week 9: When is it appropriate to believe what others tell you? What is the significance of expertise?

Week 10: Putting it all together: We analyse and assess longer passages of reasoning.

Recommended reading

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information.

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO , the library catalogue.

Preparatory reading

  • Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic for Complete Beginners / Talbot, M
  • Critical Thinking : An Introduction to Reasoning Well / Watson, J C and Arp R

Recommended Reading List

Digital Certification

To complete the course and receive a certificate, you will be required to attend at least 80% of the classes on the course and pass your final assignment. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.

If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

Concessionary fees for short courses

Dr Andrea Lechler

Andrea Lechler holds a degree in Computational Linguistics, an MSc in Artificial Intelligence, and an MA and PhD in Philosophy. She has extensive experience of teaching philosophy for OUDCE and other institutions. Her website is www.andrealechler.com. 

Course aims

To help students improve their critical thinking skills.    

Course Objectives:

  • To help students reflect on how people reason and how they try to persuade others of their views.
  • To make students familiar with the principles underlying different types of good reasoning as well as common mistakes in reasoning.
  • To present some guidelines for identifying trustworthy sources of information.

Teaching methods

The tutor will present the course content in an interactive way using plenty of examples and exercises. Students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in class discussions and group work. To consolidate their understanding of the subject they will be assigned further exercises as homework.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

  • be able to pick out and analyse passages of reasoning in texts and conversations
  • understand the most important ways of assessing the cogency of such reasoning
  • know how to assess the trustworthiness of possible sources of information.

Assessment methods

Assessment is based on a set of exercises similar to those discussed in class. One set of homework exercises can be submitted as a practice assignment.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form - Declaration of Authorship form

Application

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an  enrolment form (Word)  or  enrolment form (Pdf) .

Level and demands

Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)

Terms & conditions for applicants and students

Information on financial support

examples of critical thinking in university

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Critical thinking and writing

Information about the importance of critical thinking in your academic work.

Student in library

Critical thinking in study

Whatever you’re studying, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to use and demonstrate critical thinking. This term covers a range of things across different subjects, but, in essence, it means a willingness to ask questions.

"Why has this experiment turned out the way it has?" "How might the design of this product be improved?" "What influenced this author's opinion?" 

When you think critically:

  • you don't just accept information or situations that are given to you
  • you try to understand why they are the way they are
  • you ask what other possibilities exist, and what you might be able to do about them

Thinking critically is the pumping heart of academic work, keeping the whole business alive. If we aren't prepared to think critically about the world around us, who will?

Critical thinking is also an everyday skill that we need to navigate the world around us, from advertising to politics and fake news.

Like many core skills, thinking critically in an academic environment will build on our existing capabilities but it should also stretch them.

Just like physical exercise, there's an element of necessary discomfort in this. However, the outcome will ultimately be positive, and you should leave university with a wider range of tools for thinking – and acting – critically.

301 Recommends: Critical Reading and Writing Digital Workshop

Our Critical Thinking workshop outlines what is meant by critical thinking, and why it is a vital skill to develop. You will take part in small group activities, to test and develop your critical thinking and analytical skills. This session will help you to apply critical thinking to your written academic work, but also recognise that it is a useful skill beyond your studies.

Our  Critical Reading and Writing interactive digital workshop  will introduce some of the key principles of critical reading and writing and suggest a number of strategies that you can apply to your academic work. 

Bloom's taxonomy

The model of Bloom's taxonomy ( view on google slides here ) represents a hierarchy of learning that is used to develop learning activities, assessment and marking criteria.

All levels of the Bloom model are important to demonstrate in your work: from a strong foundation based on understanding and applying the right facts, knowledge and information through balanced analysis and evaluation and a peak comprised of your own original interpretation and thinking.

Making sure you engage with all levels of the model including the higher critical skills of analysing, evaluating and creating is essential to work towards achieving higher grades on your course. 

Our short video on the Bloom taxonomy  explains the thinking behind the model, how it applies to university assessment and how you can use it to help develop your own analytical skills. 

Critical analysis in practice 

A paragraph or section of critical analysis will demonstrate not only that you have read one or more sources, but also that you understand what the implications of the sources are for your own work.

It is likely to involve the following stages, organised within a single paragraph or across multiple paragraphs in a longer section of analysis:

Describe the evidence: what does the source tell us?  If you agree with it, use strong reporting language (Jones et al demonstrate, Jones et al identify). If not, show your scepticism with weak reporting language (Jones et al argue, Jones et al claim)

Identify limitations or gaps:  Is the research robust? What limitations have the authors themselves identified? Does other research help to fill in the gaps?

Highlight alternatives: Are there other possible interpretations? Does other research contradict the findings? Has there been a chronological development of the field (ie have views changed over time?)

Synthesise sources to show your interpretation:  Can you summarise your position based on the process you have followed above? What does this mean for your argument or hypothesis?

Download this  Critical analysis framework (PDF, 52.6KB)  to help structure your analysis of multiple sources according to these stages. 

From description to analysis

You might read about the need to demonstrate critical thinking, writing or analysis in your academic feedback, but remain unsure as to how to make the change from description to critical analysis.

Some description is usually necessary to set the scene in each paragraph, but you need to make sure that you aren't just telling the story of other people's findings and theories.

Things that you could express in your writing include considering the below questions:

Is this research or evidence credible?

How could it be improved?

Have other people made opposing claims?

How does it relate to the other evidence in your argument?

Here are some examples illustrating the differences between descriptive and critical analytical writing.

Adapted from: Cottrell, S, (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, p286.

Have a go at identifying how descriptive or critical you have been in your own writing. Have a look at the  Descriptive or critical writing (PDF, 416KB)  template and use it to explore an example of your work – have you found the right balance of description and critical analysis?

Socratic questioning

Socratic questioning is a rigorous evaluation technique that can be used to test claims and assumptions. It is named after the Ancient Greek philosopher  Socrates , who encouraged his students to reach their own conclusions by questioning and examining ideas, rather than accepting ideas and information at face value. 

Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking the poison hemlock for daring to challenge the authority of the Athenian state, or in the words of his disciple Plato, for "not believing in the gods of the state".

His legacy is an approach that foregrounds the importance of seeking evidence before making assumptions and being willing to question authority. 

Types of Socratic question

There are six categories of Socratic questions set out below, with prompts on how you might apply these to your own evaluation of sources and evidence. 

  • How does this relate to the topic?
  • What else do you need to find out about the topic?
  • What is the claim based on?
  • Can the claim be checked or verified elsewhere?
  • What is the evidence or proof?
  • What examples are provided?
  • Are the evidence and examples valid, reliable and sufficient?
  • What are the alternative views or opinions?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the claim?
  • What might this mean in practice?
  • What are the likely consequences?
  • Why is the question important?
  • What other questions might also be relevant?

So how might I use this in my writing?

Each time you locate and read a source, these questions will help you to interpret it and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

It is your role, as a critical writer, to report on the evidence accurately in your writing. Some of the following phrases taken from Manchester University's  Academic phrasebank  might help:

Previous studies have not dealt with…

The research to date has tended to focus on…

The research does not take into account…

The main weakness of the study is…

The main limitation of this argument is…

The study overlooks…

301 Recommends: Academic Phrasebank

The University of Manchester Academic Phrasebank is the output of a project that examined published academic writing from across disciplines and areas of study and broke it down into the most commonly used phrases.

Visit the  Academic phrasebank  to get some ideas on how to organise and structure your critical writing.

Legitimation Code Theory

Critical reading and writing are important skills to help you draw out key information from a text and use it critically in your own writing.  Legitimation Code Theory (LCT)  is a useful way to think about the process in a visual way.

What is LCT?

LCT is a theory that can be applied to a wide range of academic situations and uses what is known as a semantic wave.

It represents the different stages of understanding and applying academic sources of information, as well as how you then apply these sources to your own academic work.

It is useful for helping to visualise the critical reading of a text, as well as for structuring essay paragraphs.

This involves taking an academic text, being able to identify the important points, and transferring this into more accessible language. This encompasses the below:

Description:  How you would describe what you have read or are writing about to demonstrate that you understand?

Evidence:  What evidence or examples could be used in support of the description? This shows you understand the context.

By the end of the unpacking section, you should have reached the bottom of the semantic wave.

This is where critical analysis comes in. Visually seeing that you need to complete the wave can be really useful in helping you to understand if you have critically analysed or not.

This includes thinking about why what you have read or written in the unpacking section is important to your work. This means putting the context-independent topic introduced during the unpacking stage into the context of your reading, essay or assignment.

Detailing this shows that you understand why including the points you have raised are important and relevant.

To finish the wave, think about concluding and drawing together all of the information you have explored, and summarising it so that it leads nicely onto the next piece of reading or essay paragraph.

Applying LCT in practice

When critical analysis is lacking in a piece of writing, its structure will often look like an incomplete wave.

The sources have been described (unpacked) but have not been effectively analysed (repacked). It is easy to visualise how a lack of critical analysis means that the flow of your essay looks disjointed and incomplete.

You can check your work by identifying the different sections of the wave in each of your paragraphs using the  LCT writing framework (.doc, 44.3KB) .

In contrast, a critical essay or piece of reading will typically follow a wave pattern like the one below. Ideas are unpacked, evidence and examples are explored, then the ideas are repacked using your own words to summarise and connect.

It is easy then to visualise how all your paragraphs fit together, and how the essay has a coherent connecting thread that runs through it.

LCT paragraph structure:

Concept:  Introduce the concept and main idea (also known as the controlling idea) being developed. This is also known as the topic sentence.

Unpacking:  Elaborate on the concept or context to unpack or explore the concept in a more specific way.

Evidence and examples:  Introduce some concrete examples to illustrate the (now unpacked) concept. This will typically be introduced with phrases like "findings demonstrate", for example.

Repacking:  What can be learnt or drawn out of the examples to shed further light on the concept? This repacking process demonstrates your interpretation or understanding of the concept.

Rounding off:  Summarise and draw together the points made about the controlling idea to create a complete message of what is discussed within the paragraph.

For further information on Legitimation Code Theory please visit the LCT Centre:  Resources and further information

Top tips and resources

Look for a range of high-quality evidence (from published sources with references, rather than anecdotal). Visit the University of Sheffield Library  research skills and critical thinking workshops and online tutorials  for more information.

Express your interpretation of the evidence as well as just describe what has been written. Visit  Manchester University Academic Phrasebank to view examples. 

Be prepared to question everything, regardless of the perceived authority of the source. Remember that the experts are not always right! Visit English for Academic Purposes Reading Critically . 

Try to synthesise more than one perspective whenever possible to identify potential issues or limitations

Try the LCT model as a way to visualise your critical engagement with sources through a piece of writing. Visit the LCT Centre for  resources and further information .

Williams, K. (2009) Pocket Study Skills: Getting Critical. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

Related information

Academic Skills Certificate

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Critical Thinking Guide

examples of critical thinking in university

Have you been asked to complete an assignment and one of the criteria is "critical analysis"? Have you received feedback on an assignment that says "little analysis", or "no clear argument", or "too descriptive"?

This guide introduces the idea of critical thinking for university study. Essays, reports, presentations and position papers all require you to show that you not only have researched and understood the topic, but that you have thought deeply about it and can express your thinking in appropriate ways.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking has been defined in many ways, but is essentially the process of deliberate, systematic and logical thinking on any subject, while considering bias or assumptions that may affect your discussion.  Critical thinking can be defined as, "the art of analysing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it" (Paul & Elder 2009). 

Critical thinkers test what they are told and what they read.

A critical thinker...

Thinking at university.

At high school, most learning occurs at the levels of knowledge, understanding and application. For example, you may be expected to learn the names and properties of chemical elements (knowledge), understand why some react with others (understanding) and conduct experiments (application). At these levels, memory and comprehension are necessary, and remain so at university. However, your markers will expect more.

Markers often write comments on assignments which only communicate these lower levels of thinking, such as; "this is just description", "analyse this in more detail", or "you haven't understood the issues".

The thinking you need

Bloom's Taxonomy of Intellectual Behaviour - or the thinking you need to do at university *

The pyramid below shows the levels of thinking skills expected at university in all disciplines of study.

A diagram of Bloom's taxonomy

The top three intellectual behaviours

The top three intellectual behaviours—Analysis, evaluation, and creating—are considered higher levels of thinking and help us to demonstrate our critical thinking.

  • Analysis refers to the process of examining the parts of a whole, the causes and results of events, and the differences between phenomena. For example, an economics student may be asked to analyse the causes of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. To get a high mark, the student would have to do more than describe what happened. He/she would be expected to name the main factors, explain which of these were the most important, and consider how the crisis could have been avoided.
  • Evaluation may seem the most difficult, because it involves expressing opinions about the work of other people or expressing a justification for choices or ideas. It must follow from the other types of thinking, because you must understand the theories and ideas of a subject area in order to evaluate them successfully. For example, the engineering student solving a design problem that has many possible solutions. The student would choose the best solution by identifying, comparing and testing the theories and ideas related to the design problem.
  • Creating is the process of joining or combining information and ideas from different sources to create something new. To create, you must be familiar with existing knowledge and practices in your field and be able to take parts of them to combine in new ways. Consider education students designing lesson plans based on educational theories and combining techniques from different sources with their own ideas.  Even if no single part of the plan is original, the 'mix' is unique.

* Adapted from Krathwohl D. (2002)  A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview .  In Theory into Practice, Vol 41, No.4, College of Education; Ohio State University.

Research is a conversation

Textbooks and study guides often present knowledge as absolute and unchanging. However, at university knowledge is continually discussed and re-evaulated through considering ideas, evidence and consequences. In fact, all disciplines of study—such as economics, arts, education, engineering, medicine, science or law—are constantly under review in academic journals, laboratories and faculties. Researchers discuss each other's work and build on it to develop new insights in their fields. This process of research, evaluation, reflection and feedback is like a conversation, and your university courses are an opportunity for you to join in. You will not only gain knowledge but will also create knowledge.

What are you thinking?

Before you start a course or an assignment, consider these questions:

  • What do I already know?
  • What do I want to learn about this subject?
  • What assumptions, attitudes, values or beliefs do I have that may influence my thinking?

Working out what you do not know is also an important part of critical thinking. You may not yet be an expert on the topic, but you will have unique perspectives and experiences to contribute to the research conversation.

Being critical is good

In everyday language, 'criticise' has a negative meaning—pointing out weaknesses or finding fault. However, not all criticism is negative in an academic context. As a student, you may not feel you have the right to 'criticise' the published work of researchers and practitioners. At University, criticism or critique is the practice of examining and evaluating the reasons and evidence for claims on any topic. Critiques usually include strengths as well as limitations. This is a positive activity that updates and builds knowledge.

What is the current thinking on this topic?

When you read in your discipline or listen to a lecture, ask yourself:

  • Where do these ideas come from?  
  • Does your experience or current knowledge support these ideas?
  • Is the information the same or different from claims made by others?
  • What criteria can I use to test or verify this information?

Tips and resources

Tips and resources for developing your critical thinking.

Tips for critical thinking

Critical thinking is a skill, so develop the following habits to help develop your critical thinking skills:

Check the requirements of your courses

What are the lecturers' expectations of their students? What types of assessment are used? What grading criteria are used? What are the learning outcomes of each course? For more on understanding the task see - Answering assignment questions .

Read strategically

Look at the title, abstract, summary, introduction, and conclusion of your readings to decide whether you need to read all of the text, only some of it, or whether you can skip it altogether. For more on critical reading strategies see - Tips for effective reading .

Make notes as you read

Make notes as you read, using your own words. Always note the source of the text: by whom, where and when it was published. Write down any questions you have, or possible problems with the writer's ideas. For more on note-making see - Taking notes from your reading .

Work with classmates to discuss ideas

You should always write your own assignments, but you can improve your understanding by discussing ideas and information with your peers and your tutors. For more information see - Group work .

Write regularly about your own ideas

Write regularly about your own ideas, thoughts and feelings on a topic. Writing helps you clarify your thinking in terms of relevance, reasoning, and accuracy. Some professional courses may also require reflective writing assignments, such as built environment, education, engineering, medicine and social work. For more on reflective writing see - Reflective writing .

Find your voice

Express your ideas and do not be afraid to take risks. The best assignments show original thought, even if your ideas differ from the marker's ideas. Remember to support your views with valid reasons and solid evidence. For more on analysing and evaluating texts see - Some general criteria for evaluating texts .

Example from a student essay

Here is an example paragraph from the body of a student's essay (reproduced with permission). The assignment required the student to visit a museum exhibition and then critically discuss it. [Note that use of personal pronouns was accepted for this assignment] What levels of thinking can we see in the text?

Recommended reading

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Critical thinking

Advice and resources on critical thinking.

Advice and resources to help you develop your critical voice.

Developing critical thinking skills is essential to your success at University and beyond. We all need to be critical thinkers to help us navigate our way through an information-rich world. 

Why is critical thinking important?

It affects your academic success : if you want to achieve higher grades, being able to take an informed and analytical approach to your studies is very important. Simply memorising and explaining concepts and ideas will not be sufficient for a strong pass at postgraduate level: you will need to be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of your subject to articulate your own views or conclusions, supported by appropriate evidence.

It affects your employability : one of the main reasons students undertake postgraduate study is to improve their employment prospects. Many aspects of work (including strategic planning, trouble shooting, problem solving and critical evaluation of projects and processes) require higher-level thinking and reasoning skills, and prospective employers will want to see evidence of these skills.

Whatever your discipline, you will engage with a wide variety of sources of information and evidence. You will develop the skills to make judgements about this evidence to form your own views and to present your views clearly.

One of the most common types of feedback received by students is that their work is ‘too descriptive’. This usually means that they have just stated what others have said and have not reflected critically on the material. They have not evaluated the evidence and constructed an argument.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the art of making clear, reasoned judgements based on interpreting, understanding, applying and synthesising evidence gathered from observation, reading and experimentation. Burns, T., & Sinfield, S. (2016)&nbsp;Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (4th ed.) London: SAGE, p94.

Being critical does not just mean finding fault. It means assessing evidence from a variety of sources and making reasoned conclusions.  As a result of your analysis you may decide that a particular piece of evidence is not robust, or that you disagree with the conclusion, but you should be able to state why you have come to this view and incorporate this into a bigger picture of the literature.

Being critical goes beyond describing what you have heard in lectures or what you have read. It involves synthesising, analysing and evaluating what you have learned to develop your own argument or position.

Critical thinking is important in all subjects and disciplines – in science and engineering, as well as the arts and humanities. The types of evidence used to develop arguments may be very different but the processes and techniques are similar. Critical thinking is required for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study.

What, where, when, who, why, how?

Purposeful reading can help with critical thinking because it encourages you to read actively rather than passively. When you read, ask yourself questions about what you are reading and make notes to record your views. Ask questions like:

  • What is the main point of this paper/ article/ paragraph/ report/ blog?
  • Who wrote it?
  • Why was it written?
  • When was it written?
  • Has the context changed since it was written?
  • Is the evidence presented robust?
  • How did the authors come to their conclusions?
  • Do you agree with the conclusions?
  • What does this add to our knowledge?
  • Why is it useful?

Our web page covering ‘Reading at university’ includes a handout to help you develop your own critical reading form and a suggested reading notes record sheet. These resources will help you record your thoughts after you read, which will help you to construct your argument. 

Reading at university - find out more

Developing an argument

Being a university student is about learning how to think, not what to think.  Critical thinking shapes your own values and attitudes through a process of deliberating, debating and persuasion.  Through developing your critical thinking you can move on from simply disagreeing to constructively assessing alternatives by building on doubts.

There are several key stages involved in developing your ideas and constructing an argument. You might like to use a form to help you think about the features of critical thinking and to break down the stages of developing your argument.

Features of critical thinking   (pdf)

Features of critical thinking (Word rtf)

Our webpage on Academic writing includes a useful handout ‘Building an argument as you go’.

Academic writing

You should also consider the language you will use to introduce a range of viewpoints and to evaluate the various sources of evidence. This will help your reader to follow your argument. To get you started, the University of Manchester's Academic Phrasebank has a useful section on Being Critical. 

Academic Phrasebank

Developing your critical thinking

Set yourself some tasks to help develop your critical thinking skills. Discuss material presented in lectures or from resource lists with your peers. Set up a critical reading group or use an online discussion forum.  Think about a point you would like to make during discussions in tutorials and be prepared to back up your argument with evidence.

For more suggestions:

Developing your critical thinking - ideas   (pdf)

Developing your critical thinking - ideas (Word rtf)

Published guides

For further advice and more detailed resources please see the CriticalThinking section of IAD 's list of published Study skills guides.

Study skills guides   

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  • What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on 25 September 2022 by Eoghan Ryan .

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyse information and form a judgement.

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

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Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, frequently asked questions.

Critical thinking is important for making judgements about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasises a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In an academic context, critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

  • Is free from research bias
  • Provides evidence to support its findings
  • Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

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Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyse the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words ‘sponsored content’ appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
  • What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarise it?
  • When did they say this? Is the source current?
  • Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it a blog? A newspaper article?
  • Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

  • Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
  • Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
  • Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

  • Know how to find credible sources
  • Use relevant sources to inform your research
  • Understand what constitutes plagiarism
  • Know how to cite your sources correctly

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25 Critical Thinking Examples

critical thinking examples and definition, explained below

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make reasoned decisions. It involves suspended judgment, open-mindedness, and clarity of thought.

It involves considering different viewpoints and weighing evidence carefully. It is essential for solving complex problems and making good decisions.

People who think critically are able to see the world in a more nuanced way and understand the interconnectedness of things. They are also better able to adapt to change and handle uncertainty.

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to think critically is more important than ever and necessary for students and employees alike.

Critical Thinking Examples

1. identifying strengths and weaknesses.

Critical thinkers don’t just take things at face value. They stand back and contemplate the potential strengths and weaknesses of something and then make a decision after contemplation.

This helps you to avoid excessive bias and identify possible problems ahead of time.

For example, a boxer about to get in the ring will likely need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent. He might learn that his opponent’s left hook is very strong, but his opponent also gets tired after the third round. With this knowledge, he can go into the bout with strong defenses in the first three rounds before going on the offense.

Here, the boxer’s critical thinking skills will help him win his match.

2. Creating a Hypothesis based on Limited Data

When scientists set out to test a new theory, they first need to develop a hypothesis. This is an educated guess about how things work, based on what is already known.

Once a hypothesis has been developed, experiments can be designed to test it.

However, sometimes scientists may find themselves working with limited data. In such cases, they may need to make some assumptions in order to form a hypothesis.

For example, if they are studying a phenomenon that occurs infrequently, they may need to extrapolate from the data they do have in order to form a hypothesis.

Here, the scientist is engaged in critical thinking: they use the limited data to come up with a tentative judgment.

3. Moderating a Debate

A debate moderator needs to have strong critical thinking skills. They need to use objective evaluations, analysis, and critique to keep the discussion on track and ensure that all sides are heard fairly.

This means being able to identify when a point has been made sufficiently, or when someone is beginning to veer off topic and being able to direct the conversation accordingly.

Similarly, they need to be able to assess each argument objectively and consider its merits, rather than getting caught up in the emotion of the debate. If someone is using an unfair point or one that is not factual, the moderator needs to be switched on and identify this.

By remaining calm and impartial, the moderator can help to ensure that a debate is productive and respectful.

4. Judging and Adjudicating

A judge or adjudicator needs to weigh the evidence and make a determination based on the facts.

This requires the adjudicator to be able to try to see both sides of an argument. They need the ability to see past personal biases and to critically evaluate the credibility of all sides.

In addition, judges and adjudicators must be able to think quickly and make sound decisions in the face of complex issues.

For example, if you were to be adjudicating the above debate, you need to hear both sides of the argument and then decide who won. It’s your job to evaluate, see strengths and weaknesses in arguments, and come to a conclusion.

5. Grading an Essay

Teachers need critical thinking skills when grading essays so that they can effectively assess the quality of the writing. By critically analyzing the essay, teachers can identify any errors or weaknesses in the argument.

Furthermore, they can also determine whether the essay meets the required standards for the assignment. Even a very well-written essay may deserve a lower grade if the essay doesn’t directly answer the essay question.

A teacher needs to be able to read an essay and understand not only what the student is trying to say, but also how well they are making their argument. Are they using evidence effectively? Are they drawing valid conclusions? A teacher needs to be able to evaluate an essay holistically in order to give a fair grade.

In order to properly evaluate an essay, teachers need to be able to think critically about the writing. Only then can they provide an accurate assessment of the work.

6. Active Reading

Active reading is a skill that requires the reader to be engaged with the text in order to fully understand it. This means not only being able to read the words on the page, but also being able to interpret the meaning behind them.

In order to do this, active readers need to have good critical thinking skills.

They need to be able to ask questions about the text and look for evidence to support their answers. Additionally, active readers need to be able to make connections between the text and their own experiences.

Active reading leads to better comprehension and retention of information.

7. Deciding Whether or Not to Believe Something

When trying to determine whether or not to believe something, you’re engaging in critical thinking.

For example, you might need to consider the source of the information. If the information comes from a reliable source, such as a reputable news organization or a trusted friend, then it is more likely to be accurate.

However, if the source is less reliable, such as an anonymous website or a person with a known bias, then the information should be viewed with more skepticism.

In addition, it is important to consider the evidence that is being presented. If the evidence is well-supported and logically presented, then it is more likely to be true. However, if the evidence is weak or relies on fallacious reasoning, then the claim is less likely to be true.

8. Determining the Best Solution to a Situation

Determining the best solution to a problem generally requires you to critique the different options. There are often many different factors to consider, and it can be difficult to know where to start.

However, there are some general guidelines that can help to make the process a little easier.

For example, if you have a few possible solutions to the problem, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Consider both the short-term and long-term effects of each option before making a decision.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware of your own biases. Be sure to consider all of the options objectively, without letting your personal preferences get in the way.

9. Giving Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that you give to someone part-way through a learning experience. To do this, you need to think critically.

For example, one thing you need to do is see where the student’s strengths and weaknesses like. Perhaps the student is doing extremely well at a task, so your feedback might be that they should try to extend themselves by adding more complexity to the task.

Or, perhaps the student is struggling, so you suggest to them that they approach the learning experience from a different angle.

10. Giving Summative Feedback

Summative feedback occurs at the end of a learning scenario. For example, the written feedback at the end of an essay or on a report card is summative.

When providing summative feedback, it is important to take a step back and consider the situation from multiple perspectives. What are areas for improvement and where exactly might the student have missed some key points? How could the student have done better?

Asking yourself these questions is all part of the process of giving feedback, and they can all be considered examples of critical thinking. You’re literally critiquing the student’s work and identifying opportunities for improvement.

11. Evaluating Evidence

When evaluating evidence, critical thinkers take a step back and look at the bigger picture. They consider all of the available information and weigh it up. They look at logical flaws, the reliability of the evidence, and its validity.

This process allows them to arrive at a conclusion that is based on sound reasoning, rather than emotion or personal bias.

For example, when a social scientist looks at the evidence from his study, he needs to evaluate whether the data was corrupted and ensure the methodology was sound in order to determine if the evidence is valuable or not.

12. Media Literacy

Media literacy seems to be in short supply these days. Too many people take information off the internet or television and just assume it is true.

A person with media literacy, however, will not just trust what they see and read. Instead, they look at the data and weigh up the evidence. They will see if there was a sound study to back up claims. They will see if there is bias in the media source and whether it’s just following an ideological line.

Furthermore, they will make sure they seek out trustworthy media sources. These are not just media sources you like or that confirm your own point of view. They need to be sources that do their own research, find solid data, and don’t pursue one blind agenda.

13. Asking your Own Questions

Asking your own questions is an important part of critical thinking. When you ask questions, you are forcing yourself to think more deeply about the information you are considering.

Asking questions also allows you to gather more information from others who may have different perspectives.

This helps you to better understand the issue and to come up with your own conclusions.

So, often at schools, we give students a list of questions to ask about something in order to dig deeper into it. For example, in a book review lesson, the teacher might give a list of questions to ask about the book’s characters and plot.

14. Conducting Rigorous Research

Research is a process of inquiry that encompasses the gathering of data, interpretation of findings, and communication of results. The researcher needs to engage in critical thinking throughout the process, but most importantly, when designing their methodology.

Research can be done through a variety of methods, such as experiments, surveys, interviews, and observations. Each method has strengths and weaknesses.

Once the data has been collected, it must be analyzed and interpreted. This is often done through statistical methods or qualitative analysis.

Research is an essential tool for discovering new knowledge and for solving problems, but researchers need to think critically about how valid and reliable their data truly is.

15. Examining your own Beliefs and Prejudices

It’s important to examine your own beliefs and prejudices in order to ensure that they are fair and accurate. People who don’t examine their own beliefs have not truly critically examined their lives.

One way to do this is to take the time to consider why you believe what you do. What experiences have you had that have led you to this belief? Are there other ways to interpret these experiences? It’s also important to be aware of the potential for confirmation bias , which is when we seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs, while ignoring information that contradicts them.

This can lead us to hold onto inaccurate or unfair beliefs even when presented with evidence to the contrary.

To avoid this, it’s important to seek out diverse perspectives, and to be open-minded when considering new information. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your beliefs are fair and accurate.

16. Looking at a Situation from Multiple Perspectives

One of the most important critical thinking skills that you can learn in life is how to look at a situation from multiple perspectives.

Being able to see things from different angles can help you to understand complex issues, spot potential problems, and find creative solutions. It can also help you to build better relationships, as you will be able to see where others are coming from and find common ground.

There are a few simple techniques that you can use to develop this skill.

First, try to imagine how someone else would feel in the same situation.

Second, put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their point of view.

Finally, ask yourself what other factors may be influencing their perspective. By taking the time to view things from multiple angles, you will be better prepared to deal with whatever life throws your way.

17. Considering Implications before Taking Action

When faced with a difficult decision, it is important to consider the implications of each possible action before settling on a course of action.

This is because the consequences of our actions can be far-reaching and often unforeseen.

For example, a seemingly small decision like whether to attend a party or not might have much larger implications. If we decide to go to the party, we might miss an important deadline at work.

However, if we stay home, we might miss out on an opportunity to meet new people and make valuable connections.

In either case, our choice can have a significant impact on our lives.

Fortunately, critical thinking can help people to make well-informed decisions that could have a positive impact on their lives.

For example, you might have to weight up the pros and cons of attending the party and identify potential downsides, like whether you might be in a car with an impaired driver, and whether the party is really worth losing your job.

Having weighed up the potential outcomes, you can make a more rational and informed decision.

18. Reflective Practice

Reflecting on your actions is an important part of critical thinking. When you take the time to reflect, you are able to step back and examine your choices and their consequences more objectively.

This allows you to learn from your mistakes and make better decisions in the future.

In order to reflect effectively, it is important to be honest with yourself and open to learning new things. You must also be willing to question your own beliefs and assumptions. By taking these steps, you can develop the critical thinking skills that are essential for making sound decisions next time.

This will also, fortunately, help you to constantly improve upon yourself.

19. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving requires the ability to think critically in order to accurately assess a situation and determine the best course of action.

This means being able to identify the root cause of a problem , as well as any potential obstacles that may stand in the way of a solution. It also involves breaking down a problem into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to more easily find a workable solution.

In addition, critical thinking skills also require the ability to think creatively in order to come up with original solutions to these problems.

Go Deeper: Problem-Solving Examples

20. Brainstorming New Solutions

When brainstorming new solutions , critical thinking skills are essential in order to generate fresh ideas and identify potential issues.

For example, the ability to identify the problems with the last solution you tried is important in order to come up with better solutions this time. Similarly, analytical thinking is necessary in order to evaluate the feasibility of each idea. Furthermore, it is also necessary to consider different perspectives and adapt to changing circumstances.

By utilizing all of these critical thinking skills, it will be possible to develop innovative solutions that are both practical and effective.

21. Reserving Judgment

A key part of critical thinking is reserving judgment. This means that we should not rush to conclusions, but instead take the time to consider all the evidence before making up our minds.

By reserving judgment, we can avoid making premature decisions that we might later regret. We can also avoid falling victim to confirmation bias, which is the tendency to only pay attention to information that supports our existing beliefs.

Instead, by keeping an open mind and considering all the evidence, we can make better decisions and reach more accurate conclusions.

22. Identifying Deceit

Critical thinking is an important skill to have in any situation, but it is especially important when trying to identify deceit.

There are a few key things to look for when using critical thinking to identify deceit.

First, pay attention to the person’s body language. Second, listen closely to what the person is saying and look for any inconsistencies. Finally, try to get a sense of the person’s motive – why would they want to deceive you?

Each of these questions helps you to not just take things at their face value. Instead, you’re critiquing the situation and coming to a conclusion using all of your intellect and senses, rather than just believing what you’re told.

23. Being Open-Minded to New Evidence that Contradicts your Beliefs

People with critical thinking skills are more open-minded because they are willing to consider different points of view and evidence.

They also realize that their own beliefs may be wrong and are willing to change their minds if new information is presented.

Similarly, people who are not critical thinkers tend to be close-minded because they fail to critique themselves and challenge their own mindset. This can lead to conflicts, as closed-minded people are not willing to budge on their beliefs even when presented with contradictory evidence.

Critical thinkers, on the other hand, are able to have more productive conversations as they are willing to listen to others and consider different viewpoints. Ultimately, being open-minded and willing to change one’s mind is a sign of intelligence and maturity.

24. Accounting for Bias

We all have biases, based on our individual experiences, perspectives, and beliefs. These can lead us to see the world in a certain way and to interpret information in a way that supports our existing views.

However, if we want to truly understand an issue, it is important to try to put aside our personal biases and look at the evidence objectively.

This is where critical thinking skills come in.

By using critical thinking, we can examine the evidence dispassionately and assess different arguments without letting our own prejudices get in the way. Start by looking at weaknesses and logical flaws in your own thinking.

Play the devil’s advocate.

In this way, you can start to get a more accurate picture of an issue and make more informed decisions.

25. Basing your Beliefs on Logic and Reasoning

In order to lead a successful and fulfilling life, it is important to base your beliefs on logic and reasoning.

This does not mean that you should never believe in something without evidence, but it does mean that you should be thoughtful and intentional about the things that you choose to believe.

One way to ensure that your beliefs are based on logic and reasoning is to seek out reliable sources of information. Another method is to use thought games to follow all your thoughts to their logical conclusions.

By basing your beliefs on logic and reasoning, you will be more likely to make sound decisions, and less likely to be swayed by emotions or misinformation.

Critical thinking is an important skill for anyone who wants to be successful in the modern world. It allows us to evaluate information and make reasoned decisions, rather than simply accepting things at face value. 

Thus, employers often want to employ people with strong critical thinking skills. These employees will be able to solve problems by themselves and identify ways to improve the workplace. They will be able to push back against bad decisions and use their own minds to make good decisions.

Furthermore, critical thinking skills are important for students. This is because they need to be able to evaluate information and think through problems with a critical mindset in order to learn and improve.

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons

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41+ Critical Thinking Examples (Definition + Practices)

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Critical thinking is an essential skill in our information-overloaded world, where figuring out what is fact and fiction has become increasingly challenging.

But why is critical thinking essential? Put, critical thinking empowers us to make better decisions, challenge and validate our beliefs and assumptions, and understand and interact with the world more effectively and meaningfully.

Critical thinking is like using your brain's "superpowers" to make smart choices. Whether it's picking the right insurance, deciding what to do in a job, or discussing topics in school, thinking deeply helps a lot. In the next parts, we'll share real-life examples of when this superpower comes in handy and give you some fun exercises to practice it.

Critical Thinking Process Outline

a woman thinking

Critical thinking means thinking clearly and fairly without letting personal feelings get in the way. It's like being a detective, trying to solve a mystery by using clues and thinking hard about them.

It isn't always easy to think critically, as it can take a pretty smart person to see some of the questions that aren't being answered in a certain situation. But, we can train our brains to think more like puzzle solvers, which can help develop our critical thinking skills.

Here's what it looks like step by step:

Spotting the Problem: It's like discovering a puzzle to solve. You see that there's something you need to figure out or decide.

Collecting Clues: Now, you need to gather information. Maybe you read about it, watch a video, talk to people, or do some research. It's like getting all the pieces to solve your puzzle.

Breaking It Down: This is where you look at all your clues and try to see how they fit together. You're asking questions like: Why did this happen? What could happen next?

Checking Your Clues: You want to make sure your information is good. This means seeing if what you found out is true and if you can trust where it came from.

Making a Guess: After looking at all your clues, you think about what they mean and come up with an answer. This answer is like your best guess based on what you know.

Explaining Your Thoughts: Now, you tell others how you solved the puzzle. You explain how you thought about it and how you answered. 

Checking Your Work: This is like looking back and seeing if you missed anything. Did you make any mistakes? Did you let any personal feelings get in the way? This step helps make sure your thinking is clear and fair.

And remember, you might sometimes need to go back and redo some steps if you discover something new. If you realize you missed an important clue, you might have to go back and collect more information.

Critical Thinking Methods

Just like doing push-ups or running helps our bodies get stronger, there are special exercises that help our brains think better. These brain workouts push us to think harder, look at things closely, and ask many questions.

It's not always about finding the "right" answer. Instead, it's about the journey of thinking and asking "why" or "how." Doing these exercises often helps us become better thinkers and makes us curious to know more about the world.

Now, let's look at some brain workouts to help us think better:

1. "What If" Scenarios

Imagine crazy things happening, like, "What if there was no internet for a month? What would we do?" These games help us think of new and different ideas.

Pick a hot topic. Argue one side of it and then try arguing the opposite. This makes us see different viewpoints and think deeply about a topic.

3. Analyze Visual Data

Check out charts or pictures with lots of numbers and info but no explanations. What story are they telling? This helps us get better at understanding information just by looking at it.

4. Mind Mapping

Write an idea in the center and then draw lines to related ideas. It's like making a map of your thoughts. This helps us see how everything is connected.

There's lots of mind-mapping software , but it's also nice to do this by hand.

5. Weekly Diary

Every week, write about what happened, the choices you made, and what you learned. Writing helps us think about our actions and how we can do better.

6. Evaluating Information Sources

Collect stories or articles about one topic from newspapers or blogs. Which ones are trustworthy? Which ones might be a little biased? This teaches us to be smart about where we get our info.

There are many resources to help you determine if information sources are factual or not.

7. Socratic Questioning

This way of thinking is called the Socrates Method, named after an old-time thinker from Greece. It's about asking lots of questions to understand a topic. You can do this by yourself or chat with a friend.

Start with a Big Question:

"What does 'success' mean?"

Dive Deeper with More Questions:

"Why do you think of success that way?" "Do TV shows, friends, or family make you think that?" "Does everyone think about success the same way?"

"Can someone be a winner even if they aren't rich or famous?" "Can someone feel like they didn't succeed, even if everyone else thinks they did?"

Look for Real-life Examples:

"Who is someone you think is successful? Why?" "Was there a time you felt like a winner? What happened?"

Think About Other People's Views:

"How might a person from another country think about success?" "Does the idea of success change as we grow up or as our life changes?"

Think About What It Means:

"How does your idea of success shape what you want in life?" "Are there problems with only wanting to be rich or famous?"

Look Back and Think:

"After talking about this, did your idea of success change? How?" "Did you learn something new about what success means?"

socratic dialogue statues

8. Six Thinking Hats 

Edward de Bono came up with a cool way to solve problems by thinking in six different ways, like wearing different colored hats. You can do this independently, but it might be more effective in a group so everyone can have a different hat color. Each color has its way of thinking:

White Hat (Facts): Just the facts! Ask, "What do we know? What do we need to find out?"

Red Hat (Feelings): Talk about feelings. Ask, "How do I feel about this?"

Black Hat (Careful Thinking): Be cautious. Ask, "What could go wrong?"

Yellow Hat (Positive Thinking): Look on the bright side. Ask, "What's good about this?"

Green Hat (Creative Thinking): Think of new ideas. Ask, "What's another way to look at this?"

Blue Hat (Planning): Organize the talk. Ask, "What should we do next?"

When using this method with a group:

  • Explain all the hats.
  • Decide which hat to wear first.
  • Make sure everyone switches hats at the same time.
  • Finish with the Blue Hat to plan the next steps.

9. SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis is like a game plan for businesses to know where they stand and where they should go. "SWOT" stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

There are a lot of SWOT templates out there for how to do this visually, but you can also think it through. It doesn't just apply to businesses but can be a good way to decide if a project you're working on is working.

Strengths: What's working well? Ask, "What are we good at?"

Weaknesses: Where can we do better? Ask, "Where can we improve?"

Opportunities: What good things might come our way? Ask, "What chances can we grab?"

Threats: What challenges might we face? Ask, "What might make things tough for us?"

Steps to do a SWOT Analysis:

  • Goal: Decide what you want to find out.
  • Research: Learn about your business and the world around it.
  • Brainstorm: Get a group and think together. Talk about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Pick the Most Important Points: Some things might be more urgent or important than others.
  • Make a Plan: Decide what to do based on your SWOT list.
  • Check Again Later: Things change, so look at your SWOT again after a while to update it.

Now that you have a few tools for thinking critically, let’s get into some specific examples.

Everyday Examples

Life is a series of decisions. From the moment we wake up, we're faced with choices – some trivial, like choosing a breakfast cereal, and some more significant, like buying a home or confronting an ethical dilemma at work. While it might seem that these decisions are disparate, they all benefit from the application of critical thinking.

10. Deciding to buy something

Imagine you want a new phone. Don't just buy it because the ad looks cool. Think about what you need in a phone. Look up different phones and see what people say about them. Choose the one that's the best deal for what you want.

11. Deciding what is true

There's a lot of news everywhere. Don't believe everything right away. Think about why someone might be telling you this. Check if what you're reading or watching is true. Make up your mind after you've looked into it.

12. Deciding when you’re wrong

Sometimes, friends can have disagreements. Don't just get mad right away. Try to see where they're coming from. Talk about what's going on. Find a way to fix the problem that's fair for everyone.

13. Deciding what to eat

There's always a new diet or exercise that's popular. Don't just follow it because it's trendy. Find out if it's good for you. Ask someone who knows, like a doctor. Make choices that make you feel good and stay healthy.

14. Deciding what to do today

Everyone is busy with school, chores, and hobbies. Make a list of things you need to do. Decide which ones are most important. Plan your day so you can get things done and still have fun.

15. Making Tough Choices

Sometimes, it's hard to know what's right. Think about how each choice will affect you and others. Talk to people you trust about it. Choose what feels right in your heart and is fair to others.

16. Planning for the Future

Big decisions, like where to go to school, can be tricky. Think about what you want in the future. Look at the good and bad of each choice. Talk to people who know about it. Pick what feels best for your dreams and goals.

choosing a house

Job Examples

17. solving problems.

Workers brainstorm ways to fix a machine quickly without making things worse when a machine breaks at a factory.

18. Decision Making

A store manager decides which products to order more of based on what's selling best.

19. Setting Goals

A team leader helps their team decide what tasks are most important to finish this month and which can wait.

20. Evaluating Ideas

At a team meeting, everyone shares ideas for a new project. The group discusses each idea's pros and cons before picking one.

21. Handling Conflict

Two workers disagree on how to do a job. Instead of arguing, they talk calmly, listen to each other, and find a solution they both like.

22. Improving Processes

A cashier thinks of a faster way to ring up items so customers don't have to wait as long.

23. Asking Questions

Before starting a big task, an employee asks for clear instructions and checks if they have the necessary tools.

24. Checking Facts

Before presenting a report, someone double-checks all their information to make sure there are no mistakes.

25. Planning for the Future

A business owner thinks about what might happen in the next few years, like new competitors or changes in what customers want, and makes plans based on those thoughts.

26. Understanding Perspectives

A team is designing a new toy. They think about what kids and parents would both like instead of just what they think is fun.

School Examples

27. researching a topic.

For a history project, a student looks up different sources to understand an event from multiple viewpoints.

28. Debating an Issue

In a class discussion, students pick sides on a topic, like school uniforms, and share reasons to support their views.

29. Evaluating Sources

While writing an essay, a student checks if the information from a website is trustworthy or might be biased.

30. Problem Solving in Math

When stuck on a tricky math problem, a student tries different methods to find the answer instead of giving up.

31. Analyzing Literature

In English class, students discuss why a character in a book made certain choices and what those decisions reveal about them.

32. Testing a Hypothesis

For a science experiment, students guess what will happen and then conduct tests to see if they're right or wrong.

33. Giving Peer Feedback

After reading a classmate's essay, a student offers suggestions for improving it.

34. Questioning Assumptions

In a geography lesson, students consider why certain countries are called "developed" and what that label means.

35. Designing a Study

For a psychology project, students plan an experiment to understand how people's memories work and think of ways to ensure accurate results.

36. Interpreting Data

In a science class, students look at charts and graphs from a study, then discuss what the information tells them and if there are any patterns.

Critical Thinking Puzzles

critical thinking tree

Not all scenarios will have a single correct answer that can be figured out by thinking critically. Sometimes we have to think critically about ethical choices or moral behaviors. 

Here are some mind games and scenarios you can solve using critical thinking. You can see the solution(s) at the end of the post.

37. The Farmer, Fox, Chicken, and Grain Problem

A farmer is at a riverbank with a fox, a chicken, and a grain bag. He needs to get all three items across the river. However, his boat can only carry himself and one of the three items at a time. 

Here's the challenge:

  • If the fox is left alone with the chicken, the fox will eat the chicken.
  • If the chicken is left alone with the grain, the chicken will eat the grain.

How can the farmer get all three items across the river without any item being eaten? 

38. The Rope, Jar, and Pebbles Problem

You are in a room with two long ropes hanging from the ceiling. Each rope is just out of arm's reach from the other, so you can't hold onto one rope and reach the other simultaneously. 

Your task is to tie the two rope ends together, but you can't move the position where they hang from the ceiling.

You are given a jar full of pebbles. How do you complete the task?

39. The Two Guards Problem

Imagine there are two doors. One door leads to certain doom, and the other leads to freedom. You don't know which is which.

In front of each door stands a guard. One guard always tells the truth. The other guard always lies. You don't know which guard is which.

You can ask only one question to one of the guards. What question should you ask to find the door that leads to freedom?

40. The Hourglass Problem

You have two hourglasses. One measures 7 minutes when turned over, and the other measures 4 minutes. Using just these hourglasses, how can you time exactly 9 minutes?

41. The Lifeboat Dilemma

Imagine you're on a ship that's sinking. You get on a lifeboat, but it's already too full and might flip over. 

Nearby in the water, five people are struggling: a scientist close to finding a cure for a sickness, an old couple who've been together for a long time, a mom with three kids waiting at home, and a tired teenager who helped save others but is now in danger. 

You can only save one person without making the boat flip. Who would you choose?

42. The Tech Dilemma

You work at a tech company and help make a computer program to help small businesses. You're almost ready to share it with everyone, but you find out there might be a small chance it has a problem that could show users' private info. 

If you decide to fix it, you must wait two more months before sharing it. But your bosses want you to share it now. What would you do?

43. The History Mystery

Dr. Amelia is a history expert. She's studying where a group of people traveled long ago. She reads old letters and documents to learn about it. But she finds some letters that tell a different story than what most people believe. 

If she says this new story is true, it could change what people learn in school and what they think about history. What should she do?

The Role of Bias in Critical Thinking

Have you ever decided you don’t like someone before you even know them? Or maybe someone shared an idea with you that you immediately loved without even knowing all the details. 

This experience is called bias, which occurs when you like or dislike something or someone without a good reason or knowing why. It can also take shape in certain reactions to situations, like a habit or instinct. 

Bias comes from our own experiences, what friends or family tell us, or even things we are born believing. Sometimes, bias can help us stay safe, but other times it stops us from seeing the truth.

Not all bias is bad. Bias can be a mechanism for assessing our potential safety in a new situation. If we are biased to think that anything long, thin, and curled up is a snake, we might assume the rope is something to be afraid of before we know it is just a rope.

While bias might serve us in some situations (like jumping out of the way of an actual snake before we have time to process that we need to be jumping out of the way), it often harms our ability to think critically.

How Bias Gets in the Way of Good Thinking

Selective Perception: We only notice things that match our ideas and ignore the rest. 

It's like only picking red candies from a mixed bowl because you think they taste the best, but they taste the same as every other candy in the bowl. It could also be when we see all the signs that our partner is cheating on us but choose to ignore them because we are happy the way we are (or at least, we think we are).

Agreeing with Yourself: This is called “ confirmation bias ” when we only listen to ideas that match our own and seek, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms what we already think we know or believe. 

An example is when someone wants to know if it is safe to vaccinate their children but already believes that vaccines are not safe, so they only look for information supporting the idea that vaccines are bad.

Thinking We Know It All: Similar to confirmation bias, this is called “overconfidence bias.” Sometimes we think our ideas are the best and don't listen to others. This can stop us from learning.

Have you ever met someone who you consider a “know it”? Probably, they have a lot of overconfidence bias because while they may know many things accurately, they can’t know everything. Still, if they act like they do, they show overconfidence bias.

There's a weird kind of bias similar to this called the Dunning Kruger Effect, and that is when someone is bad at what they do, but they believe and act like they are the best .

Following the Crowd: This is formally called “groupthink”. It's hard to speak up with a different idea if everyone agrees. But this can lead to mistakes.

An example of this we’ve all likely seen is the cool clique in primary school. There is usually one person that is the head of the group, the “coolest kid in school”, and everyone listens to them and does what they want, even if they don’t think it’s a good idea.

How to Overcome Biases

Here are a few ways to learn to think better, free from our biases (or at least aware of them!).

Know Your Biases: Realize that everyone has biases. If we know about them, we can think better.

Listen to Different People: Talking to different kinds of people can give us new ideas.

Ask Why: Always ask yourself why you believe something. Is it true, or is it just a bias?

Understand Others: Try to think about how others feel. It helps you see things in new ways.

Keep Learning: Always be curious and open to new information.

city in a globe connection

In today's world, everything changes fast, and there's so much information everywhere. This makes critical thinking super important. It helps us distinguish between what's real and what's made up. It also helps us make good choices. But thinking this way can be tough sometimes because of biases. These are like sneaky thoughts that can trick us. The good news is we can learn to see them and think better.

There are cool tools and ways we've talked about, like the "Socratic Questioning" method and the "Six Thinking Hats." These tools help us get better at thinking. These thinking skills can also help us in school, work, and everyday life.

We’ve also looked at specific scenarios where critical thinking would be helpful, such as deciding what diet to follow and checking facts.

Thinking isn't just a skill—it's a special talent we improve over time. Working on it lets us see things more clearly and understand the world better. So, keep practicing and asking questions! It'll make you a smarter thinker and help you see the world differently.

Critical Thinking Puzzles (Solutions)

The farmer, fox, chicken, and grain problem.

  • The farmer first takes the chicken across the river and leaves it on the other side.
  • He returns to the original side and takes the fox across the river.
  • After leaving the fox on the other side, he returns the chicken to the starting side.
  • He leaves the chicken on the starting side and takes the grain bag across the river.
  • He leaves the grain with the fox on the other side and returns to get the chicken.
  • The farmer takes the chicken across, and now all three items -- the fox, the chicken, and the grain -- are safely on the other side of the river.

The Rope, Jar, and Pebbles Problem

  • Take one rope and tie the jar of pebbles to its end.
  • Swing the rope with the jar in a pendulum motion.
  • While the rope is swinging, grab the other rope and wait.
  • As the swinging rope comes back within reach due to its pendulum motion, grab it.
  • With both ropes within reach, untie the jar and tie the rope ends together.

The Two Guards Problem

The question is, "What would the other guard say is the door to doom?" Then choose the opposite door.

The Hourglass Problem

  • Start both hourglasses. 
  • When the 4-minute hourglass runs out, turn it over.
  • When the 7-minute hourglass runs out, the 4-minute hourglass will have been running for 3 minutes. Turn the 7-minute hourglass over. 
  • When the 4-minute hourglass runs out for the second time (a total of 8 minutes have passed), the 7-minute hourglass will run for 1 minute. Turn the 7-minute hourglass again for 1 minute to empty the hourglass (a total of 9 minutes passed).

The Boat and Weights Problem

Take the cat over first and leave it on the other side. Then, return and take the fish across next. When you get there, take the cat back with you. Leave the cat on the starting side and take the cat food across. Lastly, return to get the cat and bring it to the other side.

The Lifeboat Dilemma

There isn’t one correct answer to this problem. Here are some elements to consider:

  • Moral Principles: What values guide your decision? Is it the potential greater good for humanity (the scientist)? What is the value of long-standing love and commitment (the elderly couple)? What is the future of young children who depend on their mothers? Or the selfless bravery of the teenager?
  • Future Implications: Consider the future consequences of each choice. Saving the scientist might benefit millions in the future, but what moral message does it send about the value of individual lives?
  • Emotional vs. Logical Thinking: While it's essential to engage empathy, it's also crucial not to let emotions cloud judgment entirely. For instance, while the teenager's bravery is commendable, does it make him more deserving of a spot on the boat than the others?
  • Acknowledging Uncertainty: The scientist claims to be close to a significant breakthrough, but there's no certainty. How does this uncertainty factor into your decision?
  • Personal Bias: Recognize and challenge any personal biases, such as biases towards age, profession, or familial status.

The Tech Dilemma

Again, there isn’t one correct answer to this problem. Here are some elements to consider:

  • Evaluate the Risk: How severe is the potential vulnerability? Can it be easily exploited, or would it require significant expertise? Even if the circumstances are rare, what would be the consequences if the vulnerability were exploited?
  • Stakeholder Considerations: Different stakeholders will have different priorities. Upper management might prioritize financial projections, the marketing team might be concerned about the product's reputation, and customers might prioritize the security of their data. How do you balance these competing interests?
  • Short-Term vs. Long-Term Implications: While launching on time could meet immediate financial goals, consider the potential long-term damage to the company's reputation if the vulnerability is exploited. Would the short-term gains be worth the potential long-term costs?
  • Ethical Implications : Beyond the financial and reputational aspects, there's an ethical dimension to consider. Is it right to release a product with a known vulnerability, even if the chances of it being exploited are low?
  • Seek External Input: Consulting with cybersecurity experts outside your company might be beneficial. They could provide a more objective risk assessment and potential mitigation strategies.
  • Communication: How will you communicate the decision, whatever it may be, both internally to your team and upper management and externally to your customers and potential users?

The History Mystery

Dr. Amelia should take the following steps:

  • Verify the Letters: Before making any claims, she should check if the letters are actual and not fake. She can do this by seeing when and where they were written and if they match with other things from that time.
  • Get a Second Opinion: It's always good to have someone else look at what you've found. Dr. Amelia could show the letters to other history experts and see their thoughts.
  • Research More: Maybe there are more documents or letters out there that support this new story. Dr. Amelia should keep looking to see if she can find more evidence.
  • Share the Findings: If Dr. Amelia believes the letters are true after all her checks, she should tell others. This can be through books, talks, or articles.
  • Stay Open to Feedback: Some people might agree with Dr. Amelia, and others might not. She should listen to everyone and be ready to learn more or change her mind if new information arises.

Ultimately, Dr. Amelia's job is to find out the truth about history and share it. It's okay if this new truth differs from what people used to believe. History is about learning from the past, no matter the story.

Related posts:

  • Experimenter Bias (Definition + Examples)
  • Hasty Generalization Fallacy (31 Examples + Similar Names)
  • Ad Hoc Fallacy (29 Examples + Other Names)
  • Confirmation Bias (Examples + Definition)
  • Equivocation Fallacy (26 Examples + Description)

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Ideas to Action (i2a)

  • What is Critical Thinking?

The ability to think critically calls for a higher-order thinking than simply the ability to recall information.

Definitions of critical thinking, its elements, and its associated activities fill the educational literature of the past forty years. Critical thinking has been described as an ability to question; to acknowledge and test previously held assumptions; to recognize ambiguity; to examine, interpret, evaluate, reason, and reflect; to make informed judgments and decisions; and to clarify, articulate, and justify positions (Hullfish & Smith, 1961; Ennis, 1962; Ruggiero, 1975; Scriven, 1976; Hallet, 1984; Kitchener, 1986; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Mines et al., 1990; Halpern, 1996; Paul & Elder, 2001; Petress, 2004; Holyoak & Morrison, 2005; among others).

After a careful review of the mountainous body of literature defining critical thinking and its elements, UofL has chosen to adopt the language of Michael Scriven and Richard Paul (2003) as a comprehensive, concise operating definition:

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.

Paul and Scriven go on to suggest that critical thinking is based on: "universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implication and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference. Critical thinking - in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes - is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking."

This conceptualization of critical thinking has been refined and developed further by Richard Paul and Linder Elder into the Paul-Elder framework of critical thinking. Currently, this approach is one of the most widely published and cited frameworks in the critical thinking literature. According to the Paul-Elder framework, critical thinking is the:

  • Analysis of thinking by focusing on the parts or structures of thinking ("the Elements of Thought")
  • Evaluation of thinking by focusing on the quality ("the Universal Intellectual Standards")
  • Improvement of thinking by using what you have learned ("the Intellectual Traits")

Selection of a Critical Thinking Framework

The University of Louisville chose the Paul-Elder model of Critical Thinking as the approach to guide our efforts in developing and enhancing our critical thinking curriculum. The Paul-Elder framework was selected based on criteria adapted from the characteristics of a good model of critical thinking developed at Surry Community College. The Paul-Elder critical thinking framework is comprehensive, uses discipline-neutral terminology, is applicable to all disciplines, defines specific cognitive skills including metacognition, and offers high quality resources.

Why the selection of a single critical thinking framework?

The use of a single critical thinking framework is an important aspect of institution-wide critical thinking initiatives (Paul and Nosich, 1993; Paul, 2004). According to this view, critical thinking instruction should not be relegated to one or two disciplines or departments with discipline specific language and conceptualizations. Rather, critical thinking instruction should be explicitly infused in all courses so that critical thinking skills can be developed and reinforced in student learning across the curriculum. The use of a common approach with a common language allows for a central organizer and for the development of critical thinking skill sets in all courses.

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Critical thinking

At university, you are often encouraged to be ‘critical’ in your thinking, reading and writing. Critical thinking aims to open up and challenge existing knowledge, rather than to reproduce it.

Critical thinking, reading and writing can simply be defined as considering more than one point of view or interpretation.

The word ‘critical’ is used differently in academic language than in everyday language. In academic language, it means ‘questioning’ or ‘challenging’ (as in ‘critique’). When you think critically, it doesn’t mean you have to find fault.

A critical approach is important so that you can:

  • become more independent as a learner
  • contribute to the scholarly rigor of your discipline
  • contribute to the creation of knowledge
  • achieve better marks.

How to think critically

This is one process you can follow to think or read critically.

  • Identify the important choices that have been made. For example, what is the author’s point of view? What evidence do they offer? What methodology did the researcher choose? What type of action did they recommend?
  • Think of some alternatives to the choices that were made. For example, what other points of view are possible? What other evidence, methodologies or actions could have been used?
  • Reach your own position on the alternatives. For example, which point of view do you agree with? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the different methodologies or recommended actions?
  • Find some convincing evidence to support your point of view. For example, what books or articles support your view? What examples or data can you draw on to show that your view is convincing?

Find out about reading critically and writing critically, analytically, persuasively and descriptively

This material was developed by the Learning Hub (Academic Language and Learning), which offers workshops, face-to-face consultations and resources to support your learning. Find out more about how they can help you develop your communication, research and study skills .

See the handouts on Developing critical thinking skills (pdf, 161KB) and Critical thinking models (pdf, 31KB) .

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Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples

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Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings.

Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve problems or make decisions. Employers prioritize the ability to think critically—find out why, plus see how you can demonstrate that you have this ability throughout the job application process. 

Why Do Employers Value Critical Thinking Skills?

Employers want job candidates who can evaluate a situation using logical thought and offer the best solution.

 Someone with critical thinking skills can be trusted to make decisions independently, and will not need constant handholding.

Hiring a critical thinker means that micromanaging won't be required. Critical thinking abilities are among the most sought-after skills in almost every industry and workplace. You can demonstrate critical thinking by using related keywords in your resume and cover letter, and during your interview.

Examples of Critical Thinking

The circumstances that demand critical thinking vary from industry to industry. Some examples include:

  • A triage nurse analyzes the cases at hand and decides the order by which the patients should be treated.
  • A plumber evaluates the materials that would best suit a particular job.
  • An attorney reviews evidence and devises a strategy to win a case or to decide whether to settle out of court.
  • A manager analyzes customer feedback forms and uses this information to develop a customer service training session for employees.

Promote Your Skills in Your Job Search

If critical thinking is a key phrase in the job listings you are applying for, be sure to emphasize your critical thinking skills throughout your job search.

Add Keywords to Your Resume

You can use critical thinking keywords (analytical, problem solving, creativity, etc.) in your resume. When describing your  work history , include top critical thinking skills that accurately describe you. You can also include them in your  resume summary , if you have one.

For example, your summary might read, “Marketing Associate with five years of experience in project management. Skilled in conducting thorough market research and competitor analysis to assess market trends and client needs, and to develop appropriate acquisition tactics.”

Mention Skills in Your Cover Letter

Include these critical thinking skills in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, and give specific examples of times when you have demonstrated them at work. Think about times when you had to analyze or evaluate materials to solve a problem.

Show the Interviewer Your Skills

You can use these skill words in an interview. Discuss a time when you were faced with a particular problem or challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking to solve it.

Some interviewers will give you a hypothetical scenario or problem, and ask you to use critical thinking skills to solve it. In this case, explain your thought process thoroughly to the interviewer. He or she is typically more focused on how you arrive at your solution rather than the solution itself. The interviewer wants to see you analyze and evaluate (key parts of critical thinking) the given scenario or problem.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Top Critical Thinking Skills

Keep these in-demand critical thinking skills in mind as you update your resume and write your cover letter. As you've seen, you can also emphasize them at other points throughout the application process, such as your interview. 

Part of critical thinking is the ability to carefully examine something, whether it is a problem, a set of data, or a text. People with  analytical skills  can examine information, understand what it means, and properly explain to others the implications of that information.

  • Asking Thoughtful Questions
  • Data Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Questioning Evidence
  • Recognizing Patterns

Communication

Often, you will need to share your conclusions with your employers or with a group of colleagues. You need to be able to  communicate with others  to share your ideas effectively. You might also need to engage in critical thinking in a group. In this case, you will need to work with others and communicate effectively to figure out solutions to complex problems.

  • Active Listening
  • Collaboration
  • Explanation
  • Interpersonal
  • Presentation
  • Verbal Communication
  • Written Communication

Critical thinking often involves creativity and innovation. You might need to spot patterns in the information you are looking at or come up with a solution that no one else has thought of before. All of this involves a creative eye that can take a different approach from all other approaches.

  • Flexibility
  • Conceptualization
  • Imagination
  • Drawing Connections
  • Synthesizing

Open-Mindedness

To think critically, you need to be able to put aside any assumptions or judgments and merely analyze the information you receive. You need to be objective, evaluating ideas without bias.

  • Objectivity
  • Observation

Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another critical thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating and implementing a solution, and assessing the success of the plan. Employers don’t simply want employees who can think about information critically. They also need to be able to come up with practical solutions.

  • Attention to Detail
  • Clarification
  • Decision Making
  • Groundedness
  • Identifying Patterns

More Critical Thinking Skills

  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Noticing Outliers
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Brainstorming
  • Optimization
  • Restructuring
  • Integration
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Ongoing Improvement
  • Causal Relationships
  • Case Analysis
  • Diagnostics
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Business Intelligence
  • Quantitative Data Management
  • Qualitative Data Management
  • Risk Management
  • Scientific Method
  • Consumer Behavior

Key Takeaways

  • Demonstrate that you have critical thinking skills by adding relevant keywords to your resume.
  • Mention pertinent critical thinking skills in your cover letter, too, and include an example of a time when you demonstrated them at work.
  • Finally, highlight critical thinking skills during your interview. For instance, you might discuss a time when you were faced with a challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking skills to solve it.

University of Louisville. " What is Critical Thinking ."

American Management Association. " AMA Critical Skills Survey: Workers Need Higher Level Skills to Succeed in the 21st Century ."

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What Are Critical Thinking Skills?

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What Are Critical Thinking Skills? was originally published on Forage .

In the workplace, we’re constantly bombarded with new information to sort through and find solutions. Employers want to hire people who are good at analyzing these facts and coming to rational conclusions — otherwise known as critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are a type of soft skill that describes how you process information and problem-solve . In this guide, we’ll cover critical thinking examples, how to improve your critical thinking skills, and how to include them in a job application.

Critical Thinking Skills Defined

What are critical thinking skills? Critical thinking skills help you process information and make rational decisions. 

“Critical thinking skills allow us to analyze problems from multiple angles, come up with various solutions, and make informed decisions,” says Bayu Prihandito, self-development expert and certified psychology expert. “This not only saves time and resources but also develops innovation and adaptability , skills that employers highly value.”

There’s data to back up Prihandito’s point, too. In top industries like technology and finance, critical thinking skills are even more important than some technical and digital hard skills . According to PwC , 77% of employers in financial services say that critical thinking skills are crucial for their business, compared with digital skills at 70%. Critical thinking is one of the top five skills employers in technology are looking for, too, according to Forage internal data , preceded only by communication skills , data analysis, and Python.

>>MORE: Learn the differences between hard and soft skills .

But why do so many employers want you to have these skills? Critical thinking skills make you a more effective, productive, and efficient employee.

“By questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and exploring alternative perspectives, individuals with strong critical thinking skills can make well-informed decisions and devise creative solutions to complex issues,” says Matthew Warzel, certified professional resume writer and former Fortune 500 recruiter . “This leads to improved problem-solving and decision-making processes, fostering organizational efficiency and productivity. Critical thinking skills also empower individuals to identify and mitigate potential risks and pitfalls, minimizing errors and enhancing overall quality in the workplace.” 

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Critical Thinking Skills Examples

Critical thinking examples include a wide range of skills, from the research you do to understand a problem to the collaboration skills you use to communicate with others about a solution. Other examples include:

examples of critical thinking in university

Critical Thinking Skills Examples at Work

What does critical thinking in the workplace look like? Here are some critical thinking examples for different roles:

  • A software engineer anticipating potential challenges with a new feature and making plans to mitigate them before integration 
  • A marketer evaluating historical user data to identify channels to invest in 
  • An investment banker performing due diligence on a potential merger
  • A product manager making a hypothesis of why a product change will drive more engagement
  • A sales manager considering the risks and outcomes of modifying the company’s pricing model 
  • A consultant gathering initial data and information on current company processes, costs, and organization to synthesize challenges

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Whether you’re in a technical field, creative one, or somewhere in between, critical thinking skills can help you be a better employee — and therefore are highly valuable to all different types of employers.

“Critical thinking is essential to success in both white and blue collar jobs,” says Dr. Nathan Mondragon, chief industrial and organizational psychologist at HireVue. “Consider the school bus driver who must maintain constant vigilance and practice some critical thinking skills in the moment during an ever changing road or traffic situation. No parent will argue against the importance of a bus driver’s ability to quickly and critically analyze a situation to make an informed, albeit, rapid decision.”

How to Improve Critical Thinking Skills

If critical thinking skills are crucial to being an effective (and hireable!) employee, how can you improve yours? 

Practice Active Reading

OK, maybe you know what active listening is, but what about active reading? Active reading is when you read challenging material and reflect on what you read. It can help you engage with information and build your critical thinking skills.

Pick an article on a topic you’re interested in. While you’re reading, write down thoughts you have about the author’s arguments and follow-up questions you have. Even better, get someone else to read the same material and start a conversation about what you wrote down!

“By reading diverse and challenging material, such as books, articles, or academic papers, students can expose themselves to different perspectives and complex ideas,” Warzel says. “Following this, students can engage in reflective writing, where they articulate their thoughts and opinions on the material, while incorporating logical reasoning and evidence to support their claims. This process helps develop clarity of thought, logical reasoning, and the ability to analyze and synthesize information effectively.”

The exercise might seem a little like homework at first, but that’s why professors have you answer comprehension questions and participate in discussions for school — they want you to think critically about the material. 

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Play With Puzzles …

Building your critical thinking skills doesn’t just have to be reading a bunch of articles. It can be fun, too! Regularly engage with puzzles like logic puzzles, riddles, and word games. These puzzles practice your reasoning skills while keeping you intellectually stimulated.

… and People, Too

Critical thinking isn’t done in a bubble. You’ll need to collaborate with others, especially in the workplace, to understand past projects, roadblocks, what resources they have, and their opinions. Participating in group activities like debates, academic clubs, and academic discussions can help you practice listening to and processing different viewpoints.

Stay Curious

Good critical thinkers are open to a range of answers and ideas. They want to take in all of the evidence to understand why something is (or isn’t) happening.They also know going into a problem with an open mind is the best way to solve it. 

You can practice this open-mindedness by staying curious. 

“Adopt a curiosity mindset, learn how to ask good questions, and practice unraveling something from end to beginning and vice versa,” says Arissan Nicole, resume and career coach and workplace expert. “Critical thinking is about being reflective, not reactive. Put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable and challenge you, be around people that have different viewpoints and life experiences and just listen.”

How to Demonstrate Critical Thinking Skills in a Job Application

We know employers value critical thinking skills, but you don’t just want to add “critical thinking” in the skills section of your resume. Instead, your goal should be to show employers that you have these skills.

On Your Resume

On your resume , highlight experiences where you used critical thinking skills.

“Include relevant experiences or projects that demonstrate your ability to analyze information, solve problems, or make informed decisions,” Warzel says. “For example, you can highlight academic coursework that involved research, critical analysis, or complex problem-solving. Additionally, you can mention extracurricular activities or volunteer work where you had to think critically or exercise your problem-solving abilities.”

In the Interview

In the interview , elaborate on your experiences using the STAR method to frame your answers. The STAR method helps you clearly and concisely describe the situation, what you did, and what results you found.

Beyond speaking to your experience, you can also show your critical thinking skills in how you answer questions. This is especially true for more technical interviews where the interviewer might ask you to solve problems.

For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a data analyst position. The interviewer might ask you a hypothetical question about how you’d figure out why company sales dipped last quarter. Even if you don’t have an answer right away (or a full one!), speak your thought process out loud. Consider:

  • Where do you start?
  • What resources do you rely on?
  • Who do you collaborate with?
  • What steps do you take to uncover an answer?
  • How do you communicate results?

“Emphasize your ability to think logically, consider multiple perspectives, and draw conclusions based on evidence and reasoning,” Warzel says. 

This is the time to get specific about exactly what steps you’d take to solve a problem. While on a resume you might keep it short, the interview is the time to elaborate and show off your thought process — and hopefully show why you’re the best candidate for the role!

Ready to start building your critical thinking skills? Try a free Forage job simulation .

The post What Are Critical Thinking Skills? appeared first on Forage .

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How Higher Education Fosters Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” –Albert Einstein

Critical thinking and problem-solving are the most essential skills that any college student can develop. If students are unable to think through an issue critically, they will be ill-equipped to distinguish between truth and deception. Valid conclusions can only come from the pursuit of truth. In comparison, problem-solving skills give an individual the tools to do something with the information they have gained. This combined skillset is invaluable in the professional world and everyday life.

If these skills are so important, what is the best way to foster and develop them? Education is a start. Whether it’s higher education through attending a university or self-education through personal study, the only way to develop these skills is through active participation in learning. Almost all colleges and universities cite critical thinking as one of their core objectives. So, what are the best ways for higher education to help students grow and develop these skills?

From the idea that teaching critical thinking is impossible to new approaches in teaching styles, the last two decades have produced varying theories on critical thinking. One fact that is certain, however, is that problem-solving is a natural outgrowth of critical thinking. Although there is no argument over whether critical thinking is important, there are multiple perspectives on the best ways to develop this skill. Most research, however, seems to support a hands-on, interactive approach.

Andreucci-Annunziata et al. (2023) suggests that “pedagogical approaches to critical thinking have been synthesized into four types: general method; infusion; immersion and mixed method.” The general method is teaching critical thinking as its own subject, infusion is teaching critical thinking in relation to a specific subject matter, immersion is teaching a subject in a way that encourages critical thinking, and “the mixed method consists of a combination of the general method and the infusion or immersion method.” These methods are combined with instructional strategies such as writing exercises, in-class discussion, brainstorming, using online discussion forums, etc. With so many methods and strategies available what is the best approach for educators? Two strategies seem to be gaining momentum: Decision-Based Learning and Discussion-Based Learning.

Decision-Based Learning

Decision-Based Learning (DBL), a problem-solving strategy, is a new possibility. According to one study DBL teaches students how to look at the components of a problem and come to a rational decision. Evidence shows that there is a correlation between the development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills (Plummer et al. 2022). This style encourages students to look at all sides of an issue and come to a valid conclusion.

Discussion-Based Learning

On the other hand, Discussion-Based Learning also shows promise. Various universities across the U.S. and Canada cite Discussion-Based Learning, or a form of it, as one of their primary teaching methods. Examples include the University of Calgary, Brown University, and Columbia University. The fact that discussion plays a major role in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills is indisputable. Studies of different methods continue to support Discussion-Based Learning as one of the primary ways for students to develop both skills. In-class discussion and thought-provoking questions continue to promote the development of critical thinking within the classroom.

Are Educators Doing a Good Job?

Some researchers and professionals argue that colleges are failing to teach their students the art of critical thinking. One researcher suggests that colleges and universities fail to understand that there is a difference between “teaching students what to think (highly educated) and teaching them how to think (better educated)” (Flores, Kevin L., et al.).  A student can fill their mind with countless pieces of information without developing the skills needed to interpret and apply that information.

To combat this tendency, educators must challenge students to think through issues themselves. When students are given the tools needed to think critically, a new world of knowledge is opened to them. Regardless of varying strategies, education needs a firm foundation to stand on. At Maranatha, that foundation is the Bible.

What Makes Maranatha Different?

Education firmly grounded in biblical truth does not leave room for conclusions drawn from emotion. Instead, biblically grounded education creates an environment that fosters critical thinking and a pursuit of the truth. At Maranatha, professors understand the value of preparing students to be critical thinkers. In a world that seeks to reject a biblical worldview through science and philosophy, it is more important than ever for students to graduate grounded in biblical principles.

Mr. Nathan Huffstutler, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities, explains, “A biblical worldview emphasizes truth. God is a God of truth. If you believe that God is a God of truth, that will make you more passionate in your search for truth. When we deal with current events or with history, it’s not just opinions that we’re trying to find. That doesn’t mean that some questions don’t have nuance or gray areas. There are some issues that are very complex, but a biblical worldview aids in the pursuit of truth even in difficult subjects.”

Without the ability to analyze ideas through a biblical lens, students will be tossed about by every new theory, unable to distinguish between the truth and lies disguised as truth. Only when students understand how to think will they be able to properly analyze ideas and come to their own conclusions.

Mr. Huffstutler further explains how he implements the instruction of critical thinking into the classroom, “I personally use discussion questions. I’ll give a question and then require students to back up their answers with evidence. They must demonstrate in their answers that it is not just their opinion. I strive to show my students how to back up their statements based on facts and support from the text. That’s what critical thinking is.” 

Discussion is the first step in the process of developing critical thinking. In-class discussion has the power to sharpen minds as students are forced to think through their reasoning and evidence. Current and past students are reaping the benefits of an education that emphasizes the development of this invaluable skill.

Hannah Mayes (’20 Communication Arts—Theatre), a teacher at Maranatha Baptist Academy and Adjunct Professor at the University, shares her experience, “The focus Maranatha professors have on teaching students how to think is particularly evident when teachers would continuously ask us, ‘Why?’ Professors encouraged us to evaluate our answers in light of a biblical worldview, but not merely so we could provide a ‘right’ answer. Many instructors encouraged me to look further beyond the simple answer, use credible sources to support my answer, and apply what I had learned to my everyday life. These interactions seemed challenging at the time, but I find myself encouraging my own students to keep asking why and how — not just what.”

Keeping the focus on teaching students how to think is essential in the development of critical thinking. When academics are taught with a biblical worldview, students are encouraged to find the truth and evidence to back up their claims. Without these skills, students will be incapable of succeeding in a professional environment.

So, does higher education foster critical thinking and problem-solving? Yes. But only when students and professors work together to find the truth, based on facts, can critical thinking flourish.

Andreucci-Annunziata, P., Riedemann, A., Cortes, S., Mellado, A., Del Rio, M. T., & Vega-Munoz, A. (2023). Conceptualizations and instructional strategies on critical thinking in higher education: A systematic review of systematic reviews. Frontiers in Education, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2023.1141686

Flores, K. L., Matkin, G. S., Burbach, M. E., Quinn, C., & Harding, H. E. (2012). Deficient Critical Thinking Skills among College Graduates: Implications for leadership. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 44 (2), 212-230. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2010.00672.x

Plummer, K. J., Kebritchi, M., Leary, H. M., & Halverson, D.M. (2022). Enhancing Critical Thinking Skills through Decision-Based Learning. Innovative Higher Education, 47 (4), 711-734. https://doi.org/101007/s10755-022-09595-9

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Reading Skills Part 2: Alternatives to Highlighting

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Critical Reading for Evaluation

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Critical Reading for Analysis and Comparison

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Pre-Reading Strategies

Triple entry notebook, critical thinking.

Use this checklist to practice critical thinking while reading an article, watching an advertisement, or making an important purchase or voting decision.

Critical Reading Checklist (Word) Critical Reading Checklist (PDF) Critical Thinking Bookmark (PDF)

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Best Critical Thinking Examples to Help You Improve Your Critical and Analytical Skills

Critical thinking has been studied since ancient times. Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato provided us with good critical thinking examples and the foundations for this field. Socrates is widely regarded as one of the fathers of critical thinking and deductive reasoning, a valuable skill in a world plagued with fake news and overwhelming amounts of information.

However, what is critical thinking? How can we use it in everyday life? In this article, we will explain what critical thinking is and why it is important, provide tips for improving your critical thinking skills, and offer the best examples of critical thinking.

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What is critical thinking.

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and logically about what to do or believe. To do so, you must establish logical connections between ideas, evaluate arguments, approach problems systematically, and reflect on your values and beliefs. Logical thinking and scientific thinking are types of thinking that depend on these skills.

Additionally, the critical thinking process involves challenging knowledge to discover the truth. It involves reviewing knowledge and information to make an informed decision. You can improve your critical thinking skills by becoming more adept at analyzing problems, identifying biases, practicing active listening and inductive reasoning, and avoiding emotional reasoning.

Where Is Critical Thinking Used?

  • Progressive education
  • Risk assessment
  • Programming
  • SAT standardized tests

Why Is Critical Thinking Important?

Critical thinking is important because it allows you to better synthesize, analyze and interpret information. Other critical thinking skills like problem-solving , observation, and communication, can help you advance in your career. All of these skills can enable you to understand yourself better and make better life decisions.

Many people believe they are critical thinkers. However, when drawing conclusions in real life most people rely on common sense and numerous fallacies. To avoid this, we must have critical thinking dispositions to gain more insight, learn to identify a weak argument, and make better decisions. Understanding critical thinking concepts is crucial if you want to understand your thoughts, emotions, or live a better life.

Real-World Examples of Critical Thinking

People live their lives based on the choices they make. As a result, they require critical thinking skills and a constructive approach to problem-solving to make their lives easier. For example, if you need to deliver to multiple locations, don’t just go there by chance.

To save time, determine which location is closest and devise an efficient pattern for the next locations you will need to visit. This is just one of many examples of critical thinking for the following section. Below are more critical thinking examples.

  • Self-evaluation of your actions
  • HR manager resolving conflict between staffs
  • A military officer working on tactical plans
  • Professor guiding students to fresh ideas with creative questioning
  • Student defending a master’s thesis
  • Basketball coach seeking out new tactics during a timeout
  • Writer organizing content ideas
  • Applicant preparing for a job interview
  • Using a disciplined process to look for a job
  • A detective using their observational ability to analyze a crime scene

10 Great Examples of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking example 1: self-evaluation of your actions.

Self-evaluation is essential for improving your overall performance. When you use reflective thinking or try to evaluate yourself, you analyze what went wrong and how you can improve in the future. You attempt to understand what happened and figure out what you need to change to get different results.

Many universities and schools use special questionnaires that test critical thinking abilities. For example, Cambridge, a school with over 20 years of experience in assessing critical thinking, uses a student self-assessment critical thinking questionnaire .

Critical Thinking Example 2: HR Manager Resolving Conflict Between Staffs

Employees have disagreements in every organization. In many cases, it is the HR manager who steps in to solve the problem. However, the HR manager must first listen to both sides, determine the source of the problem, assess the situation, and decide how to proceed. As a result, a soft skill such as problem-solving or management is essential for HR.

Critical Thinking Example 3: A Military Officer Working on Tactical Plans

A military officer working on tactical plans for extracting fellow soldiers in a dangerous military zone is another example. In this case, the military officer must find an effective way to get the soldiers out of the danger zone while minimizing casualties, which requires logical thinking.

Critical Thinking Example 4: Professor Guiding Students to Fresh Ideas With Creative Questioning

Creative questioning is an interesting process because it can promote critical thinking. By asking creative open-ended questions, the professor makes students think more deeply about a subject. Therefore, they need to discern what information to pick and share. Analysis of arguments is another way to foster analytical thinking among students.

Critical Thinking Example 5: Student Defending a Master’s Thesis

Writing a master’s thesis requires applying critical thinking. You seek and gather information, conduct research, perform calculations, analyze data, and draw conclusions. You also demonstrate what critical skills you used to create the thesis by explaining all of the steps and methodology you used in the research process.

Critical Thinking Example 6: Basketball Coach Seeking Out New Tactics During a Timeout

In some cases, if the match does not go well, the basketball coach may call a timeout to reassess the team’s strategy. During the timeout, a basketball coach looks for new tactics that reveal the vulnerabilities of the opposing team. The coach needs to find a way to assess the potential risks and provide a new strategy that will lead the team to victory.

Critical Thinking Example 7: Writer Organizing Content Ideas

When writing articles, writers must distinguish between good and bad information. They must also make the article flow. To accomplish this, writers must adhere to the core concept of writing format: title, introduction, body, and conclusion. This means that they have to choose certain information to insert in certain sections of the text.

Critical Thinking Example 8: Applicants Preparing for a Job Interview

If you apply for a job and go to the interview blindly, there is a high chance you will not be hired. It is preferable to arrive prepared and apply critical thinking to the interview. One tip for interview preparation is to ask yourself outcome-based questions about the job. Before going to the interview, practice answering questions and acting quickly.

Critical Thinking Example 9: Using a Disciplined Process to Look for a Job

It can be difficult to find a job. Some stats show that on average it takes 100 to 200 applications to get a job. To improve your chances, you should put your critical thinking cap on. Logical thinking can help you consider how you will approach employers, devote time to updating your resume, skills, and create an effective cover letter .

Critical Thinking Example 10: A Detective Using Their Observational Ability to Analyze a Crime Scene

As a police detective, you must have strong critical thinking skills as well as excellent observational abilities to analyze a crime scene. You need logical inquiry and deduction skills to analyze the evidence. A police detective must have probable cause to obtain a search warrant from a judge to search a suspect’s home, which is another example of critical thinking.

Pro Tips to Boost Your Critical Thinking Skills

  • Analyze and Break It Down. Before forming an opinion, conduct extensive research and analysis. Once you have enough information, then you can try to break down all that information and analyze what it means. It is a good idea to break the problem down into smaller pieces so that you can see the bigger picture.
  • Deal With Your Biases. Critical thinking requires constant work, as people have biases that they need to deal with throughout their lives. If a person is aware of their biases, they can be aware of their own thought process and make sure they’re not just thinking one way.
  • Seek Advice. Develop a strong sense of acquiring knowledge. This means seeking advice when you are not sure about what you know. If you don’t know something, ask someone that knows. The more information you have, the better conclusion you can draw. Deal with the fact that you are not always right.

What Should Be the Next Step in My Critical Thinking Learning Journey?

Your next step in your critical thinking learning journey should be to actively use it in your everyday life. In real life, people encounter many opportunities to solve problems. With critical and careful thinking, you can afford to lead a better life and make more accurate decisions.

Using analytical and objective reasoning are some of the intellectual virtues that critical thinking offers to get a better job. If you use it in self-evaluation you can become a better version of yourself.

Advancing this skill can improve your professional life, problem-solving, and improve in developing and executing solutions. If you want to have well-informed opinions and deal with your biases, advance your critical thinking skills.

Critical Thinking Examples FAQ

Yes, critical thinking is a skill. The interesting part is that critical thinking is a learned skill. If it can be learned then it can be taught. However, the problem is that in many cases an experienced instructor is needed to transfer the skill. It is also one of the 21st-century skills you need to add to your resume.

Developing your critical thinking skills is a gradual process that requires deliberate effort. Changing your thought patterns and practices is a long-term project that you should commit to for the rest of your life.

No, IQ tests don’t measure critical thinking. Intelligence and critical thinking are not the same. If you want to test your critical thinking ability, you need a specialized critical thinking test. One example is the Cornell critical thinking test .

The bandwagon fallacy is about creating an opinion based on what the majority thinks. If everyone says the same thing, then it must be true. The problem with this notion is that the opinion of the majority is not always valid or a real form of knowledge. To avoid the bandwagon fallacy, you need to have a critical thinking disposition.

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Warren Berger

A Crash Course in Critical Thinking

What you need to know—and read—about one of the essential skills needed today..

Posted April 8, 2024 | Reviewed by Michelle Quirk

  • In research for "A More Beautiful Question," I did a deep dive into the current crisis in critical thinking.
  • Many people may think of themselves as critical thinkers, but they actually are not.
  • Here is a series of questions you can ask yourself to try to ensure that you are thinking critically.

Conspiracy theories. Inability to distinguish facts from falsehoods. Widespread confusion about who and what to believe.

These are some of the hallmarks of the current crisis in critical thinking—which just might be the issue of our times. Because if people aren’t willing or able to think critically as they choose potential leaders, they’re apt to choose bad ones. And if they can’t judge whether the information they’re receiving is sound, they may follow faulty advice while ignoring recommendations that are science-based and solid (and perhaps life-saving).

Moreover, as a society, if we can’t think critically about the many serious challenges we face, it becomes more difficult to agree on what those challenges are—much less solve them.

On a personal level, critical thinking can enable you to make better everyday decisions. It can help you make sense of an increasingly complex and confusing world.

In the new expanded edition of my book A More Beautiful Question ( AMBQ ), I took a deep dive into critical thinking. Here are a few key things I learned.

First off, before you can get better at critical thinking, you should understand what it is. It’s not just about being a skeptic. When thinking critically, we are thoughtfully reasoning, evaluating, and making decisions based on evidence and logic. And—perhaps most important—while doing this, a critical thinker always strives to be open-minded and fair-minded . That’s not easy: It demands that you constantly question your assumptions and biases and that you always remain open to considering opposing views.

In today’s polarized environment, many people think of themselves as critical thinkers simply because they ask skeptical questions—often directed at, say, certain government policies or ideas espoused by those on the “other side” of the political divide. The problem is, they may not be asking these questions with an open mind or a willingness to fairly consider opposing views.

When people do this, they’re engaging in “weak-sense critical thinking”—a term popularized by the late Richard Paul, a co-founder of The Foundation for Critical Thinking . “Weak-sense critical thinking” means applying the tools and practices of critical thinking—questioning, investigating, evaluating—but with the sole purpose of confirming one’s own bias or serving an agenda.

In AMBQ , I lay out a series of questions you can ask yourself to try to ensure that you’re thinking critically. Here are some of the questions to consider:

  • Why do I believe what I believe?
  • Are my views based on evidence?
  • Have I fairly and thoughtfully considered differing viewpoints?
  • Am I truly open to changing my mind?

Of course, becoming a better critical thinker is not as simple as just asking yourself a few questions. Critical thinking is a habit of mind that must be developed and strengthened over time. In effect, you must train yourself to think in a manner that is more effortful, aware, grounded, and balanced.

For those interested in giving themselves a crash course in critical thinking—something I did myself, as I was working on my book—I thought it might be helpful to share a list of some of the books that have shaped my own thinking on this subject. As a self-interested author, I naturally would suggest that you start with the new 10th-anniversary edition of A More Beautiful Question , but beyond that, here are the top eight critical-thinking books I’d recommend.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark , by Carl Sagan

This book simply must top the list, because the late scientist and author Carl Sagan continues to be such a bright shining light in the critical thinking universe. Chapter 12 includes the details on Sagan’s famous “baloney detection kit,” a collection of lessons and tips on how to deal with bogus arguments and logical fallacies.

examples of critical thinking in university

Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments Into Extraordinary Results , by Shane Parrish

The creator of the Farnham Street website and host of the “Knowledge Project” podcast explains how to contend with biases and unconscious reactions so you can make better everyday decisions. It contains insights from many of the brilliant thinkers Shane has studied.

Good Thinking: Why Flawed Logic Puts Us All at Risk and How Critical Thinking Can Save the World , by David Robert Grimes

A brilliant, comprehensive 2021 book on critical thinking that, to my mind, hasn’t received nearly enough attention . The scientist Grimes dissects bad thinking, shows why it persists, and offers the tools to defeat it.

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know , by Adam Grant

Intellectual humility—being willing to admit that you might be wrong—is what this book is primarily about. But Adam, the renowned Wharton psychology professor and bestselling author, takes the reader on a mind-opening journey with colorful stories and characters.

Think Like a Detective: A Kid's Guide to Critical Thinking , by David Pakman

The popular YouTuber and podcast host Pakman—normally known for talking politics —has written a terrific primer on critical thinking for children. The illustrated book presents critical thinking as a “superpower” that enables kids to unlock mysteries and dig for truth. (I also recommend Pakman’s second kids’ book called Think Like a Scientist .)

Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters , by Steven Pinker

The Harvard psychology professor Pinker tackles conspiracy theories head-on but also explores concepts involving risk/reward, probability and randomness, and correlation/causation. And if that strikes you as daunting, be assured that Pinker makes it lively and accessible.

How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion and Persuasion , by David McRaney

David is a science writer who hosts the popular podcast “You Are Not So Smart” (and his ideas are featured in A More Beautiful Question ). His well-written book looks at ways you can actually get through to people who see the world very differently than you (hint: bludgeoning them with facts definitely won’t work).

A Healthy Democracy's Best Hope: Building the Critical Thinking Habit , by M Neil Browne and Chelsea Kulhanek

Neil Browne, author of the seminal Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking, has been a pioneer in presenting critical thinking as a question-based approach to making sense of the world around us. His newest book, co-authored with Chelsea Kulhanek, breaks down critical thinking into “11 explosive questions”—including the “priors question” (which challenges us to question assumptions), the “evidence question” (focusing on how to evaluate and weigh evidence), and the “humility question” (which reminds us that a critical thinker must be humble enough to consider the possibility of being wrong).

Warren Berger

Warren Berger is a longtime journalist and author of A More Beautiful Question .

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Developing a Scoring Criteria (Rubrics)

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DISCLAIMER: This data in this section is fictitious and does not, in any way, represent any of the programs at Gallaudet University. This information is intended only as examples.  

Types of Scoring Criteria (Rubrics)

A rubric is a scoring guide used to assess performance against a set of criteria. At a minimum, it is a list of the components you are looking for when you evaluate an assignment. At its most advanced, it is a tool that divides an assignment into its parts and provides explicit expectations of acceptable and unacceptable levels of performance for each component. 

Types of Rubrics

1 – Checklists, the least complex form of scoring system, are simple lists indicating the presence, NOT the quality, of the elements. Therefore, checklists are NOT frequently used in higher education for program-level assessment. But faculty may find them useful for scoring and giving feedback on minor student assignments or practice/drafts of assignments. 

Example 1: Critical Thinking Checklist 

The student…

__ Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.  

__ Identifies the salient arguments (reasons and claims)  

__ Offers analyzes and evaluates major alternative points of view  

__ Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions  

__ Justifies key results and procedures, explains assumptions and reasons  

__ Fair-mindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead 

Example 2: Presentation Checklist 

The student… 

__ engaged audience  

__ used an academic or consultative American Sign Language (ASL) register  

__ used adequate ASL syntactic and semantic features  

__ cited references adequately in ASL  

__ stayed within allotted time  

__ managed PowerPoint presentation technology smoothly 

2 – Basic Rating Scales are checklists of criteria that evaluate the quality of elements and include a scoring system. The main drawback with rating scales is that the meaning of the numeric ratings can be vague. Without descriptors for the ratings, the raters must make a judgment based on their perception of the meanings of the terms. For the same presentation, one rater might think a student rated “good,” and another rater might feel the same student was “marginal.” 

Example: Basic Rating Scale for Critical Thinking

3 – Holistic Rating Scales use a short narrative of characteristics to award a single score based on an overall impression of a student’s performance on a task. A drawback to using holistic rating scales is that they do not provide specific areas of strengths and weaknesses and therefore are less useful to help you focus your improvement efforts. Use a holistic rating scale when the projects to be assessed will vary greatly (e.g., independent study projects submitted in a capstone course). Or when the number of assignments to be evaluated is significant (e.g., reviewing all the essays from applicants to determine who will need developmental courses). 

Example: Holistic Rating Scale for Critical Thinking Scoring

Rating scale.

The Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric: A Tool for Developing and Evaluating Critical Thinking. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from Insight Assessment . 4 – Analytic Rating Scales are rubrics that include explicit performance expectations for each possible rating, for each criterion. Analytic rating scales are especially appropriate for complex learning tasks with multiple criteria. Evaluate carefully whether this the most appropriate tool for your assessment needs. They can provide more detailed feedback on student performance; more consistent scoring among raters, but the disadvantage is that they can be time-consuming to develop and apply. Results can be aggregated to provide detailed information on the strengths and weaknesses of a program. Example: Critical Thinking Portion of the Gallaudet University Rubric for Assessing Written English 

Ideas and Critical Thinking

Steps for creating an analytic rating scale (rubric) from scratch.

There are different ways to approach building an analytic rating scale: logical or organic. For both the logical and the organic model, steps 1-3 are the same. 

Steps 1 – 3: Logical AND Organic Method

Determine the best tool.

  • if there are multiple aspects of the product or process to be considered
  • if a basic rating scale or holistic rating scale cannot provide the breadth of assessment you need.

Building the Shell

  • Specify the skills, knowledge, and/or behaviors that you will be looking for.
  • Limit the characteristics to those that are most important to the assessment.

The Columns

  • Develop a rating scale with the levels of mastery that is meaningful.

Tip: Adding numbers to the ratings can make scoring easier. However, if you plan to use the rating scale for course-level assessment grading as well, a meaning must be attached to that score. For example, what is the minimum score that would be considered acceptable for a “C.” 

Components of Analytic Rating Scales  

  • Criteria that link to the relevant learning objectives
  • Rating scale that distinguishes between levels of mastery
  • Descriptions that clarify the meaning of each criterion, at each level of mastery

Other possible descriptors include:

  • Exemplary, Proficient, Marginal, Unacceptable
  • Advanced, High, Intermediate, Novice
  • Beginning, Developing, Accomplished, Exemplary
  • Outstanding, Good, Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory

Writing the Performance Descriptors in the Cells

examples of inconsistent performance characteristics and suggested corrections.

  • Use either the logical or the organic method to write the descriptions for each criterion at each level of mastery.

Tips: Keep list of characteristics manageable by only including critical evaluative components. Extremely long, overly-detailed lists make a rating scale hard to use. 

In addition to having descriptions brief, the language should be consistent. Below are several ideas to keep descriptors consistent: 

Keep the aspects of a performance stay the same across the levels but adding adjectives or adverbial phrases to show the qualitative difference  

A word of warning: numeric references on their own can be misleading. They are best teamed with a qualitative reference (eg three appropriate and relevant examples) to avoid ignoring quality at the expense of quantity. 

Steps 5-6: Logical AND Organic Methods

  • Part 6. Scoring Rubric Group Orientation and Calibration” for directions for this process.
  • Review and revise.

Steps for Adapting an Existing Analytic Rating Scale (Rubric)

  • Does the rating scale relate to all or most the outcome(s) I need to assess?
  • Does it address anything extraneous?
  • Add missing criteria
  • Delete extraneous criteria
  • Adapt the rating scale
  • Edit the performance descriptors
  • Test the rating scale.
  • Review and revise again, if necessary.

Uses of Rating Scales (Rubrics)

Use rating scales for program-level assessment to see trends in strengths and weaknesses of groups of students. 

  • To evaluate a holistic project (e.g., theses, exhibitions, research project) in capstone course that pulls together all that students have learned in the program.
  • Supervisors might use a rating scale developed by the program to evaluate students’ field experience and provide feedback to both the student and the program.
  • Aggregate the scores of rating scale used to evaluate a course-level assignment. For example, the Biology department decides to develop a rating scale to evaluate students’ reports from 300- and 400-level sections. The professors use the scores to determine the students’ grades and provide students with feedback for improvement. The scores are also given to the department’s Assessment Coordinator to summarize to determine how well they are meeting their student learning outcome, “Make appropriate inferences and deductions from biological information.”

For more information on using course-level assessment to provide feedback to students and to determine grades, see University of Hawaii’s “ Part 7. Suggestions for Using Rubrics in Courses ” and the section on Converting Rubric Scores to Grades in Craig A. Mertler’s “Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom”.

Sample Rating Scales (Rubrics)

  • Rubric Bank  (University of Hawai’i at Manoa)
  • Sample Rubrics by type  (Winona State University)
  • Rubrics  (UC, Berkeley)

Adapted from sources below:  

Allen, Mary. (January, 2006). Assessment Workshop Material . California State University, Bakersfield. Retrieved DATE from  http://www.csub.edu/TLC/options/resources/handouts/AllenWorkshopHandoutJan06.pdf  

http://www.uhm.hawaii.edu/assessment/howto/rubrics.htm  

http://www.teachervision.fen.com/teaching-methods-and-management/rubrics/4523.html?detoured=1  

Mueller, Jon. (2001). Rubrics. Authentic Assessment Toolbox. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from http://jonathan.mueller.faculty.noctrl.edu/toolbox/rubrics.htm   

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubric_(academic)    

Tierney, Robin & Marielle Simon. (2004). What’s Still Wrong With Rubrics: Focusing on the Consistency of Performance Criteria Across Scale Levels . Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 9(2).  

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A New Era of AI-Generated Content

Msai director kristian hammond discusses openai's new sora model and its ability to create realistic video..

OpenAI, the creator of the innovative and disruptive ChatGPT system, announced in February its new Sora model, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate realistic videos up to one minute in length based on text prompts.

According to the OpenAi website:

"Sora is able to generate complex scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and accurate details of the subject and background. The model understands not only what the user has asked for in the prompt, but also how those things exist in the physical world."

Kristian Hammond, director of Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) program, appeared on CNN to discuss the new model. Afterward, he sat down to talk about its implications on the public and what MSAI students should know about it.  

The sample videos OpenAI shared are quite realistic. What should people look for to determine if a video is generated with AI? 

Video generation, image generation, and audio generation are now coming together to create a world where it is not clear that we will be able to trust the videos we see, the images we see, and the sound that we hear. No matter how hard the companies work to try to make these things safe, we are now in a world where we need a much more critical eye toward the content that we see.  

We have to look for things that seem perfect to us, because those things are probably fake. This is a new era for us, and we should take a lesson from Kim Kardashian. Anything you see of Kim Kardashian has already been edited, photoshopped, and carefully curated. That is the world we are now going to be seeing — one that is edited, generated automatically, and curated for us.   

You mentioned safety. When OpenAI announced Sora, the company said it's currently assessing areas for harms or risks. What was your reaction to that announcement? 

It's great they're doing it, but it will not be complete. It will never be complete because what is safe and inoffensive to some people might not be to others. And there are things that look benign, but they're false. An image of me walking out of a building where you can clearly see the clock and there's a timestamp that says it was yesterday at 3 p.m. might look benign, but if I say I was someplace else at that time, it could be damaging for me.   

They're looking at issues of safety from the perspective of what it is trained on, what queries look like, and how to evaluate the output to make sure it's trained on things that are good. They don't want to let people put in requests that seem untowards, and they can evaluate the output to see if anything untoward is there. The problem is there will be things that don't seem problematic but could become problematic.   

What's an example of a prompt that could become problematic? 

I could take a short video of President Joe Biden finishing up a press conference and then tell the generator to continue the video with 30 seconds of him looking left and right, looking confused and befuddled, not knowing where to go. That video could be devastating if someone is trying to make a point that he's old.   

AI-generated content was in the news recently because of fake explicit images of Taylor Swift. What stuck out to you about that story? 

Because of the pornography associated with Taylor Swift, people are noticing it and they're outraged. It's ugly, it's horrible, and it should absolutely be made illegal, but deep fakes have been a problem for years. Taylor Swift is a celebrity billionaire whose reputation was not hurt at all by this, but there are hundreds of thousands of women whose ex-boyfriends have used deep fakes to disparage them, and those women are not protected. We have to attend to them, and that hasn't gotten enough attention. We're talking about Taylor Swift because she's famous, but what about all the other women who have been abused in this way?  

What should MSAI students be thinking about in regards to Sora? 

Students should be thinking about Sora and all new generative models as tools they have to learn and understand really well. There's a difference between regular people typing something into ChatGPT or any of the image models and someone who knows what the model is doing and can actually shape it. That skill is few and far between. Developing an understanding of that and knowing the best way to use these tools that are emerging is going to be a huge component and differentiator for our students.   

The other thing students should think about is how these tools could integrate with the rest of the world. How do they integrate into larger information systems? How do they integrate into other kinds of content generation systems? When there's a new tool, you have to figure out how to use it and how to integrate it. That is a valuable skill set for our MSAI students.

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examples of critical thinking in university

The rising power paradigm and India’s 2024 general elections

examples of critical thinking in university

The Unfinished Quest: India's Search for Major Power Status from Nehru to Modi

  • By T.V. Paul
  • April 15 th 2024

India, the world’s largest democracy, is holding its national elections over a six-week period starting 19 April. The elections to the 543-member lower house of the parliament (Lok Sabha) with an electorate, numbering 968 million eligible voters, assumes critical importance as India is going through both internal and external changes that are heavily linked to its rising power aspirations and achievements. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been campaigning on the claim that under his leadership, India’s global status has improved substantially and that he is determined to make India a great power and developed country by 2047, the centenary year of independence. The growing Hindu middle class seems to agree. According to a February 2023 Pew survey , Modi had a 79% favorable approval rating. More interestingly, some 85% of Indians surveyed by Pew think a strong authoritarian leader or military rule is preferable to multi-party electoral democracy, the highest for any country surveyed.

Since its economic liberalization in 1991, in terms of comprehensive national power, including both hard and soft power markers, India has made substantial progress—in some areas more than in others—even though it still lags behind China in many indicators of material power and social welfare. The critical factor is the steady economic growth rate ranging from 6 to 8% over the past three decades. The $4 trillion economy, which recently overtook previous colonial ruler Britain to reach the fifth position in the world, is poised to become number three by 2030. The tactical and strategic advantages India has made under somewhat favorable geopolitical circumstances are many, but these could easily erode if its soft power foundations, especially democracy, secularism, and federalism, decline even further.

The $4 trillion economy, which recently overtook previous colonial ruler Britain to reach the fifth position in the world, is poised to become number three by 2030.

The implications of the elections to India’s rise as an inclusive democratic state is potentially far reaching. If the BJP wins a two-thirds majority, concerns are heightened that it would amend the Indian constitution, altering its core principles of liberal democracy and secularism and declare India a majoritarian Hindu state. India’s status advancement in recent years has benefitted the ruling establishment. Modi’s achievements are built on the foundations laid by the previous Congress Party-led governments of Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. India’s 2005 rapprochement with the US and its opening to the world, especially to East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, occurred during that period. It was Rao and his Finance Minister Singh who opened the Indian economy to the world through their wide-ranging economic reforms in 1991. The economic growth was also very robust during much of Singh’s tenure. Many of the social programs were started during that period, but Modi has improved on their delivery by introducing direct transfer and also adding new welfare programs guaranteeing the poor subsided rations and cooking gas. Some 300 million Indians were lifted out of extreme poverty during Singh’s term in office alone, and a similar number may have come out during BJP rule. Yet India still hosts some 12% of its 1.4 billion population below the poverty line (considered as $2 a day) while 84% have an income less than $7 a day.  

If the BJP wins a two-thirds majority, concerns are heightened that it would amend the Indian constitution, altering its core principles of liberal democracy and secularism and declare India a majoritarian Hindu state.

The previous Congress regime’s inability to cash in on their achievements for electoral gains is in direct contrast to Modi’s success in presenting a different image to the public on India’s economic and military achievements and general international status advancement. Skillful propaganda, especially using social media, has enabled this. India’s swing power role in the Indo-Pacific, in terms of balancing China’s rise and aggressive behavior, has helped India’s geopolitical prominence and Modi has astutely used it for his own electoral successes. He has used contentious religious nationalism, including the building of a temple in Ayodhya over a destroyed Muslim mosque, repealing the Article 370 of the Constitution which gave Jammu and Kashmir special autonomous status, and adding programs to allow citizenship to displaced minorities (excluding Muslims) from neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, to solidify his support among ardent Hindu-nationalist groups. The 18 million-strong Indian diaspora contains many pro-Hindu groups that have helped Modi’s efforts by offering financial and moral support.

Although the rising power claim may have helped Modi’s possible third term re-election, there is another side to this story. Some of the BJP government’s internal policies may, in the long-run, undercut the status achievement by putting its legitimacy and sustainability in question. The number one challenge is the democratic backslide that has been happening under the BJP rule. Today India is ranked at 66 as a ‘partly free country’ by Freedom House , and the rating agency V-Dem recently demoted India as an ‘electoral autocracy.’ A number of measures curtailing freedom of expression and other essential democratic rights have occurred under Modi, denting India’s democratic credentials, one of its key soft power assets. Similarly, secularism, another soft power marker of India since independence, has been reduced as there is a direct effort to assert the Hindu majoritarianism as visualized by the BJP and its militant ideological arm, the Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS).

The democratic backsliding presages considerable difficulties to legitimizing India’s status as a liberal democratic rising power. The major challenges to freedom of expression, the party’s increasing ideological control of India’s judiciary, and the attacks on minority rights, as well as harassment an arrest of opposition leaders using governmental agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, all portend the emergence of an illiberal state even when elections are held periodically. While Hindutva (Hindu-ness) aimed at the hegemony of Hinduism over all other religious groups has increasing sympathy among the Hindu electorate and sections of the diaspora, it is still to obtain any international traction as an attractive ideology or model for political order. It is yet to offer a coherent and convincing agenda for the emerging world order.

The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, used Hindu and Buddhist religious ideas such as Ahimsa (non-violence), among others, to develop his model of non-violent struggle. Can Modi in his third term make a conscious effort to develop India as an inclusive, democratic state, and bring peaceful and tolerant aspects of Hinduism to the fore? Or will Indian democratic exceptionalism evolve into an entrenched populist majoritarian system with all its attendant challenges for democratic freedoms, even while India makes substantial material progress? The simultaneous democratic backsliding in many countries, including the US and Europe, does not help India’s prospects in this regard. India may still receive a higher geopolitical position (in the context of China’s rise) and the steady economic growth that would allow it to emerge as a key destination for trade and foreign investment, and a source of technically qualified workforce and migrants for the next two decades or more. India’s greater inclusion in global governance is needed for reasons of equity, efforts at solving many collective action problems, and greater effectiveness of international institutions. The peaceful accommodation of India will alter the historical patterns of rise and fall of great powers through war. Whether it will be a peaceful process internally is yet to be determined. The forthcoming elections will establish India’s trajectory in a colossal way both for its domestic politics and foreign relations.

Feature image by Graphic Gears on Unsplash , public domain

T.V. Paul  is James McGill Professor of International Relations in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He served as the President of the International Studies Association (ISA) for 2016-17. He is also the Founding Director of the Global Research Network on Peaceful Change (GRENPEC). Paul is the author or editor of 22 books, co-editor of 4 special journal issues, and author of over 80 scholarly articles and book chapters in the fields of International Relations, International Security, and South Asia. His latest book The Unfinished Quest published by Oxford University Press examines India's historic rise.

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Recent Comments

As you are an Indian origin intellectual, I appeal to you: do not let the West use you as a stooge to drive their agenda. There’s no decline in democracy, secularism, or federalism. You’re just touting the agenda you have been paid to promote.

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  1. What Is Critical Thinking?

    Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment. To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources. Critical thinking skills help you to: Identify credible sources. Evaluate and respond to arguments.

  2. Critical thinking

    Critical thinking is the art of making clear, reasoned judgements based on interpreting, understanding, applying and synthesising evidence gathered from observation, reading and experimentation. Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (4th ed.) London: SAGE, p94. Being critical does not just mean finding fault.

  3. Critical Thinking

    Critical Thinking. Critical thinking is a widely accepted educational goal. Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal. Conceptions differ with respect to the scope of such thinking, the type of goal, the criteria and norms ...

  4. A model for critical thinking

    Critical writing. Critical thinking is an important life skill, and an essential part of university studies. Central to critical thinking is asking meaningful questions. This three-stage model, adapted from LearnHigher, will help you generate questions to understand, analyse, and evaluate something, such as an information source.

  5. What Are Critical Thinking Skills and Why Are They Important?

    According to the University of the People in California, having critical thinking skills is important because they are [ 1 ]: Universal. Crucial for the economy. Essential for improving language and presentation skills. Very helpful in promoting creativity. Important for self-reflection.

  6. An Introduction to Critical Thinking

    We discuss examples of both reasoning about facts and the reasoning required in making practical decisions. We distinguish risky inferences with probable conclusions from risk-free inferences with certain conclusions. You are shown how to spot and avoid common mistakes in reasoning. No previous knowledge of critical thinking or logic is needed.

  7. Critical thinking and writing

    301 Recommends: Critical Reading and Writing Digital Workshop. Our Critical Thinking workshop outlines what is meant by critical thinking, and why it is a vital skill to develop. You will take part in small group activities, to test and develop your critical thinking and analytical skills. This session will help you to apply critical thinking ...

  8. Critical Thinking Guide

    Thinking at university. At high school, most learning occurs at the levels of knowledge, understanding and application. For example, you may be expected to learn the names and properties of chemical elements (knowledge), understand why some react with others (understanding) and conduct experiments (application).

  9. Critical thinking

    Critical thinking is the art of making clear, reasoned judgements based on interpreting, understanding, applying and synthesising evidence gathered from observation, reading and experimentation. Burns, T., & Sinfield, S. (2016) Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (4th ed.) London: SAGE, p94.

  10. What Is Critical Thinking?

    Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyse information and form a judgement. To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources. Critical thinking skills help you to: Identify credible sources.

  11. 25 Critical Thinking Examples (2024)

    25 Critical Thinking Examples. Critical thinking is the ability to analyze information and make reasoned decisions. It involves suspended judgment, open-mindedness, and clarity of thought. It involves considering different viewpoints and weighing evidence carefully. It is essential for solving complex problems and making good decisions.

  12. Assessing Critical Thinking in Higher Education: Current State and

    University of Melbourne, sponsored by Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft: Ways of thinking-critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making ... It is true that examples of critical thinking offered by members of the nursing profession may be very different from those cited by engineers, but content knowledge plays a significant role in this ...

  13. What is critical thinking?

    Critical thinking is a kind of thinking in which you question, analyse, interpret , evaluate and make a judgement about what you read, hear, say, or write. The term critical comes from the Greek word kritikos meaning "able to judge or discern". Good critical thinking is about making reliable judgements based on reliable information.

  14. 41+ Critical Thinking Examples (Definition + Practices)

    There are many resources to help you determine if information sources are factual or not. 7. Socratic Questioning. This way of thinking is called the Socrates Method, named after an old-time thinker from Greece. It's about asking lots of questions to understand a topic.

  15. What is 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. Paul and Scriven go on to suggest that ...

  16. Critical thinking

    Critical thinking, reading and writing can simply be defined as considering more than one point of view or interpretation. The word 'critical' is used differently in academic language than in everyday language. In academic language, it means 'questioning' or 'challenging' (as in 'critique'). When you think critically, it doesn ...

  17. Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples

    Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings. Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful ...

  18. What Are Critical Thinking Skills?

    Critical thinking skills help you process information and make rational decisions. "Critical thinking skills allow us to analyze problems from multiple angles, come up with various solutions, and make informed decisions," says Bayu Prihandito, self-development expert and certified psychology expert. "This not only saves time and resources ...

  19. How Higher Education Fosters Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

    Various universities across the U.S. and Canada cite Discussion-Based Learning, or a form of it, as one of their primary teaching methods. Examples include the University of Calgary, Brown University, and Columbia University. The fact that discussion plays a major role in developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills is indisputable.

  20. Critical Reading

    Use this checklist to practice critical thinking while reading an article, watching an advertisement, or making an important purchase or voting decision. Critical Reading Checklist (Word) Critical Reading Checklist (PDF) Critical Thinking Bookmark (PDF) Learn about the ways that active reading instead of passive reading is the key to growing ...

  21. Critical Thinking Examples

    This is just one of many examples of critical thinking for the following section. Below are more critical thinking examples. Self-evaluation of your actions. HR manager resolving conflict between staffs. A military officer working on tactical plans. Professor guiding students to fresh ideas with creative questioning.

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    When people do this, they're engaging in "weak-sense critical thinking"—a term popularized by the late Richard Paul, a co-founder of The Foundation for Critical Thinking. "Weak-sense ...

  23. 6 Main Types of Critical Thinking Skills (With Examples)

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  24. Developing a Scoring Criteria (Rubrics)

    The Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric: A Tool for Developing and Evaluating Critical Thinking. Retrieved April 12, 2010 from Insight Assessment. 4 - Analytic Rating Scales are rubrics that include explicit performance expectations for each possible rating, for each criterion.Analytic rating scales are especially appropriate for complex learning tasks with multiple criteria.

  25. A New Era of AI-Generated Content

    What should MSAI students be thinking about in regards to Sora? Students should be thinking about Sora and all new generative models as tools they have to learn and understand really well. There's a difference between regular people typing something into ChatGPT or any of the image models and someone who knows what the model is doing and can ...

  26. The rising power paradigm and India's 2024 general elections

    India, the world's largest democracy, is holding its national elections over a six-week period starting 19 April. The elections to the 543-member lower house of the parliament (Lok Sabha) with an electorate, numbering 968 million eligible voters, assumes critical importance as India is going through both internal and external changes that are heavily linked to its rising power aspirations ...