Defining Critical Thinking (2023)

Defining Critical Thinking (1)

Critical thinking...the awakening of the intellect to the study of itself.

Critical thinking is a rich concept that has been developing throughout the past 2,500 years. The term "critical thinking" has its roots in the mid-late 20th century. Below, we offer overlapping definitions which together form a substantive and trans-disciplinary conception of critical thinking.


Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, 1987

(Video) What is Critical Thinking?

A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul,presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

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. In its exemplary form, it 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; implications 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.

(Video) What is Critical Thinking? A Definition

Critical thinking can be seen as having two components: 1) a set of information and belief generating and processing skills, and 2) the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior. It is thus to be contrasted with: 1) the mere acquisition and retention of information alone, because it involves a particular way in which information is sought and treated; 2) the mere possession of a set of skills, because it involves the continual use of them; and 3) the mere use of those skills ("as an exercise") without acceptance of their results.

Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it. When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one’s own, or one's groups’, vested interest. As such it is typically intellectually flawed, however pragmatically successful it might be. When grounded in fairmindedness and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a higher order intellectually, though subject to the charge of "idealism" by those habituated to its selfish use.

Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions. No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion. For this reason, the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavor.

Another Brief Conceptualization of Critical Thinking

(Video) What is Critical Thinking ? Urdu / Hindi

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking. They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason. They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society. At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so. They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others. They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement. They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not worth living , because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.

~ Linda Elder, September, 2007


Why Critical Thinking?

The Problem
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.

(Video) Critical Thinking:Meaning, Concept, Elements,Steps& functions,b.ed/m.ed/Net (Hindi/English)

A Definition
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, orproblem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinkingby skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and
imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result A well cultivated critical thinker:

  • raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly andprecisely;
  • gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas tointerpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

(Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)

(Video) what is critical thinking? lecture in urdu/hindi

In a seminal study on critical thinking and education in 1941, Edward Glaser defines critical thinking as follows “The ability to think critically, as conceived in this volume, involves three things: ( 1 ) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (2) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (3) some skill in applying those methods. Critical thinking calls for a persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it tends. It also generally requires ability to recognize problems, to find workable means for meeting those problems, to gather and marshal pertinent information, to recognize unstated assumptions and values, to comprehend and use language with accuracy, clarity, and discrimination, to interpret data, to appraise evidence and evaluate arguments, to recognize the existence (or non-existence) of logical relationships between propositions, to draw warranted conclusions and generalizations, to put to test the conclusions and generalizations at which one arrives, to reconstruct one's patterns of beliefs on the basis of wider experience, and to render accurate judgments about specific things and qualities in everyday life.

( Edward M. Glaser, An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, 1941)

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Defining Critical Thinking (2)

FAQs

How do you define 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.

What are the three 3 concepts of critical thinking? ›

Critical-thinking skills connect and organize ideas. Three types distinguish them: analysis, inference, and evaluation.

What is critical thinking and give an example? ›

Examples of Critical Thinking

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.

What is critical thinking and why is it important? ›

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze facts and form a judgment. It is a form of emotional intelligence. Someone with critical thinking skills can think clearly and rationally when the situation demands it. It allows them to perform problem-solving and decision-making more effectively.

What is the purpose of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking helps people better understand themselves, their motivations and goals. When you can deduce information to find the most important parts and apply those to your life, you can change your situation and promote personal growth and overall happiness.

What are the 7 principles of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking involves asking questions, defining a problem, examining evidence, analyzing assumptions and biases, avoiding emotional reasoning, avoiding oversimplification, considering other interpretations, and tolerating ambiguity.

What are the four main principles of critical thinking? ›

Principles of Critical Thinking:
  • Gather complete information.
  • Understand and define all terms.
  • Question the methods by which the facts are derived.
  • Question the conclusions.
  • Look for hidden assumptions and biases.
  • Question the source of facts.
  • Don't expect all of the answers.
  • Examine the big picture.

What are the two main components of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking can be seen as having two components: 1) a set of information and belief generating and processing skills, and 2) the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior.

What is the most important element in critical thinking? ›

Being able to properly analyze information is the most important aspect of critical thinking.

What is another word for critical thinking? ›

Synonyms for critical thinking include brainstorming. conceptualising. conceptualizing. deliberating.

What is a real life example of critical thinking? ›

Deciding how you use your time is another example of critical thinking. Continually evaluating how you spend your time can help you discover tasks and activities that may change how you prioritize your duties.

What are the qualities of critical thinking? ›

16 Characteristics of Critical Thinkers
  • Observation. Observation is one of the earliest critical thinking skills we learn as children -- it's our ability to perceive and understand the world around us. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Objectivity. ...
  • Introspection. ...
  • Analytical thinking. ...
  • Identifying biases. ...
  • Determining relevance. ...
  • Inference.
24 Oct 2018

Why is critical thinking important to the learning process? ›

They help us to make good decisions, understand the consequences of our actions and solve problems. These incredibly important skills are used in everything from putting together puzzles to mapping out the best route to work.

How is critical thinking used in everyday life? ›

One of the core critical thinking skills you need every day is the ability to examine the implications and consequences of a belief or action. In its deepest form, this ability can help you form your own set of beliefs in everything from climate change to religion.

What are barriers of critical thinking? ›

At a personal level, barriers to critical thinking can arise through: an over-reliance on feelings or emotions. self-centred or societal/cultural-centred thinking (conformism, dogma and peer-pressure) unconscious bias, or selective perception.

What are the 9 standards for critical thinking? ›

Thinking critically entails knowledge and application of the standards: clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and fairness.

What is one of the keys to critical thinking? ›

The key critical thinking skills are: analysis, interpretation, inference, explanation, self-regulation, open-mindedness, and problem-solving.

What is the fundamental principle of critical thinking? ›

Humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality: these seven Fundamental Principles sum up the Movement's ethics and are at the core of its approach to helping people in need during armed conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies.

What are the benefits of critical thinking? ›

6 Benefits of Critical Thinking
  • It encourages curiosity.
  • It enhances creativity.
  • It reinforces problem-solving ability.
  • It's a multi-faceted practice.
  • It fosters independence.
  • It's a skill for life, not just learning.
17 Apr 2019

What are the 8 components of critical thinking? ›

The critical thinking framework includes eight elements of thought: purpose, question at issue, information, inferences, concepts, assumptions, implications, and point of view.

What is a word for thinking deeply? ›

Some common synonyms of ponder are meditate, muse, and ruminate.

What do you call someone who is a problem solver? ›

Definition of solutionist

: a solver of problems especially : one who makes a practice or occupation of solving puzzles.

What do you call deep thinkers? ›

Someone engaged in philosophical inquiry. overthinker. philosopher. theorist. thinker.

What is critical thinking at work? ›

Critical thinking in the workplace means sorting among useful and arbitrary details to come up with a big-picture perspective that leads to an impactful decision or solution to a problem.

What are the five steps to improving critical thinking? ›

5 Easy Steps to Improve Critical Thinking
  • Formulate the question.
  • Gather information.
  • Apply the information.
  • Consider the implications.
  • Explore other points of view.
4 Jan 2018

What is the difference between problem solving and critical thinking? ›

Problem-solving is a set of techniques you specifically use to find effective solutions, as opposed to critical thinking, which is a lifelong practice you use to improve your thinking process. You can use it to resolve challenges as they happen or prepare preemptive solutions when you predict a challenge might happen.

Can critical thinking be learned? ›

Critical thinking can be learned, but it is quite difficult. Critical thinking is learned through a specific process of self-improvement called deliberate practice and it can take a long time to master it.

What is another word for critical thinking? ›

Synonyms for critical thinking include brainstorming. conceptualising. conceptualizing. deliberating.

Why is critical thinking important for students? ›

Critical thinking is at the forefront of learning, as it aids a student reflect and understand their points of views. This skill helps a student figure out how to make sense of the world, based on personal observation and understanding.

How do you explain critical thinking to a child? ›

Morin says one way to teach kids to think critically is to teach them how to solve problems. For instance, ask them to brainstorm at least five different ways to solve a particular problem, she says. "You might challenge them to move an object from one side of the room to the other without using their hands," she says.

How is critical thinking used in everyday life? ›

One of the core critical thinking skills you need every day is the ability to examine the implications and consequences of a belief or action. In its deepest form, this ability can help you form your own set of beliefs in everything from climate change to religion.

What's the opposite of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking is not a rigidly defined term. It has recently been used as a synonym for theories that promote prejudice by race, as CRT does. The opposite, depending on which version of CT you use, is likely honesty.

What is a word for thinking deeply? ›

Some common synonyms of ponder are meditate, muse, and ruminate.

What are benefits of critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking can help you better understand yourself, and in turn, help you avoid any kind of negative or limiting beliefs, and focus more on your strengths. Being able to share your thoughts can increase your quality of life.

What are the characteristics of critical thinking? ›

9 characteristics of critical thinking
  • Curious. Curiosity is one of the most significant characteristics of critical thinking. ...
  • Analytical. ...
  • Introspective. ...
  • Able to make inferences. ...
  • Observant. ...
  • Open-minded and compassionate. ...
  • Able to determine relevance. ...
  • Willing.
16 May 2022

Can you teach someone critical thinking? ›

Critical thinking can be learned, but it is quite difficult. Critical thinking is learned through a specific process of self-improvement called deliberate practice and it can take a long time to master it.

How do teachers teach critical thinking skills? ›

Imagination is key to teaching critical thinking in elementary school. Teachers should seek out new ways for students to use information to create something new. Art projects are an excellent way to do this. Students can also construct inventions, write a story or poem, create a game, sing a song—the sky's the limit.

How do students develop critical thinking skills? ›

Ask questions

It is often seen that students hesitate to ask questions in the classroom. It could be the result of a fear of speaking in public or of embarrassment. But don't hold back from asking questions that could help you learn better. Asking questions enhances your critical thinking in learning.

Who is a good critical thinker? ›

Good critical thinkers are able to stay as objective as possible when looking at information or a situation. They focus on facts, and on the scientific evaluation of the information at hand. Objective thinkers seek to keep their emotions (and those of others) from affecting their judgment.

How do you practice critical thinking skills? ›

How To Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills
  1. Know exactly what you want. ...
  2. Deal with your biases. ...
  3. Consider the consequences of your options. ...
  4. Do your research. ...
  5. Accept the fact that you're not always right. ...
  6. Break it down. ...
  7. Don't overcomplicate things. ...
  8. 2022 L&D Report.
24 Jan 2022

Videos

1. Defining Critical Thinking
(Donald Elger)
2. Critical Thinking - 2.3 Definitions and Their Purposes
(Micah Bailey)
3. Episode 1.1: What is Critical Thinking?
(Center for Innovation in Legal Education)
4. This tool will help improve your critical thinking - Erick Wilberding
(TED-Ed)
5. Defining Critical Thinking - Yasir Pirzada | تنقیدی شعور کیا ہے؟
(Center for Peace & Secular Studies)
6. Defining critical thinking [Critical thinking 1]
(Hull Uni Library)
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