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Critical Thinking Skills

Using and teaching better critical thinking skills
by

Sarretta McCaslin

on 23 June 2010

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Transcript of Critical Thinking Skills

Critical Thinking Skills What is Critical Thinking? There is a distinction between the sense of the word, critical, as it is used in critical thinking from the way it is commonly used.
The common sense characterizes critical thought as "negative or fault-finding."
The sense of critical as it is used in critical thinking means "involving or exercising skilled judgment or observation."
Critical thinking is a general term given to a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions.
Critical thinking requires that thinking be disciplined according to clear intellectual standards. So what are
Critical Thinking Standards? Some of the most central intellectual standards of Critical Thinking include, but are not necessarily limited to the following practices and behaviors. Striving for clarity in both language and thought.
Critical thinkers strive toward precision in the evaluation of issues. Critical thinking demands that one pursue accurate information pertinent to issues.
Critical thinkers demand that evidence be relevant to the conclusions drawn from it. Critical thinkers strive for consistency.
Critical thinkers strive to be logically correct.
Critical thinkers strive to understand an issue in its completeness. Critical thinkers strive toward fairness.
What are
The Benefits of Critical Thinking? Critical thinking can improve our academic performance by developing the following skills:
understanding the arguments and views of others
critically evaluating those arguments and views
developing and defending one's own well-supported arguments and views
Critical thinking skills can improve our performance in the workplace
Critical thinking even has value in daily life. Barriers to Critical Thinking There are many complex reasons why uncritical reasoning is so common.

We should recognize the hazards of sociocentrism as well as:
grasp the danger posed by group bias.
understand the risks associated with the herd instinct or conformism.
We should understand the role which assumptions play in our thinking. Characteristics of a Critical Thinker We should be familiar with the traits of critical thinkers and how they contrast with those of uncritical thinkers. To avoid misunderstanding, let us reemphasize:
critical thinking is not necessarily being "critical" and negative. In fact, a more accurate term would be evaluative thinking. Critical thinking:
helps us to avoid making foolish decisions.
promotes an informed and concerned citizenry capable of making good decisions on important social, political and economic issues.
aids in the development of autonomous thinkers capable of examining their assumptions, dogmas, and prejudices. We must recognize that some assumptions are warranted by the fact that we have good reasons to believe them.
Recognize that an unwarranted assumption is something we take for granted without good reason.
Our tendency to stereotype is understandable, but we must become conscious of those assumptions we rely upon in forming our more important attitudes, conclusions, actions and decisions. To this end, we must understand the importance of clarity:
in avoiding miscommunication;
in defining our goals and priorities;
and in assessing our talents and abilities. Critical thinking requires that we demand precise answers to precise questions. You must recognize the importance of accurate and timely information to making good decisions. We should be able:
to recognize when two beliefs or claims are logically inconsistent.
to discern when a person is guilty of practical inconsistency. Can you understand the importance of reasoning from your beliefs to conclusions which logically follow from them? There are many benefits to critical thinking for the both thinker and society.
Egocentrism presents risks to fair-minded thinking.
We must:
recognize the impact of self-interested thinking on our thinking, and
understand the peril of self-serving bias.
In critical thinking, we need to take any assumptions and question them as we try to substantiate them or unsubstantiate them. An effective thinker must be willing to think and able to think. These requirements for disposition (be willing) and skill (be able) are complex - as complex as the concept, itself. 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. Dispositions: Critical thinkers are skeptical, open-minded, value fair-mindedness, respect evidence and reasoning, respect clarity and precision, look at different points of view, and will change positions when reason leads them to do so. Some of the skills required are:
judging criteria
identifying, evaluating, and constructing Arguments
applying Reasoning
viewing phenomena from many different Points of View.
making use of varying Procedures for Applying Criteria Judging Criteria: to think critically, one must apply criteria. We need to have conditions that must be met for something to be judged as believable. Identifying, evaluating, and constructing Arguments: An Argument is a statement or proposition with supporting evidence. Critical thinkers must be able to identify, evaluate, and construct arguements. Applying Reasoning: Reasoning is the ability to infer a conclusion from one or multiple premises. To do so requires examining logical relationships among statements or data. Point of View: The way one views the world, which shapes one's construction of meaning. Critical thinkers must be able to shift their point of view and see things from many perspectives. Procedures for Applying Criteria: Other types of thinking use a general procedure. Critical thinking makes use of many procedures. These procedures include asking questions, making judgments, and identifying assumptions. Mini-Quiz:
Muhammad Ali [speaking in Zaire, Africa]: "There's no country
as great as the smallest city in America. I mean [here in Zaire]
you can't watch television. The water won't even run right.
The toilets won't flush. The roads, the cars- there's nothing as great as America."

Which critical thinking barrier does Ali display in this passage?

A) Self-interested thinking
B) Group bias
C) Self-serving bias
D) Conformism

Mini-Quiz:
In a 1989 international study of 13-year-olds, Koreans finished first in mathematics and Americans finished last. Yet when asked whether they thought they were "good at mathematics," only 23 percent of Koreans said "yes," compared to 68 percent of Americans.

Which critical thinking barrier do the American students exhibit?

Self-interested thinking
Group bias
Self-serving bias
Conformism

Mini-Quiz:
Suzie: I can't believe I got a B- on this marketing paper. My friend Sarah turned in this same paper in a different marketing class last semester, and she got an A.

Ali: Don't you realize it's wrong to plagiarize someone else's work?

Suzie: That's your opinion. What's wrong for one person isn't necessarily wrong for another, and I say there's nothing wrong with plagiarism-as long as you don't get caught.

Which critical thinking barrier does Suzie exhibit?

A) Stereotyping
B) Self-interested thinking
C) Wishful thinking
D) Relativistic thinking

These are some of the most powerful barriers to critical thinking:

Egocentrism
Sociocentrism
Unwarranted assumptions
Wishful Thinking
Relativistic thinking
Egocentrism can be seen as self-centered thinking or self-interested thinking

Example: I love anchovies, so let's be sure EVERY pizza we order for the group has anchovies! Sociocentrism is group-centered thinking; group bias or conformism.

Example: He is so smart - he must have gone to my school!
Unwarranted assumptions are beliefs that are learned or presumed to be true without adequate evidence or justification; stereotyping is a common type.

Example: Oh, you're from Canada, so you must love to ice skate! Wishful Thinking is believing something is true because one wishes it were true.

Example: You only get lung cancer if you smoke XYZ brand of cigarettes. Relativistic thinking is believing that the truth is “just a matter of opinion” and is also called relativism, subjectivism, or cultural relativism.

Example: Who’s to say what’s moral or immoral? It's up to the individual or the culture to decide. Distrust of reason
Stereotyping
Unwarranted assumptions and stereotypes
Relativistic thinking
Scapegoating
Rationalization
Wishful thinking
Short-term thinking
Selective perception / attention
Selective memory
Overpowering emotions
Self-deception
Face-saving
Fear of change
Lack of relevant background information
Poor reading skills
Poor listening skills
Bias
Prejudice
Superstition
Egocentrism
Socio-centrism
Peer pressure
Mindless Conformism
Mindless non-conformism
Provincialism
Narrow-mindedness
Closed-mindedness
With critical thinking and assumptions, it's also important to understand what an inference is and how it relates to the entire process.

* Inference: A conclusion you come to in your mind based on something else that is true or you believe to be true

* Assumption: Part of your belief system. Something you don't question. Your mind takes for granted that your assumption is true Your beliefs (assumptions) cause you to come to conclusions (inferences). Your inferences then cause you to act accordingly. Example: If I walk toward you with my hand out and smiling, you'll probably infer that I intend to shake your hand.

Your assumption of my intent is based on similar experiences from your past.

Those past events formed your belief about such situations. Your assumptions (beliefs) may have merit or they may not. Critical thinking is a process of challenging your beliefs and the inferences (conclusions) they cause you to make. Asumptions can cause communication problems. Past experiences may cause one person to make assumptions entirely differently from another's assumptions.

Two people see the same event and come to two separate inferences, or two points of view. Example: Bob and Pete see an ex-smoker dying from lung cancer.
Bob may think the smoker was a victim of advertising and then got hooked on the nicotine.
Pete may think the smoker did it to himself because he chose to keep smoking.

Same scenario, but two different assumptions that will cause different interactions in that situation. Once we understand how much our beliefs impact our daily actions, we can better see how critical thinking and assumptions mix. We can begin to pay attention to how our subconscious minds causes us to act.

Have you been allowing yourself to be controlled by beliefs that are wrong or destructive?

This type of awareness leads to critically thinking about our assumptions and subsequently questioning them. Critical thinking leads to our allowing ourselves to entertain more than one point of view. Assumptions and critical thinking, together, lead to a more open mind. We should understand the importance of:
being open-minded to the views which may contrast with our own, and
impartiality and avoiding distorting biases and other preconceptions. So Critical Thinking COULD lead to Knighthood! Or is that an example of Faulty Reasoning?!?
Adsit, Karen I. "Teaching Critical Thinking Skills." Students, Learning and Legal Education. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 22 March 2007. Web. 3 May 2010.
<http://academic.udayton.edu/legaled/ctskills/CTskills01.htm>.

"Brain Boosters." Discovery Education. Discovery Communications, LLC. , 2010. Web. 11 May 2010.
<http://school.discoveryeducation.com/brainboosters/>.

"Chapter Outline." Introduction to Critical Thinking. McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2002. Web. 04/19/2010.
<http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0767417399/student_view0/chapter1/chapter_outline.html>.

DeSilva, Matt . "Assumptions and Critical Thinking - Inference, Assumption, and Critical Thinking." Achieving Life Abundance. www.achieving-life-abundance.com, 2010. Web. 11 May 2010.
<http://www.achieving-life-abundance.com/assumptions-and-critical-thinking.html>.

Forster, Suzanne. "How Tutors can help Tutees Improve Their Critical Thinking." Hawaii.edu. UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA ANCHORAGE, n.d. Web. 1 Jun 2010. <http://hawaii.hawaii.edu/tlc/tutor%20training/critical%20thinking.htm>.

Nelson, John. Cultivating Judgment: A Sourcebook for Teaching Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press. Inc., 2005. 26-27. Print.

Ricker, Jeffry . "Teaching & Learning About Critical Thinking". SCC Critical Thinking Subcommittee. 04/18/2010 <http://www.scottsdalecc.edu/ricker/critical_thinking/CT_resources/CT_skills.htm>.

Rusbult, Craig. "Critical Thinking Skills in Education and Life." Critical Thinking Skills in Education and Life. Whole-Person Education, 2001. Web. 3 May 2010. <http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/think/critical.htm#critical-thinking>.

Schafersman, Steven D. . "An Introduction to Critical Thinking." Free Inquiry: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. FreeInquiry.com, January 1991. Web. 20 April 2010.
<http://www.freeinquiry.com/critical-thinking.html>.

Thanks to the many sources used in making this presentation: While we may not all be able to easily construct a reasonable and effective arguement, it IS easy to detect a really BAD one. . . Logical relationships and inferences should be based on reasonable facts. Here is an example of Faulty Reasoning: Now that you have viewed this presentation,please open a browser, go to this link, and take the quiz:
http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=crtitcal-thinking

Return here after completing the quiz - thanks! Critical thinkers must be able to differentiate between Fact and Opinion.

Statement of Fact: a report on reality. A statement of fact isn't necessarily true; it's a statement that can be proven to be either true or false.

Statement of Opinion: a judgment or conclusion. A statement of opinion may be supported by facts, but it can't be proven to be true or untrue. Fact versus Opinion Exercise

Directions: Read the following statements and decide if each is a statement of Fact or Opinion. Columbus came to America in 1492. Fact: this can be proven or disproven Jill scored higher than Jack on an I.Q. test. Fact - can be proven as true or false Jill is more intelligent than Jack. Opinion: this statement is based on the previous fact. It is not provable on its own merits. Here are a few more to think about - are they Fact (provable) or Opinion (not provable)? 1. Human beings evolved from other primates.
2. All men are created equal.
3. Most bacteria are not harmful to humans.
4. Two wrongs don't make a right.
5. To succeed in college, students must attend class and be punctual. Thank you for your attention!

We hope this was informative and will help increase
Critical Thought!
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