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Critical Thinking

Characteristics of Critical Thinkers

  • Rationality
    • Rely on reason rather than emotion
    • Require evidence, ignore no known evidence, and follow evidence where it leads
    • Are concerned more with finding the best explanation than being right analyzing apparent confusion
    • Ask questions
  • Self-awareness
    • Weigh the influences of motives and bias
    • Recognize our own assumptions, prejudices, biases, or point of view
  • Honesty
    • Recognize emotional impulses, selfish motives, nefarious purposes, or other modes of self-deception
  • Open-mindedness
    • Evaluate all reasonable inferences
    • Consider a variety of possible viewpoints or perspectives
    • Remain open to alternative interpretations
    • Accept a new explanation, model, or paradigm because it explains the evidence better, is simpler, or has fewer inconsistencies or covers more data
    • Acknowledge new priorities in response to a reevaluation of the evidence or reassessment of our real interests
    • Appraise all perspectives, regardless of popularity
  • Discipline
    • Are precise, meticulous, comprehensive, and exhaustive
    • Resist manipulation and irrational appeals
    • Avoid snap judgments
  •  Judgment
    • Recognize the relevance and/or merit of alternative assumptions and perspectives
    • Recognize the extent and weight of evidence
  • Transfer
    • Recognize similar applications and opportunities in different contexts or environmental situations
    • Integrate applications and opportunities in different contexts

Critical Thinkers

  • Are by nature skeptical (question)
  • Are actively engaged
  • Ask questions and analyze
  • Consciously apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure clarity
  • Are open to new ideas and perspectives
  • Are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence

Empowering Critical Thought in Your Courses

Course Design

Teaching and Learning Strategies

  • Utilizing critical questioning
    • What if...? (varying the contexts or constraints)
    • If then...?
  • Peer evaluations of projects
    • Using rubrics or rating scales to make judgments
  • Experimenting and researching
    • Hypothesizing and testing
    • Analyzing data & determining possible conclusions
    • Analyzing symptoms and behaviors
  • Challenging assumptions
    • Elaborative interrogation
    • Varying the degrees of ambiguity to challenge learners
    • Self-explanation
  • Review reports or theories and establish potential conclusions
  • Thought and process mapping
    • Sequencing or ranking
  • Collaborating with others
    • Generating new ideas, solutions or inventions
    • Creative activities (remove specific barriers from possible solutions)
  • Interleaving - Scientific America
    • Applying logic and principles to new situations/contexts
    • Analogies and examples

Resources

Last Published: Mar 12, 2021