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Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

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Published by kelle08

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Published by: kelle08 on Jan 12, 2010
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Critical Thinking:An Overview
The definition of critical thinking has changed somewhat over the past decade. Originally thedominion of cognitive psychologists and philosophers, behaviorally-oriented psychologists andcontent specialists have recently joined the discussion. The following are some examples of attempts to define critical thinking:
...the ability to analyze facts, generate and organize ideas, defend opinions, makecomparisons, draw inferences, evaluate arguments and solve problems (Chance,1986, p.6);
...a way of reasoning that demands adequate support for one's beliefs and anunwillingness to be persuaded unless support is forthcoming (Tama, 1989, p. 64);
...involving analytical thinking for the purpose of evaluating what is read (Hickey, 1990, p. 175);
...a conscious and deliberate process which is used to interpret or evaluate informationand experiences with a set of reflective attitudes and abilities that guide thoughtful beliefsand actions (Mertes,1991, p.24);
...active, systematic process of understanding and evaluating arguments. An argument provides an assertion about the properties of some object or the relationship between twoor more objects and evidence to support or refute the assertion. Critical thinkersacknowledge that there is no single correct way to understand and evaluate argumentsand that all attempts are not necessarily successful (Mayer & Goodchild, 1990, p. 4);
...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 aguide to belief and action (Scriven & Paul, 1992);
Critical thinking is the disciplined mental activity of evaluating arguments orpropositions and making judgments that can guide the development of beliefs andtaking action.
The following are some of the most important factors to be considered in the discussion of critical thinking:
Critical thinking is important attribute for success in the 21st century.
We need to carefully define the concept of "critical" thinking and delineate it fromsimilar concepts such as "creative" thinking or "good" thinking.
We need to identify expected behaviors and subtasks associated with critical thinking anddevelop operational definitions.
We need to complete task analyses, define intermediate goals, and develop evaluationmethods.
We need to identify "best" methods of instruction for each aspect of the critical thinking process.
This model proposes that there are affective, conative,and  behavioral aspects of critical thinking that must be considered in addition to thecognitiveprocesses involved. This supports thedefinitions of Mertes (1991), Scriven and Paul (1992), and Ennis (1992) that include somecomponent of beliefs and behavior. First, a stimulus presents an argument or proposition thatmust be evaluated. There is an affective disposition to use critical thinking that must activate thecritical thinking processes if it is to take place. As a result of critical thinking a previously held belief is confirmed or a new belief is established. This will be established as a component of declarative memory in its semantic form although there may be episodic information associatedwith it. There may also be images or visualizations formed or remembered as part of the criticalthinking process.There is then an affective disposition to plan and take action in order for the critical thinking toact as a guide to behavior. The conative components of goal-setting and self-regulation must beactivated in order to develop and implement a plan of action. As action is taken it results infeedback from the environment and a corresponding increase in procedural knowledge. This newlearning is then available as either necessary corrective action is taken to guide action toward thedesired goal based on beliefs or a new situation presents itself that requires additional criticalthinking.A complete critical thinking program will successfully deal with each of the components in themodel. As stated previously, the most appropriate teaching methods are possibly different for each component. For example, if one is most interested in impacting declarative knowledge(facts, concepts, principles, etc. that are stored in semantic and episodic memory), the mostappropriate teaching method is probably some form of  didactic, explicit, or direct instruction.On the other hand, if the focus is on procedural knowledge it is likely that modelingand/or personal
experience would be more appropriate teaching methods. Likewise, if one were trying to impactthe memory of images or visualizations, then modeling, active visualizations, or working with pictures might be more appropriate. Attitudes are probably impacted most directly bysocialization and the teaching method of cooperative learning. Learning the process of criticalthinking might be best facilitated by a combination of didactic instruction and experience inspecific content areas. Impactingconation might best be done through goal-setting exercisesand action learning. Finally, overt behavior and learning to use feedback might best be accomplishedusing positive and negative reinforcement.Problem solving
Problem solving cyclePsychologist have descripted the problem solving process in term of a cycle.thecycle cinsist of the ff. Stages w/ the problem solver must.1recognize or identify the problem2define and represent the problem mentally3develop a solution strategy4organize his or her knowledge about the problem5alocate mental and physical resources for solving the prolem6monitor his or her progress toward the goal7valuate solution for accuracy
Psychology in Problem Solving
 There are three general problem-solving strategies (Myers, 1992). The first,
, is the most precise, tedious, and time-consuming way. An algorithm is"a methodical, logical rule or procedure" for answering problems. There is no roomfor creativity using this strategy, but it is ideal for computer-based problem-solving.
is a "rule-of-thumb strategy" that helps individuals make judgements and solve problems quickly, if not always correctly. A common heuristic is the representative one, wherebya person judges the likelihood of something based on how well it seems to represent a particular  prototype. An unimaginative and automatic use of a heuristic can often lead to the wrongconclusion (see "Pitfalls to Problem Solving" below), but creativity and general strategies gowell together.Insight is the strategy most often associated with creativity. It is a "sudden and often novelrealization" - also known as an Eureka or A-ha moment-of the solution to a problem.
The Ideal Process
Bransford and Stein (1993) suggest the IDEAL (Identify, Define, Explore, Act, Look)

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