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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to think about one's thinking in such a way as to

recognize its strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, recast the thinking in improved form.

Such thinking about one's thinking involves the ability to identify the basic elements of thought (purpose, uestion, information, assumption, interpretation, concepts, implications, point of view! and assess those elements using universal intellectual criteria and standards (clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and logicalness!. "hile there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant# 1. C$%&'T(# Could you elaborate further on that point) Could you e*press that point in another way) Could you give me an illustration) Could you give me an e*ample) Clarity is the gateway standard. 'f a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. 'n fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don't yet know what it is saying. +or e*ample, the uestion, ,"hat can be done about the education system in %merica), is unclear. 'n order to address the uestion ade uately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the uestion is considering the ,problem, to be. % clearer uestion might be ,"hat can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the -ob and in their daily decision.making), 2. %CC/&%C(# 's that really true) 0ow could we check that) 0ow could we find out if that is true) % statement can be clear but not accurate, as in ,1ost dogs are over 233 pounds in weight., 3. 4&5C'S'67# Could you give more details) Could you be more specific) % statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in ,8ack is overweight., ("e don't know how overweight 8ack is, one pound or 933 pounds.! 4. &5$5:%7C5# 0ow is that connected to the uestion) 0ow does that bear on the issue) % statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the uestion at issue. +or e*ample, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. 6ften, however, the ,effort, does not measure the uality of student learning, and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade. 5. ;54T0# 0ow does your answer address the comple*ities in the uestion) 0ow are you taking into account the problems in the uestion) 's that dealing with the most significant factors) % statement can be clear, accurate,

precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lack depth!. +or e*ample, the statement ,8ust say 7o, which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. 7evertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an e*tremely comple* issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. 't fails to deal with the comple*ities of the issue. 6. <&5%;T0# ;o we need to consider another point of view) 's there another way to look at this uestion) "hat would this look like from a conservative standpoint) "hat would this look like from the point of view of...) % line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the uestion.! 7. $6='C# ;oes this really make sense) ;oes that follow from what you said) 0ow does that follow) <ut before you implied this and now you are saying that> how can both be true) "hen we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. "hen the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is ,logical., "hen the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not ,make sense,, the combination is not logical.