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DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE

Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education (AETC)


Maxwell AFB, AL 36118

1 Oct 13

NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER ACADEMY


STUDENT GUIDE
PART I
COVER SHEET
LESSON TITLE: CF02, CRITICAL THINKING
TIME: 4 Hours
METHOD: Guided Discussion, Experiential Learning, and Independent Work
Assignments
LESSON REFERENCES:
Blass, F., Levy, D., and Parco, J., (2010). The 52nd Floor, Thinking Deeply About
Leadership, second edition. Available from info@ensobooks.com
Facione, Peter A., (2011) Think Critically student edition. Pearson Education, Inc.,
Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Haskins, G. R. (2006). A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking.
Paul, Richard Dr. and Elder, Linda Dr., (2008). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking:
Concepts and Tools, fifth edition, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press. Available
from: www.criticalthinking.org
STUDENT PREPARATION:
1. Read the student guide (3,764 words, approximately 30 minutes)
2. Be familiar with the Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric (attachment 3)

PART IA
GENERAL LEARNING OUTCOME: Students who complete the Critical Thinking
lesson are better prepared to lead and manage work centers.
TERMINAL COGNITIVE OBJECTIVE
1. Explain how critical thinking impacts NCO effectiveness.
2. Give examples of critical thinkings impact on NCO effectiveness.
3. Predict the impact of critical thinking on NCO effectiveness.
ENABLING COGNITIVE SAMPLES OF BEHAVIOR
1. Summarize characteristics that embody a proficient critical thinker.
2. Describe hindrances to critical thinking.

3. Explain approaches for evaluating information sources.

AFFECTIVE OBJECTIVE: Value the concepts of Critical Thinking.


PART 1B
ORGANIZATIONAL PATTERN: Topical
LESSON OUTLINE:
CONTENT
INTRODUCTION Attention, Motivation, and Overview
MP 1. Adopt the Attitude of a Critical Thinker
MP 2. Recognize and Avoid Critical Thinking Hindrances
MP 3. Approaches for Evaluating Information
MP 4: Faciones Scoring Rubric w/ Exercise & Discussion To be conducted in class.
No additional homework
MP 5. Thinking Deeply About Leadership Discussion
required.
MP 6. Impact on NCO Effectiveness
CONCLUSION: Summary, Remotivation, and Closure

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PART II
STUDENT READING
MP 1. Characteristics that Embody a Proficient Critical Thinker
The first step to becoming a proficient critical thinker is developing the proper attitude.
Such an attitude embodies the following characteristics: open-mindedness, healthy
skepticism, intellectual humility, free thinking, and high motivation.
The first two characteristics may appear contradictory, but they are not. The critical
thinker must be willing to investigate viewpoints different from his or her own, but at the
same time recognize when to doubt claims that do not merit such investigation. A critical
thinker must be neither dogmatic nor gullible. Being both open-minded and skeptical
means seeking out the facts, information sources, and reasoning to support issues we
intend to judge. Examining issues from as many sides as possible, rationally looking for
the good and bad points of the various sides examined, accepting the fact that we may be
in error ourselves, and maintaining the goal of getting at the truth (or as close to the truth
as possible) all support effective critical thinking and the intent of achieving a desired
outcome. However, too much skepticism will lead one to doubt everything and commit
oneself to nothing, while too little will lead one to gullibility and credulousness.
Having intellectual humility means adhering tentatively to recently acquired opinions,
being prepared to examine new evidence and arguments even if such examination leads
one to discover flaws in ones own cherished beliefs, to stop thinking that complex issues
can be reduced to matters of right & wrong or black & white, and to begin thinking in
terms of degrees of certainty or shades of grey. Sometimes saying, I dont know can be
the wisest action to take on an issue. As Socrates notes, Arrogance does not befit the
critical thinker.
A critical thinker must also have an independent mind, i.e., be a free thinker. To think
freely, one must restrain ones desire to believe because of social pressures to conform.
This can be quite difficult or even impossible for some. One must be willing to ask if
conformity is motivating ones belief or opinion, and if so, have the strength and courage
to at least temporarily abandon ones position until he or she can complete a more
objective and thorough evaluation.
Finally, a critical thinker must have a natural curiosity to further ones understanding and
be highly motivated to put in the necessary work sufficient to evaluate the multiple sides
of issues. The only way one can overcome the lack of essential knowledge on a subject is
to do the necessary studying to reach a sufficient level of understanding before making
judgments. This may require the critical thinker to ask many questions, which can be
unsettling to those asked to respond. A critical thinker cannot be lazy.

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MP 2. Hindrances to Critical Thinking


Each day of our lives we become exposed to things that hinder our ability to think clearly,
accurately, and fairly. Some of these hindrances result from unintentional and natural
human limitations, while others are clearly calculated and manipulative. Some are
obvious, but most are subtle or insidious. Armed with the proper attitude, a critical thinker
must next understand how to recognize and avoid (or mitigate) the gauntlet of deception
that characterizes everyday life. These hindrances can be divided into four categories:
Basic Human Limitations, Use Of Language, Faulty Logic Or Perception, and
Psychological Or Sociological Pitfalls.
Take a few minutes to review attachments 1 3. These will be used during an in-class
activity, so you do not need to do anything other than be familiar with them.
MP 3. Approaches for Evaluating Information
Even when we are first learning a musical instrument or a sport, we can tell that some of
our peers are better at the instrument or the sport than others. We all make progress, and
soon we are all doing better than when we first started. We do not have to be experts to
begin to see qualitative differences and to make reasonable evaluations. This, too, is true
of critical thinking. There are some readily available ways to begin to make reasonable
judgments concerning stronger or weaker uses of critical thinking. The following example
illustrates some of these methods.
Imagine a professor has assigned a group of four students to comment on the Edward M.
Kennedy Serve America Act. Among other things, the bill, signed into law on April 21,
2009, designates September 11th as a national day of service. The group of four students
has access to the information outlined below.
Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
The bill encourages voluntary service. The legislation provides for gradually increasing
the size of the Clinton-era AmeriCorps to 250,000 enrollees from its current 75,000. It
outlines five broad categories where people can direct their service: helping the poor,
improving education, encouraging energy efficiency, strengthening access to health care,
and assisting veterans.
AmeriCorps offers a range of volunteer opportunities including: housing construction,
youth outreach, disaster response, and caring for the elderly. Most receive an annual
stipend of slightly less than $12,000 for working 10 months to up to one year.
The bill also ties volunteer work to money for college. People 55 and older can earn up to
$1000 education awards by getting involved in public service. Those awards can be
transferred to a child, grand-child, or even someone they mentored.
Students from sixth grade through senior year of high school could earn $500 education
awards for helping in their neighborhoods during a new summer program.

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Group Of Four Students Statements


Student #1: My take on it is that this bill requires national service. Its likea churchyservice-sorta-thing. But, you know, like run by the government and all. We all have to
sign up and do our bit before we can go to college. Thats a great idea. Think about it,
how could anyone be against this legislation? I mean, unless they are either lazy or selfish.
What excuse could a person possibly have not to serve our country? Our President is right,
we need to bring back the draft so that our Army has enough soldiers, and we need to fix
health care and Social Security. I dont want to pay into a system all my working life only
to find out that theres no money left when its my time to retire
Student #2: Well I think this bill is a stupid idea. Whos going to agree to work for a
lousy $12,000 a year? Thats nuts. I can earn more working at Target or by enlisting in
the Navy. This legislation is just more foolish liberal nonsense that takes our nation one
step closer to socialism. Socialism is when the government tries to control too many
things, and now the President is trying to control volunteer service. Maybe you want to
build houses for poor people or clean up after hurricanes, but I dont see how any of that is
going to help me pass physics or get me a better job after college.
Student #3: I think there are problems with the legislation too, but youre wrong about
people not wanting to volunteer. The number of hits on the AmeriCorps website keeps
going up and up each month. Retired people, students, and people who just want to make a
difference go there as well as Serve.gov to see what opportunities might exist near where
they live. On the other hand, I do have issues with the government being the organizing
force in this. Volunteerism was alive and well in America before big brother got
involved. I dont see why we need to spend 5.7 billion dollars getting people to do what
they were already going to do anyway. We shouldnt pay people to be volunteers.
Student #4: Thats the point, some of them wanted to do volunteer service but they need
a small incentive. Nobody is going to get rich on the stipends the government is offering.
I think that people who want to keep government at arms length are going to have
problems with this bill. They are right that it is another way that government is worming
itself into every facet of our lives, but a lot of people feel that way about religion, too;
thats why they do not want to volunteer in programs sponsored by religious groups,
because they dont want to be seen as agreeing with all the beliefs of that group. The real
question for me is the effect that this legislation might have on the future politics of our
nation. All these volunteers could become, in effect, people the Administration can call on
in the next election. Organizing tens of thousands Americans who basically agree with the
idea of public service at public expense is like lining up the Democratic voters who will
want to be sure these policies are not reversed by the Republicans. Im not talking about a
vague idea like socialism; Im talking about clever politics, positioning the Democratic
Party for success in 2012. On balance, thats okay with me, but we need to understand that
this legislation will result in more than just a lot of wonderful work by a large number of
generous Americans who are willing to give of their time to help others.

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CONCLUSION
This reading covered critical thinking and the following concepts: Characteristics that
Embody a Proficient Critical Thinker, Essential Intellectual Traits, Universal Intellectual
Standards, Hindrances to Critical Thinking, Approaches for Evaluating Information, and
Critical Thinkings Use/Application. Keep this in mind, and be prepared to discuss how
these critical thinking concepts can be used throughout this course.
Optional Reading
Universal Intellectual Standards:
And questions that can be used to apply them
Universal intellectual standards are standards which should be applied to thinking to
ensure its quality. To be learned they must be taught explicitly. The ultimate goal, then, is
for these standards to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their
inner voice, guiding them to reason better.
Clarity:
Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way?
Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example? Clarity is a gateway
standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant.
In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we dont yet know what it is saying. For
example, the question What can be done about the education system in America? is
unclear. In order to adequately address the question, we would need to have a clearer
understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the problem to be. A
clearer question might be, What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills
and abilities which help them function successfully on the job, and in their daily decisionmaking?
Accuracy:
Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true? A
statement can be clear, but not accurate as in, Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight.
Precision:
Could you give me more details? Could you be more specific? A statement can be both
clear and accurate, but not precise, as in Jack is overweight. (We dont know how
overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.)
Relevance:
How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue? A statement can
be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example,
students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in
raising their grade in a course. However, effort does not measure the quality of student
learning, and when that is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.
Depth:
How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into
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account the problems in the question? Are you dealing with the most significant factors?
A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lack
depth). For example, the statement, Just Say No which is often used to discourage
children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless,
it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug
use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue.
Breadth:
Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this
question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this
look like from the point of view of? A line of reasoning may be clear, accurate, precise,
relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or
liberal standpoints which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one
side of the question).
Logic:
Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that
follow? Before you implied this and now you are saying that, I dont see how both can be
true. When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the
combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the
thinking is logical. When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in
some nature, or does not make sense; the combination becomes illogical.
Fairness:
Are we considering all relevant viewpoints in good faith? Are we distorting some
information to maintain our biased perspective? Are we more concerned about our vested
interests than the common good? We naturally think from our own perspective, from a
point of view which tends to privilege our position. Fairness implies the treating of all
relevant viewpoints alike without reference to ones own feelings or interests. Because we
tend to be biased in favor of our own viewpoint, it is important to keep the standard of
fairness at the forefront of our thinking. This is especially important when the situation
may call on us to see things we dont want to see, or give something up that we want to
hold onto.

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Attachment 1
Critical Thinking Hindrances
Basic Human Limitations
1. Physical & Emotional Hindrances: Stress, fatigue, drugs, and related hindrances can severely affect
our ability to think clearly and critically
2. Confirmation Bias & Selective Thinking: The process whereby one tends to notice and look for what
confirms ones beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts
ones beliefs.
3. Testimonial Evidence: Relying on the testimonies and vivid anecdotes of others to substantiate ones
own beliefs, even though testimonies are inherently subjective, inaccurate, unreliable, biased, and
occasionally fraudulent.
4. Personal Biases & Prejudices: We each have personal biases and prejudices, resulting from our own
unique life experiences and worldview, which make it difficult to remain objective and think critically.
5. False Memories & Confabulation: Being unaware that our memories are often manufactured to fill
in the gaps in our recollection, or that some memories of facts, over time, can be unconsciously
replaced with fantasy.
Use of Language
1. Doublespeak Jargon: The use of technical language to make the simple seem complex, the trivial
seem profound, or the insignificant seem important, all done intentionally to impress others.
2. Meaningless Comparisons: Language that implies that something is superior but retreats from that
view.
3. Assuring Expressions: Using expressions that disarm you from questioning the validity of an
argument.
4. Ambiguity: A word or expression that can be understood in more than one way.
5. False Implications: Language that is clear and accurate but misleading because it suggests something
false.
6. Emotive Content: Intentionally using words to arouse feelings about a subject to bias others
positively or negatively, in order to gain influence or power.
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Faulty Logic or Perception


1. Pragmatic Fallacy: Arguing something is true because it works, even though the causality between
this something and the outcome are not demonstrated.
2. Slippery Slope Fallacy: An argument that assumes an adverse chain of events will occur, but offers
no proof.
3. Irrelevant Comparisons: Making a comparison that is irrelevant or inappropriate.
4. Argument from Ignorance: A logical fallacy claiming something is true because it has not been
proven false.
5. Apophenia1 & Superstition: Erroneous perception of the connections between unrelated events.
6. False Analogies: Making illogical analogies to support the validity of a particular claim.
Psychological and Sociological Pitfalls
1. Evading the Issue, Red Herring: If one has been accused of wrongdoing, diverting attention to an
issue irrelevant to the one at hand.
2. Poisoning the Well: Creating a prejudicial atmosphere against the opposition, making it difficult for
the opponent to be received fairly.
3. Ad Hominem Fallacy: Criticizing the person making an argument, not the argument itself.
4. Fallacy of False Dilemma, either/or Fallacy: Intentionally restricting the number of alternatives,
thereby omitting relevant alternatives from consideration.
5. Ad Populum, Bandwagon Fallacy: An appeal to the popularity of the claim as a reason for accepting
the claim.
6. Emotional Appeals: Making irrelevant emotional appeals to accept a claim, since emotion often
influences people more effectively than logical reasoning.

"unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness", but it has come to represent the human tendency to
seek patterns in random nature in general, as with gambling, paranormal phenomena, religion, and even attempts at scientific observation

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Attachment 2
A Self-Test For Critical Thinkers
Place a check mark next to each item that you believe is true (most of the time) of your
personal thinking patterns.
____I think for myself and am not easily manipulated by others.
____I recognize my own values and perspectives, and I can talk insightfully about the
influences on my beliefs.
____I do not simply accept conclusions; I evaluate and critique the underlying reasons.
____I recognize irrelevant facts and false assumptions, and I discount them.
____I am able to consider the strengths and weaknesses of my own point of view and that of
opposing positions.
____I admit my tendency toward egocentrism and my capacity for self-deception, and I work
to overcome them.
____I am able to distinguish what I know from what I don't know; and I am not afraid when
"I don't know."
____I am willing to consider all available information when working on problems or making
decisions, and I am also flexible and willing to try any good idea whether it has been done
before or not.
____When evaluating the behavior of myself and others, I am conscious of the standards I
use, and I am especially concerned with the consequences of actions.
____I am a good questioner. I like to probe deeply into issues, to dig down to root ideas, to
find out what's really going on.
____I am comfortable being questioned, and I do not become defensive, confused, or
intimidated. I welcome good questions since they help to clarify my thinking.
____I am a critical reader. I read with healthy skepticism, while reserving judgment until I
fully understand the author's perspective.

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Attachment 3
Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric (HCTSR)

4 (Strong): Consistently does all or almost all of the following:


- Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
- Identifies the salient arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con
- Thoughtfully analyzes and evaluates major alternative points of view
- Draws warranted, judicious, and non-fallacious conclusions
- Justifies key results and procedures, explains assumptions and reasons
- Fair-mindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead
3 (Acceptable): Does most or many of the following:
- Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
- Identifies relevant arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con
- Offers analyses and evaluations of obvious alternative points of view
- Draws warranted, non-fallacious conclusions
- Justifies some results or procedures, explains reasons
- Fair-mindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead
2 (Unacceptable): Does most or many of the following
- Misinterprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
- Fails to identify strong, relevant counter-arguments
- Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view
- Draws unwarranted or fallacious conclusions
- Justifies few results or procedures, seldom explains reasons
- Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends views based on selfinterest or preconceptions
1 (Weak): Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
- Offers biased interpretations of evidence, statements, graphics, questions,
information, or the points of view of others.
- Fails to identify or hastily dismisses strong, relevant counter-arguments.
- Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view.
- Argues using fallacious or irrelevant reasons, and unwarranted claims.
- Does not justify results or procedures, nor explain reasons.
- Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends views based on selfinterest or preconceptions.
- Exhibits close-mindedness or hostility to reason.

Facione and Facione

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