Critical Thinking

Taken from Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction

Critical Thinking ‡ What & Why? 2 .

applying. or communication. reflection.Critical Thinking ‡ Active and skillful conceptualizing. or generated by. as a guide to belief and action. experience. 3 . observation. reasoning. analyzing. and/or evaluating information gathered from. synthesizing.

Critical Thinking ‡ In its exemplary form: ± based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity. good reasons. 4 . sound evidence. precision. and fairness. consistency. accuracy. relevance. breadth. depth.

based on intellectual commitment. of using those skills to guide behavior 5 .Critical Thinking ‡ It is: ± 1) a set of information and belief generating and processing skills ± 2) the habit.

6 . because it involves a particular way in which information is sought and treated ± the mere possession of a set of skills.Critical Thinking ‡ It is not: ± the mere acquisition and retention of information alone. because it involves the continual use of them ± the mere use of those skills ("as an exercise") without acceptance of their results.

± fairmindedness and intellectual integrity: of a higher order intellectually. 7 .Critical Thinking ‡ Motivationally based: ± selfish motives: manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one's own vested interest. however pragmatically successful it might be. though subject to the charge of "idealism" by those habituated to its selfish use. As such it is typically intellectually flawed.

everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. but only to such a degree. 8 . ‡ Development is a life-long endeavor. ‡ Quality is a matter of degree and dependent on . with insights and blind spots.Critical Thinking ‡ Not universal in any individual. ‡ No one is a critical thinker through-and-through. subject to tendencies towards self-delusion. the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions.

must be systematically cultivated. ‡ Shoddy thinking is costly. partial. 9 ‡ .Critical Thinking ‡ Everyone thinks. both in money and in quality of life. ‡ Quality of our life and that of what we produce. distorted. ‡ Much of our thinking. it is our nature to do so. Excellence in thought. uninformed or prejudiced. or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. is biased. make.

‡ A Definition: ± Critical thinking is that mode of thinking about any subject. or problem .in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. 10 . content.

‡ gathers and assesses relevant information. recognizing and assessing their assumptions. ‡ think openmindedly within alternative systems of thought.Critical Thinkers ‡ raise vital questions and problems. testing them against relevant criteria and standards. 11 . using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions. and practical consequences ‡ communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems. implications. formulating them clearly and precisely.

self-disciplined. and self-corrective thinking ‡ Presupposes rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. ‡ Effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.Critical Thinking ‡ Self-directed. 12 . self-monitored.

Retrieved April 13. and Paul.Stages & Questions to Develop CT Skills ‡ Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker ‡ Questions: Am I aware of the crucial role that thinking is playing in my life and of the fact that problems in my thinking are causing significant problems in my life? Elder. 13 . (1996). 2006 from EBSCOhos Academic Search Premier database. R. 20(2).. L. Critical thinking: A stage theory of critical thinking: Part II. Journal of Developmental Education.

Stage Two: The Challenged Thinker ‡ Questions: Am I willing to take active steps to take command of my thinking? Am I willing to commit myself to developing my critical thinking abilities? Am I willing to discover my own prejudices and misconceptions? Am I willing to resist the native egocentric defensiveness and rationalization that I will most likely feel when I am faced with admitting my deficiencies? 14 .

that I need to develop a systematic approach to improving my thinking? 15 .Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker ‡ Questions: What am I doing on a day-to-day basis to begin to take command of my thinking? Am I beginning to recognize mistakes I am making in thinking? Am I committed to finding those mistakes? Am I beginning to recognize when I am being egocentric? Am I beginning to recognize egocentric thinking of others? Am I beginning to understand that the quality of my life depends on the quality of my thinking? Am I able to see that sporadic attempts at improvement are not enough.

Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker ‡ Questions: What am I doing on a day-to-day basis to take command of my thinking? Does my day-to-day life provide evidence of a commitment to development as a high-level thinker? Am I beginning to notice my native egocentric defensiveness. arrogance. and rationalizing interwoven into the fabric of my everyday life? Can I look across the domains of my life and see the problems that my thinking causes for myself and others who are influenced by me? Can I recognize the negative implications of my selfish desires? How effectively is my plan for systematic practice working? Where is it working best? Where is it working least well? What must I do to improve my thinking consistently in all areas of my life? What must I do on a daily basis to effectively deal with my egocentrism? How can I improve the quality of my thinking on a daily basis? 16 .

Stage Five: The Advanced Thinker ‡ Questions: Am I developing depth of understanding not only of the need for systematic practice in thinking but also insight into deep levels of problems in my thinking? Do I recognize areas of significant ignorance and prejudice? Am I developing the ability to develop new fundamental habits of thought based on deep values to which I have committed myself? How effective is my systematic plan for bringing critical thinking into my life? Am I consistently able to notice and correct for my native egocentric defensiveness and rationalizing powers on a day-to-day basis? Can I see and correct my egocentric and sociocentric tendencies in the fabric of my everyday life? Am I regularly improving my ability to think critically from day-to-day in every dimension of my life? Can I give examples from every dimension of my life where I am thinking critically? Where is it working best? Where is it working least well? What can I do to further improve the quality of my thinking in all areas of my life? How can I approach thinking so that high quality thinking becomes highly intuitive to me? 17 .

and action so as to achieve greater consistency and integration in my life? Am I regularly and comfortably improving my plan to bringing critical thinking into my life? Am I regularly and successfully recognizing and correcting my native defensiveness and rationalizing powers on a day-to-day basis? Am I regularly improving my ability to think critically from day-to-day in every dimension of my life? Can I speak articulately about the problems inherent in living an examined life? Have I mastered the language of critical thinking? Am I a student of the history of critical thinking? Am I interested in all ideas. how I feel. feelings. and how I value and act? Where have I failed to achieve these ends? What am I doing to work on these failures? How can I learn more about the deepest levels of my thought. and actions so that I am fundamentally in charge of how I think. emotions. feeling. including ideas that seriously conflict with my own? Am I comfortable with people who think very differently from myself? Can I present their points of view to them in a way that satisfies them? 18 .Stage Six: The Master Thinker ‡ Questions: Am I living my basic values? Have I integrated my thoughts.