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3.1: Breaking down critical thinking into categories

  • Page ID
    225895
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    WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?

    • Critical thinking is a set of skills designed to help the thinker analyze, assess and question a given situation or reading.
    • Critical thinking skills push the thinker to reject simplistic conclusions based on human irrationality, false assumptions, prejudices, biases and anecdotal evidence.
    • Critical thinking skills give thinkers confidence that they can see issues which are complex and which have several answers and points of view and that opinions and insights can change with new information.

    WHAT DO CRITICAL THINKERS DO?

    • Consider all sides of an issue
    • Judge well the quality of an argument
    • Judge well the credibility of sources
    • Create convincing arguments using sound evidence and analysis
    • Effectively recognize and use ethos (ethics), pathos (empathy) and logos (logic) in argument

    WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

    People will listen to and respect critical thinkers with these abilities because…

    • Considering all sides of an issue means they are open-minded, informed, and mindful of alternatives and other points of view.
    • Judging well the quality of an argument means they can effectively identify and evaluate another’s reasons, assumptions and conclusions and not be fooled into believing false or unsubstantiated claims.
    • Judging well the credibility of sources means they can recognize and present the most reputable, trustworthy and convincing evidence.
    • Creating convincing arguments using sound evidence and analysis means they can formulate plausible hypotheses and draw conclusions which are thoughtful and verifiable.
    • Effectively recognizing and using ethos, pathos and logos in argument means they construct well-crafted points using a balance of morality and ethics, consideration and empathy for others, as well as sound and logical reasoning.

    HOW DO I USE CRITICAL THINKING?

    Breaking down into categories how to analyze a topic or text (one written by you or another author) will help you examine it thoroughly and critically. Use these questions to assist you:

    Clarity: Is it understandable and can the meaning be clearly grasped?

    • Is the main idea clear?
    • Can examples be added to better illustrate the points?
    • Are there confusing or unrelated points?

    Accuracy: Is it free from errors or distortions—is it true?

    • Do I need to verify the truth of the claims?
    • Is credible evidence used correctly and fairly?
    • Is additional research needed?

    Precision: Is it exact with specific details?

    • Can the wording be more exact?
    • Are the claims too general?
    • Are claims supported with concrete evidence?

    Relevance: How does it relate to the topic or assignment?

    • Does it help illuminate the topic or assignment?
    • Does it provide new or important information?
    • Who does the content have the most relevance for?

    Depth: Does it contain complexities and delve into the larger implications?

    • What are some of the complexities explored?
    • What are some of the difficulties that should be addressed?
    • What are the larger implications or impact?

    Breadth: Does it encompass multiple viewpoints?

    • Do I need to look at this from another perspective?
    • What other people would have differing viewpoints?
    • Do I need to look at this in other ways?

    Logic: Do the parts make sense together and are there no contradictions?

    • Do all the points work together logically to prove one clear argument?
    • Does one paragraph follow logically from the next?
    • Does the evidence directly prove the main points?

    Significance: Does it focus on what is important?

    • Is this the most important aspect to consider?
    • Which of the facts or points are the most important?
    • Does it examine a larger significance?

    Fairness: Is it justifiable and not self-serving or one-sided?

    • Do I have any vested interest in this issue that can affect my reaction?
    • Is personal bias or a hidden agenda driving the point?
    • Are the viewpoints of others sympathetically represented?
    Practice

    Use this chart to help you apply these critical thinking categories to a particular text or topic:

    Clarity: Is it understandable and can the meaning be clearly grasped?

    Is the main idea clear? Can examples be added to better illustrate the points? Are there confusing or unrelated points?

    Accuracy: Is it free from errors or distortions—is it true?

    Do I need to verify the truth of the claims? Is credible evidence used correctly and fairly? Is additional research needed?

    Precision: Is it exact with specific details?

    Can the wording be more exact? Are the claims too general? Are claims supported with concrete evidence?

    Relevance: How does it relate to the topic or assignment?

    Does it help illuminate the topic or assignment? Does it provide new or important information? Who does the content have the most relevance for?

    Depth: Does it contain complexities and delve into the larger implications?

    What are some of the complexities explored? What are some of the difficulties that should be addressed? What are the larger implications or impact?

    Breadth: Does it encompass multiple viewpoints?

    Do I need to look at this from another perspective? What other people would have differing viewpoints? Do I need to look at this in other ways?

    Logic: Do the parts make sense together and are there no contradictions?

    Do all the points work together logically to prove one clear argument?

    Does one paragraph follow logically from the next? Does the evidence directly prove the main points?

    Significance: Does it focus on what is important?

    Is this the most important aspect to consider? Which of the facts or points are the most important? Does it examine a larger significance?

    Fairness: Is it justifiable and not self-serving or one-sided?

    Do I have any vested interest in this issue that can affect my reaction? Is personal bias or a hidden agenda driving the point? Are the viewpoints of others sympathetically represented?


    This page titled 3.1: Breaking down critical thinking into categories is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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