The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our thoughts. Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it. Excellence in thought can be cultivated and fertilized with creativity.
A Guide to Critical Thinking
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The Idea of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking, by its very
nature, demands recognition that all
• Stems from a point of view and occurs within a
frame of reference;
• Proceeds from some purpose—presumably, to
answer a question or solve a problem;
• Relies on concepts and ideas that rest in turn on
• Has an informational base that must be interpreted;
• Draws on basic inferences to make conclusions that
have implications and consequences.
Critical thinking is
• The purposeful, reflective, reasonable, and selfregulatory process of thinking out possible
explanations for findings and outcomes and
determining how compatible the explanations are,
with attention to the evidential, conceptual,
methodological, "criteriological," and contextual
considerations upon which judgment is based.
• The art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with the
intention of improving it.
• Discerning judgment.
Knowledge will not come from teaching but from questioning.
Dimensions of Critical Thinking
Point of View
and Frame of
Taking Charge of Life …
A critical thinker
• Raises vital questions and problems, formulating
them clearly and precisely;
• Gathers and assesses relevant information, using
abstract ideas to interpret it effectively;
• Thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of
thought, recognizing and assessing as need be
assumptions as well as implications and
consequences from interpretations and inferences;
• Comes to well-reasoned conclusions, testing them
against relevant criteria and standards; and
• Communicates effectively with others to figure out
solutions to problems.
… in Steps …
The essential steps of the scientific
method, each subject to peer review for
possible mistakes, are to
• Define the question or problem;
• Conduct background research, including data and
information gathering and literature review;
• Form hypotheses ("educated guesses");
• Test the hypotheses through experimentation.
• Analyze and interpret data and information to draw
a conclusion; and
• Verify and re-verify the conclusion (and then
… and With Creativity
Critical thinking is analytical, judgmental, and selective: when
you are thinking critically, you are making choices.
Creative (or lateral) thinking is generative, nonjudgmental, and
expansive: when you are thinking creatively, you are generating
Critical thinking is a quite valuable part of thinking but it is
inadequate in the absence of the possibility systems that
creative thinking generates. For superior outcomes, whole-brain
thinking with multiple intelligences is needed.
• ADB. 2009. Learning from Evaluation. Manila. Available:
• ADB. 2009. Asking Effective Questions. Manila. Available:
• ADB. 2009. Harnessing Creativity and Innovation in the
Workplace. Manila. Available:
• ADB. 2011. Critical Thinking. Manila. Available:
Principal Knowledge Management Specialist
Regional and Sustainable Development Department
Asian Development Bank