Thinking Critically Jennifer Zimmerman Director Academic Resource Center Mercer University http://mercer.edu/arc
How do we move beyond what we already know? How do we expand the domain of knowledge? How will we know when a “discovery” or conclusion constitutes new knowledge ? What is the mark of truth ? The Academic’s Quest
Lacking a signpost for truth, those in the knowledge business strive to find methods of thinking and knowing that ultimately will grow the store of known truths. is acknowledged as the single-most reliable platform for expanding knowledge across each and every academic discipline. Critical Thinking
A Critical Thinking Process Flow Observations. From a series of observations, we establish: Facts. From a series of facts, or from an absence of fact, we make: Inferences. Testing the validity of our inferences, we make: Assumptions. From our assumptions, we form our: Opinions. Taking our opinions, we use the principles of logic to develop: Arguments. And when we want to challenge the arguments of others, we employ: Critical Analysis through which we challenge the observations, facts, inferences, and so on, in the arguments that we are analyzing (10) http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Ecompose/faculty/pedagogies/thinking.html#elements
distinguishing between verifiable facts and value claims ,
determining the credibility of a source,
recognizing inconsistencies in a line of reasoning, and
determining the strength of an argument or a claim.
(1) Critical Thinking Checklist
From Dewey's perspective, which underlies almost all views of thinking in the social studies, a reflective thinker is someone who is aware of a problem and able to bring critical judgment to that problem. He or she understands that there is uncertainty about how a problem may best be solved, yet is able to offer a judgment about the problem that brings some closure to it. That type of judgment, which Dewey referred to as grounded or warranted assumption, is based on criteria such as evaluation of evidence , consideration of expert opinion , and adequacy of argument . (11) The Critical Thinking Tradition
How do you learn to practice a new method of thinking? Acquire Skills Develop Dispositions or Traits Evaluate your thinking practices according to Standards
Dispositions Truthseeking: A courageous desire for the best knowledge, even if such knowledge fails to support or undermine one’s preconceptions, beliefs or self-interests. Open-mindedness: Tolerance for divergent views, self-monitoring for possible bias. Analyticity: Demanding the application of reason and evidence, alert to problematic situations, inclined to anticipate consequences. Systematicity: Valuing organization, focus and diligence to approach problems of all levels of complexity. CT Self-confidence: Trusting of one’s own reasoning skills and seeing oneself as a good thinker. Inquisitiveness: Curious and eager to acquire knowledge and learn explanations even when the applications of the knowledge are not immediately present. Maturity: Prudence in making, suspending or revising judgment. An awareness that multiple solutions can be acceptable. An appreciation of the need to reach closure even in the absences of complete knowledge. (1) p15 paraphrase of an excerpt from The Delphi Report
All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences .
Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
Search for negative as well as positive implications.
Consider all possible consequences.
Elder and Paul (5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html
Edman, Laird R. O. Teaching Critical Thinking: Pedagogy and Assessment. Center for Teaching and Learning Calendar of Past Events . 28 February 2002 . Mercer University. 28 May 2002 <http://www.mercer.edu/ctl/edman.htm.> . Edman, Laird R. O. Teaching Thinking: The state of the art [handout]. Mercer University. 28 February 2002. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, University Library: The Critical Mind is a Questioning Mind . Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 < http://criticalthinking.org/University/questioningmind.htm >. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, University Library: The Elements of Critical Thinking: Helping Students Assess Their Thinking . Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 < http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html >. Dawson, Roy E. Critical Thinking, Scientific Thinking, and Everyday Thinking: Metacognition about Cognition . Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall 2000: v4 i3 p76. Infotrac Online Library. 28 May 2002 < http://www.infotrac-college.com >. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, R. University Library: Universal Intellectual Standards . Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 < http://criticalthinking.org/University/unistan.html >. (6)
Goscik, Karen. Teaching Critical Thinking : Elements of Critical Thinking. Composition Center . 1997. Dartmouth College. 28 May 2002 < http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Ecompose/faculty/pedagogies/thinking.html >. Facione, Peter A. Executive Summary: Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction . American Philosophical Association Dephi Research Report . 1990. The California Academic Press. 28 May 2002 < http://www.insightassessment.com/pdf_files/DEXadobe.PDF >. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, R. University Library: Valuable Intellectual Traits . Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 < http://criticalthinking.org/University/intraits.html >. Harvey, Michael. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing . 2003. Hackett Publishing. 19 May 2010 < http://nutsandbolts.washcoll.edu/ >. Hine, Allison and Lyn Peacock. Thinking Skills to Creatively Enhance Information Competence . Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall 2000: v4 i3 p92. Infotrac Online Library. 28 May 2002 < http://www.infotrac-college.com >. (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)