Author: topcoach team (Veronika Korim & Sona Štefkova)
What is critical thinking? It is a way of thinking and questioning things around us in order to make better decisions. It can be defined as the ability to think clearly and rationally, and to understand the logical connections between ideas. It is the ability to enter into a process of independent and reflective thinking.
Critical thinking requires us to use the skill of reasoning. It involves active learning and not just being a passive recipient of incoming information. People who use critical thinking question the ideas they receive instead of accepting them as straight facts. These people are also determined to test their ideas, whether they are accepted by the majority or not and whether they can be contradicted.
The characteristics of a critical thinker are that they:
- understand the connections between ideas
- determine the importance of arguments and ideas
- recognize, construct and evaluate arguments
- identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning
- approach problems consciously and systematically
- reflect on the justification of their own beliefs, thoughts and values
Our lives are full of events that involve non-stop problem solving and decision making. We are inundated with information from various media outlets and social media platforms. People need to know how to sift through all this information and decide what are reliable and credible sources of information to use in their daily lives. And we want to be able to do this in a thoughtful and logical manner. Critical thinking therefore enables us to analyze, interpret, reflect, evaluate, infer, and explain information to be able to solve problems and make decisions. There are numerous methods and activities that can be used to increase and practice critical thinking, but generally, these rules can be applied: don’t take things for granted, define your goals, investigate, don’t assume you are right, keep it simple and break the problem into parts.
The very process of critical thinking can be divided into several steps for you to follow:
- Analysis – thinking about a topic or issue objectively and critically.
- Interpretation/reflection – identifying and reflecting on the different arguments relating to an issue.
- Evaluation – critically evaluating how strong and valid are different points of view, including any weaknesses or negative aspects in the evidence or argument.
- Inference – considering the implications there might be behind a statement or argument.
- Problem solving and decision making – giving structured reasoning and support for your choice.
Read the full version of the learning material at our Toolkit (click here).