If you’ve ever wondered how to improve critical thinking skills: this article is for you.
Every day, we become open to things that hold back our ability to think logically and sensibly. Decisions affect the lives of everyone, both directly and indirectly.
Critical thinking is a process in which we make every decision we have to do in daily basis. As soon as a person reaches adolescence period, most adults expect the presence of critical thinking.
Most people thought that critical thinking is something that cultivates naturally like any other changes that adolescence bring.
Though this might be true in a way, there’s still more when it comes to critical thinking that most people are not aware of.
How To Improve Critical Thinking Skills
In this article you will learn proven steps and strategies on how one can think critically to help him improve his or her standard of living.
You will know what Critical Thinking really is, its importance in day by day situations or challenges, its components, and many more.
What is Critical Thinking?
There are a lot of definitions to what critical thinking is. And that’s what you should expect about it. Critical thinking includes much of what we are doing every time we use our brains.
The common words that describe critical thinking are: interpreting, observation, reasoning, cognitive process, reflective thought, rational thinking, focused thinking, analyzing, well-versed opinions, and evaluating information.
The aspects of critical thinking are evaluation, observation, judgment, problem solving to making conclusion and decision.
Critical thinking can also mean the ability to think conceptually while making conclusions.
The philosophy of critical thinking has started back thousands of years to the Greek Socratic and Buddhism tradition that include asking analytical questions to know if the claims to knowledge can be sensibly correct with logical reliability.
When a person thinks critically, it is clarified as goals, evaluate evidence, examine assumptions, and evaluate conclusions.
In making hard decisions or choices, people that are engaged in critical thinking pay attention to the relevance of arguments and focus more on careful observation.
They might not recognize the particular details in a new situation, but since they can consider details and explore it efficiently, they can deal with things that may frustrate others.
These people can also normally solve problems and make decisions that require skillset.
Those who are able to maintain this type of perspective can undertake long-range tactical planning, instantaneously process details from different sources, and multitask.
Along with outshining at troubleshooting themselves, they are able to serve as good listeners to those who are struggling with complicated or difficult problems.
Furthermore, they can easily make expectation of possible results of certain situations and have plans on what they are going to do next.
Some people notice the outcomes of progressive critical thinking without comprehending that it ’ s what they are actually doing.
Critical thinkers are usually the most creative people as they arrange and prioritize important matters before spending their time on useless activities.
They usually work less long than most people. Quite the reverse, thought they work less, but are likely to work smarter.
They dig the deepest part of the most complicated issues and use calm scrutiny to make the right decision or solve a complex problem.
The Benefits of Critical Thinking for You
There are basically three main benefits of critical thinking.
1. To Make Well-Versed Decisions
Making well-versed decisions is something that is very important in anyone ’ s life. You need to make choices in almost everything on daily basis.
The more you can use and apply knowledge and experiences, the better the decisions and choices you are going to make are.
2. To Understand Better
Your capability to understand is another important aspect in your life. You ’ re open to an extensive selection of information you can get from media, internet, books, and other people.
Having an open mind to understand help you in coming up with opinions and making decisions.
For instance, by reading and understanding about the positions of two political candidates you’re going to have better decision in choosing which one you need to vote in election.
3. To Create and Discover New Things
People tend to create and discover new things by nature. We make beautiful art, amazing, music, and outstanding writings. We invent things like that will develop and make our lives easier on daily basis.
The people’s ability to create and discover new things all requires critical thinking.
It’s an essential part of the entire process. There are choices and decisions in selecting a project to go through. Regardless of what you pursue, there are choices you have to make along the way.
Most of the situations that require making choices and decisions involve critical thinking.
That’s the reason why critical thinking can be defined as the capacity to create and perform well-versed decisions by capably using your lifetime understanding, knowledge, common sense, intellectual, instinct, feelings, and self-confidence.
Critical thinking needs the usage of strength of mind and introspection.
The rewards you can get from it are the ability to finish projects quickly, great freedom, attain purposes, and solve problems with confidence.
Critical thinking is a skill, and it fortified by those who are willing to grow. Our brain is like its muscles that strengthen when use and withers when shunned.
Skills That Are Involved in Critical Thinking
There are five different skills that are used when we thinking critically. Here you will know each of them and their definitions.
Examination is when a person starts to analyze the question they’re asking.
For instance, choosing which road to take will make the person examine how they can go to their destination the fastest way possible, how heavy the traffic they may encounter, and how much gasoline their car is going to consume.
Judging is when a person looks to find the answers to questions created from examination stage.
For instance, they’ll look at their gasoline gauge and think if their gasoline can make it to their destination.
Deduction is when a person makes assumptions based on their conclusions from their judgments.
For instance, they might discover that their gas is only enough for another 30 miles drive, so the best thing to do is to look for a route that’s only going to take 30 miles or less.
Creation is when the person comes with an answer derived from their examination, judgment, and of course deduction.
For instance, they might choose to take the next turn going right, drive for about 5 miles, turn left, drive another 5 miles, and then take another turn left. Basically, the person comes up with specific plan in mind.
Improvement involves self-reflection, and the person rapidly runs through every detail he has in mind to ensure that he made the best possible decision he can make in that certain situation.
If any improvements are needed, then it’s going to be the best time to do it.
For instance, the person may choose to turn right, then make the next turn to the left as he think it’s going to be the best route to take, and decide that that’s going to be the best route to take.
The Stages of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking means knowing how to think better through thinking skills improvement.
People who think critically are using the thinking process to study and create what they’ve learned or what they’re learning currently.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to think unfair, inaccurate, indistinct, unacquainted, or narrow-minded. As this becomes very preventive, critical thinking is has to develop its value and quality.
In an organizational setting, critical thinking is needed for: problem solving, decision making, changes or alterations in work arrangements, fixing situational engagement, and creating and applying new ideas, methods, and resolutions.
Critical thinking growth is a slow process.
This requires a lot of learning, keeping a severe focus, and improving personal mindset, which can be a really long term project and needs broad development time.
Through critical thinking process, it’s really important to know what doesn’t include its basic components or elements.
Critical thinking isn’t done by saying that something without thinking about it thoroughly, believing something because everyone believes it, or having an argument with someone about something without right facts to support it.
Critical Thinking Qualities
Critical thinkers have certain qualities and these qualities tend to classify them as ‘deep thinkers’ .
People who think critically tend to be more independent as they can discipline, direct, and monitor themselves without the help of others.
They come up with vital or crucial problems and questions and then continue to verbalize them precisely and clearly.
Critical thinkers collect, accumulate, assess, and evaluate relevant details.
They come up with well-reasoned assumptions, solutions, and conclusions, while gauging and analyzing them against pertinent principles and standards.
They are also open to new ideas and other possibilities while persistently identifying and measuring their conventions and reasoning.
Lastly, critical thinkers connect efficiently with others in finding and knowing solutions for their problems or questions.
There are 6 developmental thinking stages to take to master the art of critical thinking.
With proper practice and process application, people can expect to start changing and ultimately changing their distinct mindset. Every stage is defined below.
Stage 1: The Unenlightened Thinker – People are not aware that substantial problems are present within their thinking process.
Stage 2: The Confronted Thinker – People are aware that current problems are apparent or deceptive in their thinking process.
Stage 3: The Novice Thinker – People try to start developments in their thinking, but devoid of depending on consistent or regular practice.
Stage 4: The Proactive Thinker – People know the significance of practicing regularly to develop and improve their thinking ability.
Stage 5: The Developed Thinker – People start to progress according to the number of practice that is given to the development.
Stage 6: The Mastery Thinker – People become capable and perceptive, where deep, logical, and evaluative thinking turns out to be just natural.
People can only cultivate with these stages if they embrace the truth that there are problems with their thinking methods, and can accept the challenge that critical thinking give them and able to start practice to develop and improve the critical thinking’s elements and components.
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Important Factors in Critical Thinking
One’s ability to think critically can be a key factor in your success.
For a lot of students and businessperson, critical thinking is something helps them get through every challenge they have to face to be successful with their goals.
But not everyone is not focused enough to think critically when they need to. Some people are easily distracted or influenced by the things that surround them.
However, this can be practiced and learned. But how would you do it?
Below are some of the most important factors to remember in critical thinking.
Analytical thinking, or analysis is a very big part of critical thinking, this is what you do when you read.
When analyzing something, you then to see the every corner of the picture, every part of chapter, every side of argument, and analyze to its basic parts.
If you are able to break down an argument in detail, then that means you’ve analyzed it.
You can understand the author’s conclusion, and you can say why and how the author came up with that idea and conclusion.
Through this, you’re making use of your analytic understanding to understand how the author’s works, and that’s a very important part of how you can critically think.
Analyzing an argument done by your readings assumes that you apprehend that each reading task you will get will contain an argument.
Even less academic writings like novels and films have their own kinds of arguments, which known as the plot. When you read analytically, you disregard the WHATs and go straight to WHYs.
Though you are in charge in knowing what the author is try to make you understand, you use up your critical abilities when can define why the author is saying a certain thing says.
Most people thing that once you graduate from college, it means that education stops.
This is not true.
Remember that education is lifelong process that should never end. You can educate yourself by dedicating time to learn something new (1).
Education develops vocabulary, confidence, mental ability, and of course critical thinking. The human brain is like a sponge, it absorbs tons of information.
So if you want to learn more about important things, educating yourself is something you should always consider.
Have No limitations
Only those who don’t believe themselves are the one who are concern about limitations. This negative outlook is able to hold you back from knowing what you are really capable of.
You’re an inexhaustible human being who is able to do anything that you can think of. But this is only possible if you believe in yourself that you can actually do it.
Doing this means doing the first step on becoming positive thinker.
Keep in mind that impossible things are only impossible because you think it that way and the first step on getting possible things is by actually believing it’s possible.
For you truly understand the art of critical thinking, you have to know first what critical thinking exactly is.
Critical thinking involves knowing the difference between debates and arguments as well as knowing logical misconceptions.
Whether you are listening to music or sermon in the church, watching TV ads, or reading the newspaper, you have to know how to sensibly inspect any message is being lectured and reflect the legitimacy of the content itself.
Recognizing and understanding how and when you have to think critically while developing your ability to do so will help you become successful in a lot of aspects of your life.
Learning Critical Thinking Though Challenges
A very important skill that a student or a business person should learn and use is critical thinking.
Critical thinking is a skill that is highlighted in both main and higher education as an important life skill.
Critical thinking is a skill that has to be learned by practicing so that eventually becomes a habit.
One of the most crucial challenges for instructors is that in teaching, they need more than just giving an apparent explanation and providing the students with an instruction.
For most students, they have to know that the critical thinking process involves not only thinking outside of the box but actually giving justice to your idea.
Critical thinking gives the students the chance to dwell on their expressions and thought used when they’re communicating the ideas they have.
It’s a skill that could be used in resolving issues and problems, while thought-provoking personal beliefs and world views.
When the critical thinking is not used, the students would just believe anything they hear or read.
They will not come up with new or better idea, they are limiting themselves on finding out something more interesting about a certain thing thinking that they already know everything they need to know and there is nothing more to discover.
Challenges You May Face in Learning this Skill
Before we even step in a classroom the first time, we thought that everything the media says is true – especially if an official of a government brings us the news or information.
We also tend to have our own beliefs when we are young and believe them without questioning them unless there’s a certain reason to do so.
These are ways of thinking that go unchecked until we enter a formal learning setting where we are challenged to learn critically.
The difficulty of knowing how to properly use critical thinking offers a lot of challenges.
Students have to know how to work past first impressions and shallow reactions to things they learn if they’re developing this as their new skill.
Critical thinking is basically the questioning and being curious towards everything, from patterns of thought to simple beliefs, accompanied by arguments, debates, and discussions.
It’s a process which involves a research for proof to support the statements and information and an exploration of the legitimacy of what’s read, heard, or gathered.
Another thing that critical thinkers experience is the feeling of being uncomfortable when questioning thoughts, beliefs, or habits because it’s very possible to get emotional reactions from other people.
It could be really hard to work past adopted partialities and beliefs that contain strong emotions committed to them.
Furthermore, as the instructors and teachers may indicate reasoning as a way of describing critical thinking as an ability or skill, it’s still an idea that’s rather abstract naturally when aspects like misconceptions are exclaimed into the analyzing communication process.
The biggest challenge for educators is not only teaching their students to validate the usage of critical thinking, they also need to have a clear knowledge about what it is real purpose of using this skill.
For instance, when a student asks a question in response to a classmate throughout a discussion, does it mean that the student used critical thinking?
If so, how beneficial it is for the student? It’s not hard to say to “use critical thinking” in giving instructions, but students might only have a shallow understanding of is the meaning of this process.
That’s why it is very important for the educators and students to know how to learn and use critical thinking when it is learned as an ability or skill.
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Components of Critical Thinking
If understood and used efficiently, critical thinking would be a very powerful process.
In developing skills on critical thinking, it’s very important to know more about the process and activity that contains it.
When understood correctly, worries about keenly using critical thinking skills will possibly dispel.
Critical thinking can turn the thinking process into convincing, clear, straightforward language that is sensibly and rationally created.
Simultaneously, it can turn reactions and perceptions into ideas, thoughts, expectations, beliefs, conclusions, assumptions, questions, opinions, principles, and reasonable arguments.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to critical thinking that can hold people back from persistently working to improve it.
Unluckily a lot of people assume that the process is very complicated and remain prejudiced as to how the development is able to help them not just in their work settings, but also with their personal lives.
There are 4 barricades that often make negative feelings when getting more involved in the process of critical thinking:
It’s more of a negative process as it can possibly destroy ideas and replace it with nothing. In actual fact, it’s a positive process that can put things in a more genuine standpoint.
It can result in the incapability to make assurances to people or ideas. In fact, assurances become well-versed ones.
It tends to involve harrowing change as one is anticipated to constantly abandon old expectations or belief. In reality, some views stay the same, people just become more knowledgeable.
It is separate, impassive, and cold. It’s very distressing and liberating, as people tend to be free of their previous expectations and the apprehension of self-analysis.
Critical Thinking Encompasses Specific Elements
All the methods and processes are made of vital components, and critical thinking is the same.
These components offer an organization to the process that when combined, makes convincing, straightforward, and sympathetic verbal communication likely to highly affect the perspectives of the others.
The main components in critical thinking are consist of seven elements, and in this chapter, we will explain each other them.
Perception is known to be the manner wherein people receive, understand, and interpret experiences. How people see things works to describe the way they think.
Perception can provide people with an important clarifying system.
Assumptions are the core of critical thinking.
They are inferred where people aren’t always aware of them. Assumptions aren’t always negative and usually depend on the ideas that some thoughts are apparent.
They can make people comfortable with their current views, fastening any other possibilities.
Trying to leave emotion out of almost anything is impossible as it is part of everything people do and think.
Emotions are the number one cause of creating and putting into place thinking and operating barriers, which are continually used as a defense mechanism (2).
Critical thinkers do not ignore or deny emotions but learn to accept and manage them.
Critical thinking can’t be detached from language as both can have 3 main purposes: to inform, influence, and clarify.
Language represents and implies, and depends profoundly on using metaphors. Metaphors are prevailing language tools that can affect how people think and solve problems.
These forms of speech provide great taste and complexity to a language.
Metaphors comes in short phrases, paragraphs, or even stories and is a spoken message that people can easily understand and think about.
An argument is a claim that is used to convince that something is wrong or right, true or not.
An argument has 3 basic elements which are issue, reasons, and conclusions.
An argument could be either valid or invalid derived from its arrangement and just reason and conclusions are reached that are either correct or incorrect.
The objective of critical thinking is to put a sound argument that contains a binding structure and has true principles.
This is where you can use your logic significantly.
Reasoning that does not reach the standards for sounding like an argument is considered fallacious.
A fallacy derived from improper forms of reasoning.
But it doesn t mean that the conclusion is always incorrect, but it does emphasize the point that the reasoning that is used is invalid or incomplete and doesn’t have all the essential relevant details.
Logic has two types or method of reasoning which are inductive and deductive.
A deductive reasoning supported by facts, inevitability, legitimacy, syllogisms, and sustained conclusions, while inductive reasoning supported by varied facts, possibility, overviews, theories, comparisons, and inductive strong point.
Problem Solving Using Logic
Just like any other problems, a logic problem requires the following:
Listening, reading, and paying attention. In other words, knowing and understanding what the problem is.
Knowing all of the possible solutions to the problems.
- Understanding relationships in them.
- Making a plan step by step.
- Using the strategy and resolving the issue or problem.
- Doing the process again if needed until the problem is solved.
Critical thinking helps us to be a better problem solver, we become more aware of what is going on in our surroundings and with this we can protect ourselves from making the wrong decisions based on preconceptions and social standards.
With critical thinking, we can get closer to the real solution to problem solving. Critical thinking is really beneficial when we’re exposed with too much political propaganda provided by the media today.
Thank you for reading this article about how to improve critical thinking skills and I really hope that you take action my advice.
I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.