These component events might include 1 noticing a difficulty, 2 defining the problem, 3 dividing the problem into manageable sub-problems, 4 formulating a variety of possible solutions to the problem or sub-problem, 5 determining what evidence is relevant to deciding among possible solutions to the problem or sub-problem, 6 devising a plan of systematic observation or experiment that will uncover the relevant evidence, 7 carrying out the plan of systematic observation or experimentation, 8 noting the results of the systematic observation or experiment, 9 gathering relevant testimony and information from others, 10 judging the credibility of testimony and information gathered from others, 11 drawing conclusions from gathered evidence and accepted testimony, and 12 accepting a solution that the evidence adequately supports cf.
Hitchcock Checklist conceptions of the process of critical thinking are open to the objection that they are too mechanical and procedural to fit the multi-dimensional and emotionally charged issues for which critical thinking is urgently needed Paul For such issues, a more dialectical process is advocated, in which competing relevant world views are identified, their implications explored, and some sort of creative synthesis attempted.
If one considers the critical thinking process illustrated by the 11 examples, one can identify distinct kinds of mental acts and mental states that form part of it. To distinguish, label and briefly characterize these components is a useful preliminary to identifying abilities, skills, dispositions, attitudes, habits and the like that contribute causally to thinking critically.
Identifying such abilities and habits is in turn a useful preliminary to setting educational goals. Setting the goals is in its turn a useful preliminary to designing strategies for helping learners to achieve the goals and to designing ways of measuring the extent to which learners have done so. Such measures provide both feedback to learners on their achievement and a basis for experimental research on the effectiveness of various strategies for educating people to think critically. Let us begin, then, by distinguishing the kinds of mental acts and mental events that can occur in a critical thinking process.
By definition, a person who does something voluntarily is both willing and able to do that thing at that time. The same analysis applies to a voluntary mental process of thinking critically. It requires both willingness and ability to think critically, including willingness and ability to perform each of the mental acts that compose the process and to coordinate those acts in a sequence that is directed at resolving the initiating perplexity.
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Consider willingness first. We can identify causal contributors to willingness to think critically by considering factors that would cause a person who was able to think critically about an issue nevertheless not to do so Hamby For each factor, the opposite condition thus contributes causally to willingness to think critically on a particular occasion. For example, people who habitually jump to conclusions without considering alternatives will not think critically about issues that arise, even if they have the required abilities.
The contrary condition of willingness to suspend judgment is thus a causal contributor to thinking critically. Now consider ability. We can identify the ability to think well directly, in terms of the norms and standards for good thinking. In general, to be able do well the thinking activities that can be components of a critical thinking process, one needs to know the concepts and principles that characterize their good performance, to recognize in particular cases that the concepts and principles apply, and to apply them.
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The knowledge, recognition and application may be procedural rather than declarative. It may be domain-specific rather than widely applicable, and in either case may need subject-matter knowledge, sometimes of a deep kind. We turn now to these three types of causal contributors to thinking critically.
Some writers e. They are not moral virtues but intellectual virtues, of the sort articulated by Zagzebski and discussed by Turri, Alfano, and Greco On a realistic conception, thinking dispositions or intellectual virtues are real properties of thinkers. They are general tendencies, propensities, or inclinations to think in particular ways in particular circumstances, and can be genuinely explanatory Siegel Sceptics argue that there is no evidence for a specific mental basis for the habits of mind that contribute to thinking critically, and that it is pedagogically misleading to posit such a basis Bailin et al.
Whatever their status, critical thinking dispositions need motivation for their initial formation in a child—motivation that may be external or internal. Mere force of habit, however, is unlikely to sustain critical thinking dispositions.
16 Characteristics of Critical Thinkers | Cleverism
Critical thinkers must value and enjoy using their knowledge and abilities to think things through for themselves. They must be committed to, and lovers of, inquiry.
A person may have a critical thinking disposition with respect to only some kinds of issues. For example, one could be open-minded about scientific issues but not about religious issues. Critical thinking dispositions can usefully be divided into initiating dispositions those that contribute causally to starting to think critically about an issue and internal dispositions those that contribute causally to doing a good job of thinking critically once one has started Facione a: The two categories are not mutually exclusive.
We consider briefly what each of these dispositions amounts to, in each case citing sources that acknowledge them.
Some of the initiating dispositions, such as open-mindedness and willingness to suspend judgment, are also internal critical thinking dispositions, in the sense of mental habits or attitudes that contribute causally to doing a good job of critical thinking once one starts the process. But there are many other internal critical thinking dispositions. For example, it is constitutive of good thinking about an issue to formulate the issue clearly and to maintain focus on it. For this purpose, one needs not only the corresponding ability but also the corresponding disposition.
Other internal dispositions are motivators to continue or adjust the critical thinking process, such as willingness to persist in a complex task and willingness to abandon nonproductive strategies in an attempt to self-correct Halpern For a list of identified internal critical thinking dispositions, see the Supplement on Internal Critical Thinking Dispositions. Some theorists postulate skills, i. It is not obvious, however, that a good mental act is the exercise of a generic acquired skill. Inferring an expected time of arrival, as in Transit , has some generic components but also uses non-generic subject-matter knowledge.
Talk of skills, they concede, is unproblematic if it means merely that a person with critical thinking skills is capable of intelligent performance. Amalgamating these lists would produce a confusing and chaotic cornucopia of more than 50 possible educational objectives, with only partial overlap among them. Two reasons for diversity among lists of critical thinking abilities are the underlying conception of critical thinking and the envisaged educational level.
Appraisal-only conceptions, for example, involve a different suite of abilities than constructive-only conceptions.
Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework
Some lists, such as those in Glaser , are put forward as educational objectives for secondary school students, whereas others are proposed as objectives for college students e. The abilities described in the remaining paragraphs of this section emerge from reflection on the general abilities needed to do well the thinking activities identified in section 6 as components of the critical thinking process described in section 5. The derivation of each collection of abilities is accompanied by citation of sources that list such abilities and of standardized tests that claim to test them.
Observational abilities : Careful and accurate observation sometimes requires specialist expertise and practice, as in the case of observing birds and observing accident scenes. These abilities come into play as well when one thinks about whether and with what degree of confidence to accept an observation report, for example in the study of history or in a criminal investigation or in assessing news reports.
Observational abilities show up in some lists of critical thinking abilities Ennis 90; Facione a: 16; Ennis 9. Norris and King , , a, b is a test of ability to appraise observation reports. Emotional abilities : The emotions that drive a critical thinking process are perplexity or puzzlement, a wish to resolve it, and satisfaction at achieving the desired resolution.
Children experience these emotions at an early age, without being trained to do so. Education that takes critical thinking as a goal needs only to channel these emotions and to make sure not to stifle them. Questioning abilities : A critical thinking process needs transformation of an inchoate sense of perplexity into a clear question. Formulating a question well requires not building in questionable assumptions, not prejudging the issue, and using language that in context is unambiguous and precise enough Ennis 97; 9.
Imaginative abilities : Thinking directed at finding the correct causal explanation of a general phenomenon or particular event requires an ability to imagine possible explanations. Thinking about what policy or plan of action to adopt requires generation of options and consideration of possible consequences of each option. Domain knowledge is required for such creative activity, but a general ability to imagine alternatives is helpful and can be nurtured so as to become easier, quicker, more extensive, and deeper Dewey 34—39; 40— Facione a and Halpern include the ability to imagine alternatives as a critical thinking ability.
All 11 examples in section 2 of this article include inferences, some from hypotheses or options as in Transit , Ferryboat and Disorder , others from something observed as in Weather and Rash. None of these inferences is formally valid. Rather, they are licensed by general, sometimes qualified substantive rules of inference Toulmin that rest on domain knowledge—that a bus trip takes about the same time in each direction, that the terminal of a wireless telegraph would be located on the highest possible place, that sudden cooling is often followed by rain, that an allergic reaction to a sulfa drug generally shows up soon after one starts taking it.
It is a matter of controversy to what extent the specialized ability to deduce conclusions from premisses using formal rules of inference is needed for critical thinking. Dewey locates logical forms in setting out the products of reflection rather than in the process of reflection. Experimenting abilities : Knowing how to design and execute an experiment is important not just in scientific research but also in everyday life, as in Rash.
Dewey devoted a whole chapter of his How We Think —; — to the superiority of experimentation over observation in advancing knowledge. Experimenting abilities come into play at one remove in appraising reports of scientific studies. Skill in designing and executing experiments includes the acknowledged abilities to appraise evidence Glaser 6 , to carry out experiments and to apply appropriate statistical inference techniques Facione a: 9 , to judge inductions to an explanatory hypothesis Ennis 9 , and to recognize the need for an adequately large sample size Halpern The Collegiate Learning Assessment Council for Aid to Education makes room for appraisal of study design in both its performance task and its selected-response questions.
Consulting abilities : Skill at consulting sources of information comes into play when one seeks information to help resolve a problem, as in Candidate. Ability to find and appraise information includes ability to gather and marshal pertinent information Glaser 6 , to judge whether a statement made by an alleged authority is acceptable Ennis 84 , to plan a search for desired information Facione a: 9 , and to judge the credibility of a source Ennis 9.
The ability to detect and analyze arguments is recognized as a critical thinking skill by Facione a: 7—8 , Ennis 9 and Halpern Five items out of 34 on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test Facione b, test skill at argument analysis.
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The College Learning Assessment Council for Aid to Education incorporates argument analysis in its selected-response tests of critical reading and evaluation and of critiquing an argument. Judging skills and deciding skills : Skill at judging and deciding is skill at recognizing what judgment or decision the available evidence and argument supports, and with what degree of confidence. It is thus a component of the inferential skills already discussed.
Lists and tests of critical thinking abilities often include two more abilities: identifying assumptions and constructing and evaluating definitions. In addition to dispositions and abilities, critical thinking needs knowledge: of critical thinking concepts, of critical thinking principles, and of the subject-matter of the thinking. We can derive a short list of concepts whose understanding contributes to critical thinking from the critical thinking abilities described in the preceding section. Observational abilities require an understanding of the difference between observation and inference.
Questioning abilities require an understanding of the concepts of ambiguity and vagueness. Inferential abilities require an understanding of the difference between conclusive and defeasible inference traditionally, between deduction and induction , as well as of the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions. Experimenting abilities require an understanding of the concepts of hypothesis, null hypothesis, assumption and prediction, as well as of the concept of statistical significance and of its difference from importance.
They also require an understanding of the difference between an experiment and an observational study, and in particular of the difference between a randomized controlled trial, a prospective correlational study and a retrospective case-control study. Argument analysis abilities require an understanding of the concepts of argument, premiss, assumption, conclusion and counter-consideration. Additional critical thinking concepts are proposed by Bailin et al.