Critical thinking and the art of asking good questions

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The site defines critical thinking as “thinking abut thinking” and deciding if a claim is true or not. Glaser (2017) states that it is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. This article stated that Socrates argued that people need to be critical questioners and possess an interrogative soul. He also stated the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analysing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well. This site lists the following elements of critical thinking:

 

·      Identification of a situation or problem and the factors that may influence it

·      Research in terms of independent verification and finding and evaluating relevant information

·      Identification of biases

·      Infer and draw conclusions based on the information

·      Determine relevance

·      Curiosity

 

This site references Einstein as follows:

 

It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks

 

It also states that critical thinkers are:

 

  • inquisitive and curious, always seeking the truth
  • fair in their evaluation of evidence and others’ views
  • sceptical of information
  • perceptive and able to make connections between ideas
  • reflective and aware of their own thought processes
  • open minded and willing to have their beliefs challenged
  • using evidence and reason to formulate decisions
  • able to formulate judgements with evidence and reason

 

Mihai states that as we navigate through a huge amount of information we need to apply a critical thinking filter in order to find and process data and make decisions. She suggests the following 5 elements, which can be used as guidance in designing activities and evaluating assignments, get students to:

 

·      Identify/define the problem or issue

·      Propose their own hypothesis/perspective

·      Find and analyse data/resources

·      Integrate other perspectives

·      Formulate conclusions and reflect on the implications

 

Although students have grown up in a technological era they are not necessarily proficient at evaluating and managing online information. Therefore it is important to include online media literacy and knowledge management skills in the learning process. The site provides a useful set of resources and relevant MOOCs.  Critical thinking skills are more important than ever given the vast amount of information we have to navigate and the increase in fake news, being able to evaluate the provenance of a source and its relevance is important.

 

References

Edward M. Glaser. “Defining Critical Thinking”. The International Center for the Assessment of Higher Order Thinking (ICAT, US)/Critical Thinking Community. Retrieved 22 March 2017.

 

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