Critical Thinking: What is It?

Click here to review a variety of definitions:

"We understand critical thinking to be purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. CT is essential as a tool of inquiry. As such, CT is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in one's personal and civic life. While not synonymous with good thinking, CT is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical thinkers means working toward this ideal. It combines developing CT skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society."

Components of critical thinking

  1. Identifying central issues
  2. Making comparisons
  3. Determining relevant information
  4. Formulating appropriate questions
  5. Expressing problems
  6. Distinguishing fact from opinion
  7. Recognizing bias
  8. Distinguishing false from accurate images
  9. Analyzing cause and effect
  10. Drawing conclusions
  11. Identifying alternatives
  12. Testing conclusions
  13. Predicting consequences
  14. Demonstrating reasoned judgment

Websites with information on critical thinking