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What is Critical Thinking?

What is Critical Thinking

What is Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is the ability to rationally analyse factual evidence in a logical manner, to form unbiased judgements. It is the bedrock of research, analysis, problem-solving and decision making in both academic and professional settings. A form of Self-corrective Thinking, people with this skill amend opinions and judgements based on new information, even if it contradicts existing beliefs. It’s counterpart is Lateral Thinking, which relies heavily on intuition, imagination and creativity.

Socratic Questioning

The Founder of Critical Thinking is Socrates, whose early discourses were recorded by Plato. Socrates believed that for an individual to have a worthwhile life, one’s soul must be interrogative, asking critical, deep questions before accepting an idea as a belief. This Critical Thinking strategy is known as ‘Socratic Questioning’. He demonstrated that implied authority wasn’t equal to accurate, rational knowledge, and an individual must independently examine assumptions and evidence before forming a sound rationale. Subsequent philosophers and thinkers refined on his teachings, to help form the modern interpretation used today.

Critical Thinking Skills

  • Open-minded: Accepting of new ideas and facts even if they contradict currently held beliefs
  • Observant: Understanding people, organisations and how the world works as it truly is
  • Strong Communicator: Engage and persuade others to help move things forward
  • Determined: Unsatisfied until a solution is found
  • Inquisitive: Curious about the why, how and why not to change how things are
  • Analytical: Self-analytical and ability to think systematically

Using Critical Thinking in Problem-Solving

Critical Thinkers are adept problem-solvers; their judicious approach, independent thinking and ability to assimilate and process new evidence in a logical manner lets them rapidly deduce solutions by;

  • Identifying an issue, isolating it from its context
  • Discover accurate, relevant information rooted in fact
  • Detect common errors or inconsistencies in evidence or reasoning relating to the matter
  • Build arguments that both support and contradicts opinions on the issue
  • Form logical connections between concepts, ideas and the information
  • Reflect on individually held values and beliefs that may cloud judgement
  • Apply logical reasoning to solve the issue in a systematic manner

Using Critical Thinking in Academics

The cornerstone of Postgraduate and Doctorate degrees, MBA and DBA programmes have been designed to teach and foster Critical Thinking skills and abilities. MBA assignments, the MBA project and the DBA doctoral thesis all require critical analysis and reasoning to be applied to a question in order to successfully answer it. In addition to the problem-solving approach listed above, additional steps are required in an academic context;

  • Hypothesise a solution to the given issue
  • Data collection: Quantitative or Qualitative data to validate the proposed solution
  • Acknowledge stated and unstated assumptions
  • State implied and probable relationships between concepts and ideas
  • Data analysis: Objectively analyse the data and draw inferences
  • Test the results of the data against the hypothesis
  • Finalise judgement and validate hypothesis

Interested in developing your Critical Thinking Skills through education? Contact a Higher Education Consultant

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