What is Critical Thinking?

Essay by ToomuchRNUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 2004

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What is critical thinking

The word thinking can describe any number of mental activities. Much of our natural thinking, when left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. Yet the quality of our lives depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Critical thinking is that mode of thinking--about any given subject--in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of its very structures and by imposing intellectual standards upon them. However, effective critical thinking involves consideration of the full range of possibilities to a problem, including emotional, cognitive, intellectual and psychological factors.

Thus, critical thinking belongs to the category of higher-level thinking skills. Critical thinking is analytical and logical; it evaluates ideas and identifies the most reasonable ones. Critical thinking is clear, precise, accurate, relevant, consistent, and fair.

In short, critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking that entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities.

While thinking in general is a natural activity of human beings, excellence in thinking must be cultivated and practiced.

Study on Why is Critical Thinking Important

Shallow thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Not only academic success but also success in our work lives depends greatly on solid thinking skills. It is hardly enough for college graduates to have wide knowledge in their fields. Successful people are able to apply what they know to the challenges of their jobs. Today's employers are not looking for walking encyclopedias, but rather for independent decision-makers and problem-solvers.

Critical thinkers have what employers want. A well-cultivated critical thinker

raises vital questions, formulating them clearly and precisely

gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstractions to interpret the information

comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant standards

thinks within alternative systems...