Critical Thinking: Components of Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is akin to the study of logic. Critical thinking relates to how we make decisions and use our judgment. Critical thinking is more than just thinking about thinking or metacognition. It is also about how we take action. Critical thinking involves many components, lets have a look at four:
The ability to reason is often considered one of the characteristic marks of being human. Further, the individual’s ability to reason well is a critical thinking skill. Many of the definitions of critical thinking tend to focus on this ability to reason. Reasoning occurs when we use our knowledge of one thing, process, or statement to determine if another thing, process, or statement is true. When we apply reasoning, we use logic to determine “what follows what.” Human reasoning does not always follow logic and is often based on emotional bias.
Open-mindedness is the virtue by which we learn. In particular, being open-minded means taking into account relevant evidence or argument to revise a current understanding. It means being critically open to alternatives, willing to think about other possibilities even after having formed an opinion, and not allowing pre-conceived notions to constrain or inhibit reflection on newly presented information. Open-minded inquiry is a central theme in education.
In critical thinking the step of analysis helps us to discriminate and access information. Going back to Bloom’s taxonomy, remember that learning occurs in three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. In the cognitive domain, analysis is the fourth level and a higher ordered thinking skill. Analysis involves the process, as previously mentioned, of discriminating or separating.
Logic and reasoning are similar but not the same. Logic is the branch of philosophy that gives the rules for deriving valid conclusions. A conclusion is valid if it follows from statements that are accepted as facts. For instance, a logical statement might be, 1 + 1 = 2. This is a rule based on fact. Factual statements are called premises. When reasoning does not follow the rules, we say it is illogical.
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