The Miniature Guide To Critical Thinking

Search for negative as well as positive implications. © 2008 Foundation for Critical Thinking Press The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools Questions Using the Elements of Thought (in a paper, an activity, a reading assignment...) Purpose: What am I trying to accomplish? Breadth: Do we need to consider another point of view? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? Before you implied this and now you are saying that, I don’t see how both can be true. Breadth Do we need to look at this from another perspective? (Figure out the facts, experiences, data the author is using to support her/his conclusions.) 4)  The main inferences/conclusions in this article are __________________.What would this look like from the point of view of…? When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. (Identify the key conclusions the author comes to and presents in the article.) 5)  The key concept(s) we need to understand in this article is (are) ____________.Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought.

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© 2008 Foundation for Critical Thinking Press The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools The Elements of Thought Point of View frames of reference, perspectives, orientations Implications and Consequences Purpose goals, objectives Elements of Thought Assumptions presuppositions, axioms, taking for granted Concepts theories, definitions, laws, principles, models Question at issue problem, issue Information data, facts, observations, experiences Interpretation and Inference conclusions, solutions Used With Sensitivity to Universal Intellectual Standards Clarity  Accuracy  Depth  Breadth  Significance Precision Relevance © 2008 Foundation for Critical Thinking Press The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools A Checklist for Reasoning 1) All reasoning has a PURPOSE. • • • • State the question at issue clearly and precisely.

Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope. Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints. • Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable. • Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses.

• Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have. But higher order thinking can be inconsistent in quality. To think at the highest level of quality, we need not only intellectual skills, but intellectual traits as well. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in “Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight.” Precision: Could you give me more details? A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in “Jack is overweight.” (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.) Relevance: How is that connected to the question? A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue.

• Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it. © 2008 Foundation for Critical Thinking Press The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools Universal Intellectual Standards: And questions that can be used to apply them Universal intellectual standards are standards which should be applied to thinking to ensure its quality. The ultimate goal, then, is for these standards to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, guiding them to reason better. For example, the question “What can be done about the education system in America? In order to adequately address the question, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the “problem” to be. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course.

Intellectually engaged students take ownership of content through actively thinking it through, value questions more than answers, seek understanding over rote memorization.

As an integral part of these processes, students learn how to learn, using disciplined reading, writing, speaking, and listening as modalities in learning.

In the same spirit, all conference sessions will be interactive—integrating reading, writing, and teaching as modes for internalizing the ideas.

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