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Thinking Critically

Dr Ngeow Yeok Meng


drmeng@um.edu.my

Section for Co-Curricular Courses, External Faculty Electives and TITAS (SKET) University of Malaya
Adopted from Jennifer Zimmermans teaching materials, http://faculty.mercer.edu

Everyone agrees that students learn in university, but whether they learn to think is even more controversial (McKeachie)

The Academics Quest


How do we move beyond what we already know? How do we expand the domain of knowledge? How will we know when a discovery or conclusion constitutes new knowledge?

Activity 1: Rate Your Thinking Skills


Based on a scale of

0 (minimum) to 10 (maximum) how would you rate your: Critical Thinking Skills? ____/10 Creative Thinking Skills? ____/10 Problem Solving Skills? ____/10 Overall Thinking Skills? ____/10

Which

Which thinking skill is the most important for your profession? Why do you think so?
Write down your answer(s). Work in pairs. Share with your partner. (Listen to his/her justification).

In your view, Thinking


1. How important are critical thinking skills for university students? 2. How important is the development of your critical thinking within your courses? 3. What is the best way for you to learn about critical thinking skills?

Seeking for Truth


How do we know whether a statement is true, partially true, or absolutely false? What is the mark of truth? Lacking a signpost for truth, academics strive to find methods of thinking and knowing that ultimately will grow the store of known truths.

is acknowledged as the most reliable platform for expanding knowledge across academic disciplines

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
(Center for Critical Thinking)

Final Thoughts. . . . . . . . . . .

Critical Thinking Process Flow


A series of OBSERVATIONS gives us FACTS.
Based on facts, or an absence of facts, we make:

Inferences.
By testing the validity of our inferences, we make: Assumptions that lead us to form our Opinions.
Taking our opinions, we use the principles of logic to develop: Arguments.
(9) http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Ecompose/faculty/pedagogies/thinking.html#elements

What happens when we argue?


To challenge the arguments of others, we employ:

Critical Analysis
through which we challenge the observations, facts, inferences, assumptions and opinions in the arguments that we are analyzing

Critical Thinking Checklist


Critical thinking skills include
separating relevant from irrelevant information, distinguishing between verifiable facts and value claims, determining the credibility of a source, recognizing inconsistencies in a line of reasoning, and determining the strength of an argument or a claim.
(1)

The Critical Thinking Tradition


John Dewey proposed that a reflective thinker is aware of a problem and is able to bring critical judgment to that problem. A thinker understands the uncertainty about how a problem may best be solved, yet is able to offer a judgment about the problem. Such judgment is a grounded or warranted assumption based on: evaluation of evidence, consideration of expert opinion and adequacy of argument.
(10)

How do you learn to practice a new method of thinking?


Acquire

Skills
Develop

Dispositions or Traits
Evaluate your thinking practices according to

Standards

Required Skills
Categorization Decoding significance Clarifying meaning

Interpretation Analysis Evaluation Inference Explanation Self-regulation


(2) p7. http://www.insightassessment.com/pdf_files/DEXadobe.PDF

Examining ideas Identifying arguments Analyzing arguments


Assessing claims Assessing arguments Querying evidence Conjecturing alternatives Drawing conclusions Stating results Justifying procedures Presenting arguments Self-examination Self-correction

Traits
Truthseeking: A courageous desire for the best
knowledge, even if such knowledge fails to support or undermine ones preconceptions, beliefs or self-interests.

Open-mindedness:

Tolerance for divergent views, self-monitoring for possible bias.

Analyticity:

Demanding the application of reason and evidence, alert to problematic situations, inclined to anticipate consequences.

Systematicity: Valuing organization, focus and


diligence to approach problems of all levels of complexity.
(1) p15 paraphrase of an excerpt from The Delphi Report

Traits
CT Self-Confidence: Trusting of ones own
reasoning skills and seeing oneself as a good thinker.

Inquisitiveness: Maturity:

Curious and eager to acquire knowledge and learn explanations even when the applications of the knowledge are not immediately present. Prudence in making, suspending or revising judgment. An awareness that multiple solutions can be acceptable. An appreciation of the need to reach closure even in the absences of complete knowledge.
(1) p15 paraphrase of an excerpt from The Delphi Report

Empathy Humility Courage Integrity Perseverance Curiosity Civility Responsibility


(3) http://criticalthinking.org/University/intraits.html

Standards Clear
Accurate

Deep
Broad

Precise
Relevant

Logical
Significant
(6) http://criticalthinking.org/University/unistan.html (4) http://criticalthinking.org/University/questioningmind.htm

Edmans Classroom Rules for Critical Thinkers


1.
Because you are not God, it is inevitable some of the beliefs and viewpoints you firmly hold are completely wrong.
who disagree with you before you are fully able to understand your own viewpoints.

2. You must understand the viewpoints of those

3.

Until you can summarize another viewpoint so well those who hold it agree with your summary, you do not understand that viewpoint.
(2)

Edmans Classroom Rules for Critical Thinkers


4.
You should always assume those who disagree with your viewpoint are as intelligent and as noble-minded as you are.
alternative viewpoints and to change your mind in order to be a critical thinker.

5. You must be willing to seriously consider

6.

A retreat into relativism is a retreat away from critical thinking. Not all viewpoints are equally valid.
(2)

The Elements of Critical Thinking


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
All reasoning has a purpose. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, to solve some problem. All reasoning is based on assumptions. All reasoning is done from some point of view. All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas. All reasoning contains inferences by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data. All reasoning leads somewhere, has implications and consequences.
(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

1. All reasoning has a purpose.


Take time to state your purpose clearly. Distinguish your purpose from related purposes. Check periodically to be sure you are still on target. Choose significant and realistic purposes.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

2. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something


out, to settle some question, to solve some problem. Take time to clearly and precisely state the question at issue. Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope. Break the question into sub questions. Identify if the question has one right answer, is a matter of opinion, or requires reasoning from more than one point of view.
(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

3. All reasoning is based on assumptions.


Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable. Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

4. All reasoning is done from some point


of view.
Identify your point of view.
Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses. Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

5. All reasoning is based on data, information


and evidence. Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have. Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it. Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue. Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

6. All reasoning is expressed through, and


shaped by, concepts and ideas.

Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.


Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions to concepts. Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

7. All reasoning contains inferences or


interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data. Infer only what the evidence implies. Check inferences for their consistency with each other. Identify assumptions which lead you to your inferences.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has


implications and consequences.
Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning. Search for negative as well as positive implications.
Consider all possible consequences.

(5) http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html

Activity 2: Circle 10 words/phrases that best describes your thinking


shades of gray - strives for depth Interdisciplinary knowledge is open knowledge is intertwined with thinking black and white - superficial level uni-disciplinary knowledge is closed knowledge is independent of thinking rational and consistent strives to learn how to think holistic/webbed original/insightful multiple frames of reference irrational and inconsistent strives to learn what to think uni-disciplinary/linear relies on second-hand information one or very limited frames of reference suspends closure explores/probes questions fair-minded active collaborative/communal precise language strives for closure dogmatic/avoiding doubting ego-/ethnocentric/emotional passive authoritative vague language

shades of gray - strives for depth interdisciplinary knowledge is open knowledge is intertwined with thinking rational and consistent strives to learn how to think holistic/webbed original/insightful multiple frames of reference

suspends closure explores/probes questions fair-minded active collaborative/communal precise language

Your SCORE

Profile of a Critical Thinker


Critical Thinking Epistemological Standpoint:
shades of gray - strives for depth interdisciplinary knowledge is open knowledge is intertwined with thinking

Non-Critical Thinking
black and white - superficial level uni- or adisciplinary knowledge is closed knowledge is independent of thinking

Modes of Inquiry:
rational and consistent strives to learn how to think holistic/webbed original/insightful multiple frames of reference irrational and inconsistent strives to learn what to think uni-disciplinary/linear relies on second-hand information one or very limited frames of reference

Concrete Strategies for Thinking:

suspends closure explores/probes questions fair-minded active collaborative/communal precise language

strives for closure dogmatic/avoiding doubting ego-/ethnocentric/emotional passive authoritative vague language

(1)

Dawson, Roy E. Critical Thinking, Scientific Thinking, and Everyday Thinking: Metacognition about Cognition. Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall 2000: v4 i3 p76. Infotrac Online Library. 28 May 2002 <http://www.infotrac-college.com>.

(2)

Edman, Laird R. O. Teaching Critical Thinking: Pedagogy and Assessment. Center for Teaching and Learning Calendar of Past Events. 28 February 2002. Mercer University. 28 May 2002 <http://www.mercer.edu/ctl/edman.htm.>.

(3)
(4)

Edman, Laird R. O. Teaching Thinking: The state of the art [handout]. Mercer University. 28 February 2002. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, University Library: The Critical Mind is a Questioning Mind. Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 <http://criticalthinking.org/University/questioningmind.htm>. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, University Library: The Elements of Critical Thinking: Helping Students Assess Their Thinking. Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 <http://criticalthinking.org/University/helps.html>.

(5)

(6)

Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, R. University Library: Universal Intellectual Standards. Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 <http://criticalthinking.org/University/unistan.html>. Elder, Linda and Richard Paul, R. University Library: Valuable Intellectual Traits. Critical Thinking Consortium. Foundation for Critical Thinking. 28 May 2002 <http://criticalthinking.org/University/intraits.html>. Facione, Peter A. Executive Summary: Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction. American Philosophical Association Dephi Research Report. 1990. The California Academic Press. 28 May 2002 <http://www.insightassessment.com/pdf_files/DEXadobe.PDF>. Goscik, Karen. Teaching Critical Thinking: Elements of Critical Thinking. Composition Center. 1997. Dartmouth College. 28 May 2002 <http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Ecompose/faculty/pedagogies/thinking.html>. Hine, Allison and Lyn Peacock. Thinking Skills to Creatively Enhance Information Competence. Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall 2000: v4 i3 p92. Infotrac Online Library. 28 May 2002 < http://www.infotrac-college.com>.

(7)

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To Recap What Weve Learnt:


The relevance of Critical Thinking (CT) to university education The elements of CT: conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating Skills, Traits, Standards Improving CT via inquisitive mind

Any
Any questions?
Any

burning questions please email:


drmeng@um.edu.my

Thank you for your attention!