Critical Thinking Guidelines

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Critical thinkers try to identify and evaluate the unspoken assumptions on which claims and arguments may rest.

When assumptions or beliefs keep us from considering the evidence fairly or completely, it becomes biased.

Evaluating evidence and drawing appropriate conclusions along with other skills, such as distin­guishing arguments from nonarguments and finding assumptions, are collectively called argument analysis skills.

Many CT experts take argument analysis skills to be fundamental CT skills (e.g., Ennis, 1987; Halpern, 1998).

Overview of the Guidelines Confusion about the definition of CT has been a major obstacle to teaching and assessing it (Halonen, 1995; Williams, 1999).

To deal with this problem, we have defined CT as reflective think­ing involved in the evaluation of evidence relevant to a claim so that a sound or good conclusion can be drawn from the evidence (Bensley, 1998).

This is because a second-place winner compares himself to the first-place winner. They are unhappy that they did not become the winner.

The third-place winner compares themselves to those that did worse than they did and is happier that they came in third rather than losing the game.

It seemed to me that learning about the quality of evidence and drawing appropriate conclusions from scientific research were central to teaching critical thinking (CT) in psychology.

In this article, I have attempted to provide guidelines to psychol­ogy instructors on how to teach CT, describing techniques I devel­oped over 20 years of teaching.


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