Monday, January 25, 2016

What is Critical Thinking?

The New York Times article "Bosses Seek 'Critical Thinking' but what is that?" mentions that employers find critical thinking to be a valuable skill, but have a hard time defining what the term means.

Does it mean you should think inside the box? Outside the box? Break the rules? Bend the rules?

Job seekers complain that "critical thinking" is often listed as a requirement in a job posting, but they have no idea what the phrase means until they arrive at a job interview and discover that it sometimes means "forming your own opinion from a variety of sources" or even analyzing data with some kind of rubric.

Some bosses believe it is the ability to deal with problems found in the business world or to "accumulate data, analyze data, and synthesize it to make a balanced decision." That seems to reflect a belief in wanting problem-solving skills.

Most bosses say college graduates don't have critical thinking skills. They can regurgitate information, but they can't apply that information or training to solve problems.

But some psychologists say that idea--applying principles to problems--creates people who tend to challenge the status quo and bosses aren't necessarily looking for that.

So what is your definition of critical thinking? Can you come up with a definition that blends ideals for both academia and the professional world?

18 comments:

  1. The definition of critical thinking widely accepted by the majority of people is a fairly broad term. Though I disagree with many bosses in that college students lack this skill, I do agree that it is a different type of critical thinking than in the work force and day to day activities. However, that being said, college critical thinking where you analyze writing and create responses creates that same pattern of thinking needed for more general use critical thinking. Critical thinking should be the all encompassing ability to analyze a problem or situation in a way that takes into consideration all views, possible outcomes and ultimately the best decision based on the interests of the individuals you are working with.

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  2. I believe critical thinking in of itself is a rather basic concept. However based on the subject material and environment the thinking is done in, critical thinking can take on many forms. Hence why there seems to be just about an infinite number of definitions for what exactly is considered to be "critical thinking." But I do believe that it is all centered around the same basic idea. For me, critical thinking is along the lines of being self-aware. To think critically, one must recognize both the tools they have and the problem they are facing. Depending on the situation, one must then adapt, analyze, and finally execute their problem solving method. There can be a lot to consider at times, but the key is to fully understand what is around you and then determine the best course of action.

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  3. Critical thinking is when you take a situation or an experience and relate it to another perspective. When you think outside of the box, and it’s usually not a straight forward answer. You have to take a siltation and look at it in depth. College students know how to think creatively because many professors assign work that involves thinking critically, now middle school students probably would lack that skill. Critical thinking is when you don’t have a narrow view point of a situation, it’s when you take every aspect of the issue in consideration. Students are taught what to think but critical thinking involves how to think.

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  4. Many people get confused about what critical thinking is, critical thinking is about how you think, not what you think. My definition of critical thinking is thinking in a way that involves engaging one’s mind and keeping a spark of inquisitiveness. When a person is curious they think about all sorts of things in different perspectives and do not have a close mind. So when thinking critically become self-aware and be creative.

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  5. Critical thinking is a type of extreme thinking which involves thinking outside the box when dealing with certain situations in which basic or simple thinking will not help solve those problem. For academia, for example, in college, students use critical thinking a lot in their College English classes when they read books or write their essays. In the professional world, for example, during jobs, lawyers use critical thinking a lot to provide evidence that their clients are innocent, doctors use critical thinking frequently to help find ways to cure their patients, and computer engineers use critical thinking regularly to code for writing and running programs. However, soldiers in the military also use critical thinking several times to help defeat their enemies in a way that their enemies will not suspect them and their actions.

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  6. Critical thinking is the concept of solving a problem from all aspects. Being a critical thinker is being able to go off any basic given trail of information to solve it in multiple steps, eliminating information that is given that makes sense logically only on a small scale. Colleges and schools in general are know to give out information to memorize. In a work and academic mixture, critical thinking is done by approaching problems after analyzing all many possible solutions based off of life experience and learning. Critical thinking is something that is not only learned in school but in life as well, it provides a plethora of ideas to solve problems from a 360 degree angle, not limiting anyone to any tunnel vision to solve a problem.

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  7. Critical thinking for me is the ability to be able to solve problems and conflicts as fast as possible as well in the best way possible. In a job this is a very high key skill needed as sometimes many problems arise which you may need to think on the fly. In school this definition also works because it wants you to think as hard as you can on a problem/subject you analyze the problem, focus on it looking at all the different ways and picking the right steps to solve it.

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  8. I think that critical thinking is the development of metacognitive skills. Similarly, critical thinking is thinking about thinking. It is an essential tool that is valued everywhere, whether in a school setting or a workforce. This is because when a person has a skilled mindset, they are likely to make better decisions in situational events because they are more aware and educated about it. With poor thinking, people are likely to face confusion, struggles and disappointments due to lack of knowledge. Therefore, people rely more on others with good critical thinking skills because these people appear to be responsible and alert. Perhaps the reason behind why most bosses argue that college graduates do not have critical thinking skills is due to lack of career or job experience during their undergrad years. I believe that students in general have amazing critical thinking skills because of the amount of creativity and curiosity they have. However, it’s just that students are loaded with stress and adapt to the concept of memorization rather than learning by doing. Whether academia or the professional world, it is the accumulation of knowledge through experience in which good critical thinking skills truly develops from.

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  9. My definition of critical thinking would be the ability to determine denotation and connotation of the meaning behind different statements and being able to form your own opinions or ideas about the subject. This would help in the setting of school because what schools sometimes ask for is the ability to answer problems while providing evidence. You have to be able to take a stance on the problem and state why you think that while supporting your claims with evidence.

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  10. The term "critical thinking” is a big term with many possible meanings, depending on the task and who is saying it. On the job, critical thinking includes information analysis, thinking on your feet, and problem solving, but in academia, critical thinking includes weighing several points of view, forming your own opinion, and finding solutions. The place of overlap is information analysis and creating practical solutions. Weighing several points of view is similar to information analysis in that you have to take everything in and decipher what it all means before coming to a decision – that would be problem-solving. In a sense, forming your own opinion and problem-solving on the job have similarities too, in that you make a final decision and go through with it. However, forming your own opinion is a decision you make in your mind, while problem-solving on the job involves technical and easily-visible changes. Although critical thinking in academia and critical thinking on the job can be quite different, critical thinking, in essence, is the ability to take in the available information and make the best decision from that – whether it’s an opinion, or a technical decision.

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  11. Critical thinking is I think a very vague concept which can be interpreted in many different way and therefore has many different definition. It is I think an ability that people develop after having read and wrote a lot which allow them to interrogate themselves as well as the author’s idea deeply. To be able to see and understand a particular way of questioning “differently” than others, critical thinkers ask themselves different type of inquiries. They will approach a topic in a very uncommon way which will bring up new sort of questioning. For example whenever an author is trying to persuade its reader, a critical thinker will have a totally different interpretation which will allow him to have a different vision on a topic. The ability to use critical thinking will allow someone to rhetorically question a subject in a various way. The critical thinker will allow to doubt, to argue and to refute whatever ideas are present in a particular text as well as to pursue and support them going even further.

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  12. Critical thinking does not have a definition that comes with it. I feel like critical thinking is more opinion based and everyone's viewpoint on what it is is different. So when she mentions that there are tests that show whether or not people can critical think or not, I believe that's not possible because critical thinking can have a different meaning to everyone. You cannot measure it nor create a baseline of the concept.

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  13. As stated in this blog, critical thinking does not have a single definition for its term. Everyone has their own point of view when it is about critical thinking. In my opinion, critical thinking is the process by which we make clear and reasoned judgments; it is a clear thinking involving critique. Basically, it means that you have to examine evidence (article, blog, newspaper, etc.) and give a logical argument.
    Miguel Vasquez // ENGL 1001-03

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  14. This article caught my eye because even after I took a critical thinking course a couple of years back, I could not define what critical thinking actually was. I think that critical thinking is being able to analyze a problem or something from multiple angles, meaning that you are able to view a situation from not only a black and white perspective, but also able to see the gray area in between. Even in situations that you may have some biases towards such as abortion and what not. For example, if I am against abortion, a critical thinker may see some of the reasons why people would be for abortion like rape victims who become involuntarily pregnant. I would have to respectfully disagree with one statement that was mentioned in the article, which was that college graduates don’t think critically. I think that college graduates, maybe not all graduates, would be able to think critically. The reason that I mentioned that might be based off of my personal experience.

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  15. When it came to critical thinking, i thought that it only had to do with older people or only in serious situations. but in reality, critically thinking can be used in every situation if needed. it isn't really difficult to be a critical thinker, but i think it might be hard if someone isn't really open minded. i think critical thinking is being able to think throughout everything no matter what the people around one thinks already. its the ability to be able to think and come up with ideas that maybe others were too afraid to bring up or just think about. for me personally, i use a lot of critically thinking when it comes to situations with how to solve problems with people or just putting pieces together to figure the problem out.

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  16. Critical thinking is a tricky topic and even harder to define. I believe the term can mean two completely different things. One being more on the definition of problem solving and the other is being able to form your opinion after looking deeply into a topic. To meet definition that suits both academia and professional standards, the definition would have to be more along the lines of " being able to recognize an issue and having the ability to create solutions for it".

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  17. Critical thinking is an interesting topic because there really isn't a universal definition for it, it's up to the individual. For myself, critical thinking is the ability to think through and perceiver through a situation and find a way to solve it. This is helpful in the work place because it makes you self sufficient and able to do your job more efficiently. These traits are what employers look for and for good reason, more efficiency=more money. As a worker and future business owner, I see critical thinking being almost more important then education because it is so much more helpful.(p.s I posted this on the day the DDD(May 18) was supposed to be posted but it did;t go through ;/ sorry)

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  18. Thinking critically is a direct challenge to the status quo; in fact, it is a direct challenge at everything. Employers who expect recent college grads or new hires to be critical thinkers must be willing to take on the criticism that may come from their analytical perspective. I think that many college students grow to understand that their role as students in academia is a means to an end, even if their role as learners is not. My dad always said, "Don't let school interfere with your education". This instilled an understanding that school and education often are separated. So maybe employers are looking for new hires who played the game that normative society wants by attending a university, but didn't allow that to minimize the learning they achieved in the outside world. There is a dichotomy of book smarts and street smarts that is separated by one's experiences, so employers who claim they want critical thinkers must reform their application review process to include more than a simple college degree -- which any spoon fed kid can achieve, given the right allowance. But employers should beware of their quest for critical thinkers, because it may take the comfort out of their company. Challenge is not comfortable, and critical thinking shouldn't be either.

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