Critical thinking includes the component skills of analyzing arguments, making inferences using inductive or deductive reasoning, judging or evaluating, and making decisions or solving problems when evaluating academic content. Background knowledge is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for enabling critical thought within a given subject. Critical thinking involves both cognitive skills and dispositions. These dispositions, which can be seen as attitudes or habits of mind, include open- and fair-mindedness, inquisitiveness, flexibility, a propensity to seek reason, a desire to be well-informed, and a respect for and willingness to entertain diverse viewpoints. There are both general- and domain-specific aspects of critical thinking. Empirical research suggests that people begin developing critical thinking competencies at a very young age. Although adults often exhibit deficient reasoning, in theory all people can be taught to think critically.
Instructors are urged to provide explicit instruction in critical thinking, to teach how to transfer to new contexts, and to use cooperative or collaborative learning methods and constructivist approaches that place students at the center of the learning process. In constructing assessments of critical thinking, educators should use open-ended tasks, real-world or “authentic” problem contexts, and ill-structured problems that require students to go beyond recalling or restating previously learned information. Such tasks should have more than one defensible solution and embed adequate collateral materials to support multiple perspectives. Finally, such assessment tasks should make student reasoning visible by requiring students to provide evidence or logical arguments in support of judgments, choices, claims, or assertions.
Critical thinking is an important element of all professional fields and academic disciplines when evaluating academic content. Within the framework of scientific skepticism, the process of critical thinking involves the careful acquisition and interpretation of information and use of it to reach a well-justified conclusion. The concepts and principles of critical thinking can be applied to any context or case but only by reflecting upon the nature of that application. Critical thinking forms, therefore, a system of related, and overlapping, modes of thought such as anthropological thinking, sociological thinking, historical thinking, political thinking, psychological thinking, philosophical thinking, mathematical thinking, chemical thinking, biological thinking, ecological thinking, legal thinking, ethical thinking, musical thinking, thinking like a painter, sculptor, engineer, business person, etc. In other words, though critical thinking principles are universal, their application to disciplines requires a process of reflective contextualization. Critical thinking is considered important in the academic fields because it enables one to analyze, evaluate, explain, and restructure their thinking, thereby decreasing the risk of adopting, acting on, or thinking with, a false belief.
However, even with knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, mistakes can happen due to a thinker’s inability to apply the methods or because of character traits such as egocentrism. Critical thinking includes identification of prejudice, bias, propaganda, self-deception, distortion, misinformation, etc. Given research in cognitive psychology, some educators believe that schools should focus on teaching their students critical thinking skills and cultivation of intellectual traits. Socratic method is defined as “a prolonged series of questions and answers which refutes a moral assertion by leading an opponent to draw a conclusion that contradicts his own viewpoint. Critical thinking skills through Socratic method taught in schools help create leaders. Instructors that promote critical thinking skills can benefit the students by increasing their confidence and creating a repeatable thought process to question and confidently approach a solution.
Students also accomplish follower-ship skills that can be used to probe the leader’s foundations. Critical thinking skills through Socratic method serve to produce professionals that are self-governing. However, Socratic method for critical thinking skills can become confusing if an instructor or leader uses the method too rigidly, the student may not know what the instructor or leader wants from him. An instructor or leader may disillusion the students if he uses particular style of questioning. Instructors must reveal their reasoning behind the questions in order to guide the students in the right direction. “Socratic method can serve twenty-first-century leaders to instruct students, mentor protégés, motivate followers, advise other leaders, and influence peers. In conclusion, “critical thinking is the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances when evaluating academic content.
The general goal of thinking is to figure out some situation, solve some problems, answer some questions, or resolve some issue It also is a process in which a person pursuits reliable and pertinent information about the world. Critical thinking is often described as reasonable, ruminative, trustworthy, and a well practiced form of thinking that assists people with deciding what they should believe in and what actions should be taken. A practiced critical thinker will ask good questions, collects pertinent data, categorizes common characteristics, logically reasons with the new data and then he or she will come to a trustworthy and dependable conclusion. Critical thinking makes use of many processes and procedures. Some processes include but is not limited to asking questions, making judgments, and identifying assumptions.