A Working Definition
Business and academia have a long-held interest in critical thinking. Before you explore the nature of critical thinking and its importance, you must establish its definition. Consider the following components:
- Identifying and challenging assumptions
- Challenging the importance of context
- Exploring alternatives, leading to reflective skepticism
Characteristics of Critical Thinking
Critical thinkers usually do the following:
- Ask pertinent questions.
- Define criteria for analyzing ideas.
- Assess statements and arguments.
- Examine and weigh beliefs, assumptions, and opinions against facts.
- Determine if evidence is sufficient to support claims.
- Verify information is relevant and supported by expert sources.
- Check materials for objectivity, fairness, and lack of distortion.
- Detect, describe, and use relationships in their processes.
- Sort or categorize observations, research, and experiences.
- Submit work for peer review and accept critical challenges.
Why is Critical Thinking Important?
To reason clearly and critically. To be problem solvers, able to identify and evaluate problems, utilize critical thinking skills to recommend and select among alternative solutions, implement solutions and evaluate consequences.
These goals identify two elements vital in developing critical thinking skills in the development of cognitive and affective dispositions. We can identify the following components as part of the critical thinking process:
- Scientific reasoning
- Reasoning or logic
- Problem solving
We want to encourage deeper levels of thinking on topics, concepts, events, beliefs, cultures and society. We need to consistently question, challenge, and revisit our beliefs. Pushing yourself and others to go beyond reasoning that is solely based on their personal biases and opinions is one of the primary tasks of critical and creative thinking.
Critical thinking is about how we use our intelligence and knowledge to reach objective and rationale viewpoints. Opinions and beliefs based on critical thinking stand on firmer ground compared to those formulated through less rational processes. Additionally, critical thinkers are usually better equipped to make decisions and solve problems compared to those who lack this ability (Haskins, 2006, p. 2).Outcomes of critical thinking include the following:
- Increases academic knowledge
- Encourages intellectual curiosity
- Strengthens the ability to analyze and evaluate topics of interest in academia
- Promotes understanding of social diversity and world views
- Improves research, writing, and oral communication skills
- Helps construct and deconstruct arguments to rationally defend opinions
- Fosters independent learning and strong group participation (McMillan, 2008)
Importance of Critical Thinking in the Workplace
You want to critically think to obtain a deeper understanding of our world and society and to learn to apply critical thinking skills in their everyday work practices. The following sources discuss the value of critical thinking and how it is practiced in the workplace:
- American Society for Training & Development: www.astd.org/
- Committee for Economic Development: www.ced.org/
- National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs: www.subnet.nga.org/workforcecouncilchairs
- Society for Human Resource Management: www.shrm.org
Using our practitioner expertise to find and share similar sources
that will assist in thinking more critically in relation to their field of choice.
Various sources including:
Haskins, G. (2006). A practical guide to critical thinking. Retrieved from http://skepdic.com/essays/haskins.pdf