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The Process of Critical Thinking


Critical Thinking can be described as thinking which involves careful judgment, observation and evaluation. It comprises accurate reasoning which, with reflection, evaluates facts and interprets the facts to ultimately make meaning and allows the person conducting the reasoning to discover even deeper meaning in the textual facts. Since this thinking process is new to most first year GEW students, a clearer concept will be helpful. Critical thinking is reasonable and rational reflective thinking focused on deciding what to do with the resulting choices and conclusions. A person using critical thinking,

Is open-minded, flexible in thought and mindful of alternative possibilities
Effectively judges the credibility of sources and text authors
Identifies claims, arguments, conclusions, reasons, and assumptions
Judges the validity and quality of arguments, including the credibility of the supporting reasoning, assumptions, and evidence (factual and opinion)
Develop and defend a reasonable position of response based upon the predicates
Asks appropriate clarifying questions of texts and sources
Draws conclusions with caution but when warranted

Critical thinking requires a person to ensure that beliefs are true and that decisions or choices based upon evaluated and assessed facts or text are justified. People who ponder and think with deliberation and freedom of thought and creativity want to "get it right" the first time and to the fullest extent possible. This might necessitate a person to consider and

(a) seek alternate explanations, conclusions, sources, and be welling to consider any that are within reason, while purposefully avoiding the appearance of prejudice toward any theory
endorse a position which is justified by available information; a position may be limiting or supportive evidence and should not leap to extend the position beyond the reasonable and rational
study the textual evidence through a close study of the texts and sources and reflect upon the possible meanings intended by authors
rationally contemplate other possible points of view which are supported by textual evidence, personal experience, or, if in research, by positions well supported by reason and facts in reliable and credible external sources

Persons who choose to think and muse about things will present a position clearly and concisely, avoid tangential or purposeless remarks, commentary, generalizations, or irrelevancies and they will,

(a) be certain of the intended meaning of a text, making an effort to attain precision
(b) f
ocus upon the primary lessons or points of analysis using contextual evidence
(c) d
iscover and aver reasoning and supportive contextual evidence
(d) c
onsider the text as a whole, with reflection upon its parts, considering how each part relates to the others, in whole or part

While considering these ideas, use caution to be continually aware of one’s own personal beliefs, prejudices, and biased views that may cause a change in one’s rational meaning and interpretation of a text and its parts