ERIC Number: ED352326
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988
Critical Thinking: What Can It Be? Resource Publication, Series 1 No. 1.
Critical thinking is a cultivation of that strand of traditional education which stresses the cultivation of wisdom and its application to both practice and life. To strengthen critical thinking in schools and colleges, it is necessary to know its defining features, its characteristic outcomes, and its underlying conditions. The outcomes of critical thinking are judgments; and the nature of judgment is such that critical thinking may be defined as skillful, responsible thinking that facilitates good judgment because (1) it relies upon criteria; (2) it is self-correcting, and (3) it is sensitive to context. The very meaning of "criterion" is "a rule or principle utilized in the making of judgments." Judgment, in turn, is a skill; therefore critical thinking is skillful thinking, and skills can only be defined through criteria by which performance can be evaluated. So critical thinking is thinking that both employs criteria and can be assessed by appeal to criteria. Important criteria are reliability, strength, relevance, coherence, and consistency. Critical thinking is self-corrective, promoting a community of inquiry in the classroom by requiring students to discover weaknesses in their own thinking and to rectify faults in their procedures. Finally, thinking that is sensitive to context involves recognition of: exceptional or irregular circumstances and conditions; special limitations, contingencies, or constraints; overall configurations; the possibility that evidence is atypical; and the possibility that some meanings do not translate from one context or domain to another. Exemplary instances of critical thinking can be found in the best practice of law and medicine. The relevance of critical thinking to the enhancement of K-12 and college education is related to the shift from learning to thinking as the focus of education and to the goal of helping students develop the reasoning skills that will enable them to exercise good judgment. (IAH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Montclair State Coll., Upper Montclair, NJ. Inst. for Critical Thinking.
Note: For other documents in this series, see SP 034 130-138.