What are the 5 critical thinking skills?

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What are the 5 critical thinking skills?

Critical thinking is a term that is often thrown around in many conversations. Most people think they know what critical thinking is, but it’s a difficult concept to really put a finger on. Generally speaking, critical thinking can be defined as the process of achieving greater understanding or insight about some topic or situation through thought and reflection. Many assume critical thinking requires a thorough understanding of specific theories and philosophies. Most also believe thinking has to be complicated in order to be considered critical thinking. However, all critical thinking requires is the ability to look at a particular issue or situation from multiple perspectives, using reason and logic (Damer, 2005).

What are the 5 critical thinking skills?

And when it comes to developing these skills, there is a much simpler method than you may think. For the purpose of developing critical thinking skills, there are five specific actions that can be taken. They are as follows:

1. Ask questions

2. Examine evidence and assumptions

3. Make inferences and conclusions

4. Consider alternatives

5. Evaluate conclusion or solution for potential errors

Ask Questions

What are the 5 critical thinking skills
Don’t get stuck, ask questions

The first critical thinking skill involves asking questions whenever you’re trying to make sense of something. Questions can be simple, complex or seemingly ridiculous. However, by considering a variety of them as you go about your day, you can begin to develop this important mental process.

Moreover, you can practice your questioning skills by focusing on questions that lead to more questions. In other words, you want to focus on those questions that don’t have definitive answers. Instead of asking “why?” you should ask “why else?” This will help you quickly begin considering different possibilities and viewpoints (Moser & Pearlstein, 2009).

Examine Evidence and Assumptions

The second critical thinking skill is closely related to the first. It involves examining evidence and assumptions as they relate to a particular issue or situation. This allows those who exercise this process not only to find out what information is actually available but also helps them determine if any weak assumptions are being made (Howe, 2007).

By taking note of these two things as they’re presented to you, you can begin to develop a better understanding of what you’re learning and how it can be put into practice.

Make Inferences and Conclusions

Making inferences and conclusions is the third critical thinking skill. It involves asking yourself questions such as “what” and “why” in order to draw relevant conclusions. This process helps those who use it determine whether or not certain pieces of evidence go together as well as the intended outcome (Huff, 2004).

Making these types of inferences and conclusions requires that you quickly visualize potential relationships between particular facts or events that may exist. In turn, this can help you understand why things occur or why they might need to happen again at point in the future (Bentz & Shapiro, 2003).

Consider Alternatives

The fourth critical thinking skill involves considering alternatives to a particular idea or solution. This is an important undertaking because it allows people to determine whether or not they’re following the best course of action. In particular, this process requires that you think about what other things could happen if you were to take another route when it comes to problem-solving (Damer, 2005).

The more options and solutions you consider before making a decision, the better your overall result will be (Whatis.com Staff, n.d.).Evaluate Conclusion or Solution for Potential Errors. The final critical thinking skill involves evaluating the conclusion reached by an individual in terms of its potential errors. This can be especially challenging for beginners who are trying to make sense of different issues and ideas. However, it’s important for all people to consider the potential for errors as they’re developing their thoughts and opinions on a topic (Damer, 2005).

Evaluate Conclusion or Solution for Potential Errors

The final critical thinking skill involves evaluating the conclusion reached by an individual in terms of its potential errors. This can be especially challenging for beginners who are trying to make sense of different issues and ideas. However, it’s important for all people to consider the potential for errors as they’re developing their thoughts and opinions on a topic (Damer, 2005).

Howe (2007) states that these skills must be practiced regularly before one can truly begin to master them. In other words, questioning your assumptions and thinking about alternatives will only take you so far if you’re not willing to put in the necessary work required. Asking questions, examining evidence, and making inferences and conclusions takes time and effort but is vital to success (Moser & Pearlstein, 2009).

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Conclusion: What are the 5 critical thinking skills?

By following these five basic steps, you can develop your critical thinking skills and make much better decisions in the future. With practice, you’ll begin to notice how much easier it is to make sense of things for yourself. The more you work on developing these vital mental processes, the more capable you’ll become of making accurate decisions and conclusions.

Also, by incorporating these five steps into your daily life, you’ll find yourself becoming more adept at achieving a greater understanding about various topics and issues through thought and reflection (Moser & Pearlstein, 2009). By practicing each of them as they come up in conversation or during your everyday activities, you’ll find it much easier to recognize and properly assess these situations in the future. The more you exercise this thinking process, the better your decisions will become.

References:

Damer, T. (2005). Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments 4th Edition (p. 11). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

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