Guide to Critical Thinking

Of course, writing well is closely tied to thinking critically. And critical thinking is specifically named in the Cañada College mission statement. All of us want our students to deepen their critical thinking abilities.

Researchers, Richard Paul & Linda Elder, have developed a text called, “The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools,” which is available in abbreviated form at: http://www.criticalthinking.org/files/Concepts_Tools.pdf.  The entire text is available at on-line books sellers, including Amazon. Paul has also spearheaded a website with other resources regarding Critical Thinking called the Critical Thinking Community; you can find those resources at: http://www.criticalthinking.org//

One page from the “The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking” offers questions for students and instructors to consider.

You might ask these questions of your students or share them with students to guide their reflection about their own and each other’s work.

Clarity
Could you elaborate further?
Could you give me an example?
Could you illustrate what you mean?

Accuracy
How could we check on that?
How could we find out if that is true?
How could we verify or test that?

Precision
Could you be more specific?
Could you give me more details?
Could you be more exact?

Relevance
How does that relate to the problem?
How does that bear on the question?
How does that help us with the issue?

Depth
What factors make this a difficult problem?
What are some of the complexities of this question?
What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?

Breadth
Do we need to look at this from another perspective?
Do we need to consider another point of view?
Do we need to look at this in other ways?

Logic

Does all this make sense together?
Does your first paragraph fit in with your last?
Does what you say follow from the evidence?

Significance
Is this the most important problem to consider?
Is this the central idea to focus on?
Which of these facts are most important?

Fairness
Do I have any vested interest in this issue?
Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of others?

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