You use critical thinking skills to make decisions every day. From deciding what you want to wear in the morning to choosing how you're going to get to school or work, the ability to think critically allows you to make choices or solve problems in a way that best suits you and the situation you are facing. Critical thinking consists of four steps: collecting information, evaluating information, drawing conclusions and evaluating those conclusions.
Collecting all of the information when making a decision is an important part of the critical thinking process. If you're planning your outfit for the day, you take everything from the weather forecast to your school or work dress code to comfort into consideration. Once you've gathered all the information you need, you can move to the next step of evaluating that information to make the best decision about what you should wear.
Evaluating the Data
If you've collected all the data you need to make a decision, evaluating it allows you to use your innovation skills. Innovating, or thinking of new approaches to old problems, provides the ability to come up with fresh ideas to create possibilities for solutions. If the weather forecast is warm but rainy and you are afraid that a rain jacket may make you too hot, innovative thought may lead you to dress to stay cool and carry an umbrella to avoid getting wet.
Being able to think intuitively allows you to use the evidence you've gathered from thinking critically so you can develop an opinion based on conclusions you've drawn. While you might not have all of the evidence you need based on the research you've conducted, you can use your intuition to make determinations quickly and readily. For example, if you see that an oven is on, intuitive thinking tells you that it is probably hot and dangerous to touch. This allows you to hypothesize conclusions and predict patterns even if you don't have concrete answers yet.
Evaluating the Conclusion
Evaluating the conclusion you've drawn from all the evidence is the final step of the critical thinking process. Once you've completed the other three steps, it's important to decide whether or not your conclusion is a fair one. For instance, if you dressed for warm and rainy weather, did you remember that your office has air-conditioning? If your conclusion takes all the evidence you have into consideration and allows you to make the best decision, then you have successfully completed the critical thinking process.
- Forbes: How to Develop 5 Critical Thinking Types
- Foundation for Critical Thinking: Defining Critical Thinking
- Forbes: Can Innovative Thinking Be Learned?
- Foundation For Critical Thinking: Making Critical Thinking Intuitive
- Brown University Writing Center: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Foundation for Critical Thinking: Thinking With Concepts
- Access Research Network: Introduction to Critical Thinking
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