Critical thinking studies

You need to ask the right questions when reading the work of others; your writing needs to show you have the ability to weigh up different arguments and perspectives and use evidence to help you form your own opinions, arguments, theories and ideas. Critical thinking is about questioning and learning with an open mind. If you are new to critical thinking at university, sign up for our short online course at FutureLearn: Critical thinking at university: an introduction.

7 Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Skills

If you are a final year student, you can find out more about being critical in your dissertation or final year research project from our resource The Final Chapter. Skip to main content University links. Close quicklinks. Library Study and research support Academic skills Critical thinking. Show all contents Contents.

The public says they engage opposing views, but they rarely do. Nearly 87 percent of respondents say that considering an opposing view is an important and useful exercise.


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But few engage in the practice, and less than a quarter of respondents actually seek out views that challenge their own. For instance, 24 percent of respondents say they avoid people with opposing views. Another 25 percent rarely or never seek out people who have different views than theirs.

In other words, many people claim they solicit the views of others. What is critical thinking? We define critical thinking broadly, and we believe it is a type of reflective throught that requires reasoning, logic and analysis to make choices and understand problems. Key elements of critical thinking include seeking out opposing viewpoints, using evidence, and engaging in debate. Critical thinking is not new. Nor are claims about its importance. In some ways, things have not changed at all since the time of Socrates.


  1. Teaching critical thinking: An evidence-based guide.
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  3. Critical Thinking and Academic Research?
  4. The unexamined life is still not worth living. Today, reasoning is at the center of a 21st century society, the engine of the modern world. Technology is driving much of the need for deeper critical thinking skills. It is the primary force behind our changing economy, in which richer forms of reasoning have become some of the best predictors of economic success. While the Internet has provided many benefits, it has made it harder to figure out fact from fiction. In more traditional forms of media, such as newspapers, there have long been clear demarcations that separate opinion pieces from reported articles.

    Online, however thoroughly-reported news items, op-eds, and totally unverified information are often promoted in similar ways without much distinction among them. Social media makes this problem far worse. It is now fairly easy to push out maliciously false information online, and many sites and bots aim to spread information with questionable sources. Recently, Facebook removed almost pages that continually posted misleading information.

    Social media also pushes people to live in an echo chamber. At the same time, technology has eroded critical thinking. Our devices are making us less able to reflect and rationalize.

    Academic writing and Critical thinking 1

    We read less and consume more visual media, which does not allow for the analysis and reflection required of critical thinking. While institutions have taken some steps to limit falsehoods, individuals increasingly must take steps to avoid becoming prey to dishonest information. He implored news consumers to think critically online. Our schools, in particular, fall short of empowering students with better reasoning skills. This is particularly evident online.

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    Developing critical thinking skills: research

    One recent Stanford University study revealed that 93 percent of college students did not know that a lobbyist website was one-sided. Fewer than 20 percent of high-schoolers were aware that just one online photo does not prove something took place. One recent study, conducted by Columbia University, revealed that close to 60 percent of people share news-related pieces on Twitter that they have not clicked on to read at length. In other words, the headline alone was enough to confirm its legitimacy, then pass it along. Long before social media, philosophers argued for better ways to challenge the unjustifiably self-assured.

    The most notable is the Socratic method, a still-popular instructional technique. We can analyze key concepts and ideas. We can question assumptions being made. Data must be more at the center of our reasoning, and no doubt, the stakes are higher than ever. To inelegantly paraphrase Socrates, an unexamined society will not survive. A crowdsourcing tool, Mechanical Turk has increasingly been used for surveys and other experiments, and generally researchers praise the use of the platform. Mturk-based surveys have limitations, to be sure.

    Like many online surveys, they provide convenience samples, and people using the Mturk site are younger and whiter than the population at large. To examine demographic data, we conducted crosstabs across age, income, and gender. Two experts in survey design and implementation provided technical advice. Anselm College. They are not responsible for any of the interpretations of the data contained in this document For the full data results, a copy of the survey instrument or any other survey-related questions, please email Reboot Foundation advisor Ulrich Boser.

    He can be reached at ulrich reboot-foundation. The public thinks critical thinking is crucial but believes young people lack such skills. This opinion crossed demographic lines — men and women, rich and poor, old and young. They all agreed that critical thinking is important, and we should do more of it. But respondents are deeply concerned that schools do not teach critical thinking. Only half of survey respondents say their experience in school gave them strong critical thinking skills. Men are 8 percentage points more likely than women to believe that their schools gave them strong critical thinking skills 50 percent for men vs.

    Some 27 percent of respondents believe that modern technology inhibits critical thinking; interestingly, women are 12 percent more likely than men to think modern technology is at fault. Another 30 percent believe that society devalues critical thinking skills. Notably, 26 percent of respondents say that critical thinking skills are lacking because of a flawed educational system. Young people are more likely to feel this way than those in older demographics, and in the toyear-old category, 41 percent of respondents think schools are to blame. In contrast, just 28 percent of people in the toyear-old group believe that schools are culpable.

    Not surprisingly, older respondents are more likely to blame technology for a lack of critical thinking. Those in the to age range are less critical of modern tools, with only 21 percent saying they are the cause of poor thinking. Whatever the demographic differences, though, these findings suggest that there is a growing awareness that the modern world has deeply complicated critical thinking. Across lines of age, gender, and income, people believe that critical thinking is more important than ever.

    This is good news. In our survey, 20 percent say critical thinking skills develop best in early childhood, or ages 5 and under. Another 35 percent say critical thinking is best developed during ages 6 to 12, and another 27 percent think ages 13 to 18 are best. About 13 percent say any age is good for developing critical thinking skills. There are differences along demographics lines.

    Women are more likely than men to favor teaching critical thinking skills during the early years. There are also differences among income groups. Higher-income respondents are more likely to believe that parents should teach critical thinking during the early years. There is also a lack of clarity about who should be responsible for teaching critical thinking. About 74 percent of the parents surveyed say educators should be at least partially responsible for teaching young people how to think critically. Perhaps most surprising, 22 percent of respondents believe that children themselves should be responsible for learning how to think critically.

    About 92 percent of respondents say that K schools should require courses that develop those skills. Another 90 percent of respondents think critical thinking courses should be required in colleges and universities. It is a problem of too many cooks in the critical thinking kitchen: with everyone in charge, no one is in charge.

    Parents also do not typically help their children develop other important critical thinking skills. For instance, only a third of parents have their children regularly discuss issues without a right or wrong answer, despite evidence supporting the practice. When it comes to parents and critical thinking, there are important differences along gender lines. For instance, women report doing more critical thinking skill development with their children than men do.

    Make sure you have the critical thinking skills required for university

    For instance, women are about 6 percentage points more likely than men to report that they help children evaluate evidence and arguments every day 12 percent for women, 4 percent for men. This gender split can likely be attributed to the fact that, historically, women have been the primary caregivers of children and are, on average, at home more often. While there is room for improvement for all parents in teaching critical thinking skills, it seems that male parents in particular have the most ground to make up.