Critical thinking is the interrogation of beliefs and thoughts to determine to attain not only the highest sense of rationality but also clarity. It derives from the concept that no thinking pattern or conception is absolute hence the need to employ introspection into what constitutes them. Through critical thinking, an individual gains the ability to intuitively develop an understanding of connections between, evaluate arguments, detect inconsistencies and justify their beliefs. Critical thinking requires strict adherence to the dictates of logic and rationality. Critics may argue that critical thinking hinders creativity, but the discipline of critical thinking involves challenging consensus and pursuing some of the new less approaches hence is consistent with innovative ideas.
Critical thinking for in social sciences has six main steps. These aspects include knowledge, comprehension, application, application, analysis, and evaluation. Each of these steps plays a significant role in the attainment of the reason behind everything or any conception. For instance, knowledge makes it possible for an individual to accurately identify the issue, topic or main points informing any assertions. Comprehension involves conceiving the acquired knowledge or making sense of them through developing a relationship within them and what one already knows. In application, knowledge gained and comprehended is applied in real life situations. The fourth step which is analysis entails assessing acquired knowledge by breaking it into parts to get an overall impression of how they relate, are ordered or connected. Synthesis enables putting together the analyzed information with other ideas to develop a new set of knowledge. Evaluation is the final step in critical inquiry in which one can appraise acquired information and make a decision on whether to use them as unfettered premises for any actions or arguments.
Clarity of information is important in teaching critical thinking skills. This precision helps to avoid ambiguity, confusion and enables learners to develop a positive attitude towards high order thinking. Lessons need to integrate aspects such as modeling critical thinking abilities and develop ways through which they can be designed to meet the diverse needs of learners. Scaffolding is an important approach for teaching critical thinking as it allows students to learn progressively from what they already know. Some of the key learning strategies include rehearsal, elaboration, organization, and metacognition. The use of teacher-centered presentations of information needs to be only used sparingly. Guided practice should follow short presentations to students so that they be able to think on their own without necessarily indoctrinating them with a set of information. Furthermore, working in student discussion groups, peer tutoring, and cooperative learning helps in the development of critical thinking skills.
Harnessing critical thinking skills requires that any learning activities that people engage in be challenging to provide different ways of solving the same tasks. In a world replete with technological advancements, the computer-mediated instruction is another way that can be used to enable access to various sources of information. Furthermore, computer aided learning allows the exchange of information with learners in distant places thus facilitating skill building in logical thinking, verbal analogies, deductive and inductive reasoning. Despite the fact that critical thinking skills should be nurtured from childhood ages, teaching it should be done at the institutions of higher learning such as colleges and universities. It is at this stage that the learner can conceptualize diverse sets of information, evaluate and rely on them as premises of arguments or actions.
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