Guide to improve critical thinking skills

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Herrmann's Whole Brain Model - Maximizing Your Thinking Power

Have you ever regretted the wrong decisions you made?

It happens, A wrong decision may not affect an Individual’s life to a larger extent .

But Consider the same thing in the case of a crime scene.

The wrong decision or judgment of the court may release the actual criminals and punish the innocent.

Hence, proper investigation is done on it by asking different questions from different people.

Similarly, if you take the wrong step or decision in a business, it may cause a huge loss. The amount of amount will depend on the size of the organization and the situation of the wrong decision.

So to avoid this kind of problem, people started adopting a technique which is usually called Critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a skill, or can also be called a thought process that helps in concluding a problem.

WHAT’S IN IT

  1. What is critical thinking? 
  2. why is critical thinking important
  3. Critical thinking process
  4. How to improve critical thinking
  5. Conclusion
  6. FAQ’s

What is critical thinking?

critical thinking

Critical thinking is the examination of facts to form a judgment. So critical thinking is the skill that will help to think openly and logically about what to do or what to accept. 

It involves a lot of questioning, and finding answers to those questions that will give you output.

Critical thinking does not mean collecting information by questioning. An individual with good knowledge is not necessarily an expert at critical thinking.

A critical thinker can deduce outcomes from what he/she knows and can make use of data to solve problems and to explore appropriate sources of information to familiarize himself/herself.

Few people confuse being argumentative and being critical. Critical thinking helps us gain knowledge, improve our systems, and strengthen discussions.

Some people think that critical thinking stops creativity as it requires following the rules of logic and rationality, but this is a mistake. Critical thinking is an important part of creativity because we require critical thinking to evaluate and develop our creative ideas.

why is critical thinking important

This critical thinking has some unique and necessary qualities which made it so important. We will know about them here:

It is a domain-general thinking skill

Its processor scope has no limit to a particular field, you can implement this thinking in education, research, and finance, etc. So having the ability and information to think well and solve problems is enough for critical thinking.

Improves Decision-making 

Implementing it assists you to make decisions that require a lot of thinking. It helps in taking Big, life-changing decisions, like whether or not to make a career move.

Improves language and presentation skills

Thinking clearly and systematically can change the way you communicate your ideas. In learning how to analyze the logical structure of documents, it also improves understanding abilities.

promotes creativity

Having new ideas is not enough to bring up a new creative solution to a problem.

Critical thinking plays a significant role in evaluating new ideas, selecting the best ones and modifying them if necessary.

crucial for self-reflection

In order to live the best life and to make our lives accordingly, we need to support and exhibit our values and decisions. 

Critical thinking process

critical thinking

Critical thinking itself follows a logical process that consists of six steps. They are:

Knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, synthesis, and taking action.

Let’s see them briefly.

Knowledge

This step identifies the problem that has to be solved.

Questions are asked to get a deep understanding of the problem. In a few cases, there won’t be any actual problem, and hence, no need to perform other steps in the model. 

At this stage, you have to ask two basic questions: 

What is the problem? 

And why it needs to be solved?

Understanding

After identifying the problem, the next step is to understand it completely along with the situation and facts associated with it.

And proper data needs to be collected about the problem by using different research methods which vary depending upon the problem.

Application

In this step, a linkage or model is made by the data from the past two steps based on different facts and resources available. Mind maps will help to analyze the problematic situation, build a relation between the problematic situation and the actual problem, which helps in determining the best way to solve it.

Analyze

After the application step, we need to analyze the situation to find out the situation, the strong points, challenges, and weak points that have to be faced while solving the problem.

Synthesis

In this stage, based upon the output of previous stages, a decision should be formed about how to solve this problem.

If there is more than one solution, then they should be evaluated and prioritized to find out the appropriate solution. You can follow SWOT analysis while prioritizing.

Take Action

In this final step, The result of critical thinking should be transferred into action steps.

This method can be used for emotional and personal biases while thinking about a problem and the time for adapting to CT varies with the nature of the problem. It may vary from minutes, hours, days.

The advantage of using it is that it offers to grow our perspectives about situations and expands our thinking possibilities. However, these steps should be turned into a plan of action that ensures that the chosen resolution is well achieved and integrated between all the involved bodies.

How to improve critical thinking

Critical thinking is a skill you can learn by practicing these steps again and again. So that you can become good at thinking critically. 

1. Ask Basic Questions

critical thinking

The actual critical thinking starts with Questions.

You need to ask more and more questions to know everything about the detail.

Here are a few basic questions you have to ask when approaching any problem:

What do you know?

How do you know that?

What are you trying to know?

What are you overlooking?

2. Question Basic Assumptions

Few of the most famous and intelligent people in history were those who questioned what if everyone’s general theories were wrong. So from Newton to Einstein, questioning assumptions is where discovery happens.

You don’t need to be an enthusiastic Einstein for questioning assumptions. 

If you’re searching for some help in this process, then check out Oblique Strategies. It’s a tool that musician Brian and artist Peter created to assist in creative problem-solving.

3. Be Conscious of Your Mental Processes

Human knowledge is amazing, but the rate and automation with which it appears can be trouble when we’re trying to think critically. Our brains usually use mental shortcuts to explain what’s happening around us.

And it will be a trouble.

All of us have prejudices in our thinking. Overcoming them is what makes it possible.

4. Try reversing things

A great way to “find a solution” for a hard problem is to try inverting things. 

For example, you have faced the loss of 1 lac rupees in your business suddenly and you don’t know why it happened?

Then you start reversing the things (like checking the bank statement) and looking at the previous steps you have taken, and finally, you will get to know the cause of the loss.

Sometimes reversing things may not give the solution, like what comes first a tree or seed?

Considering this type of question can set you on the path to find a solution.

5. Consider the Existing Evidence

When you’re trying to solve a problem, it is good to look at other work done in the same field. There’s no use in solving a problem from the start when someone has already laid the foundation.

But you need to review the information provided by them (who laid the foundation) is correct or not?

If their assumption and the problem-solving process has flaws and missed a few things, you followed them blindly.

It will guide you in the wrong path, and eventually, you will get a wrong conclusion.

Ask these following questions of any data you confront:

Who gathered this data?

How did they gather it?

Why?

6. Understand no one thinks critically all the Time

“Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; So everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.”– Michael Scriven and Richard Paul

No one thinks all the time critically, and it is okay. It is a tool that you should use when you need to make crucial decisions or to solve complex problems, and you don’t need to think critically about everything.

And even in serious matters, you will experience errors in your reasoning. So what actually matters is that you understand these mistakes and try to avoid them in the future.

Real-life Example of critical thinking

Sample Annotations - CAT 124 - LibGuides at University of California San  Diego

As I told earlier, Critical thinking doesn’t have any limitations. It has so many applications like problem-solving, data analysis, risk assessment, etc.

Let’s see a simple example to know it clearly.

Suddenly you encountered a problem in your organization.

And you immediately start looking for solutions. 

start analyzing the situation, gather as much information as possible.

Then you asked some questions to get deep knowledge and gather some more information.

A lot of people think that they have problem-solving skills, but if you fail at the above steps, then you’re not a critical thinker. By this, you may find a suitable solution to your problem.

Likewise, critical thinking helps in other ways also.

Conclusion

I hope now you are, learning to think critically, which will help you in plenty of ways. So I hope this article has given you a few ideas about how you can use critical thinking in your life. 

Also you can read our blog on Project Closure – Learn to End Projects Properly

FAQ’s

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