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Critical Thinking

Essay by   •  January 20, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,653 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,039 Views

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The primary purpose of this paper is to identify how critical thinking skills contribute to confident, quality decisions, how critical thinking assisted me in my decision to become an occupation therapist as well as in my choice to attend the University of ------------. According to Michael Scriven and Richard Paul in their work Defining Critical Thinking , critical thinking is defined as the "intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action." Multiple benefits are gained by using critical thinking methodology such as an increase in choice accuracy, a boost in confidence, and so on. Therefore, many professionals believe that a critical thinking curriculum should be injected into schools systems at multiple levels.

Critical thinking defined

Critical thinkers proactively attempt to understand the purpose at hand and the question at issue. They try to question information, conclusions, and points of view. The goal is to be clear, precise, relevant, logical, and fair. These skills apply to all areas of communication and study in professional and personal lives all in an effort to contribute to better quality decisions. In a guide entitled Critical Thinking: An Introduction, Alec Fisher explains that critical thinking is "a skillful activity, which may be done more or less well, and good critical thinking will meet various intellectual standards, like those of clarity, relevance, adequacy, coherence and so on." Unfortunately, much of our thinking is distorted, partial, and uninformed. Yet these decisions determine the quality of our lives, our health, and the well being of others. As stated by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder in a guide entitled The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking, "critical thinking is a process by which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. " (p4, 2006) Critical thinking contributes to better quality decisions in our professional and private lives by allowing us to make decisions more confidently, to prepare or prevent negative impacts of our decisions, and allows us to make accurate decisions.

Confidence as a result of Critical Decisions Tool

An individual increases their level of confidence in a decision and in their decision making ability by making choices based on viewing things from a number of different arguments, explanations, and opinions. According to Dr. Paul "A well cultivated critical thinker raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely." By making informed and educated decisions the critical thinker is capable of almost ensuring success. Becky Starnes, in her article Critical Success Factors for Strategic Thinking that Works, outlines six critical factors for successful strategic thinking:

Critical Success Factor one

Move out of your comfort zone--today's paradigms--and use new and wider

boundaries for thinking, planning, doing, evaluating, and continuous


Critical Success Factor two

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how).

Critical Success Factor three

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/Outcomes; Macro/Outputs;


Critical Success Factor four

Prepare all objectives--including the Ideal Vision and mission--to include precise

statements of both where you are headed, as well as the criteria for measuring

when you have arrived. Develop "Smarter" Objectives.

Critical Success Factor five

Use an Ideal Vision (what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we

want for tomorrow's child) as the underlying basis for planning and continuous


Critical Success Factor six

Defining "need" as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means,

or methods).

While many authors agree with these factors, some simplify these into key principals of critical thinking in saying that critical thinkers gather and assess relevant information, use abstract ideas to interpret it effectively and then come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards. These very same principal factors went into my decision to major in psychology at the masterate level as well as attend the University of ------------. The very idea of being informed in the critical thinking process boosts confidence in the decision making process. The accuracy of your choices increase by making informed and calculated decisions. Drawing from personal experience and the experience of others, my decision to become an occupational therapist was a true test of the critical thinking process. For example, before transferring to the University of ------------ I attended a local college. Being a full time employee with two children, I found balancing my professional and educational career with my family and personal life a very difficult and stressful experience. By factoring in other schools as well as my day to day schedule, I found the University of ------------ to be a perfect fit. I believe my decision to be both well contemplated and accurate.

Many professionals believe that critical thinking should become a taught subject at the high school and college level because of the increase in confidence levels and in the quality of life for students. In a study conducted by Tom Solon entitled Generic Critical Thinking Infusion and Course Content Learning in Introductory Psychology, a group of introductory



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