The Art of Critical Thinking
"Critical thinking is a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture." Francis Bacon (1605)
The faculty at East Georgia State College has long recognized the ability to think critically as an important component of an effective general education curriculum. Critical thinking is included among the College’s general education student learning outcomes as SLO No. 3: Students will demonstrate skill in logic and critical thinking.
The College's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) commits faculty, staff, and community members to provide students with the tools and skills needed to think critically both in their academic studies and in real life after college. The measurement of specific critical thinking skills will be facilitated through the assessment of the following student learning outcomes based on the College’s definition of critical thinking.
Question - Students will be able to identify a problem or conflict, determine the related factors and outline the necessary steps for a solution.
Analyze - Students will be able to analyze primary data or sources to determine their structure, validity and usefulness.
Discuss - Students will be able to engage in productive verbal communication of ideas in a classroom setting, working toward a solution or conclusion.
Debate - Students will be able to use facts and viewpoints to present a persuasive argument in a forum of competing perspectives to achieve rational conclusions and effective compromises.
Critique - Students will be able to research opposing arguments in a controversial issue and evaluate the strength of the arguments to determine the student's stance.
A Rationale for Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is essential to meet demands of a rapidly changing workplace, a workplace that esteems higher order thinking and creativity. To remain competitive with the rest of the world, to preserve a robust democracy, to maintain our quality of life, we must produce thinkers, innovators, creators, and leaders--- all dependent upon critical thinking.
Critical Thinking Defined
To think critically is to compare, to contrast, to analyze, to synthesize, and to see the world in fresh new ways. A critical thinker may make use of inference, analogy, metaphor, or experiment, or may recast an old idea in new and novel ways. A critical thinker has formed the reading habit and reads with a critical eye, recognizing that much that has been written is subject to interpretation and appraisal. A critical thinker is reflective and does not rush to judgment. A critical thinker is dispassionate but recognizes that emotion and sentiment often color human events and cannot be ignored. A critical thinker is able to weigh all available facts and to come to a defensible conclusion tempered by reason, the best available knowledge and any relevant experience. Finally, a critical thinker must know the limits of knowledge, must have a certain intellectual humility, must be flexible, must be tolerant and open-minded, and must be willing to admit error.