Introduction to Critical Thinking

Topics Covered

  • Critical thinking and university
  • What is critical thinking
  • How critical thinking is executed
  • Characteristics of critical thinkers
  • The critical thinking disposition
  • Critical thinking resources

Critical Thinking and University

Memorial University’s Teaching and Learning Framework (2011) identified that the university’s graduates need to "be critical and practical thinkers."
(p. 11) Teaching and Learning Framework 2011

Critical Thinking

  • Effective communication skills
  • Demonstrate proficiency in logical organization
  • Expression
  • Grammatical correctness
“upon graduation should be capable of expressing complicated ideas clearly and concisely and should be able to develop arguments in a logical manner.”
Critical Reading and Writing (CRW) course guidelines 2014

For more information:

Critical Reading And Writing (CRW) Course Guidelines at Memorial’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

What is Critical Thinking

What is Critical Thinking

  • Considering ideas, issues and problems around you
  • Constantly questioning and analyzing different aspects
“art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it.”
Paul Elder (2006)

What is Critical Thinking

  • Problem            
  • Subject
  • Content
“by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and improving intellectual standards upon them.”
Paul and Elder (2001)

What is Critical Thinking

“..a quality of thinking characterized by self-regulated deliberations on a challenge situation or task, involving the exploration and generation of alternatives, and making evaluative judgement. These judgements are based on criteria, which provide justification for the conclusion, and are applied to meaning, relational, empirical, or value claims.”
Van Gyn, G., Ford, C (2006). Teaching for Critical Thinking.London, ON: Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

What is Critical Thinking

  • Analysis of thinking
  • Evaluation of thinking
  • Improvement of thinking
Paul-Elder Framework

Critical Thinking Skills

See the Foundation for Critical Thinking for additional explanation of critical thinking cognitive skills.
Facione, P. (2015). Critical Thinking: What it is and Why It Counts. Hermosa Beach, CA: Insight Assessment.

Strategies for Critical Thinking

Critical Reading

Ask questions about:
  • your purpose
  • the context of the text
  • the structure of the text
  • the arguments
  • the evidence used
  • the language used

Critical Writing

  • summarize the ideas
  • select sections of the resource such as the methods or conclusion, which are questionable
  • comment on the positive and negative aspects
  • refer to other sources to support your comments
  • determine the overall value of the resource or text

Critical Analysis and Writing

  • identify, summarize (and appropriately reformulate) the problem, question, or issue
  • identify and consider the influence of context and assumptions
  • develop, present, and communicate own perspective, hypothesis, or position
  • present, assess, and analyze appropriate supporting data/evidence
  • integrate issue using other (disciplinary) perspectives and positions
  • identify and assess conclusions, implications, and consequences
  • communicate effectively
Washington State University (2001). Washington State University Critical Thinking Project: Resource Guide, pp 4-5.

Critical Thinking Resources