Critical Thinking Skills: Process, and Examples

Critical Thinking Skills Definition, Process, and Examples
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In this information age where information spreads easily like wildfire, critical thinking skills are more important than ever. The ability to think rationally, examine information, understand it, use it, as well as, distinguish the real information from the false information are important.

That said, as much as critical thinking is important, only a few percentages of people develop this skill, especially among the tech-savvy Millennials. According to a shocking report by MindEdge, 69% of millennials cannot distinguish between fake and authentic news.

This shows that the subject of critical thinking is now very critical. This article will discuss the subject of critical thinking skills, their process, why is critical thinking important, and the critical thinking examples to understand the subject matter better.

Critical thinking skills can be developed through practice. The first step is to know the process, then check critical thinking examples. Click To Tweet

Critical Thinking Definition

The critical thinking definition depends on the definition of both words “critical” and “thinking.” Understanding these two definitions is the key to understand the critical thinking definition.

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines critical as “making careful judgments”. Thinking on the other hand means the ability to use the mind to reflect on ideas or a set of information, in order to make a good judgment.

After establishing both definitions, we can then define critical thinking. Therefore, the critical thinking definition is thinking through a particular set of information clearly, objectively, and rationally to make a good judgment. A critical thinker is a person that thinks critically; i.e. thinking to give a good judgment based on thorough reasoning than assumptions.

In a study, it was revealed that 99.2% of employers consider critical thinking as an important skill in the workplace. This begs the question: why is critical thinking important?

Why Is Critical Thinking Important?

To answer the question of why is critical thinking important personally, you can simply do a self-reflection. Doing so will lead you to see where you have made a wrong decision because you could not think critically at that moment. That should inform you that critical thinking is vital!

Critical thinking is a must:
To be reasonable has a lot to do with one’s ability to think critically. A wise man is not known by how much he knows, but how he is able to articulate the little, he knows. Critical thinking skills enable us to respond to every opinion, information, or argument rightly. From the front of the TV to our day-to-day activities

Critical thinking is the hallmark of all professions:
Critical thinking is important in all disciplines whether the law, medicine, or accounting.

Of course, you have to be a critical thinker too to be successful as a researcher, financial manager, or educationist. There is no profession that can survive without critical thinkers! Your ability to think objectively and rationally will make you successful in whatever subject area you choose.

Self-reflection:  
Our decisions and opinions to life generally, are what determines whether we will have a quality life or not. Therefore, we need this skill to be able to evaluate our way of living and opinions and live our lives the best way we can live it.

Self-expression:
The ability to think clearly and objectively improves self-expression. A critical thinker will be careful with his use of words. It also helps our ability to understand syntax and lexical structure. As a result, improve our understanding of a particular subject will be improved.

Usage in Science:
People who are able to think critically discover scientific principles. For example, the law of matter, the law of gravity, Archimedes principle, etc.

Importance in politics:
For citizens to function properly within a system of government, they need to be able to think critically in order to have good judgment on political issues without bias or prejudice

Economy:
We are yet to discuss completely why is critical thinking important if we do not mention the economy. Critical thinking is important in order to grow an economy.

Critical thinking is the bridging gap between now and the future. This skill helps to meet the varying economic demands as it promotes the improvement of intellectual skills and problem skills to meet certain demands.

Critical Thinking Skills

In a study, it was revealed that 99.2% of employers place value on critical thinking skills, but only 55.8% of new hires are proficient in the critical thinking skills according to a report by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employees)

There are diverse critical thinking skills, but we are only discussing the top skills everyone should have (the ones that are necessary to think critically). Besides, these skills are all components of the critical thinking definition.

1. Open Mindedness

Open-mindedness is the strength of an individual to keep his/her mind open to receive diverse information even if it contradicts their belief or opinion. This is an important skill to develop because you need to judge decisions and information without bias or prejudice.

2. Analysis

The thinking process starts from the analysis of the information or set of data before there can be a conclusion. The analytical skills deal with the ability to properly examine information, and rightly have an explanation for what it means towards arriving at a worthy conclusion.

The analysis may comprise of research skills, interpretation, data analysis skills, and having good judgment.

3. Skepticism

To think critically you have to be skeptical. All information must be scrutinized and analyzed. Skepticism is not just an innate skill, it is a skill that can as well be developed through education; also through work experiences.

Learn more how skepticism can improve critical thinking

4. Communication

It is one thing to analyze information and have a conclusion. It is completely another thing to be able to communicate the conclusion, perhaps, to communicate the conclusion with your colleagues or employers.

5. Creativity

Thinking critically demands that you examine the information with a creative mind. A creative mind does not interpret information from one perspective but from other angles. Even from contradictory to provide new ideas and solutions, different from what is known.

With a creative mind, you can provide ideas and solutions in many possible ways from different approaches.

6. Emotional intelligence

It is easy to allow your feelings to dictate your direction when taking a particular decision or during an argument. However, you can use your emotions to help you think critically as you allow your emotions to play their role, but not manipulate your thinking ability.

7. Problem solving skills

At the end of critical thinking, you should be able to solve a problem and that depends on your problem-solving ability. It deals with examining a problem, coming up with possible solutions, and identifying the best solution.

Critical Thinking Process

Thinking critically can only be achieved through this series of steps:

Step 1: Gather information

By the critical thinking definition, critical thinking is the analysis of a set of information to draw out an inference. Hence, to put the critical thinking skills to work, you need to start from the gathering of information. This means gathering information from different sources even if they are contradictory.

Step 2: Organize the information

After gathering the information, you need to structure the information, in a manner in which you can easily comprehend and make deductions.

Step 3: Understand the information

After structuring the information, the next step is to comprehend the information from different perspective. Also, align possible data, evidences, and resources that relates to the information.

Step 4: Apply the information

Applying the information to real life situations helps you to understand the details of the information better.

Here are the factors to consider when applying information for critical thinking:

  • Determine the facts
  • Understand the underlying rules and principles of that knowledge
  • Ask questions: the best way to understand a piece of information better is to query that information
  • Make judgments by comparing one information with another
  • State examples that connect the information to real-life situations

Step 5: Analyze

Begin the analysis when there is clarity of information. This process involves identifying the strength, weaknesses as well as challenges and how they can be tackled in the solution. You will need statistical tools for the analysis of the data is involved.

Step 6: Synthesis

After the analysis, you might arrive at different possible solutions. When this step comes in to identify the best possible solution for the circumstance you have to synthesize.

Step 7: Implementation

The final step is implementing the solution or the conclusion as well as presenting and communicating it appropriately. Your communication and presentation skills will help you articulate the information appropriately to the right people perhaps the board of directors, employer, or your team.

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Critical Thinking Skills Examples

These critical thinking examples will improve your understanding of critical thinking and help you relate to it.  Apart from that, they are good critical thinking examples for various situations. You will find critical thinking in business examples here.

  • Critical thinking is necessary for students to pass an examination as it helps them to reason logically and think independently.  
  • Critical thinking improves students’ ability to list vital points in a logical structure in order to make it easy to comprehend.
  • A constructor will need to evaluate the best materials needed for a particular project
  • One of the core critical thinking examples is the use of it in everyday life. It helps to analyze the implication and consequences of an action before taking it.
  • The questions employers ask applicants are usually aimed at examining their logical reasoning. For example, an interviewer can ask an applicant to share his experience on a time he had to make a decision with less information. These kind of questions are also part of the critical thinking examples
  • Critical thinking is also applicable in improving customer service. Such example of critical thinking examples is when a manager thoroughly analyzes customers’ feedback and uses the deduction to improve the business-customer relationship.

How to Develop Critical Thinking Skills

The following courses should help you develop the needed skills:

  1. Critical Thinking: Improving Communication Changing Perspectives
  2. Critical Problem Solving 101

FAQ

How Do You Develop Critical Thinking Skills?

  • Ask Simple Questions: It is not only the complex questions that you should be asking. Sometimes, the basic ones can go a long way.
  • Review Your Mental Processes: Analyze your thought processes to see if you are erring in any way. You cannot always be on the right track. And you cannot be rigid about focusing only on analyzing other people.
  • Be Flexible to New Ideas: This is a continuation of the previous point. Be open to changing your approaches or ideas after reviewing them.
  • Engage in Reverse Thinking: This can be simply explained with this example: Instead of thinking that A is the cause of B, ponder about the possibility of B being the influencer of A.
  • Develop a Predictive Mind: This advanced skill in critical thinking involves being able to accurately predict the results of a series of events most of the time.

What are the Benefits of Critical Thinking?

  • It encourages individuals to be curious
  • It improves your creativity
  • It helps you develop your problem-solving skills
  • It makes you more independent
  • It can be applied in many areas of life including work and home life.
  • It’s a skill that will be beneficial for the rest of your life

Conclusion

Critical thinking is important. It can be developed through practice. For example, you can follow the examples of critical thinking in the workplace given in this guide. The first step is to know the process and relate it to your own life. Over time, you should be able to grow the skills that are needed to develop critical thinking. Hopefully, this guide was helpful along with the examples of good critical thinking and examples of critical thinking in business.

By Kalpataru Biswas

Kalpataru is a Software Sales, and Product Marketing professional. He writes on business development, personal development, personal finance, and career development. He has more than 10 years of experience in driving revenue through data-driven Sales & Marketing.