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Critical Thinking Tutorial: Definitions of Critical Thinking

This tutorial will empower you with valuable critical thinking skills that are essential for your university education.

Finding Meaning

“People can be extremely intelligent, have taken a critical thinking course, and know logic inside and out. Yet they may just become clever debaters, not critical thinkers, because they are unwilling to look at their own biases.”
~Carol Wade~

In this section, your task is to develop your own working definition of critical thinking. In other words, think about what thinking critically means to you in your own personal or academic context.

To begin, it might be helpful to consider what critical thinking is not:

While critical thinking involves activities such as debating, arguing, critiquing information, and defending a position, it is not solely to find fault, confirm a point of view, or win arguments. Instead, thinking critically entails being skeptical of the information you consume, examining underlying assumptions, challenging reasoning, and uncovering biases.

Next, consider a few dictionary definitions:

Critical thinking is

  • "the process of analysing information in order to make a logical decision about the extent to which you believe something to be true or false." (The Oxford Learners Dictionary)
  • "the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea, without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you." (The Cambridge Dictionary)
  • “the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.” (The Merriam-Webster dictionary in Critical Thinking in the Educational Environment)
Lastly, consider some of the definitions from the field of Critical Thinking:
Test Your Understanding