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Critical Thinking Tutorial: Learning How to Think Critically

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

Developing Higher Order Thinking Skills

If you are wondering why there are several definitions of critical thinking or why you are required to develop your own definition, then you are beginning to think critically. Many disciplines and colleges will define critical thinking differently. Still, all will have the same learning goal: to help you develop your ability to analyzesynthesize, and evaluate information and, in so doing, create knowledge that is unbiased, logical/rational, and well-reasoned.

Learning to Think Critically Using Bloom's Taxonomy

This graphic of Bloom's Taxonomy illustrates why critical thinking is foundational for learning at university. Click on the interactive hotspots to learn more about the types of activities you will engage in at university that call on your ability to think critically.

Take note of the lower-order (surface learning) thinking skills that require little to no critical thought and the higher-order (deep learning) thinking skills that require more critical thinking.

Source: This Bloom’s Image by Rawia Inaim, based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning, is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license

Embracing a Questioning Mindset

Shifting from Surface to Deep Learning

By now, you should begin to see the connection between higher-order thinking skills, deep learning, and critical thinking.

The easiest way to shift from surface to deep learning, lower-order to higher-order thinking, or from remembering information to analyzing and evaluating information is to make a mental shift away from seeking answers to asking questions.

Critical thinkers know the types of questions to ask when attempting to find the answers. While reading an article or listening to a lecture, try asking questions about the content instead of jotting down notes about what you think the answers are. Questions like:

What’s happening? Gather the basic information and begin to think of questions.

Why is it important? Ask yourself why it’s significant and whether or not you agree.

What don’t I see? Is there anything important missing?

How do I know? Ask yourself where the information came from and how it was constructed.

Who is saying it? What’s the position of the speaker and what is influencing them?

What else? What if? What other ideas exist and are there other possibilities?

Source: Critical Thinking and Evaluating Information by Erin Faherty, Mary Johnson is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC 4.0 license

Test Your Understanding

Now that you know that critical thinking is more about asking the right questions than finding definitive answers...

Develop Your Own Definition Based on Your Understanding So Far

Source: p.3 (table 1). “Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction” Executive Summary “The Delphi Report,” Peter A. Facione. 1990. Retrieved from, Sept 2022