At level 2 and 3 you need critical thinking skills and the ability to build a logical argument. These are also valuable skills needed in the workplace.
What is critical thinking?
To think critically is to examine ideas and weigh them up them against what you already know. You need to be able to consider different viewpoints and reach a logical conclusion. The aim of critical thinking is to be objective. When you think critically, you weigh up all sides of an argument and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. So, critical thinking skills entail:
·Thinking about all sides of an argument
·testing the soundness of the claims made
·testing the soundness of the evidence used to support the claims.
You need an open mind and to be prepared to question the author’s claims. How you do this and the questions you ask will vary depending on what – and why – you are reading (for example, you might be responding to an assignment question).
The reason critical thinking is a skill - and not just an automatic thought process - is because most people think “uncritically,” and make decisions based on personal biases, self-interest, or irrational emotions.
Why is critical thinking useful at work?
PERSON 1 Tea is more sophisticated, you know?
INSTRUCTOR Now, this is an academic argument. Statement one, caffeine stimulates the brain and nervous system. Statement two, coffee contains more caffeine than tea. And statement three is the conclusion. Therefore, coffee is more stimulating than tea. An argument is a collection of statements which, when you consider them together, allows you to make another statement or a conclusion.
Making and evaluating arguments is one of the key functions of critical thinking. Critical thinking is what you do when you evaluate information and make decisions. You can defend your opinions and evaluate theories, finding their weaknesses and strengths. If you’re a critical thinker and someone tells you coffee is more stimulating than tea, first examine their argument. Is there a logical connection between the statements? I think so. Then you’d examine their sources. Ask questions like these: Whose work is it? When was it written? How was the research funded? What methods were used to find the evidence? Is it objective? What’s fact, and what’s opinion? What has been left out? What other perspectives or points of view could there be? Ask questions to analyse these sources, compare them with other sources, and synthesise your findings. And it’s important to try to put your own biases to one side.
·need to define sausages – meat only? vegan?
·consider the viewpoint of the claimant – butcher? farmer? animal rights activist
·what criteria? – taste, value for money, health implications
·need to look at alternative perspectives – are some more valid than others?
·need to reference the evidence
·evaluate the sources of expert knowledge – how trustworthy?
·evaluate the research methods – survey? blind tasting?
·Weigh up using PROMPT
oPresentation (language, clarity, structure)
oObjectivity (bias or not?)
oMethod (how was data collected)
oProvenance (eg credibility of authors)
otimeliness (up to date material?)