I present my definition of how I conceptualize critical thinking based on what I have learned in Psych 700. I follow with how this has influenced the way I look at and use media; how critical thinking is part of my professional practice and how I will use critical thinking in my studies.
Critical thinking is a concept, a collection of skills, hence there is no singular definition, nor is there agreement on what skills best define critical thinking. Scriven and Paul (2001) defined it as “skilfully conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and/or evaluating information.” One thing that makes defining exactly what critical thinking is it often depends on context. Another group defines it as “the ability to think clearly and rationally.” After reading a number of descriptions and thinking in terms of my own training, I would define critical thinking as analyzing the environment.
Every individual has his/her own way of making sense of the world around, so the depth of analysis and how this information is used varies from person to person. Context also affects how the information is utilized. In some cases, analysis of the environment may mean deciding on an action to solve a problem. It can also be used for understanding and evaluating other ideas, concepts or situations.
Critical thinking should be based on rational observation and logical evaluation. This is not always easy to accomplish. People bring with them a history when they evaluate information. This history may have led to the creation of preferences, biases, self-interests or other factors that may or may not be obvious in the thought process.
Many of the skills associate with critical thinking have been a part of my professional career. Observation and data collection is a process that is required in behavior analysis. Ongoing data collection and frequent evaluation of the information is necessary to determine that the course of action taken if the most appropriate. I’ve dealt with numerous people incapable of understanding this process, preferring to do what feels right rather than what is most appropriate the situation.
I think the media can also be looked at with a similar critical eye. Critical thinking related to media is often called media literacy. All aspects of the media can be logically evaluated, what is harder to determine is its impact on individuals and whether this can be defined as good or bad. Thanks to research, data collection and analysis, we know media can influence behavior. What we need to look at now is how this influences behavior over long periods of time.
Critical thinking is an important part of research. It allows us to evaluate both information we are presented with and how we present our own research to others. Critical thinking will help me through my PhD study with looking at how I gather information presented by others. I will evaluate this information based on my ability to find similar information provided by others and whether or not I can trust the information I have found. I have to keep this in mind when presented my information to others. How reliable am I? Am I presenting it fairly? Did I do my due diligence in making sure information I provide is logical, impartial and based on logical conclusions?
Critical thinking is a skill that can be applied in many contexts and situation. Academically it allows us to explore and share ideas and information. It helps us to progress by understanding the world around us and solve new and old problems.
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