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Differing Definitions Of Critical Thought Essay

2208 words - 9 pages

Running head: Differing definitions of critical thought

Differing Definitions of Critical Thought
Victor M. Fraser
Capitol College


This paper attempts to compare and contrast the differing definitions of critical thinking as defined by various writers on different publications. It appears that no matter how critical thinking is defined, the same components are standard, and the conclusions are somewhat similar and hold true. A true definition of critical thinking is by no feat an easy task. It is a complex and controversial notion difficult to define and also to study. Many definitions have been ...view middle of the document...

In some cultures, being critical may be interpreted as “argumentative” or ‘being critical of others” (J. Lau 2008). Some researchers see Critical Thinking as a form of philosophy; others see it as a set of skills. Tsui, on page 743 of “Fostering critical thinking through effective pedagogy” defines critical thinking from a pedagogic perspective and calls it an ability to “identify issues and assumptions, recognize important relationships, make correct inferences, evaluate evidence or authority and deduce conclusions”. The differing definitions appear to follow a trend in that the definitions are usually geared towards the attributes needed in the subject of research in which the research is being conducted. Staib from “Teaching and measuring critical thinking” on the other hand, refers to critical thinking as “the art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better” (p. 643). In addition to this, Torff sees critical thinking as comprising “cognitive skills and strategies that increase the likelihood of a desired outcome…” (Teacher Education Quarterly, 2006.).

To support a previous assumption that critical thinking definitions are biased towards the researcher’s field of study, take the example in the article, “Using Weblog to Promote Critical Thinking – An Exploratory Study”, it is cited that “For the context of this study, it is decided that critical thinking should be identifiable and quantifiable”. This makes it obvious that the notion of critical thinking does not have an exact definition, and that it can be tailored to encompass a particular field of study. Is critical thinking always measurable? How is it to be measured? That will depend on who is asked, there are standards available addressing it. Newman, Webb and Cochrane in 1996 created a model for analyzing online discussion. From this derived ten categories of Critical Thinking Characteristics. They are: Relevance, Importance, Novelty, Outside knowledge\experience, Ambiguities, Linking ideas, Justification, Critical assessment, Practical utility, and Width of understanding. We find that all definitions of critical thinking, no matter how defined contains most, in all cases all of the above characteristics.
Thinking is greatly affected by our surroundings, our culture and our values. One of the greatest barriers of thinking is our culture. The American culture is totally different in so many ways than the European culture. Granted there are similarities in many ways, the basis of the differences are found in the way our forefathers have passed on cultural teachings. It is customary for the British to have tea in the afternoon regardless of the season. This is not typical of Americans. Another example is the Spanish will take a siesta after lunch before returning to work. They believe that the refreshed mind is more productive. These differences can be taken one step further to include religion. What effects will these...

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