Ingredients that make a critical thinker


Have you ever had critical thoughts about the phrase critical thinking? Like, ‘who cares about critical thinking’, ‘what even is it?’, and firm favourite, ‘critical thinking; enough already!’. Wait, maybe they are more negative, than critical…

Anyway, your lecturers and future employers care about critical thinking skills; so you need to as well.

According to one employer: ‘Analysis and critical evaluation would have to be two of the most important skills we look for, because we believe that graduates already have learned the content knowledge. What they then need is the ability to apply that knowledge. If they can analyse and evaluate the knowledge they have, then they can apply it in the workplace.’ (Griffith Graduate Attributes Critical Evaluation Skills Toolkit, p.7)

So what is critical thinking? Simple really. Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a thesis, statement or argument is true, partially true, or false. It is questioning, evaluating and finding relationships between the pieces of information you have seen, read or heard (Thinking Critically Library Guide, 2016).

To find out how to develop critical thinking skills, have a read of Critical Thinking Skills for Dummies by Martin Cohen (2015). In chapter one, he provides a list of the ingredients that make a critical thinker:

  • Tolerance: Critical Thinkers delight in hearing divergent views, and enjoy a real debate.
  • Analytical skills: Critical Thinkers don’t accept just any kind of talking. They want properly constructed arguments that present reasons and draw sound conclusions.
  • Confidence: Critical Thinkers have to be a little bit confident to be able to examine views that others present — often people in authority.
  • Curiosity: Critical Thinkers need curiosity. It may have killed the cat, but curiosity is the essential ingredient for ideas and insights.
  • Truth-seeking: Critical Thinkers are on mission ‘objective truth’ — even if it turns out to undermine their own previously held convictions and long-cherished beliefs and is flat against their self-interest.

Now, just mix well and serve!