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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. American,
Margaret Mead 1901 - 1978
American anthropologist

Thinking and recall series

Critical thinking II

Second stage exercise in critical thinking:

Critical thinking studies a topic or problem with open-mindedness.
This exercise outlines the second stage of applying a critical thinking approach to developing and understanding a topic.

With the second stage:

  • Refine/revise the topic
    either narrowing or broadening it according to outcomes of research
  • Rank or indicate the importance
    of three sources of research
  • Clarify any opinion, prejudice, or bias their authors have
    While an opinion is a belief or attitude toward someone or some thing,
    a prejudice is preconceived opinion without basis of fact
    while bias is an opinion based on fact or research.
  • Identify key words and concepts that seem to repeat
    Is there vocabulary you need to define?
    Are there concepts you need to understand better?
  • In reviewing your research, are there
    Sequences or patterns that emerge?
    Opposing points of view, contradictions, or facts that don't "fit?"
    Summarize two points of view that you need to address
  • What questions remain to be answered?

Critical thinking, first stage helped you to

  • Develop a statement of the topic
  • List what you understand, what you've been told
    and what opinions you hold about it
  • Identify resources available for research
  • Define timelines and due dates
    and how they affect the development of your study
  • Print the list as your reference

With this second exercise,
think in terms of how you would demonstrate your learning for your topic
How would you create a test on what you have learned?
How would you best explain or demonstrate your findings?
From simple to more complex (1-6) learning operations:

  1. List, label, identify: demonstrate knowledge
  2. Define, explain, summarize in your own words: Comprehend/understand
  3. Solve, apply to a new situation: Apply what you have learned
  4. Compare and contrast, differentiate between items: analyze
  5. Create, combine, invent: Synthesize
  6. Assess, recommend, value: Evaluate and explain why

Summary of critical thinking:

  • Determine the facts of a new situation or subject
    without prejudice
  • Place these facts and information in a pattern
    so that you can understand and explain them
  • Accept or reject your resource values and conclusions
    based upon your experience, judgment, and beliefs

Thinking and recall series

Concentrating | Radical thinking | Thinking aloud/private speech |
Thinking critically I | Thinking critically II | Thinking creatively |
Mapping explanation | Make your own map I | Make your own map II |
Thinking like a genius: Creative solutions | Famous thinkers | Blog

See also: Teaching with questioning; teaching critical thinking

Flash exercise: Contributed by Lisa Reed and Professor Brad Hokanson, Interactive Media (DHA 4384) School of Design, University of Minnesota; revised and edited by Joe Landsberger