Critical thinking has been studied since ancient times. Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato provided us with good critical thinking examples and the foundations for this field. Socrates is widely regarded as one of the fathers of critical thinking and deductive reasoning, a valuable skill in a world plagued with fake news and overwhelming amounts of information.
However, what is critical thinking? How can we use it in everyday life? In this article, we will explain what critical thinking is and why it is important, provide tips for improving your critical thinking skills, and offer the best examples of critical thinking.
What Is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and logically about what to do or believe. To do so, you must establish logical connections between ideas, evaluate arguments, approach problems systematically, and reflect on your values and beliefs. Logical thinking and scientific thinking are types of thinking that depend on these skills.
Additionally, the critical thinking process involves challenging knowledge to discover the truth. It involves reviewing knowledge and information to make an informed decision. You can improve your critical thinking skills by becoming more adept at analyzing problems, identifying biases, practicing active listening and inductive reasoning, and avoiding emotional reasoning.
Where Is Critical Thinking Used?
- Progressive education
- Job search
- Risk assessment
- SAT standardized tests
Why Is Critical Thinking Important?
Critical thinking is important because it allows you to better synthesize, analyze and interpret information. Other critical thinking skills like problem-solving, observation, and communication, can help you advance in your career. All of these skills can enable you to understand yourself better and make better life decisions.
Many people believe they are critical thinkers. However, when drawing conclusions in real life most people rely on common sense and numerous fallacies. To avoid this, we must have critical thinking dispositions to gain more insight, learn to identify a weak argument, and make better decisions. Understanding critical thinking concepts is crucial if you want to understand your thoughts, emotions, or live a better life.
Real-World Examples of Critical Thinking
People live their lives based on the choices they make. As a result, they require critical thinking skills and a constructive approach to problem-solving to make their lives easier. For example, if you need to deliver to multiple locations, don’t just go there by chance.
To save time, determine which location is closest and devise an efficient pattern for the next locations you will need to visit. This is just one of many examples of critical thinking for the following section. Below are more critical thinking examples.
- Self-evaluation of your actions
- HR manager resolving conflict between staffs
- A military officer working on tactical plans
- Professor guiding students to fresh ideas with creative questioning
- Student defending a master’s thesis
- Basketball coach seeking out new tactics during a timeout
- Writer organizing content ideas
- Applicant preparing for a job interview
- Using a disciplined process to look for a job
- A detective using their observational ability to analyze a crime scene
10 Great Examples of Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking Example 1: Self-evaluation of Your Actions
Self-evaluation is essential for improving your overall performance. When you use reflective thinking or try to evaluate yourself, you analyze what went wrong and how you can improve in the future. You attempt to understand what happened and figure out what you need to change to get different results.
Many universities and schools use special questionnaires that test critical thinking abilities. For example, Cambridge, a school with over 20 years of experience in assessing critical thinking, uses a student self-assessment critical thinking questionnaire.
Critical Thinking Example 2: HR Manager Resolving Conflict Between Staffs
Employees have disagreements in every organization. In many cases, it is the HR manager who steps in to solve the problem. However, the HR manager must first listen to both sides, determine the source of the problem, assess the situation, and decide how to proceed. As a result, a soft skill such as problem-solving or management is essential for HR.
Critical Thinking Example 3: A Military Officer Working on Tactical Plans
A military officer working on tactical plans for extracting fellow soldiers in a dangerous military zone is another example. In this case, the military officer must find an effective way to get the soldiers out of the danger zone while minimizing casualties, which requires logical thinking.
Critical Thinking Example 4: Professor Guiding Students to Fresh Ideas With Creative Questioning
Creative questioning is an interesting process because it can promote critical thinking. By asking creative open-ended questions, the professor makes students think more deeply about a subject. Therefore, they need to discern what information to pick and share. Analysis of arguments is another way to foster analytical thinking among students.
Critical Thinking Example 5: Student Defending a Master’s Thesis
Writing a master’s thesis requires applying critical thinking. You seek and gather information, conduct research, perform calculations, analyze data, and draw conclusions. You also demonstrate what critical skills you used to create the thesis by explaining all of the steps and methodology you used in the research process.
Critical Thinking Example 6: Basketball Coach Seeking Out New Tactics During a Timeout
In some cases, if the match does not go well, the basketball coach may call a timeout to reassess the team’s strategy. During the timeout, a basketball coach looks for new tactics that reveal the vulnerabilities of the opposing team. The coach needs to find a way to assess the potential risks and provide a new strategy that will lead the team to victory.
Critical Thinking Example 7: Writer Organizing Content Ideas
When writing articles, writers must distinguish between good and bad information. They must also make the article flow. To accomplish this, writers must adhere to the core concept of writing format: title, introduction, body, and conclusion. This means that they have to choose certain information to insert in certain sections of the text.
Critical Thinking Example 8: Applicants Preparing for a Job Interview
If you apply for a job and go to the interview blindly, there is a high chance you will not be hired. It is preferable to arrive prepared and apply critical thinking to the interview. One tip for interview preparation is to ask yourself outcome-based questions about the job. Before going to the interview, practice answering questions and acting quickly.
Critical Thinking Example 9: Using a Disciplined Process to Look for a Job
It can be difficult to find a job. Some stats show that on average it takes 100 to 200 applications to get a job. To improve your chances, you should put your critical thinking cap on. Logical thinking can help you consider how you will approach employers, devote time to updating your resume, skills, and create an effective cover letter.
Critical Thinking Example 10: A Detective Using Their Observational Ability to Analyze a Crime Scene
As a police detective, you must have strong critical thinking skills as well as excellent observational abilities to analyze a crime scene. You need logical inquiry and deduction skills to analyze the evidence. A police detective must have probable cause to obtain a search warrant from a judge to search a suspect’s home, which is another example of critical thinking.
Pro Tips to Boost Your Critical Thinking Skills
- Analyze and Break It Down. Before forming an opinion, conduct extensive research and analysis. Once you have enough information, then you can try to break down all that information and analyze what it means. It is a good idea to break the problem down into smaller pieces so that you can see the bigger picture.
- Deal With Your Biases. Critical thinking requires constant work, as people have biases that they need to deal with throughout their lives. If a person is aware of their biases, they can be aware of their own thought process and make sure they’re not just thinking one way.
- Seek Advice. Develop a strong sense of acquiring knowledge. This means seeking advice when you are not sure about what you know. If you don’t know something, ask someone that knows. The more information you have, the better conclusion you can draw. Deal with the fact that you are not always right.
What Should Be the Next Step in My Critical Thinking Learning Journey?
Your next step in your critical thinking learning journey should be to actively use it in your everyday life. In real life, people encounter many opportunities to solve problems. With critical and careful thinking, you can afford to lead a better life and make more accurate decisions.
Using analytical and objective reasoning are some of the intellectual virtues that critical thinking offers to get a better job. If you use it in self-evaluation you can become a better version of yourself.
Advancing this skill can improve your professional life, problem-solving, and improve in developing and executing solutions. If you want to have well-informed opinions and deal with your biases, advance your critical thinking skills.
Critical Thinking Examples FAQ
Yes, critical thinking is a skill. The interesting part is that critical thinking is a learned skill. If it can be learned then it can be taught. However, the problem is that in many cases an experienced instructor is needed to transfer the skill. It is also one of the 21st-century skills you need to add to your resume.
Developing your critical thinking skills is a gradual process that requires deliberate effort. Changing your thought patterns and practices is a long-term project that you should commit to for the rest of your life.
No, IQ tests don’t measure critical thinking. Intelligence and critical thinking are not the same. If you want to test your critical thinking ability, you need a specialized critical thinking test. One example is the Cornell critical thinking test.
The bandwagon fallacy is about creating an opinion based on what the majority thinks. If everyone says the same thing, then it must be true. The problem with this notion is that the opinion of the majority is not always valid or a real form of knowledge. To avoid the bandwagon fallacy, you need to have a critical thinking disposition.
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