Introduction to Critical Thinking Skills

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Introduction to Critical Thinking SkillsDr Fariza Hanis Abdul Razak

Learning OutcomesBy the end of the lecture, you will be able to:Explain the meaning of critical thinkingDescribe the process of critical thinkingApply brainstorming techniques to thinking processDescribe the characteristics of a critical thinkerHighlight the importance of critical thinking for a student

Brain teasers

How many triangles are there?

How many squares are there?

Egyptian Maze

Start Finish

Critical thinking 101

Exercise 1On your way to classes this morning, you saw an accident. What would you do?

Critical Thinking ToolsBlogs and wikisComic stripsMindmapping & brainstormingInfographics Videos and audiosGames Digital storytellingCreative writing

Free Mind Map Tools


10 Best Free Infographic MakersPictochart Easel.lyMany EyesInfogr.amVisual.lyTableau TimeLineJSChartsBinKinzaa Google developers

Exercise 2Imagine that you live in a world that has only 20 words. What are those words?Instructions:You can only use these words to express yourself.You can repeatedly use these words, but not other words that you did not suggest earlier.

Exercise 3 - Tour Guide for an AlienPretend that you have been assigned the task of conducting a tour for aliens who are visiting earth and observing human life. You're riding along in a blimp, and you float over a football stadium. One of your aliens looks down and becomes very confused, so you tell him that there is a game going on.

Try to answer these questions:What is a game?Why are there no female players?Why do people get so passionate watching other people play games?What is a team?Why can't the people in the seats just go down on the field and join in?

What is Critical Thinking?Thinking and judging for yourselfYou will learn to evaluate information that you hear and process information that you collect honestly and without the assumptions that we carry around. You will analyze the evidence that is presented to you in order to make sure it is sound.

Skill #1: InterpretationWhat it Means: Having the ability to understand the information you are being presented with and being able to communicate the meaning of that information to others.

Exercise Skill #1Write down 10 emotions you feel can be paired with facial expressions, e.g. smiling equals happiness. Then give your list to a friend and ask them to randomly recreate each facial expression as you attempt to interpret the correct emotion simply by looking at their face. How many can you correctly identify?The answers:

Skill #2: AnalysisWhat it Means: Having the ability to connect pieces of information together in order to determine what the intended meaning of the information was meant to represent.

Exercise Skill #2Try to determine the meaning behind this Malay Proverb: Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi.

Skill #3: InferenceWhat it Means: Having the ability to understand and recognize what elements you will need in order to determine an accurate conclusion or hypothesis from the information you have at your disposal.

Exercise Skill #3Try watching an episode of a weekly crime show. Focus on absorbing the clues in an effort to determine the mystery of who completed the crime during the episode.

Skill #4: EvaluationWhat it Means: Being able to evaluate the credibility of statements or descriptions of a persons experience, judgment or opinion in order to measure the validity of the information being presented.

Exercise Skill #4

Skill #5: ExplanationWhat it Means: Having the ability to not only restate information, but add clarity and perspective to the information, so it can be fully understood by anyone you are sharing it with.

Exercise Skill #5Explain what is IT to:A 4 year-old kidA 70 year-old grandma

Skill #6: Self-RegulationWhat it Means: Having the awareness of your own thinking abilities and the elements that you are using to find results.Its important to be able to separate your own personal biases or self-interests when making decisions at work.

Exercise Skill #6List 5 reasons why you deserve to get an A+ for this course.After you complete your reasons, read through each and focus on identifying your own potential biases that may impact your argument.

Critical thinking standards

Critical Thinking Standards (CTS)ClarityAccuracy Precision Relevance Depth Breadth Logic Fairness

35Universal intellectual (Critical) standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one isinterested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To help students learnthem, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold studentsaccountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom,become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves. The ultimate goal, then, is forthese questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, whichthen guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, thefollowing are the most significant:(Source:

CTS - ClarityCould you elaborate further on that point?Could you express that point in another way?Could you give me an illustration?Could you give me an example?


CTS Accuracy Is that really true?How could we check that?How could we find out if that is true?


CTS PrecisionCould you give more details?Could you be more specific?


CTS RelevanceHow is that connected to the question?How does that bear on the issue?


CTS DepthHow does your answer address the complexities in the question?How are you taking into account the problems in the question?Is that dealing with the most significant factors?


CTS BreadthDo we need to consider another point of view?Is there another way to look at this question?What would this look like from a conservative standpoint?What would this look like from the point of view of...?


CTS Logic Does this really make sense?Does that follow from what you said?How does that follow?But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true?


CTS FairnessCritical thinking demands that our thinking be fair.Open-minded ImpartialFree of distorting biases and preconceptions


Some Barriers to Critical ThinkingLack of relevant background informationPoor reading skillsPoor listening skillsBiasPrejudiceSuperstitionEgocentrism Socio-centrism Peer pressureDistrust of reasonStereotypingRelativistic thinkingWishful thinkingShort-term thinkingSelective perception / attentionSelective memoryOverpowering emotions Self-deceptionFear of change

45The reasons are quite complex.

Why is critical thinking important to students?

Benefits of Critical ThinkingAcademic Performanceunderstand the arguments and beliefs of othersCritically evaluating those arguments and beliefsDevelop and defend one's own well-supported arguments and beliefs.

WorkplaceHelps us to reflect and get a deeper understanding of our own and others decisionsEncourage open-mindedness to changeAid us in being more analytical in solving problems

Daily lifeHelps us to avoid making foolish personal decisions.Promotes an informed and concerned citizenry capable of making good decisions on important social, political and economic issues. Aids in the development of autonomous thinkers capable of examining their assumptions, dogmas, and prejudices.