Concepts Of Critical Thinking

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His lengthy quotations of Francis Bacon, John Locke, and John Stuart Mill indicate that he was not the first person to propose development of a scientific attitude of mind as an educational goal.

In the 1930s, many of the schools that participated in the Eight-Year Study of the Progressive Education Association (Aikin 1942) adopted critical thinking as an educational goal, for whose achievement the study’s Evaluation Staff developed tests (Smith, Tyler, & Evaluation Staff 1942).

Its definition is contested, but the competing definitions can be understood as differing conceptions of the same basic concept: careful thinking directed to a goal.

Conceptions differ with respect to the scope of such thinking, the type of goal, the criteria and norms for thinking carefully, and the thinking components on which they focus.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking offers suggestions for improving our capacity through questioning, probing into: Critical thinking is sometimes contrasted with creative thinking, which involves openness, curiosity, imagination and innovation.

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The two modes of thought are complementary rather than conflicting, however, and both are important in a business environment.Since 1983, the Association for Informal Logic and Critical Thinking has sponsored sessions in conjunction with the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association (APA).In 1987, the APA’s Committee on Pre-College Philosophy commissioned a consensus statement on critical thinking for purposes of educational assessment and instruction (Facione 1990a).Cognitive biases are tendencies in our thought processes that lead us to make irrational decisions.The biases often result from our unconscious application of heuristics, cognitive shortcuts that we use to avoid putting a lot of effort into thinking about things.Since 1980, an annual international conference in California on critical thinking and educational reform has attracted tens of thousands of educators from all levels of education and from many parts of the world.Also since 1980, the state university system in California has required all undergraduate students to take a critical thinking course.Political and business leaders endorse its importance.For details on this history, see the Supplement on History.Critical thinking is the capacity to be objective, rational and analytical about subjects, situations and cognitive problems.As a process, critical thinking is the ongoing effort to improve our cognitive abilities in that capacity.

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