Critical Thinking Resources: More Definitions of Critical Thinking

Provided in support of the University of Houston-Clear Lake's Quality Enhancement Plan Topic

More Definitions of Critical Thinking


"Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, or problem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them."
     Elder and Paul (2008) as quoted in the Foundation for Critical Thinking's expanded content: Defining Critical Thinking.

"The mastery of higher order thinking skills including quantitative and qualifying analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information, argumentation, problem solving, and creativity."
     Faculty Senate, University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2003, as quoted on p.6 of the UHCL Quality Enhancement Plan).

"Purposeful, reflective judgment which manifests itself in reasoned consideration of evidence, context, methods, standards, and conceptualizations in deciding what to believe or what to do." (p.22) 
     Facione, P. A. (2011). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts. Millbrae, CA: Measured Reasons and The California Academic Press, re-printed with permission by Insight Assessment. Based on the American Philosophical Association's Delphi Report "Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction. Research Findings and Recommendations," 1990, ERIC document ED315423.

"In layperson's terms, critical thinking consists of seeing both sides of an issue, being open to new evidence that disconfirms your ideas, reasoning dispassionately, demanding that claims be backed by evidence, deducing and inferring conclusions from available facts, solving problems, and so forth. Then too, there are specific types of critical thinking that are characteristic of different subject matter: ...'thinking like a scientist' or 'thinking like a historian.'" (p.8) "From the cognitive scientist's point of view, the mental activities that are typically called critical thinking are actually a subset of three types of thinking: reasoning, making judgments and decisions, and problem solving. ...[We] think in these ways all the time, but only sometimes in a critical way... Critical reasoning, decision making, and problem solving... have three key features: effectiveness, novelty, and self-direction." (p. 11)
     Willingham, D. T. (2007). Critical thinking: Why is it so hard to teach? American Educator, 31(2), 8-19.

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Rodin's The Thinker (find full-size images at Musee Rodin)

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