Characteristics of Critical Thinking

On a daily basis, people face problems and situations that should be evaluated and solved, and challenges arise as they try to understand different perspectives about these situations. Understanding the concepts and process of critical thinking is very relevant for anyone who intends to excel in critical writing and reviewing.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the process of analyzing facts to arrive at informed judgment. It consists of analysis of facts to support or dispute claims with a view to creating a rational decision-making platform. They further state that critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.

Critical thinking refers to an individual’s ability to think clearly and rationally about what they want to do or believe. This is has to do with the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. It is a thought process that is devoid of sentiments but focuses on objective reason to communicate better.

With specific reference to writing, critical thinking facilitates the process of critical writing. It determines what takes place in the mind before the actual writing. In critical writing you are like a judge over a work, an idea or whatever subject matter you are working on. Critical thinking is very essential here. If you don’t think rightly, you can’t write rightly. It helps you to investigate the evidence by cross-examining it, considering alternative arguments and explanations before reaching a valid and convincing conclusion. Critical writing process depends seriously on effective critical thinking. When you examine a message or work of art, you take a position and present your reasoning and evidence in a clear, well structured manner.

Characteristics of Critical Thinking

A review of the conceptual explanation of critical thinking shows it is characterized by the following features;

  • It is a systematic process. This means it involves investigating and cross-examining a work, weighing two sides of the coin, other options, before arriving at an informed verdict which could even lead to re-investigation or another set of investigations.
  • It’s all about probing and investigation of presented positions and claims in a work;
    It consists of indepth analysis;
  • It is about evaluating a work;
  • It achieves results through a questioning process;
  • You are challenging another person’s ideas, postulations, arguments or claims;
  • Its major goal is to help you reach an informed verdict;
  • It is not a one-sided thought process since you must consider both sides of the coin;

The importance of critical thinking

Critical thinking is very essential in diverse spheres of life in the society. Several benefits of critical thinking exist but some basic ones are as follows;

It develops the ability to think clearly and rationally in every discipline:

Critical thinking encompasses diverse disciplines, and in the development of a wide-range of skills required to succeed in every discipline. No matter where you work or the network of people who associate with, this skill is very essential in excelling in any society. Critical thinking skills are not restricted to any specific subject area. The ability to think well and solve problems systematically is an invaluable asset for any career.

It is very essential in the new knowledge economy.

Ability to deal with changes quickly and effectively is crucial for adaptation and survival in today’s knowledge economy which is technology-driven. According to Critical Thinking Web (n.d), the new economy places increasing demands on flexible intellectual skills, and the ability to analyse information and integrate diverse sources of knowledge in solving problems. This underscores the pertinence of effective critical thinking skills in modern society.

It enhances language and presentation skills.

To express ideas meaningfully and convincingly requires ability to think clearly and systematically. Critical thinking improves comprehension abilities by helping to learn how to analyse the logical structure of texts. This is why it is an essential part of critical writing and reviewing.

It promotes creativity.

Critical thinking tasks the brain to come up with ideas that translate to creative solutions. Today’s technology-based society is driven by ideas that are translated to solutions to diverse problem. Such ideas are outcomes of critical thinking.

Critical thinking facilitates self-reflection.

When someone engages in critical thinking on personal values and decisions, that person lives a meaningful and well structured life.

It encourages curiosity:

Curiosity paves the way for a deeper understanding of this that happen within the immediate and larger environment, giving people a better experience of world. This is one skill that is essential in taking advantage of trends in modern society where life itself seems to be evolving at a faster pace.

 It reinforces problem-solving ability:

The skills developed through critical thinking help in making an individual to be an instinctive problem-solver. Critical thinking equips you with imaginative, analytical, investigative, logical, evaluative and such other skills which contribute in enhancing the problem-solving instinct in an individual.

 It fosters independence:

Critical thinking empowers you with the ability to think for yourself even in the most puzzling situation and become independent. Though critical thinking makes you fit into team play scenario relevantly, there are times independent thinking is essential for decision making. Good critical thinking skills help in achieving this goal.

 

(Taken from the book “Critical Writing and Reviewing, Second Edition, written by Chineney Nwabueze)

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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