Applying Critical Thinking Processes To Professional Practice

Lipman, like Sternberg, does not specify a "how to" approach.However, he makes clear distinctions between ordinary thinking and critical thinking.

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Ennis asserts that to help students develop critical thinking skills, teachers must understand the cognitive processes that constitute critical thinking and use instructional activities that will develop these processes.

He recommends instructors teach students how to define and clarify information, ask appropriate questions to clarify or challenge statements or beliefs, judge the credibility of sources, and solve problems by predicting probable outcomes through logic or deduction.

Critical thinking requires the use of self-correction and monitoring to judge the rationality of thinking as well as reflexivity.

When using critical thinking, individuals step back and reflect on the quality of that thinking.

He also suggested that because critical thinkers possess curiosity and skepticism, they are more likely to be motivated to provide solutions that resolve contradictions.

For a number of years, dental educators thought teaching problem-solving skills was akin to teaching critical thinking skills.The ability to develop critical thinking skills may be likened to Piaget's concrete and formal operations.If students have not yet reached the formal operations stage, their ability to use critical thinking skills may be limited by an inability to handle abstract ideas.He postulates that there are three mental processes fostering critical thinking: meta-components, performance components, and knowledge-acquisition strategies.Meta-components refer to higher-order mental processes that individuals use to plan, monitor, and evaluate what they do.Sternberg asserts that critical thinking involves complex mental operations that cannot be broken into discrete styles of thinking.He claims that CT involves students' total intellectual functioning, not a narrowly defined set of skills.Performance components refer to the actual steps taken or strategies used, while knowledge-acquisition strategies refer to the ways in which individuals relate old to new material and apply new material.Sternberg does not specify a "how" approach to teaching and learning critical thinking skills.Simpson and Courtneay point out that critical thinking processes require active argumentation, initiative, reasoning, envisioning and analyzing complex alternatives, and making contingency-related value judgment.Brookfield asserts that identifying and challenging assumptions and analyzing assumptions for validity are essential to critical thinking skills.


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