Pat S - May 26, 2020 - Read time: 3 min
How about thinking in a way that guarantees the outcome you want. Most of us haven't really learnt how to think in a
structured way and as a result we fail to achieve our objectives. Well it’s time to get your shit together.
Critical thinking skills are sometimes described as ‘higher order’ skills – that is, skills requiring ways of thinking that
are deeper and more complex than the kind of ‘everyday’ thinking that we use.
A framework that describes different levels of thinking can be helpful to start to understand the concept of critical
Higher Order Skills ( going from lowest to highest )
Remembering [recognising, listing, naming & identifying]
Understanding [summarising, inferring, interpreting & comparing]
Applying [using & implementing]
Analysing [organising, structuring, outlining & integrating]
Evaluating [hypothesising, judging, checking & critiquing]
Creating [designing, constructing, inventing & devising]
The list suggests that remembering, understanding, and even applying facts, figures, concepts, or other learning
are ‘lower order’ skills. Of course it’s important to be able to do these things, but they are just a beginning. To do
really well in the work place, college or private life, you will also need to be able to analyse and evaluate the
information that you encounter in the course of your life, and then make inferences or draw conclusions based upon
your analysis and evaluation. These three key higher order skills are core to critical thinking. Ultimately, the aim is to
create original work and concepts of your own.
Analysis: involves close reading or scrutiny of a piece of work to detect and identify its main points, arguments, and
conclusions, and the evidence offered in support of them. Analysis often involves comparing and contrasting,
identifying key themes or areas of contention, and/or making connections between different ideas or approaches
towards the topic under consideration. Analysis may also involve the detailed examination of other data.
Evaluation: involves assessing and probing the various points, arguments and evidence that you have found, in
order to make a judgement about their credibility, relevance, and strength. It may involve considering what others
have omitted, as well as what they have included, and questioning the conclusions that they have reached.
Evaluation often requires you to consider how well the evidence or argument 'fits' with a particular theory.
Inference: involves building on your analysis and evaluation of the available information, by using them to reach a
conclusion of your own. This may involve agreeing or disagreeing with the theories, arguments and conclusions of
others, discussing the implications of the information that you have considered, and possibly making suggestions or
recommendations for the future.
Developing these skills will make it possible for you to master the key skill of reflective judgement or the ability to
make a reasoned judgement, based on the available information, while also being cognisant of the nature and limits
of knowledge and knowing. As your critical thinking skills develop, you should feel more confident about creating
original work of your own, knowing that your ideas rest on solid critical foundations.
The following list illustrates these ideas and introduces the concept of critical thinking.
It’s really important to understand that being critical does not imply being negative. For some people, the word
‘critical’ has negative connotations, and they take it to mean that they should only find fault with an idea or a piece of
work. This is incorrect. Being critical means considering things in a balanced and objective way, and using reason
and logic – rather than instinct, emotion, or belief – to reach a conclusion.
Critical Thinking Skills
Dispositions Towards Critical Thinking
Self- Efficacy Attentiveness
Goal Orientation Perseverance