The stairway to critical thinking
The stages and skills involved in critical thinking can be seen as an eight-step stairway to high grades. As your thinking skills develop in depth and complexity, your other study skills will also improve.
- Process – Take in the information (i.e. in what you have read, heard, seen or done).
- Understand – Comprehend the key points, assumptions, arguments and evidence presented.
- Analyse – Examine how these key components fit together and relate to each other.
- Compare – Explore the similarities, differences between the ideas you are reading about.
- Synthesise – Bring together different sources of information to serve an argument or idea you are constructing. Make logical connections between the different sources that help you shape and support your ideas.
- Evaluate – Assess the worth of an idea in terms of its relevance to your needs, the evidence on which it is based and how it relates to other pertinent ideas.
- Apply – Transfer the understanding you have gained from your critical evaluation and use in response to questions, assignments and projects.
- Justify – Use critical thinking to develop arguments, draw conclusions, make inferences and identify implications.
Source: Open University (2009) Skills for OU Study: Critical Thinking. Previously available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/skillsforstudy/critical-thinking.php [accessed 21/06/2011]
Also see: http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/skillsforstudy/critical-reading-techniques.php