Critical thinking involves the use of a group of interconnected skills to analyze, creatively integrate, and evaluate what you read and hear so you can make the most informed decisions. Its about not believing the first thing you are told, or going along with popular opinion based solely on the fact that many other people believe in something.
Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false. It can be considered a skill as it takes a lot of practice and long periods of trial and error to get it right, but when you do, it will help you make better decisions in your personal and professional life.
Here are 6 steps to Critical thinking:
Step 1: Knowledge
In terms of critical thinking, the basic level of acquisition of knowledge requires that you be able to identify what is being said: the topic, the issue, the thesis, and the main points. Become a learned person by acquiring knowledge and pursuing topics that interest you. Read great books on interesting subjects that will give you a better understanding of the world, logic, and science.
Step 2: Comprehension
Comprehension means understanding the material read, heard or seen. In comprehending, you make the new knowledge that you have acquired your own by relating it to what you already know. The better you are involved with the information, the better you will comprehend it. As always, the primary test of whether you have comprehended something is whether you can put what you have read or heard into your own words.
Remember that comprehending something implies that you can go beyond merely parroting the material back but instead that you can give the material your own significance.
A key factor in becoming a master of any skill is to be able to link different and seemingly unconnected pieces of information, and putting them together to build new ideas. Comprehension is an understanding of the subject matter as apposed to knowing it.
Step 3: Application
Application requires that you know what you have read, heard, or seen, that you comprehend it, and that you carry out some task to apply what you comprehend to an actual situation.
Its not an option to learn what you should do, but never get down to applying it to real life situations. Apply what you know and enjoy the results.
Step 4: Analysis
Analysis involves breaking what you read or hear into its component parts, in order to make clear how the ideas are ordered, related, or connected to other ideas. Analysis deals with both form and content to improve your critical thinking.
Any difficult or seemingly complex subject matter or story has components that can be dissected to allow for a better understanding of what has happened. Just like a news story told from different news channels with different motives, learn to dissect and understand what is happening, by looking at the story as small segments of a larger picture.
Step 5: Synthesis
Synthesis involves the ability to put together the parts you analyzed with other information to create something original.
Step 6: Evaluation
Evaluation occurs once we have understood and analyzed what is said or written and the reasons offered to support it. Then we can appraise this information in order to decide whether you can give or withhold belief, and whether or not to take a particular action. Never put evaluation ahead of the other steps in critical thinking steps; otherwise, you will be guilty of a “rush to judgement.” When emotion substitutes for reasons, evaluation incorrectly precedes analysis.