Critical Thinking Definition, Skills, and Examples


thinking critically and creatively

Start studying Thinking Critically and Creatively Chapter Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Like any other skill, learning to think critically or problem-solve takes time, perseverance and practice. Knowing which steps to take and how to apply them helps us master the process. Steps to Critical Thinking As It Relates To Problem Solving: Identify the Problem. The first task is . 5. Problem Solving Problem solving is another crucial critical thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating and implementing a solution, and assessing the success of the plan. After all, employers don’t simply want employees who can think about information critically. They also need to be able to come up with practical solutions.

Thinking Critically and Creatively | Foundations of Academic Success: Words of Wisdom

Teachers can help students become 21st-century problem solvers by introducing them to a broad range of thinking tools. If you doubt that we live in a world of accelerating change, just thinking critically and creatively the everyday life experiences of millions of children and teenagers today: They can view live images from every corner of the world and talk with or exchange video images with other young people who live many time zones away.

They have more technology in their classrooms and in many cases, in their backpacks than existed in the workplaces of their parents 20 years ago. They will study subjects that were unknown when their teachers and parents were students, and they may well enter careers that do not exist today.

In contrast with most of their parents, more of today's young people will routinely come into contact with other people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. They will grow up to interact, collaborate, and compete with others around the globe.

Once upon a time, educators might have said to their students, "If you'll pay close attention to what I'm going to teach you, thinking critically and creatively learn everything you need to know for a successful life. We don't know all the information that today's students will need or all the answers to the questions they will face.

Indeed, increasingly, we don't even know the questions. These realities mean that we must empower students to become creative thinkers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers—people who are continually learning and who can apply their new knowledge to complex, novel, open-ended challenges; people who will proceed confidently and competently into the new horizons of life and work.

In education, we routinely teach students how to use various sets of cognitive tools to make academic work easier, more efficient, or more productive: for example, thinking critically and creatively, research methods, note-taking strategies, or ways to remember and organize information, thinking critically and creatively. Thinking critically and creatively teaching thinking, we need to give students cognitive tools and teach them to thinking critically and creatively these tools systematically to solve real-life problems and to manage change.

These tools apply to two essential categories: creative thinking and critical thinking. What is creative thinking?

What is critical thinking? We often view these terms as opposites that are poles apart and incompatible. We stereotype the creative thinker as wild and zany, thriving on off-the-wall, impractical ideas; in contrast, we envision the critical thinker as serious, deep, analytical, and impersonal. Consider instead a different view—that these two ways of thinking are complementary and equally important. Creative thinking involves searching for meaningful new connections by generating many unusual, original, and varied possibilities, as well as details that expand or enrich possibilities, thinking critically and creatively.

Critical thinking, on the other hand, involves examining possibilities carefully, fairly, and constructively—focusing your thoughts and actions by organizing and analyzing possibilities, refining and developing the most promising possibilities, ranking or prioritizing options, thinking critically and creatively, and choosing certain options.

Generating many possibilities is not enough by itself to help you solve a problem. Similarly, if you rely on focusing alone, you may have too few possibilities from which to choose. Effective problem solvers must think both creatively and critically, generating options and focusing their thinking. Both generating and focusing involve learning and applying certain guidelines attitudes and habits of mind that support effective thinking and tools.

Let's first look at the guidelines for generating and focusing, thinking critically and creatively, and then consider a number of specific tools. Individuals or groups use generating tools to thinking critically and creatively many, varied, or unusual possibilities; to develop new and interesting combinations of possibilities; or to add detail to new possibilities.

When generating options, thinking critically and creatively, productive thinkers separate generating from judging. They direct their effort and energy to producing possibilities that can be judged later. Seek quantity. The more options a person or group generates, the greater the likelihood that at least some of those possibilities will be intriguing and potentially useful. Encourage all possibilities. Even possibilities that seem wild or silly might serve as a springboard for someone to make an original and powerful new connection.

Look for combinations. It is often possible to increase the quantity and quality of options by building on the thinking of others or by seeing new combinations that may be stronger than any of their parts.

Brainstorming thinking critically and creatively probably the most widely known generating tool but often the most misunderstood and misused tool, too.

Many people use the term brainstorming as a synonym for a general conversation, thinking critically and creatively, discussion, or exchange of views. It is more accurate, however, to view brainstorming as a specific tool in which a person or a group follows the four guidelines described above to search for many possible responses to an open-ended task or question.

As illustrated in Figure 1, there are also several other tools for generating options Treffinger, Nassab, et al. Focusing tools help individuals or groups analyze, organize, refine, develop, prioritize, evaluate, or select options from the set of possibilities they have at hand.

When focusing their thinking, productive thinkers examine thinking critically and creatively carefully but constructively, placing more emphasis on screening, supporting, or selecting options than on criticizing them, thinking critically and creatively.

Be deliberate. Effective focusing takes into consideration the purpose of focusing. Is it to select a single solution, to rank order or prioritize several options, to examine ideas carefully with very detailed criteria, to refine or strengthen options, thinking critically and creatively, or to create a sequence of steps or actions?

Each of these purposes might be best served by a specific focusing tool. Consider novelty. If the stated goal is to find a novel or original solution or response, then it is important to focus deliberately on that dimension when evaluating possible solutions, and not simply to fall back on the easiest or most familiar options within a list.

Stay on course. When focusing, it is important to keep the goals and purposes of the task clearly in sight and to ensure that you evaluate the options in relation to their relevance and importance for the goal. Figure 1. Generating many, varied, or unusual options for an open-ended task or question. Hits and Hot Spots. Selecting promising or intriguing possibilities identifying hits and clustering, categorizing, organizing, or compressing them in meaningful ways finding hot spots.

Using two objects or words that seem unrelated to the task or problem, or to each other, to create new possibilities or connections.

ALoU: Refining and Developing. Using a deliberate, constructive approach to strengthening or improving options, by considering a dvantages, l imitations and ways to o vercome themand u thinking critically and creatively features.

Attribute Listing. Using the core elements or attributes of a task or challenge as a springboard for generating novel directions or improvements, thinking critically and creatively.

Setting priorities or ranking options through a systematic analysis of all possible combinations. Applying a checklist of action words or phrases idea-spurring questions to evoke or trigger new or varied possibilities. Sequencing: SML.

Organizing and focusing options by considering s hort, m edium, or l ong-term actions. Morphological Matrix. Identifying the key parameters of a task, generating possibilities for each parameter, and investigating possible combinations mixing and matching. Evaluation Matrix. Using specific criteria to systematically evaluate each of several options or possibilities to guide judgment and selection of options.

Teachers can incorporate instruction in creative and critical thinking into the curriculum in a number of ways, either singly or in combination. I recommend that teachers follow several guidelines. Introduce the tools directly, using engaging, open-ended questions from everyday life. Be clear that the purpose of such out-of-context work is to gain confidence and skill in using the tool, so everyone will be successful when using it in context. Next, provide thinking critically and creatively to apply the tools in lessons or activities related to specific content areas.

Any of the generating and focusing tools can be used to help students master a variety of specific content standards in many areas see Treffinger, ; Treffinger et al.

Kopcakfor example, describes using the Brainstorming, Hits and Thinking critically and creatively Spots, and Paired Comparison Analysis tools with high school seniors thinking critically and creatively they worked on the Virginia learning standard "The student will write documented research papers. After covering a chalkboard with sticky notes, thinking critically and creatively, the class paused to discuss the characteristics of a good research topic.

The students used the Hits and Thinking critically and creatively Spots focusing tool to select promising topics and organize them into categories based on theme or overarching topic; they used the Paired Comparison Analysis focusing tool to narrow down the most appealing options.

Other examples of applications of the tools in content areas include Attribute Listing. Understanding the important elements or parts of a topic being studied for example, the major attributes of a country or civilization in social studies, the major elements of a story, or the characteristics of the main characters in a novel. Identifying varied or unusual ways to make people aware of the importance of voting.

Generating many possible math problems that could be constructed from a given set of data, events, or circumstances. Thinking critically and creatively many ways to promote recycling or conservation. Evaluating choices or possible courses of action faced by people or groups in literature or social studies units thinking critically and creatively example, in a film the students have viewed or a story they have read.

Judging and choosing one of several possible themes, thinking critically and creatively, plots, or endings for a story or dramatic scene. Understanding and ordering the stages or chronology in an event or process for example, the steps in an experiment or the sequence of certain measurements to be taken on a set of data.

Be deliberate about applying the basic tools in several different content areas, to help students learn how to transfer their learning about the tools across contexts.

As you work with the tools, be explicit about metacognitive skills. Ask, "What is the tool? How did you use it? When and why would you use it in other situations? Beware of presenting too much newness at once. When you are working with new content, start with familiar tools. When you are introducing new tools, start with familiar content.

Don't try to teach all the tools at once, thinking critically and creatively. When students are comfortable with the basic generating and focusing tools, teachers may guide them in applying these tools through the Creative Problem Solving framework, a model for attaining clarity about tasks, defining problems in a constructive way, generating possible solutions, preparing for action and successful implementation of solutions, and dealing with change.

For more information about the Creative Problem Solving framework, see the resources at the Center for Creative Learning. It is also important to engage students in finding and solving real-life problems or challenges within the classroom, the school, or the community. Two widely known enrichment programs can provide engaging opportunities thinking critically and creatively students to apply creative problem solving.

By helping students learn and apply the attitudes and practical tools of effective problem solvers, teachers can enhance student learning in powerful ways that extend beyond memorization and recall.

Even when teachers are compelled to place great emphasis on basic learning and doing well on standardized tests—indeed, particularly at such times—it remains important to balance the emphasis between process and content in teaching and learning. Students who are competent in not only the basics of content areas but also the basics of productive and creative thinking will be lifelong learners, thinking critically and creatively, knowledge creators, and problem solvers who can live and work effectively in a world of constant change.

Kopcak, T.


Difference Between Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking -


thinking critically and creatively


Effective problem solvers must think both creatively and critically, generating options and focusing their thinking. Both generating and focusing involve learning and applying certain guidelines (attitudes and habits of mind that support effective thinking) and tools. Thinking Critically and Creatively Dr. Andrew Robert Baker. Critical and creative thinking skills are perhaps the most fundamental skills involved in making judgments and solving problems. They are some of the most important skills I have ever developed. I use them everyday and continue to Cited by: 2. Thinking Critically and Creatively. Dr. Andrew Robert Baker. Critical and creative thinking skills are perhaps the most fundamental skills involved in making judgments and solving problems. They are some of the most important skills I have ever developed. I use them everyday and continue to .