Critical Literature

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Critical Thinking: A Literature Review
October 21, 2002

Table of Contents I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. General Definitions of Critical Thinking……………………………………2 Misrepresentations about Critical Thinking…………………………………3 Critical Thinking and Information Processing……………………………… Critical Thinking and Education……………………………………………. Critical Thinking for Science Education…………………………………… Critical Thinking for Agricultural Education………………………………. Critical Studies in Critical Thinking………………………………………… Critical Thinking Skills vs. Dispositions……………………………………. Critical Thinking Skills……………………………………………………… Critical Thinking Dispositions………………………………………………. Discipline-specific Critical Thinking………………………………………… Predictors and Correlates of Critical Thinking Skill…………………………. Teaching for Critical Thinking……………………………………………….. The Need for Critical Thinking in Biotechnology Education………………... References…………………………………………………………………….

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General Definitions of Critical Thinking
Over the last several decades, critical thinking has been discussed and contemplated in educational circles. Many definitions of critical thinking have been offered. In 1991, Pascarella and Terenzini compiled several definitions, stating that critical thinking “typically involves the individual’s ability to do some or all of the following: identify central issues and assumptions in an argument, recognize important relationships, make correct inferences from data, deduce conclusions from information or data provided, interpret whether conclusions are warranted on the basis of the data given, and evaluate evidence or authority (p. 118).” Critical thinking involves the formation of logical inferences (Simon & Kaplan, 1989). Some scholars and educators erroneously assume critical thinking to be higher order thinking or cognitive processing (Paul, 1994). According to Elder and Paul (1994), “Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality.” Critical thinking can be set apart from problem solving (Hedges, 1991) in that problem solving is a linear process of evaluation, while critical thinking is a comprehensive set of abilities allowing the inquirer to properly facilitate each stage of the linear problem-solving process. According to Chafee (1988) critical thinking is "our active, purposeful, and organized efforts to make sens e of our world by carefully examining our thinking, and the thinking of others, in order to clarify and improve our understanding" (p.29). According to Halpern (1989) critical thinking is "thinking that is purposeful, reasoned and goal directed. It is the kind of thinking involved, in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and

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making decisions" (p. 5). Simply put, critical thinking is the "reasonable and reflective thinking that is focused upon deciding what to believe or do" (Norris & Ennis, 1989, p. 18).

Misrepresentations about Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is looked at and viewed in many different ways. To gain a more complete understanding of critical thinking, it is useful to look at what critical thinking “is not.” Critical thinking is not about being superior to someone else. It is different from problem solving, and it is not higher order thinking or cognitive processing. Many scholars engage in, what Richard Paul refers to as “pseudo critical thinking,” which is a form of “intellectual arrogance masked in self-delusion or deception, in which thinking is deeply flawed” (1994, p. 14). Other well- meaning educators simply use the term critical thinking in place of other types of information processing that are very similar to, but at the same time different from critical thinking, such as problem solving. Dr. Lowell Hedges (1991) is one...
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