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Dimensions of Critical Thinking

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  • 0:03 Definition of Critical…
  • 0:41 The Analysis of Thought
  • 1:26 Thought: Assessment…
  • 2:23 Skills for Thinking Critically
  • 4:09 Barriers to Critical Thinking
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Leslie Kendall
If you have an important question to answer or a complex problem to solve, the process of thinking critically can determine coming to the right or the wrong conclusions. Continue reading to learn about five dimensions of critical thinking.

Definition of Critical Thinking

From applying the scientific method, to covering a news story, to analyzing a crime scene, critical thinking is required. Thinking critically depends upon an open mind, reasoning, logic, questioning of assumptions, data, information, and evidence. In order to engage in critical thinking, a person must value evidence and facts rather than opinions or beliefs. In this lesson, we'll discuss five major dimensions of critical thinking. These include:

  1. Analysis of thought
  2. Assessment of thought
  3. Disposition of thought
  4. Skills for critical thinking
  5. Barriers to critical thinking

The Analysis of Thought

What is it that makes thinking, something everyone on the planet does, critical? Critical thinking in this context means applying standards to the thinking process, in order to get honest, truthful, and objective results. Critical thinking standards include looking at the data, information, or evidence with clarity, accuracy, completeness, relevance, and intellectual honesty.

The key concept behind the process of analysis involves delineating a question or problem into discrete elements. For example, the scientific method, an institutionalized form of critical thinking, starts with a question. Then the topic of that question is researched, a hypothesis is posed, and experimentation is conducted. Finally, the results are interpreted and new questions may be formulated.

Thought: Assessment and Disposition

When you have gathered a body of knowledge about your question or problem, the process moves to assessing the data. Assessment begins by looking at the information or evidence critically. That means that you are aware of your point of view and your assumptions, and you separate these from the facts, so that you can correctly draw inferences or recognize implications from what the data is showing you.

The term disposition can refer to many things, but in the context of critical thought, it's generally in terms of temperament and motives. The critical thinker should be a person who seeks the truth. This means being open to alternatives when faced with new facts or evidence. In order to think critically, a person must seek clear and precise information and they should prefer evidence over opinions or biases. For instance, if your boss recommends using a new technique in selling products or answering clients' questions, you might research this technique, as well as strategies for implementing it, and figure out a way to try this out alongside your current strategies.

Skills for Thinking Critically

Bloom's Taxonomy provides us with a useful set of skills necessary for thinking critically. While the taxonomy does not take into consideration all the interactions of the process, it is an excellent tool for looking at the cognitive aspects of it.

One area in business where critical thinking is employed on a continuous basis is in a call center. A call center agent's job is, by definition, one that answers questions or solves problems. Let's examine some skills outlined by Bloom's Taxonomy and how a call center agent might use these.

Gathering knowledge

Agents must gather and identify relevant and important information from a customer and organize it into appropriate categories. This way, the agent can tell if more information is needed.

Comprehension

Once the relevant information is gathered, does the agent understand the request? An agent must recognize and restate the request to ensure understanding. An agent doesn't want to spend time answering the wrong question.

Application

An agent must interpret and relate the request to what is known. The agent may compare and contrast this information to other questions or problems already answered or solved. This helps to see if the customer's question has already been solved by someone else.

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