Essay Outline (Plan) Essay Topic Critical Thinking Skills Introduction briefly define the topic Body of Essay defining critical thinking with more details comparing & contrasting the use of thinking skills for study and for business stating how, in the writer s opinion, these skills can best be acquired outlining a personal plan for acquiring these skills Conclusion summarizing the essay and making a personal comment Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implications and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference. Critical thinking in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking. According to Ballard & Clanchy, in broad terms, being critical means making careful or exact judgements. The critical thinker, therefore, is someone who approaches material with the ultimate intention of judgement its worth or value, and who arrives at this point of judgement through a process of systematic analysis and questioning. (Ballard, B. & Clanchy, J. 1998, p.65) As the simply way for me to define critical thinking. I think critical thinking can be seen as having two components: 1) a set of skills to process and generate information and beliefs, and 2) the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior. It is thus to be contrasted with: 1) the mere acquisition and retention of information alone, because it involves a particular way in which information is sought and treated; 2) the mere possession of a set of skills, because it involves the continual use of them; and 3) the mere use of those skills without acceptance of their results. This theory was enlightened by Kurfiss, he stated, critical thinking has been defined many ways: the ability to weigh evidence, examine arguments, and construct rational bases for beliefs. A great deal of work has gone into establishing a theoretical basis for studying critical thinking, and there are vast quantities of research addressing teaching and learning critical thinking in college (Kurfiss, 1988). We include in critical thinking not only the ability to reason and construct arguments, but to examine one s reasoning processes to evaluate their appropriateness and effectiveness. This aspect is what makes critical thinking more that just problem-solving. It is not enough to be able to apply problem-solving strategies to a particular problem, however complex they might be; a truly critical thinker must be able to choose appropriate strategies and even create new ones when necessary. Hence, according to Ballard & Clanchy, Critical thinking, therefore, involves systematic analysis: 1) based on a questioning attitude to the material being analyzed and the methods being used; and 2) governed by the overall purpose of reaching a judgement (Ballard, B. & Clanchy, J. 1998, p. 67). In dealing with most complex problem, we are not likely to find one right answer but must weigh options for problem solutions based on our understanding of their potential consequences. In a discussion of critical thinking, King & Kitchener were distinguishes between critical thinking and decision-making on this basis, that decision-making requires both critical thinking skills and consideration of values. We can identify options through critical thinking but must reflect on our values to decide which option is best. Personal, social, and cultural values initiate and inform the decision-making process from beginning to end (King & Kitchener, 1994). Moreover, critical thinking in relation to tertiary study, it consists first, in analysis: 1) reducing a complex matter to its simple elements; and 2) examining the relationships among them. Then, in adopting a critical attitude towards those elements: 1) questioning their meaning; 2) evaluating the evidence for them; and 3) making judgements about their value or importance. Finally, in presenting those judgements in a persuasive and reasoned argument (Ballard, B. & Clanchy, J. 1998, p.75). Now, let look at the relationship between epistemology and critical thinking. 1) How do we view knowledge? Theories of developing reflective judgement (King & Kitchener, 1994) address individuals beliefs or assumptions about the source of knowledge. And the meaning of truth developmental models describe the process by which students move from absolutist, authority-derived views of knowledge, to relativist, subjectively-derived views, to constructivist views where the self is the source of knowledge. But where this knowledge and the processes that produced it is subject to external validation and critique. Students at the lower levels of intellectual development may have difficulty participating in, or learning from, inquiry-oriented or reflective activities, since they either do not see what can be learned from them or how such knowledge can be evaluated critically. 2) What knowledge is important? Traditionally, the instructor decides what students need to learn. Though there may be good reasons behind these choices, they can often appear arbitrary to students. Problem-based learning allow students to identify the information and skills they need to learn to solve specific problems. Since most of the problems we deal with in our classed are complex, ill-defined, and without a clear right answer, students may also disagree on which information is relevant and valuable in addressing the problem. Being able to evaluate information based on its source and its relationship to a problem, as well as being able to search it out in a textbook or in primary literature, are necessary skills for making effective decisions. This, according to Arons (1998), is the difference between declarative knowledge (understanding where knowledge comes from) and operant knowledge (how). He also notes that operative knowledge involves the capacity to use, transform, or recognize the relevance of declarative knowledge in new situations, that is, the transfer of learning. Another teaching strategy is noted by Kurfiss (1987) and Gainen (1992), who identify problem solving or cooperative controversy as a mode of helping to develop critical thinking. Some specific strategies identified by Kurfiss include the use of 1) controversy, such as through debate or by raising controversial questions for discussion; 2) informal/formal writing assignments or short essay examination questions that involve reasoning skills and the ability to organize and articulate knowledge; and 3) student-to-student dialogue in which students may work in teams on complex problems, guided by a decisions model. On the other hand, in an interview I conducted with Miss Louey on May 18, 1998. She said critical thinking really means 1) identifying issue or task that u need to be done; 2) analyzing gathering & looking for all the piece of information that u need; and 3) decision & judgement what is real/fact that then can do something on it, & what is not real that we can t do anything. As the most important critical thinking skills for her is talking with people because talking with people can get a lot of views and get a lot of facts. She can then put all information into the one issue, & to identify the evidence. Also, she advised how to approach critical thinking skills: 1) questioning why we do it , why is not working anymore , what is the real direction that we should take ; 2) analyzing; and 3) decision making & judgement. I agree with her because we can t just do thing without any thought, without making any judgements. We need to get all piece of useful information to do a must decision. Just like, when you get any problem, the first thing we should do is to think about what problem is. If we don t know or understand the problem, we can t do anything. Then, find out the solution ask anyone or search for all related information. Finally, make a decision (judgement) on all piece of information. And, according to De Bono s notes, the more information we get the better must it be for our decisions and our actions (Edward, B. 1987, p.26). Moreover, Christine also mentioned we need to develop critical thinking skills to keep up with the constantly change in our life. I think that really true because everything can change in moment. So do our knowledge? Therefor, we all need to keep learning in this constantly changed environment, as learning must be a lifelong process. To focus their attention on the following: 1) create a climate of curiosity and questioning; 2) prevent assumptions and speculations from being used as the basis for actions without verification; 3) require evaluation of interventions; 4) engage in dialogue to develop divergent thinking; 5) create and maintain an open environment that does not become undisciplined; 6) provide for feedback; 7) design objectives that focus on process rather than content; 8) be involved with internships; and 9) design evaluations that reflect higher order problem solving (Doney et al 1993, p.298). Actually, all the above mentioned can proved critical thinking skills are important for both study and business. Particularly, for the point of life-long learning. As Doney puts in, accounting educators must prepare future professionals by developing life-long learning skills that focus on the ability to think critically, that is, to understand, apply and adapt concepts and principles in a variety of contexts and circumstances. This approach to accounting education abandons the traditional focus on memorizing professional standards and requires students to develop the motivation, ability, and value to continue to learn beyond their formal educational environment. As the accounting profession continues to evolve along with the changing field of information technology, the teaching of critical thinking skills is a direct response to the need of accountants in their strategic roles of advisors to decisionmakers in organizations that are facing greater competition and becoming more global in scope (Doney et al 1993, p.297). However, student and professional worker will have their different way to use critical thinking skills to approach problems & both of them can be best acquired. As a student, Arons (1985) suggested that the development of higher cognitive processed is facilitated by raising questions when studying some body of material or approaching a problem. Specifically, questions such as what do we know ? How do we know ? What do we accept or believe ? And what is the evidence for ? are suggested. As a profession worker, in order to design effective solutions for business problems, we must first analyze and understand the problem. Systems analysis includes the first three stages in our five-step model, during which we identify the problem, gather information about it, and make a decision about the best solution. The best solution is not always the ideal solution, since the ideal may be too expensive or too difficult considering present resources. The final two steps encompass systems design: designing the logical and physical specifications of the solution and implementing this solution. Feedback from each step, and from the post implementation evaluation, helps us judge the effectiveness of the solution: has it solved the problem it was intended to solve? (Laudon & Laudon 1995, p.322). Personally, I think critical thinking skills can be best acquired for my study or work, anytime. For instance, by reading critically, I need to have constantly think as what point is the author trying to make? , in stead of just trying to memorize what I m reading. Specially in writing essay, I need to gather all piece of information (do more research or ask for anyone else), then, to analyze & judge them. As critical thinker can pinpoint specifically where opposing arguments or views contradict each other, distinguishing the contradictions from compatible beliefs, thus focusing our analyzes of conflicting views. To think critically, I must be able to tell the difference between those facts, which are relevant to an issue and those which are not. Also, I must pay attention on relevant facts and do not let irrelevant considerations affect my conclusions. Whether or not something is relevant is often unclear, relevance must often be argued. Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore usually a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions. No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion. For this reason, I must keep learning, as the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavor. Reference Ballard, B & Clanchy, J (1988) Studying in Australia, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, pp.65-76. Carkhuff, R R (1984) The Exemplar, Human Resource Development Press, Inc., Amberst, Massachusetts, pp.27, 28, 30 & 41. De Bono, E (1987) Letters to Thinkers: Further Thoughts on Lateral Thinking, Harrp Ltd., London. Louey, C interviewed by T. Y. Lee, May 18, 1998 (unpublished). Doney, L D, Lephardt, N E & Trebby, J P (May/June 1993) Development critical thinking skills in accounting students , Journal of Education For Business, pp.297-299. King, Patricia M & Kitchener, Karen Strohm (1994) Developing Reflective Judgment, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco. Kurfiss, Joanne G (1988) Critical Thinking: Theory, Research, Practice and Possibilities , ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report#2, Washington. Laudon, K C & Laudon, J P (1995) Information System A Problem Solving Approach, 3rd ed, The Dryden Press, USA. Magee, R C & June Schmidt, B (October 1994) A Necessity for 90s Marketing Student-Thinking Skills , Business Education Forum, pp.36-38. Bibliography Arons, A B (1985) Critical Thinking and the Baccalaureate Curriculum, Liberal Education, Summer, pp.141-157. De Bono, E (1986) Teaching Thinking, Penguin, England. De Bono, E (1995) Parallel Thinking: from Socratic Thinking to De Bono Thinking, Penguin, London. Gainen, J (1992) Developing Intellectual Skills in Accounting Education. In T J Frecka, Ed., Critical Thinking, Interactive learning, and Technology, Arthur Andersen & Co, New York. Kurfiss, J (1987) The Reasoning-Centered Classroom: Approaches that Work . American Association of Higher Education Bulletin, 39, pp.12-14. Appendix - Transcript of 5 minutes of interview QuestionHow do you acquire critical thinking skills for work? AnswerI don t really, how do you acquire critical thinking skills for work, how do you develop critical thinking skills. I m not sure about what actually ask there, but I think that as an individual, you have to develop questioning attitudes. You don t just accept everything, it is, you question why it is that way? , and you try to find out why is that way. And after you do that, when thinks, when you can see that things are not right. Like with the enrolment process, we ve been doing at the same way for a number of year but it s not right anymore. Our clients needed are changed, we have to response. So, you have to question, you know, why are we doing at this way now? , it s not the right way anymore. But as I said before, I found that talking with people is very important. Eventually, you have to make judgement yourself. But by talking with people, you get a lot of views, you get a lot of fact, you get a lot of though put into the one issue. And I think that very important for me because it helps me in identifying all the evidence and the though. And it helps me in analyzing everything as well. If I have a big, like this enrolment process, I will always think one persons in particular that I found helps me a lot of think through the issues. We sit there for quite some time talking about why we do it? , why is not working anymore? , what are the idea? , what could we do? , what is the each one of the things are the real direction we should take? . And we, I guess, we share all our thoughts and we are then in a better position to make a very good judgement about at all. So, how to acquire critical thinking skills, I think you have to be questioning, you have to be analytical, you have to be willing to research and looking to things. You have to, you don t accept things for the way they are. You question why they are that way? . I could show the things of way are of development other people critical thinking skills along a line that we ve talked about. I mean as a teacher, I could think of way of encouraging student to become more critical thinking. In accounting, I m a accounting teacher, and in accounting, everything of there are ways of doing things but there are different ways of doing things as well. So we as an accounting teacher, you have to be aware of been able to present a number of different ways. But not too much information cause it confuses student. So, I think, you have to encourage people to think why it is the way that it is, and what other way was possible. And traditional teaching is that, you know, student all sitting at row and you tell them all the information. you give then all the information but I found that teamwork now work very very well. Student get together & they talk about the issue among themselves. And I see that working here at work as well. As I mentioned before, we structured the center here in teams, all the teachers are working teams. And we encourage that all the decision are made by the teams, not by the head of center or not by me. We just provide input our thought, but the teams we say they must made the decision. And when a team work as a team, not one person makes the decision but the whole team make the decision. And I think that team approach brings it out critical thinking skill in at work because they all have to input into the final judgement and therefor they all express their opinion. They all bring their own piece of information, they all analysis the information and then they come out with the final judgement. And I think that have been a very good strategy to bring along critical thinking skill in a work environment like this. But its encourage critical thinking skill, but what I think the critical thinking skills bring out the judgement. But I think that what encourages someone or a team of people to do the same things again to think all though the issue again, is for there to be support for the judgement was made. The management, I guess, I saw myself in that role how close the head of center is the final decision making person. But if you going to encourage teams in critical thinking then you have to accept the judgement that are made by the teams. You just have to accept them, and if they were not good judgements, it has to go back to the team and the team re-think the whole thing again. And that encourages them to think even more questioner in the future. And may be that they didn t gather all the information that they need to make a good judgement. So they could learn from that experience, ask all the people, everybody involved, not just some perhaps. So, how do you acquire critical skills for work, I keep coming back to this, and I really think that you need to identify what is required or what other skills of critical thinking and to develop strategies to make sure you put yourself in a situation where you are critically thinking. And the decision can be a big one, or the reasons for the critical thinking can be a large one or can be a very small one. You know, just thinking through the issues of organizing a social culture and, you know, couple of you sit down and think through what is it that you have to do, to organize that social culture. So, I think it encourages you must have a very questioning approach. A willingness to know more than, or research what more than, what is in front of you. And I think our life-style along is forcing us to be more critical thinking because I feel that everything changing so quickly, everything around us is changing. When I started at work 22 years ago was very different to the way is now. And every year something is happening around me to change everything, a lot of thing around me. And I think that s the environment we having now of constant change, technology, the way we teach, the way we teach now is not the way that I taught 20 years ago. The approaches teaching is change because it is a constant change. We have to know how to, we have to develop skill to be able to keep up with that change and I think that s where critical thinking are very very important because it teaches us, it gives us the skill to be constantly learning and how to go about learning. And I often don t know a lot of the facts and the evidence and the thinking approach behind something and you have to be, and that mean I just don t have the knowledge and the skill. So I ve to go and get it, I ve to go and get the knowledge, and I ve to develop the skill as well, and I ve to do that as well. I think that life is moving us so long as particularly the work life where we have to be questioning things.
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