Critical thinking is at the very heart of being intellectual. It is a critical skill to reach satisfactory university grades and make you more employable. It is about using critique, as in skilful judgment, rather than being critical. Not everything needs critical thinking but the more important something is, the more likely it needs it. It is not simple, but simply put, it is deliberate thinking.
The most critical thing that you can do to become a more critical thinker is to develop self-awareness of your thinking and the way you go about tasks. In other words think about thinking! You need to be a self-critic and understand your own personal perspectives and biases. Watch this famous advertisement for the Guardian:
Watch this video for an illustration of how preconceived ideas play out:
Question your assumptions!
In an academic setting, reading, thinking and writing go hand in hand. Different kinds of thinking are expressed by different styles of writing.
The most important elements of critical thinking that you will need in your university study are analysis, critique and argument.
Recognise the use of analysis, critique and argument to improve your use of it.
Read each paragraph below and select the terms which best describe it as a form of thinking and a style of writing.
Analysis is breaking something down into its parts and looking closely at the relations between those parts to see what they mean. Analysis is destructive and constructive - it takes things apart in order to rebuild it in meaningful ways to clarify the bigger picture. Work your way through these questions to examine analysis.