Category: Critical thinking
Updated November 28, 2016
Critical thinking is one of the most sought after qualities that employer seek in job candidates. Employers list this skill as a job qualification in a broad range of job postings including both professional and non-professional positions. Regardless of the job for which you're applying, critical thinking skills will be an in-demand asset.
Read below for a detailed definition of critical thinking, including examples of ways people use critical thinking, and a list of critical thinking skills.
Then read for tips on how to demonstrate your own critical thinking skills during your job search.What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking involves the evaluation of sources such as data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings. Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information and discriminate between useful and less useful details for solving a problem or making a decision.
Critical thinkers can present coherent reasons for adopting a position and debunk faulty reasoning regarding a proposal or assertion.Examples of Critical Thinking at Work
Below is a list of specific skills related to critical thinking.
Each skill includes a definition.
If critical thinking is a key phrase in the job listings you are applying for, you want to emphasize your critical thinking skills throughout your job search. Include this phrase in your resumes, cover letters, and interviews.
Think back to previous roles you have held, from past jobs to volunteer positions. Think about times when you had to analyze or evaluate materials to solve a problem. You can mention one of these examples in detail in your cover letter. You might also include bullet points in your resume that highlight your critical thinking experiences for different jobs.
In interviews, be prepared to provide specific examples of times that you demonstrated critical thinking skills. Be ready to mention a particular problem or challenge at work, and explain how you applied critical thinking to solve the issue.
Some interviewers will even give you a hypothetical scenario or problem, and ask you to use critical thinking skills to solve it. In this case, explain your thought process thoroughly to the interviewer. He or she is typically more focused on how you arrive at your answer rather than the answer itself. The interviewer wants to see you use analysis and evaluation (key parts of critical thinking).
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How do you show that an argument is invalid or weak?
Remember that an argument is valid if it’s impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false, and it is strong if it’s very unlikely that the premises are true and the conclusion false.
So to show that an argument is invalid, you only need to find a case in which the premises are true and the conclusion false, whereas to show that it is weak, you have to show that it is quite possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. To do so, you will construct counter-examples.
If the argument being evaluated is deductive, then we can show it to be invalid and, therefore, bad if we can describe a counter-example.
Recall this lovely example:
Everybody loves a winner, so nobody loves me.
In standard form, the argument looks like this – with the suppressed premise:
Here’s a counter-example to this argument:
Suppose that everybody loves all winners and that I am not a winner (so both premises are true.) Still, the conclusion can be false if one of the people out there who love all the winners also loves the occasional non-winner, including me. We can imagine such a person saying: “I love all winners, but I love you too, even though you’re not a winner.”Counter-examples and validity
If there are no counter-examples to a particular argument, then it is valid, as it is then impossible to find a situation in which the premises of the argument are true and the conclusion is false. That means that in every situation in which the premises are true, then the conclusion is also true, and this is what we need to know to conclude that an argument is valid.
This is an important link between the concepts of validity and counter-example:
Can a counter-example be used to show that a non-deductive argument is weak? It can, but only if the counter-example itself represents a plausible way things might have been.
Since a non-deductive argument acknowledges that the conclusion might be false when the premises are true, but only in exceptional circumstances, you need to find a counter-example that is not so exceptional.
That is, you need to find a reasonable situation in which the premises are all true and the conclusion false. If you want to attack a non-deductive argument with a counter-example and do real damage, your counter-example must describe a situation which not only makes the premises true and the conclusion false, but is also quite likely to come about.
If all you can come up is too far fetched, then you’re probably describing one of the exceptional cases that were excluded to begin with, and so you would fail to provide a counter-example, and you could conclude that the argument is strong.
Here’s an example of an argument, one that you may very well have heard before:
Smoking marijuana is no more dangerous to your health or to society than drinking alcohol is. And drinking alcohol is legal. Therefore, smoking marijuana should probably become legal.
In standard form, the argument looks like this:
Notice that we have introduced what we considered to be an essential suppressed premise in the standard form. Now, can we find a plausible counter-example?
Yes we can, here’s one:
The negation of the conclusion is consistent with the premises. Indeed, we might as well say that alcohol should become illegal, precisely because the impact of drinking on the society is similar to the impact of smoking marijuana – maybe even worse!
This constitutes a counter-example, because it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false, and given the premises provided, neither situation seems more plausible than the other.
Implausible counter-examples are counter-examples all the same, but they can only show that a deductive argument is invalid. However, only a plausible counter-example can show that a non-deductive argument is weak.Deductive or Non-deductive?
You might also think of the search for a counter-example as a method that helps you determine whether an argument is deductive or non-deductive. If finding a counter-example to an argument makes us want to say that argument is no good, then the argument must be deductive, because in deductive arguments the premises are intended to give conclusive support for the conclusion.
On the other hand, if generating a counter-example does not incline us to give up the argument, then it is a non-deductive argument because non-deductive arguments have conclusions which are only meant to be strongly suggested by their premises, and leave it open that the conclusion may be false.
Here’s another way of making the point. If the only counter-examples you can find are far-fetched stories, then you may have an indication to think that the argument is non-deductive.
Here’s an example:
Wolfgang robbed the safe. Wolfgang’s fingerprints were found on the burgled safe. Lots of money, which was in the safe, was found hidden in Wolfgang’s house. Wolfgang was seen by several witnesses near the scene of the burglary when it was committed.
Now, we can come up with counter-examples to the argument:
Wolfgang didn’t rob the safe. Sigmund did, but he was perfectly disguised as Wolfgang, had a copy of Wolfgang’s fingerprints that he put on the safe, and hid some of the money in Wolfgang’s house.
Space aliens robbed the safe and engraved Wolfgang’s fingerprints on the safe with lasers coming out of their eyes.
The safe was never robbed. The whole thing was invented by the bank to get back at Wolfgang for switching banks. They really don’t like it when they lose customers.
So it’s easy to come up with counter-examples, but much harder to come up with plausible counter-examples. This indicates that the argument is meant to be non-deductive.
© Patrick Girard, University of Auckland
By: Artur • Research Paper • 1,495 Words • December 12, 2009 • 729 ViewsEssay title: Critical Thinking Example
Critical thinking begins at the earliest stages of life. As you mature the process becomes more involved and by studying and practicing critical thinking methods you can improve and become more efficient in the process. You eventually learn to apply past experience, emotions and concepts that you have learned. Although there many critical thinking examples in personal lives such as decisions on health, money and family, for this paper we will discuss a critical decision process at work which resulted in a significant cost savings for a customer.
At work we use a variety of methods to solve problems and which almost always also results in some sort of cost savings. We have access to twenty three decision making tools that can be used to investigate, decide and implement a variety of problems from, personnel issues, office workflow, manufacturing, delivery, root cause analysis and much more. This particular work related example has to do with a request from a customer asking that chemical handling costs that our company was currently providing be reduced. A team was assembled and scheduled to meet at the work location for five days and use a tool called Kaizen Manufacturing. This tool is applied in a shop or manufacturing environment that uses a small cross-functional team of people assembled for short period to address a specific problem. They apply simple tools to chart distance, movement of people and material and sequence of events in order to identify and eliminate non value adding activities.
The first step taken by the team was to identify the problem. The problem as the customer describes it is that we were charging too much for handling chemicals. The team mapped out the entire process on large sheets of paper that tracked all the movements of personnel and materials. They decided that there goal would be to eliminate or restructure movement of personnel and products to be more effective. Many problems were quickly identified such as, there were many points where personnel had to lift product from floor level to a delivery wagon, product rotation in regard to expiration date, identification labels, access to materials/products, customer ordering times and customer ordering quantities. The team brainstormed ideas for each of the problems, evaluated which ideas were suited best for each problem and then physically began to implement the ideas. The first problem dealing with personnel lifting too many products from floor level was solved by replacing the wagons with delivery carts with no side rails and placing the products on stands that kept the products close to waist level. This way the product was loaded on to the cart there was very little lifting, mainly just sliding the product onto the cart which was purchased to coincide with the storage level of the product. Product rotation where you want to give the customer the oldest product to keep product from expiring was the cause of a lot of double movement when bringing in new products. This was solved by storing all the products in the middle of the storage rooms instead of up against a wall, this way personnel could walk completely around the product not having to rotate older material to the front each time new material arrived. Labels came next and instead of small identification labels on the wall about 10 feet from the eye, larger labels were created and applied on the floor around all 4 sides of the product which is now being stowed in the middle of the floor away from the walls. Customer ordering use to take place my multiple person multiple times a day. This was reduced to just one person and a designated backup taking all the customer orders only twice a day. This resulted in less confusion and standardized the delivery times of the product. The last item was the customer quantities, the team by looking at the customer usage and storage areas was able to deduce that large quantities
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1. Aim and objectives of the course
The principal aim of the course is to develop well-grounded, stable and effective skills in the criticism of professional texts (both written and oral) and everyday messages.
The achievement of this aim will improve students� knowledge and skills in analysis . interpretation . evaluation and criticism of argumentative messages as successive stages in the whole critical thinking process.
A complementary aim of the course is to improve students� ability to compose well-structured and persuasive professional messages (including research papers and dissertations).
2. Position and role of the course in the overall degree curriculum
This critical thinking course is elaborated for the Master�s level students. It correlates with courses in logic and philosophy traditionally delivered to university freshmen in Ukraine and other Newly Independent States.
The course is most relevant for the senior students, especially those whose majors are in sociology, humanities, law, etc. Its main role in the overall degree curriculum is to remind and advance professionally valuable thinking skills with the primary accent on criticism . A principal specificity of the course is permanent references to early-accumulated philosophical and logical education. In this way training in critical thinking is supported by the knowledge and skills gained earlier.
The methodology to deliver this critical thinking course is not, by its nature, reducible to traditional lectures and seminars. It presupposes forms of training as a special combination of:
Methods of small groups, round-table discussions, and similar activities in combination with traditional informative insertions are more suitable for this course. The number of members in any student group is to be limited to 15 -25 persons.
4. Course content
The course is divided into three separate modules in accordance with the natural structure of its content:
Each module includes a number of specific "right questions ". These questions explicate a module�s essence in detail. They present the elementary units of the critical thinking process.
Evaluation and criticism of arguments are based on identification of diverse violations of logical norms. Therefore, the most typical and dangerous errors must be the focus of the critical thinking course. It is supposed that basic information about errors has been presented in previous courses in logic and philosophy already. But it is useful to review and maintain this information regularly. So, each session will pay special attention to a few fallacies. For the sake of session coherency the fallacies should be selected in connection with new information � regularly scheduled right questions.
An introduction. What is critical thinking? Critical thinking and logic. Main stages (modules) of critical thinking. Conception of critical "right questions".
Module of analysis
Reminding. Law of identity and its typical violations. New information. First critical question: What is the text�s problem (issue) and the conclusion? Demonstration by instructor how to find the problem and the relevant conclusion in messages. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding. Law of non-contradiction and its typical violation. New information. Second critical question: What are the reasons? Demonstration by instructor how to find reason(s) relevant to the message�s conclusion. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding. Law of the exclusive middle and its typical violation. New information. Third critical question: What is the argument�s structure? Argument with reasons "pro" and "contra". Examples of the diagram technique to elucidate the argument�s structure. Demonstration by the instructor how to find argument�s structure and to diagram it. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding. Principle of sufficient reason and its typical violations. New information. How to compose a well-structured and persuasive message? A few useful rules. Demonstration by instructor how to compose a good message. Student exercises on this topic.
Class written quiz in analysis and composition.
Module of interpretation
Analysis of the class written quiz. New information. Concepts of understanding and interpretation. Forth critical question: What key words or phrases are ambiguous or empty? Logical and hermeneutical procedures to clarify words and phrases. Demonstration by instructor how to use procedures of definition and logical divisions. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding. Errors in procedure of definition and logical division. New information. Fifth critical question: What are the (hidden) value conflicts and assumptions? Personal and social values. Typical value conflicts. Demonstration by instructor how to explicate and clarify values and value conflicts. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding : Fallacy of egocentrism "Mine is better". New information. Sixth critical question: What are the (hidden) descriptive assumptions? Demonstration by instructor how to explicate and clarify descriptive assumptions. Student exercises on this topic.
New information. Conditional and unconditional problem solving. Seventh critical question: Under what (hidden) conditions is the conclusion acceptable? Demonstration by instructor how to explicate hidden condition in the problem solving and evaluate relevant conclusion. Student exercises on this topic. Class quiz in interpretation.
Module of evaluation and criticism
Reminding : Basic interrogative logic. Main errors in asking and answering questions (problem). New information. Eighth critical question: Is the problem correct? Is the conclusion relevant to the problem? Demonstration by instructor how to articulate the problem and its solution in a good manner, main errors in these procedures and ways of relevant criticism. Student exercises on this topic.
New information. Ninth critical question: How good are the reasons? Basic types of reasons (facts, laws, statistical data, etc.). Typical errors in selection of reasons to support a conclusion. Demonstration by instructor how to select correct reason(s), find and criticize typical relevant fallacies. Student exercises on this topic.
Reminding : Main types of inference (analogy, induction, deduction). Some typical errors in different inferences. New information. Tenth right question: Is the argument�s structure correct? Demonstration by instructor the correct ways of inference, typical fallacies and relevant ways of criticism. Student exercises on this topic.
New information. Eleventh critical question: Are there any fallacies in the reasoning? A general classification of fallacies (errors of perspective, errors of procedure, errors of reaction). Twelfth critical question: Does the argument have sufficient power? A quantitative assessment of argument�s power. Demonstration by instructor how to calculate an argument�s power. Student exercises on this topic.
Selected student home-essay presentations. Written student opinion poll concerning the course.
Selected student home-essay presentations. Conclusive instructor�s remarks and recommendations.
5. Student evaluation
The students� final course evaluation has two grades only � positive and negative. There are two ways to get the positive grade: 1) to accumulate the relevant sum of credits during the course, 2) to pass the final test successfully.
The students� grades will be determined by class assignments (up to 2 credits), class written quiz (up to 5 credits), home essay and its presentation (up to 5 credits) and final test (up to 10 credits). The class assignments might be homework questions, or an oral quiz about new information, or personal and group exercises, and so forth.
In order to get the positive course evaluation a student must get no less than 10 credits. She/he can reach it without the final test (e.g. 5 credits for the class written quiz and 5 for the home essay; or 4 for the class written quiz, 4 for the home essay and 2 for the current class assignment). An opportunity to avoid the final test should stimulate regular efforts of a student during the course period. If a student did not accumulate 10 credits before the course ends, she/he must be tested until she/he will get this sum (but no more that 2 times without a special academic penalty).
A. Mandatory readings
Tyaglo A.V. Critical Thinking on the Basis of Elementary Logic. - Kharkov: V. Karazin National University in Kharkov, 2001. � 210 p. (in Russian).
B. Recommended readings
Bandurka O.M. Tyaglo O.V. Course in Logic. � Kharkiv: University of Internal Affairs, 1999 (in Ukrainian).
Tyaglo A.V. Voropay T.S. Critical Thinking. A Challenge to XXI-st Century Education. � Kharkov: University of Internal Affairs, 1999 (in Russian).
Brown, M. Neil and Keeley, Stuart M. Asking the Right Questions. A Guide to Critical Thinking. 5 th ed. - Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.
Paul, Richard. Critical Thinking. What Every Person Needs to Survive in A Rapidly Changing Word. 3 rd ed. revised. � Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking, 1993.
Ruggerio, Vincent Ryan. Beyond Feelings. A Guide to Critical Thinking. 5 th ed. � Mountain View, CA etc. � Mayfield Publ. Co. 1998.