Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is “purposeful, reflective judgment which manifests itself in reasoned consideration of evidence, context, methods, standards, and conceptualizations in deciding what to believe or what to do.” (Facione, 1990).

Cognitive Skills (Facione, 1990)

  • Interpretation – “to comprehend and express the meaning or significance of a wide variety of experiences, situations, data, events, judgments, conventions, believes, rules, procedures or criteria”.
    • Categorization
    • Decoding significance
    • Clarifying meaning
  • Analysis – ““to identify the intended and actual inferential relationships among statements, questions, concepts, descriptions, or other forms of representation intended to express belief, judgment, experiences, reasons, information, or opinions.”
    • Examining ideas
    • Detecting arguments
    • Analyzing arguments
  • Evaluation – “to assess the credibility of statements or other representations which are accounts or descriptions of a person’s perception, experience, situation, judgment, belief, or opinion; and to assess the logical strength of the actual or intended inferential relationships among statements, descriptions, questions or other forms of representations”.
    • Assess credibility of claims
    • Assess quality of arguments that were made using inductive or deductive reasoning
  • Inference – “to identify and secure elements needed to draw reasonable conclusions; to form conjectures and hypotheses; to consider relevant information and to educe the consequences flowing from data, statements, principles, evidence, judgments, beliefs, opinions, concepts, descriptions, questions, or other forms of representation”.
    • Querying evidence
    • Conjecturing alternatives
    • Drawing conclusions
  • Explanation – “being able to present in a cogent and coherent way the results of one’s reasoning”
    • Describing methods and results
    • Justifying procedures
    • Proposing and defending with good reasons one’s causal and conceptual explanations of events or points of vide and presenting full and well-reasoned arguments in the context of seeking the best understandings possible
  • Self-Regulation – “self-consciously to monitor one’s cognitive activities, the elements used in those activities, and the results educed, particularly by applying skills in analysis, and evaluation to one’s own inferential judgments with a view toward questioning, confirming, validating, or correcting either one’s reasoning or one’s results.
    • Self-examination
    • Self-correction

Critical Thinking Dispositions

  • Inquisitiveness with regard to a wide range of issues
  • Concern to become and remain well-informed
  • Alertness to opportunities to use critical thinking
  • Trust in the processes or reasoned inquiry
  • Self-confidence in one’s own abilities to reason
  • Open-mindedness regarding divergent world views
  • Flexibility in considering alternatives and opinions
  • Understanding of the opinions of other people
  • Fair-mindedness in appraising reasoning
  • Honesty in facing one’s own biases, prejudices, stereotypes, or egocentric tendencies
  • Prudence in suspending, making, or altering judgments
  • Willingness to reconsider and revise views where honest reflection suggests that change is warranted

5-Step Critical Thinking Problem Solving and Decision Making Process (Facione & Gittens, 2011)

  1. Identify the problem and set priorites
  2. Deepen understanding and gather relevant information
  3. Enumerate options and anticipate consequences
  4. Assess situation and make a preliminary decision
  5. Scutinize and process self-correct as needed


Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Concensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction. Millbrae, CA: The California Academic Press. Facione, P. A., & Gittens, C. A. (2011). Student Academic Success. Think Critically. Pearson Education.