Science reason and critical thinking blog


The goal is always to enable each person to maximize their natural potential.

Technical and Scientific Writing and Critical Thinking Skills

Consider, as an analogy, what it takes to succeed at the highest levels of competitive athletics. Native strength, size, agility, and coordination are very important.

5 tips to improve your critical thinking - Samantha Agoos

So are a knowledge of the game and thousands of hours practicing and playing the game competitively. And so is good coaching that addresses not only the physical moves, but the mental preparation and the in-game tactics and adjustments, and too, the overall game-plan strategy that will best position the competitor to prevail against a given opponent.

Think of tennis, for example. Now ramp it up several notches because all these pieces are essential for success at the highest levels in team sports. To become a championship team we need every athlete on the team to be applying native talents and their critical thinking well-trained and practiced so it can be done in real time to the specific problems and decisions that must be made within the context of that sporting competition.

What about critical thinking in health care, business, governmental leadership or military success? When we say that the data show that we can develop strengths in critical thinking in people, we are saying something akin to what a coach says when looking at a promising athlete and saying that it will be possible to coach the person, over time, into a champion.

To do this the coach athletic or critical thinking must work on the skills and the mindset dimensions, which go hand in hand. But the process is not quick, nor easy.

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It is a matter of exercising not just talking about the skills in multiple and progressively more challenging situations, and of the constant formation of the mind, inculcating and reinforcing mental disciplines including the discipline to think first, before reacting or relying on a decision heuristic unreflectively. Contact us today to discuss your assessment goals. Insight Assessment will not share your data with anyone.

Click here to view our privacy statement. Insight Assessment. Being an air-traffic controller is not easy. Vast amounts of fluid information must be held in the mind and, under extreme pressure, life-or-death decisions are made across rotating hour work schedules. So stressful and mentally demanding is the job that, in most countries, air-traffic controllers are eligible for early retirement. In the United States, they must retire at 56 without exception. After observing them at their work, researchers gave the air-traffic controllers a set of generic memory-based tasks with shapes and colours.

The extraordinary thing was that, when tested on these skills outside their own area of expertise, the air-traffic controllers did no better than anyone else.


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Their remarkably sophisticated cognitive abilities did not translate beyond their professional area. Since the early s, however, schools have become ever more captivated by the idea that students must learn a set of generalised thinking skills to flourish in the contemporary world — and especially in the contemporary job market.

Naturally, we want children and graduates to have a set of all-purpose cognitive tools with which to navigate their way through the world. This is even more so with the kinds of complex and specialised knowledge that accompanies much professional expertise: as later studies found, the more complex the domain, the more important domain-specific knowledge. This non-translatability of cognitive skill is well-established in psychological research and has been replicated many times.

In almost every arena, the higher the skill level, the more specific the expertise is likely to become. Within those, there are further categories: centre-back, full-back, attacking midfielder, holding midfielder, attacking player. Now, it might be fine for a bunch of amateurs, playing a friendly game, to move positions.

For them to make excellent, split-second decisions, and to enact robust and effective strategies, they need thousands of specific mental models — and thousands of hours of practice to create those models — all of which are specific and exclusive to a position. However, it cannot be detached from context.

As the American educationalist Daniel Willingham puts it:. There is not a set of critical thinking skills that can be acquired and deployed regardless of context. This detachment of cognitive ideals from contextual knowledge is not confined to the learning of critical thinking. An example of this is brain-training games that claim to help kids become smarter, more alert and able to learn faster. However, recent research has shown that brain-training games are really only good for one thing — getting good a brain-training games. The claim that they offer students a general set of problem-solving skills was recently debunked by a study that reviewed more than papers, which concluded:.

He lives in London. The examples used in the article Mary Shelley and the physics student investigating why two planes behave differently in flight both essentially illustrate how deeper knowledge on a specific topic can help someone to understand it better i. The need for skills which assists us in making the right decisions or to solve complex problems go beyond just knowing a lot about a subject.

There are skills which cross over discipline lines that can be used to challenge current accepted knowledge and break new grounds. Ultimately being curious, evaluating and constructing arguments and asking good questions are some of the basic skills on which one can build a solid foundation for critical thinking and exploring the world in a meaningful way.

Those are skills anyone can use to contribute to their field — whether they are a physicist or an artist. I think the argument that critical thinking can be discipline specific is a valid one. However, that does not therefore mean that there is no such thing as general critical thinking. To claim such would be a logical fallacy affirming a disjunct? Indeed, application of logic and recognition of logical fallacies are critical thinking skills applicable across disciplines.


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This is all well and good as regards skills within a wider context of specific occupations or understandings which are referred to. The cognitive limitations of individuals including self are addressed by focusing, through inquiry, upon how a choice between established systems thinking approaches which should indeed be taught can thus be exercised both critically and systemically within a given real-world context — which is likely to be transdisciplinary.

A knowledge of this range of established systems thinking approaches is surely a critical thinking skill which is vital for social learning, cutting across the disciplinary domains of human knowledge and endeavour. It encompasses the important roles of scoping, integration, collaboration and practicality.

This is thus less about individual skills training for a wider context within specialised occupations and more about education — drawing forth — in a broader sense of cultivating individual and social capability to address complex inter-related and dynamic challenges of the 21st century.

A Field Guide to Critical Thinking | Skeptical Inquirer

For those who may be interested within the context of education , the Waters Foundation would be a good start. I fundamentally disagree with this article because it confuses context-specific skill development like keeping track of a number of objects in a familiar versus unfamiliar setting with critical thinking, which is about the meta-cognitive use of certain context-independent metaphors and questions. A boundary is a good example of a metaphor. Confronted with a given problem, people can ask what is included in and excluded from the analysis of the problem?

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What purposes and values give rise to people using those boundaries, and what other purposes and values might suggest different boundaries? How would different boundaries affect the framing of the problem? And what are the implications for potential action for change? These are all metaphors and questions that are transportable across contexts, and are especially useful for stimulating critical thinking when there are problems to be dealt with that require the fundamental unpicking of assumptions.

This is a wholy different thing to the kind of skills aquisition that requires training to learn e. Using the air traffic control example to illustrate, you can increase the number of planes arriving in and leaving an airport, but there is a limit to the amount of improvement in tracking you can squeeze out of air traffic control operatives. There will come a point when the complexity of the task will exceed the capacity of the staff, and accidents will happen.

At this point, critical thinking comes in.

Science reason and critical thinking blog
Science reason and critical thinking blog
Science reason and critical thinking blog
Science reason and critical thinking blog
Science reason and critical thinking blog
Science reason and critical thinking blog

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