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Critical thinking and Information Literacy: Critical Thinking

Information Literacy and Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better.

—Richard Paul

Critical Thinking - What is it?

Critical thinking is the process of thinking about thinking, of becoming aware that thinking is a process, and that learning thinking processes can make your thinking better.  Critical Thinking involves three interwoven connections:  It analyzes thinking, it evaluates thinking, it improves thinking. 


Critical thinkers are able to:

  • Determine what information is or is not pertinent.
  • Distinguish between rational claims and emotional ones.
  • Separate fact from opinion. 
  • Recognize the ways in which evidence might be limited or comprehended.
  • Spot deception and holes in the argument of others.
  • Present his/her own analysis of data or information.
  • Recognize logical flaws in arguments.
  • Draw connections between discrete sources of data and information. 
  • Attend to contradictory, inadequate or ambiguous information. 
  • Construct cogent arguments rooted in data rather than opinion.
  • Select the strongest supporting data.
  • Recognize that a problem may not have a clear or single solution.
  • Correctly present and use evidence to defend arguments.
  • Present evidence in an order that contributes to a persuasive argument. 

Critical thinkers are able to take their thinking apart, making inferences based on existing information or using knowledge of a concept in diverse ways. They are able to reformulate questions, break task into segments, apply information or generate new information. This are skills, these skills can be learned and taught.

Levels of Thinking

First-order thinking Is spontaneous and nonreflective.  It contains insight, prejudice, truth, and error, good and bad reasoning, indiscriminately combined. 

Second-order thinking Is first order thinking raised to the level of conscious realization which includes analyzing, assessing and reconstructing. 


What is Critical Thinking?

. . . when a definition, or attributes, of a concept are not clear, the ability of the concept to assist in fundamental tasks is greatly impaired.”