There is a reason why critical thinking remains one of the most coveted skills among employers, as it drives effective problem solving and enables informed decision making.
This is also a viable life-skill, as the ability to think critically ensures that we make the right choices and form relevant judgments in any given situation.
So whether you are a plumber who needs to work out the best materials to use for a particular job or a parent whose child is behaving badly and without obvious reason, critical thinking is a skill that can create positive and mutually beneficial solutions for all.
Critical Thinking Is a Skill That New Graduates Lack
While critical thinking may be an important life skill, however, it is also one that we struggle to deploy on a regular basis. Not only is this one of the primary skills that new graduates lack  in the modern age, for example, but it is also hard to define and this means that many of us fail to realise that we are not thinking critically on a regular basis.
This lack of awareness makes it hard to master critical thinking, while opinion and subjective thought processes also cause issues in some circumstances. After all, critical thinking is defined as ‘the the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement’, so being unable to appraise circumstances impartially makes it impossible to practice this.
What Questions Should You Ask In Order to Think Critically?
Although it can take a while to become an effective critical thinker, there are questions that you can ask yourself to trigger the required cognitive process.
These tend to encourage deeper thought processes that avoid simple, one-dimensional answers, utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy to identify the type of questions  that prompt and shape critical thinking.
With this in mind, here is an insight into Bloom’s Taxonomy and the questions that encourage critical thinking in any given scenario.
We start with the most basic questions, which prompt us to display previously learned material through the recall of facts, information and simple terms. These help to create context for specific circumstances, while laying out the individual elements. Some examples of this include:
- What is….?
- When Did….Happen?
- Why Did….Happen?
- Who Did….?
The next step is to demonstrate your understanding of these facts and data sets, primarily by posing questions which compare, interpret and translate information. These questions encourage deeper and more challenging thought processes, which in turn helps you to understand how specific facts relate to one another. For example:
- What Evidence is There to….?
- How Would You Compare (or Contrast)….?
- Explain How….?
At this stage, content writers are probably nodding their heads in agreement, as this is a similar process that copywriters go through when cultivating relevant and engaging content angles. This includes application-based questions, which encourage us to apply our newly acquired knowledge and understanding in increasingly new and diverse ways. For example:
- What Examples Are There of….?
- How Would You Showcase Your Understanding of….?
- How Would You Approach….?
- What Would Happen if….?
When it comes to analysis-based questions, the goal is to break down data and compartmentalize information to explore underlying motives or causes. This also creates more open and thoughtful mind-sets, which enable you to think about things in an entirely different light. Here are some examples:
- How Would You Classify….?
- What Inference Can You Make From….?
- How Would You Categorize….?
- Can You Identify….?
Evaluation-based questions help you to quantify your findings and judgments, by forcing you to present arguments and defend preconceived opinions. This is also a crucial part of the process when appraising the validity of potential solutions, as you compare them against others to make an informed decision:
- Evaluate the Contribution of …. to ….?
- Which to Think is Better….?
- What is the Value or Importance of….?
Creation and Synthesis-based Questions
To complete the process, there is a need to pose questions which compile the insight that you have garnered in unique and interesting ways. This can involve combining elements in new patterns or sequences, as you strive to create innovative but effective ways of completing tasks. For example:
- What Would Happen if….?
- Can You Propose an Alternative Interpretation for….?
- Could We Try….?
This structured approach reflects the cognitive process that drives critical thinking, and it can become ingrained in your psyche over a period of time. More specifically, these questions will continue to challenge traditional thought processes and enable you to conceive new solutions to personal and professional relations.
Featured photo credit: Macdongtran / Pixabay via pixabay.com
|||^||Fast Company: These Are The Biggest Skills That New Graduates Lack|
|||^||Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin: How to Ask Questions that Prompt Critical Thinking|