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Critical Thinking Model 1

Analyzing and Assessing Thinking


In this section, we offer an interactive model which details the analysis and assessment of reasoning, and enables you to apply the model to real life problems.

On this page we introduce the analysis and assessment of reasoning.  To skip this introduction and go directly to the model, see the links near the bottom of this page. 

Why the Analysis of Thinking Is Important
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed, or downright prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. If you want to think well, you must understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. You must learn how to take thinking apart.

All Thinking Is Defined by the Eight Elements That Make It Up
Eight basic structures are present in all thinking: Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. We use concepts, ideas and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.

Each of these structures has implications for the others. If you change your purpose or agenda, you change your questions and problems. If you change your questions and problems, you are forced to seek new information and data. If you collect new information and data…

Why the Assessment of Thinking is Important

Once you have analyzed thinking, you then need to assess it, using universal intellectual standards.  Reasonable persons judge reasoning using these standards.  When you internalize them and explicitly use them in your thinking, your thinking becomes more clear, more accurate, more precise, more relevant, deeper, broader and more fair. You should note that we generally focus on a selection of standards. Among others are credibility, sufficiency, reliability, and practicality.
 
Using the Elements and Standards Online Model

The easy-to-use online model you will find at the following two links were developed to further introduce you to the Elements of Reasoning and Universal Intellectual Standards, and enable you to apply them to real life problems. 

 

These pages are self-guided and self paced, allowing you to move back and forth between the elements and standards.  When moving around in the model realize that the cursor will need to be moved carefully around the wheel to keep from activating parts of the model you are not focusing on at the moment.  With some practice you will see how the model works and be able to work with it effectively.

Open the "Elements and Standards" Online Model

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Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. If you want to think well, you must understand <em>at least the rudiments of thought</em>, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. You must learn how to take thinking apart.<br /> <br /> <span style=\"color: #000080;\"><span style=\"font-weight: bold;\">All Thinking Is Defined by the Eight Elements That Make It Up</span></span><br /> Eight basic structures are present in all thinking: Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. 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If you change your purpose or agenda, you change your questions and problems. If you change your questions and problems, you are forced to seek new information and data. If you collect new information and data&hellip;<br /> <span style=\"color: #000080;\"><strong><br /> Why the Assessment of Thinking is Important</strong></span> <br /> Once you have analyzed thinking, you then need to assess it, using <a href=\"http://www.criticalthinking.org/articles/universal-intellectual-standards.cfm\"><span style=\"font-weight: bold;\">universal intellectual standards</span></a>.&nbsp; Reasonable persons judge reasoning using these standards.&nbsp; When you internalize them and explicitly use them in your thinking, your thinking becomes more clear, more accurate, more precise, more relevant, deeper, broader and more fair. You should note that we generally focus on a selection of standards. Among others are credibility, sufficiency, reliability, and practicality.<br /> <span class=\"Title\">&nbsp;</span><span style=\"font-weight: bold;\"><br /> </span><span style=\"color: #000080;\"><strong>Using the Elements and Standards Online Model</strong></span><span style=\"font-weight: bold;\"><span class=\"Title\"> </span><br /> </span></p>\r\n<p>The easy-to-use online model you will find at the following two links were developed to further introduce you to the Elements of Reasoning and Universal Intellectual Standards, and enable you to apply them to real life problems.&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p>These pages are self-guided and self paced, allowing you to move back and forth between the elements and standards.&nbsp; When moving around in the model realize that the cursor will need to be moved carefully around the wheel to keep from activating parts of the model you are not focusing on at the moment.&nbsp; With some practice you will see how the model works and be able to work with it effectively.</p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-weight: bold;\"> <strong><a style=\"font-weight: bold;\" href=\"javascript:void(window.open('http://www.criticalthinking.org/CTmodel/CTModel1.cfm','CTModel','resizable=yes,location=no,menubar=yes,scrollbars=yes,status=no,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,width=840,height=680,left=10,top=10'))\">Open the \"Elements and Standards\" Online Model<br /> </a></strong></span><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}

Using the Elements and Standards To Analyze a Problem


An interactive extension of the Model Above, this tool will allow you to analyze a problem by identifying each of the Elements of  Thought you are using in your reasoning.  Pay attention to the intellectual standards as you do so.  Your analysis and conclusions can be viewed and printed in a report form when you have completed your analysis. You can save the logics of multiple problems in the database and return to review them or update them them at any time.

Open the "Analyzing a Problem" Online Model


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Analyze a Problem Using the Elements and Standards

Standard: Clarity
understandable, the meaning can be grasped

  • Could you elaborate further?
  • Could you give me an example?
  • Could you illustrate what you mean?
  • Standard: Accuracy
    free from errors or distortions, true

  • How could we check on that?
  • How could we find out if that is true?
  • How could we verify or test that?
  • Standard: Precision
    exact to the necessary level of detail

  • Could you be more specific?
  • Could you give me more details?
  • Could you be more exact?
  • Standard: Relevance
    relating to the matter at hand

  • How does that relate to the problem?
  • How does that bear on the question?
  • How does that help us with the issue?
  • Standard: Depth
    containing complexities and multiple interrelationships

  • What factors make this a difficult problem?
  • What are some of the complexities of this question?
  • What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?
  • Standard: Breadth
    encompassing multiple viewpoints

  • Do we need to look at this from another perspective?
  • Do we need to consider another point of view?
  • Do we need to look at this in other ways?
  • Standard: Logic
    the parts make sense together, no contradictions

  • Does all this make sense together?
  • Does your first paragraph fit in with your last?
  • Does what you say follow from the evidence?
  • Standard: Significance
    focusing on the important, not trivial

  • Is this the most important problem to consider?
  • Is this the central idea to focus on?
  • Which of these facts are most important?
  • Standard: Fairness
    Justifiable, not self-serving or one-sided

  • Do I have any vested interest in this issue?
  • Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of others?
  • SHOW
    PROBLEM

          SHOW
    PROBLEM

    Analyzing the Logic of Problems

    Elements Complete!
    You have now made an entry for each of the Elements of Thought. You may edit any of your entries before proceeding.

    If you are satisfied with each of your entries, click here to see the logic of your problem and enter any conclusions you have arrived at through your reasoning.

    Element(s) Missing!


    You need to fill in all the Elements of Thought before you can continue.

    The Problem you are Analyzing:

    "Mouse-Over" any object on the page to learn more about it.
    Type an entry for each Element of Thought, saving each one after you enter it. Mouse-over SHOW PROBLEM to clear the page and return to the problem you are analyzing.

    Element: Purpose    All reasoning has a PURPOSE.

  • Take time to state your purpose clearly.
  • Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
  • Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
  • Choose significant and realistic purposes.
  • Element: Question    All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some QUESTION, to solve some problem.

  • State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
  • Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning.
  • Break the question into sub-questions.
  • Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion or that require multiple viewpoints.
  • Element: Information    All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE.

  • Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
  • Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it.
  • Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate and relevant.
  • Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.
  • Think About... Purpose

    Your purpose is your goal, your objective,
    what you are trying to accomplish. We also use the term to include functions, motives, and intentions.


    You should be clear about your purpose, and your purpose should be justifiable.

    Questions which target purpose
  • What is your, my, their purpose in doing________?
  • What is the objective of this assignment (task, job, experiment, policy, strategy, etc.)?
  • Should we question, refine, modify our purpose (goal, objective, etc.)?
  • What is the purpose of this meeting (chapter, relationship, action)?
  • What is your central aim in this line of thought?
  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Why did you say…?

  • back to assignment

    Identify...
    Question at Issue or Central Problem

    The key question that emerges from the problem is… State the question as clearly and precisely as you can. Details are very important.

    State the Question

    The question lays out the problem or issue and
    guides our thinking. When the question is vague, our thinking will lack clarity and distinctness.


    The question should be clear and precise enough to productively guide our thinking.
    Questions which target the question
  • What is the question I am trying to answer?
  • What important questions are embedded in the issue?
  • Is there a better way to put the question?
  • Is this question clear? Is it complex?
  • I am not sure exactly what question you are asking. Could you explain it?
  • The question in my mind is this: How do you see the question?
  • What kind of question is this? Historical? Scientific? Ethical? Political? Economic? Or…?
  • What would we have to do to settle this question?

    back to assignment

  • Identify...
    Information

    Actively seek the information most relevant to the question. Include in that information options for action, both short-term and long-term. Recognize limitations in terms of money, time, and power.

    Gather... Information

    Information includes the facts, data, evidence, or experiences we use to figure things out. It does not necessarily imply accuracy or correctness.

    The information you use should be accurate and relevant to the question or issue you are addressing.
    Questions which target information
  • What information do I need to answer this question?
  • What data are relevant to this problem?
  • Do we need to gather more information?
  • Is this information relevant to our purpose or goal?
  • On what information are you basing that comment?
  • What experience convinced you of this? Could your experience be distorted?
  • How do we know this information (data, testimony) is accurate?
  • Have we left out any important information that we need to consider?
  • back to assignment

    Element: Interpretation and Inference    All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data.

  • Infer only what the evidence implies.
  • Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
  • Identify assumptions underlying your inferences.
  • Element: Concepts    All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, CONCEPTS and IDEAS.

  • Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
  • Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
  • Make sure you are using concepts with precision.
  • Element: Assumptions
    All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS.

  • Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
  • Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.
  • Element: Implications    All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES.

  • Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
  • Search for negative as well as positive implications.
  • Consider all possible consequences.
  • Element: Point Of View    All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW.

  • Identify your point of view.
  • Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses.
  • Strive to be fairminded in evaluating all points of view.
  • ©2007 Foundation For Critical Thinking. -

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