Critical thinking enables you to comprehend and address situations based on all available facts and information. Healthcare providers use critical thinking at work and it involves processing and organizing facts, data, and other information to define a problem and develop effective solutions. Therefore, it is important for students who want to get into the healthcare industry or any other industry to reflect on the critical thinking skills that they already have and what they may need to develop. This increases the chances of succeeding in whatever they choose to pursue.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is the act of evaluating facts to comprehend a problem or topic thoroughly. In other words, it is the ability to think in an organized and rational manner in order to understand connections between ideas and facts. Therefore, it helps you to decide what you believe in. That is, identifying, analyzing, and fixing flaws in the way we think.
How to hone your critical thinking skills?
In order for you to become a critical thinker, you need to keep in mind that it takes time, practice, and patience. However, by applying the seven steps of critical thinking to every problem you can tackle every day can help to improve your skills.
Steps of critical thinking.
1. Identify the problem or question.
You should be as precise as possible since the narrower the issue the easier it is to find the answers.
2. Gather data, opinions, and arguments.
Try to find different sources that present different ideas and points of view.
3. Analyze and evaluate the data.
During this step, you need to analyze the data you gathered in the previous step. You should determine if the data sources were reliable, whether their conclusions were data-backed or just argumentative and if there is enough information or data to support the given hypotheses.
4. Identify assumptions.
In this step, you should ensure to identify any assumptions made during the previous steps. Questions like whether the data sources you found weren’t biased? or you weren’t biased in your search for answers? Can help you to identify if you made any assumptions.
5. Establish significance.
Identify all arguments, data, and information you collected and establish their significance depending on your problem or question.
6. Make a decision or reach a conclusion.
In this step, identify the various conclusions that are possible and whether they are sufficiently supported by relevant data or information. Then, weigh the strengths and limitations of all possible options to determine the most suitable path of action to solve your problem or answer your question.
7. Present or communicate your decision.
Once you have reached a solid conclusion, you can proceed by taking action or by presenting your conclusion or answer to other stakeholders.
Examples of essential critical thinking skills.
Analysis: This is the ability to gather and process information and knowledge.
Involves concluding what the meaning of processed information is.
This includes assessing whether the knowledge you have is sufficient and reliable.
Refers to the ability to make decisions based on the available information.
This is communicating your findings and reasoning clearly.
This is the drive to constantly monitor and correct your ways of thinking.
Involves taking into account other possibilities and points of view.
This is the ability to solve unexpected problems and resolve conflicts.
Strategies to improve critical thinking skills.
· Asking simple critical thinking questions.
Asking critical thinking questions can help you to hone your critical thinking skills. Examples of critical thinking questions:
What do I already know?
How do I know that?
What am I trying to prove?
What are my motivations?
· Opposing “common sense”.
Most of the time people get an idea and think that their idea is just “common sense”; at this moment you need to think twice. It is highly likely that your idea is not common as you think.
· Be aware of your biases.
In order for you to become an effective critical thinker, you should be aware of your cognitive bias and work to iron them out. The following are the most common cognitive bias you should avoid:
Confirmation bias. -Subconsciously assuming that you are right.
Action bias. – Acting too quickly before thinking something through.
· Reading a lot.
Reading is a very important exercise since it will not only help you to develop your critical thinking skills but will also help you hone most of the skills you think of.