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My stage of critical thinking and development

Relevant Intellectual Traits Some Implications for Instruction Due to space limitations, we have made no attempt to be exhaustive with respect to any stage, nor to answer the many questions that might be raised concerning the development, reliability or validity of the stages. The basic intention is to provide a practical organizer for teachers interested in using a conceptual map to guide student thinking through developmental stages in the process of becoming critical thinkers.

Once the stages are explained, and stage-specific recommendations are given, we close with some global implications for instruction. We make the following assumptions: Before moving to the stages themselves, a brief overview of what we mean by critical thinking is in order. Our working definition is as follows: We define critical thinking as: It is important to recognize that on this view, persons are critical thinkers, in the fullest sense of the term, only if they display this ability and disposition in all, or most, of the dimensions of their lives e.

Chapter 5. The First Four Stages of Development: What Level Thinker Are You?

We exclude from our concept of the critical thinker those who think critically in only one dimension of their lives. The stages we will lay out are as follows: The Unreflective Thinker Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker Stage Five: The Advanced Thinker Stage Six: The Accomplished Thinker Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker Defining Feature: Unreflective thinkers are largely unaware of the determining role that thinking is playing in their lives and of the many ways that problems in thinking are causing problems in their lives.

Unreflective thinkers lack the ability to explicitly assess their thinking and improve it thereby. Unreflective thinkers lack the knowledge that high quality thinking requires regular practice in taking thinking apart, accurately assessing it, and actively improving it.

In fact, unreflective thinkers are largely unaware of thinking as such, hence fail to recognize thinking as involving concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, points of view, etc.

Unreflective thinkers are largely unaware of the appropriate standards for the assessment of thinking: Unreflective thinkers may have developed a variety of skills in thinking without being aware of them.

  • Students should be encouraged to routinely catch themselves thinking both egocentrically and sociocentrically;
  • Sometimes we fail to plan well, causing us negative consequences that we easily could have avoided for example, we spend time unnecessarily trapped in traffic - though we could have left a half hour earlier and avoided the rush;
  • While using that strategy, record your observations in a journal, including what you are learning about yourself and how you can use the strategy to improve your thinking;
  • Accomplished thinkers deeply understand the role that egocentric and sociocentric thinking plays in the lives of human beings, as well as the complex relationship between thoughts, emotions, drives and behavior;
  • The Practicing Thinker Defining Feature;
  • They effectively and insightfully articulate the strengths and weaknesses inherent in their thinking.

However, these skills are inconsistently applied because of the lack of self-monitoring of thought. Prejudices and misconceptions often undermine the quality of thought of the unreflective thinker. Some Implications for Instruction: We must recognize that in the present mode of instruction it is perfectly possible for students to graduate from high school, or even college, and still be largely unreflective thinkers.

Though all students think, most students are largely unaware of how their thinking is structured or how to assess or improve it. Most teachers do not seem to be aware of how unaware most students are of their thinking.

Little is being done at present to help students "discover" their thinking. This emphasis needs shifting. The Challenged Thinker Defining Features: Challenged thinkers, unlike unreflective thinkers are becoming aware of thinking as such.

They are becoming aware, at some level, that high quality thinking requires deliberate reflective thinking about thinking in order to improve thinking. They recognize that their thinking is often flawed, although they are not able to identify many of these flaws. Challenged thinkers may develop an initial awareness of thinking as involving concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, points of view, etc.

Challenged thinkers also develop some understanding of the role of self-deception in thinking, though their understanding is limited.

At this stage the thinker develops some reflective awareness of how thinking operates for good or ill.

Critical Thinking Development: A Stage Theory

Most challenged thinkers have very limited skills in thinking. However like unreflective thinkers, they may have developed a variety of skills in thinking without being aware of them, and these skills may ironically serve as barriers to development.

At this stage thinkers with some implicit critical thinking abilities may more easily deceive themselves into believing that their thinking is better than it actually is, making it more difficult to recognize the problems inherent in poor thinking.

  • When people explicitly recognize that improvement in thinking requires regular practice, and adopt some regimen of practice, then, and only then, have they become what we call "practicing thinkers;
  • The Advanced Thinker Stage Six;
  • You improve not by expecting to win every game you play or by mastering new strokes with little practice;
  • Before moving to the stages themselves, a brief overview of what we mean by critical thinking is in order;
  • For example, concentrating on intellectual humility, begin to notice when you admit you are wrong;
  • Many of the negative definitions that we give to situations in our lives could in principle be transformed into positive definitions.

To accept the challenge at this level requires that thinkers gain insight into the fact that whatever intellectual skills they have are inconsistently applied across the domains of their lives. We must lead class discussions about thinking. We must explicitly model thinking e. We must design classroom activities that explicitly require students to think about their thinking.

Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker - Are You an Unreflective Thinker?

We must have students examine both poor and sound thinking, talking about the differences. We must introduce students to the parts of thinking and the intellectual standards necessary to assess thinking. We must introduce the idea of intellectual humility to students; that is, the idea of becoming aware of our own ignorance. Perhaps children can best understand the importance of this idea through their concept of the "know-it-all," which comes closest to their recognition of the need to be intellectually humble.

The Beginning Thinker Defining Feature: Those who move to the beginning thinker stage are actively taking up the challenge to begin to take explicit command of their thinking across multiple domains of their lives. Thinkers at this stage recognize that they have basic problems in their thinking and make initial attempts to better understand how they can take charge of and improve it.

Based on this initial understanding, beginning thinkers begin to modify some of their thinking, but have limited insight into deeper levels of the trouble inherent in their thinking. Most importantly, they lack a systematic plan for improving my stage of critical thinking and development thinking, hence their efforts are hit and miss.

To begin to see the importance of developing as a thinker. To begin to seek ways to develop as a thinker and to make an intellectual commitment to that end. Beginning thinkers, unlike challenged thinkers are becoming aware not only of thinking as such, but also of the role in thinking of concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, points of view, etc.

Beginning thinkers are also at some beginning stage of recognizing not only that there are standards for the assessment of thinking: They have a beginning understanding of the role of egocentric thinking in human life.

Beginning thinkers are able to appreciate a critique of their powers of thought. They are beginning to recognize egocentric thinking in themselves and others.

Stage Two: The Challenged Thinker - Are You Ready to Accept the Challenge?

The key intellectual trait required at this stage is some degree of intellectual humility in beginning to recognize the problems inherent in thinking. In addition, thinkers must have some degree of intellectual confidence in reason, a trait which provides the impetus to take up the challenge and begin the process of active development as critical thinkers, despite limited understanding of what it means to do high my stage of critical thinking and development reasoning.

In addition, beginning thinkers have enough intellectual perseverance to struggle with serious problems in thinking while yet lacking a clear solution to those problems in other words, at this stage thinkers are recognizing more and more problems in their thinking but have not yet discovered how to systematize their efforts to solve them.

Here we can use sporting analogies and analogies from other skill areas. Most students already know that you can get good in a sport only if you regularly practice. We must not only look for opportunities to encourage them to think well, we must help them to begin to understand what it is to develop good HABITS of thinking. What do we need to do regularly in order to read well?

What must we my stage of critical thinking and development regularly and habitually if we are to listen well? What must we do regularly and habitually if we are to write well. What must we do regularly and habitually if we are to learn well? We must recognize that students are not only creatures of habit, but like the rest of us, they are largely unaware of the habits they are developing.

They are largely unaware of what it is to develop good habits in generallet alone good habits of thinking. We must emphasize the importance of beginning to take charge of the parts of thinking and applying intellectual standards to thinking. We must teach students to begin to recognize their native egocentrism when it is operating in their thinking.

The Practicing Thinker Defining Feature: Thinkers at this stage have a sense of the habits they need to develop to take charge of their thinking. They not only recognize that problems exist in their thinking, but they also recognize the need to attack these problems globally and systematically. Based on their sense of the need to practice regularly, they are actively analyzing their thinking in a number of domains. However, since practicing thinkers are only beginning to approach the improvement of their thinking in a systematic way, they still have limited insight into deeper levels of thought, and thus into deeper levels of the problems embedded in thinking.

To begin to develop awareness of the need for systematic practice in thinking. Practicing thinkers, unlike beginning thinkers are becoming knowledgeable my stage of critical thinking and development what it would take to systematically monitor the role in their thinking of concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, points of view, etc. Practicing thinkers are also becoming knowledgeable of what it would take to regularly assess their thinking for clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, logicalness, etc.

Practicing thinkers recognize the need for systematicity of critical thinking and deep internalization into habits. They clearly recognize the natural tendency of the human mind to engage in egocentric thinking and self-deception.

Practicing thinkers have enough skill in thinking to critique their own plan for systematic practice, and to construct a realistic critique of their powers of thought. Furthermore, practicing thinkers have enough skill to begin to regularly monitor their own thoughts. Thus they can effectively articulate the strengths and weaknesses in their thinking.

Practicing thinkers can often recognize their own egocentric thinking as well as egocentric thinking on the part of others. Furthermore practicing thinkers actively monitor their thinking to eliminate egocentric thinking, although they are often unsuccessful.

  • Accomplished thinkers consistently monitor their own thoughts;
  • Sometimes we fail to plan well, causing us negative consequences that we easily could have avoided for example, we spend time unnecessarily trapped in traffic - though we could have left a half hour earlier and avoided the rush;
  • This is the problem in most areas of skill development;
  • Next, we would choose a plausible alternative definition for each and then plan for our new responses as well as our new emotions;
  • They are becoming aware, at some level, that high quality thinking requires deliberate reflective thinking about thinking in order to improve thinking.

The key intellectual trait required to move to this stage is intellectual perseverance. Furthermore, thinkers at this stage have the intellectual humility required to realize that thinking in all the domains of their lives must be subject to scrutiny, as they begin to approach the improvement of their thinking in a systematic way.

What are the basic features of thinking that students must command to effectively become practicing thinkers? What do they need to do to take charge of their thinking intellectually, with respect to any content? We must teach in such a way that students come to understand the power in knowing that whenever humans reason, they have no choice but to use certain predictable structures of thought: We must teach in such a way as to require students to regularly deal explicitly with these structures more on these structure presently.

The result of this emphasis in instruction is that students begin to see connections between all the subject matter they are learning. In studying history, they learn to focus on historical purposes and questions. When studying math, they clarify and analyze mathematical goals and problems.

When studying literature, they reflect upon literary purposes and questions.