Select Page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Critical thinking

By the end of your degree, it is expected that you will be able to analyse and critique theory and practice to develop well-reasoned arguments. You can do this by thinking critically.

What is critical thinking?

There is a common misconception that critical thinking involves picking out the negative aspects of a topic or idea which is far from the truth. Critical thinking involves the critique of topics and ideas to determine fact from fiction. Critical thinking prompts us to consider multiple perspectives so we can make well-reasoned arguments. Watch the video below for a full explanation.

How to think critically

To think critically, you need to:

Recognise and challenge assumptions Its easy to just accept what someone says however you need to be able to discern fact from fiction. As you read or listen to information, try and identify the assumptions that the author / speaker makes. Noticing and then questioning assumptions helps to identify gaps.
Evaluate arguments Evaluate the arguments of others to determine the credibility of what they are saying and to consider whether the argument has been considered from at least two perspectives. There is always another side to an argument.
Develop your own conclusions By questioning assumptions and arguments, you are in a better position to develop your own conclusions about what someone is saying. You might find that you need to research other perspectives to put forth your own well-reasoned arguments.

View the developing arguments resources for more information.

How to ask critical questions

To recognise assumptions and evaluate arguments, there are 6 types of questions that you should be asking yourself. You can apply these to all areas of life to help you develop your critical thinking skills.

WHO Who said it?
Who was the author?
Are they well-known in the academic field?
Are they a credible source?
WHAT What did they write?
Is their information factual or opinionated?
Did they report all the facts?
Is there something they haven’t considered?
WHERE Where was their study situated?
What country does their work relate to?
In what context is their work situated?
Does what they say apply to other contexts?
WHEN When did they write their study?
What was happening in the political and economic environment at the time?
Is what they said still relevant today?
Were there any major events at the time that their study was published?
WHY Why did they write what they did?
What was the purpose of their study?
Can this relate to other areas?
Are they challenging the work of others in their study?
HOW How did they write their study?
Did they report their findings objectively?
Does their work seem opinionated?
Did you understand what they wrote?

View the developing arguments resources for more information.

Test yourself

Watch the video and answer the multiple choice questions that will appear on screen.

Pause to reflect

  • What are some of the probing questions you ask yourself and others to help you make major decisions?
  • What are some of the things you do already to help you discern fact from fiction?