Understanding the Process of Critical Thinking
One of the most important aspects that a college student must learn while attending school is how to
master the craft of critical thinking. For many, the idea of critical thinking is abstract and elusive; almost
nothing more than a keyword they know their professors like to hear.
But there is much more to critical thinking than simply
a buzz word that can make a college student appear
smart. Although, in reality, those who understand
critical thinking, like the collegiate level professors
some students are trying to impress by throwing
around the phrase critical thinking, likewise
understand when others do not know the concepts
involved in critical thinking.
Critical Thinking as a Tool
Critical thinking is much more than an elusive idea for
incoming freshmen. Critical thinking can be a guiding
light for those who understand how and when to
While critical thinking can be brought into use in almost any situation, and indeed should strive to
implemented where and whenever possible, the most frequent use of critical thinking most often occurs
when college students write essays. Thinking critically is a near requirement for a college student to
write a strong essay.
Whether they are pursuing an education in business or a nursing degree, those college students who
strive to employ critical thinking while writing their research or midterm essays will be able to write
stronger and more effective papers. Thinking critically and writing, at least in this instance, are closely
But first, a basic definition of critical thinking as
it applies to writing college papers could be
stated as the process by which a student
reflects, contemplates, and analyzes materials,
experiences, and research findings to derive
unique, insightful, and supported conclusions.
While this broad definition may not suffice
those who truly understand the process of
critically thinking, it most assuredly will suffice
for the struggling college freshman who simply
wants to know how to go about thinking
critically while writing their course essays.
Critical Thinking and Organization
When a college student thinks critically about the paper they are try to write, they will find themselves
pondering over their research data and other materials that will help them to come up with their own
conclusions. This process can often be jumbled and disorderly, which brings again the need for writing
and critical thinking to go hand in hand.
But this does not mean writing an organized paper
from jumbled thoughts. No, rather it means that a
student must first write their thoughts in whatever
form them come so as not to forget these important
inspirations once the drafting of the essay does begin.
Writing down the thoughts that a student has while
looking over their notes, materials, and research will
give them a base to recall ideas for the next step of
organizing their thoughts into a cohesive outline of an
essay. To begin thinking critically, a student must write
down all that they know on their subject, organize that
knowledge into groupings of like material and then ask
questions such as “what is the purpose of this, or what
is the significance of that” which questions will spur
further thought and inner discussion.
As this discussion with oneself over the subject matter
of the paper continues, one will find that they are
beginning to think critically on their theme. By
performing this process for each paper, a student will
be able to write more meaningful papers.
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