Critical Thinking: How It Affects College Students | Arts & Hobbies
To fully understand the nature and depth of critical thinking, it is imperative to develop a comprehensive overview of the subject itself. Therefore, powerful questions are needed to unravel and explore its validity. Questions such as: What is critical thinking? Why critical thinking? Is critical thinking relevant at this time?
Over the past decade, various theorists and researchers have sought to precisely define the concept of critical thinking. These theorists and writers of various professions held analogous views on the definition of critical thinking. For some, critical thinking is the process of determining the authenticity, accuracy, and value of information or knowledge. For others, it is thought that perceives reality as a process and a transformation; it is to critically examine the human condition and question the “why” and the “how” of this reality. These authors conjecture that the notion generally refers to higher-order thinking and learning. From my perspective, critical thinking is actually engaged in exploring, searching, meticulously searching, and ultimately providing rational solutions. It is a question of getting an idea by a relevant questioning. It is taking time to reflect, rethink and develop an understanding of its general idea.
Contemporary society is becoming increasingly multifaceted as globalization intensifies. The World Wide Web has made indelible marks in that information is readily and easily accessible. As the saying goes, “information is now at your fingertips”. This therefore means that university students have a responsibility to broaden their horizons by acquiring that exclusive wealth of knowledge needed to function in a dynamically changing world and, by extension, by adding their own authentic voices.
Critical thinking is essential; it is a skill worth learning, due to its myriad benefits. It is the fundamental and most basic of thinking skills. The fact is, there is a direct correlation between critical thinking and almost everything there is. It provides people with the tools to solve real-world problems. One of them is reflection. According to The Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus, the reflection is “Conscious Thoughts or Mediation”. That is, thinking is engaged in exploration, looking back, looking at the present, looking at future possibilities, and seeking answers. It promotes self-assessment with the aim of answering questions such as: What was right? What went wrong? What were the weaknesses? What were the strengths? What were the limits? This means that a tremendous amount of internalization occurs, allowing people to develop trust. Moreover, they gain self-knowledge by learning from their own mistakes. Therefore, it is quite safe to say that not taking and taking the time to reflect can be compared to not taking and taking the time to look in the mirror in the morning to make sure that one is properly dressed.
Critical thinking takes people from one dimension to another. In other words, it moves the learner from being a dependent learner to being an independent and self-regulated learner. Critical thinking enables people to engage in in-depth research, carefully sift through the information gathered, and then form their own judgement. This skill places university students in a position where they can make informed decisions, ultimately empowering them to take charge of their own learning and chart their own destiny. Critical thinking helps the college student to connect the dots and excel in their studies as well as in their chosen field of work. It will help them gain and maintain that competitive edge in school, in the world of work, and by extension, in the world as a global village.
Critical thinking also helps college students generalize and apply what they have learned from one situation to another. Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches are relevant integrated approaches that allow us to see links, to see connections, to see relationships between disciplines and real-world situations. To further cement the point, critical thinking sparks curiosity. He tries to answer questions. He seeks to make sense of situations. This justifies individuals looking beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. Accordingly, individuals are required to reflect, rethink, revisit, re-examine, reconsider, reconstruct, reformulate and rearrange their dispositions.
A rapidly changing world like ours requires critical thinkers, people who are willing and able to think through any design in order to make rational decisions. Yes! Critical thinking is universal. She crosses the boundaries of the class. No matter where one resides on the globe, critical thinking is relevant. Therefore, another powerful reason advanced is that critical thinking skills are needed in the world of work. Recently I had an interesting conversation with a group of university students. The intention was to solicit from them the skills necessary for workers/employees of the 21st century. All responded that critical thinking was key. I further probed to determine the reason for the responses. They explicitly explained that critical thinking allows them to be innovative and on top of their game.
Today’s workforce needs workers who are capable and able to work on their own initiative. This requires creativity and innovative ideas at the highest level possible. One student pointed out that critical thinking in the world of work allows him to “think outside the box,” that is, to come up with ideas and quick solutions to challenges faced. This is necessary in all facets of life. Whatever career path one chooses, the ability to find solutions is necessary for success. The workplace critical thinker will be able to turn the coin around and meticulously and objectively examine both sides.
In conclusion, inspiring university students to become critical thinkers will definitely improve the intellectual process. Unequivocally, it arouses and provides the field for unveiling thought, that is, making thought visible. This is necessary for effective operation in the 21st century and beyond. Students at today’s higher education institutions will undoubtedly become tomorrow’s leaders and compete in the global marketplace. As systems open up to global competition, they will experience intractable problems, which will undoubtedly force them to draw on their prior knowledge. Therefore, it is imperative that college students be guided to develop and encouraged to practice critical thinking skills in order to maintain this competitive edge.
Gillian Campbell is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Mico University College.