Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts

Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts White Paper

As the importance of critical thinking has grown paramount, due to fake news, medical misinformation, AI and automation, our white paper, “Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts,” is a practical and relevant guide.

Insight Assessment founder Peter Facione, Ph.D., clearly and engagingly, explains exactly what critical thinking is—and what it is not.

He demonstrates why critical thinking is important in our personal and professional lives as well as throughout society and the world. Facione further introduces tools and strategies that enable us to improve our individual and collective critical thinking skills.

Studied across the globe, in multiple languages, this popular and often quoted paper discusses why teaching & training critical thinking skills is so important, now, and into the future.

Click to download the 2020 PDF:

Critical Thinking:What It Is and Why It Counts

Pensamiento Crítico: ¿Qué es y por qué es importante?

Критическое мышление: что это такое и почему оно важно

التفكير الناقد: ما هو ولماذا هو مهم


What is Critical Thinking According to the White Paper?

Rather than just present a definition of critical thinking (which would only encourage rote memorization—the opposite of critical thinking), Facione presents suggests several intriguing questions:

“Who are the best critical thinkers we know?  What is it about them that leads us to consider them the best? So, who are the best critical thinkers you know? Why do you think they are strong critical thinkers?”

These questions are meant to guide the reader into arriving at their own personal definition of critical thinking, based upon their own critical thinking, experiences and knowledge.  Additionally, this exercise moves critical thinking from a vaguely desirable concept to discussing a concrete human attribute, which is in high demand for students, workers and leaders.

Why is Critical Thinking Important?

Once critical thinking skills and attributes have been defined, Facione challenges readers to identify the importance of critical thinking strength in early education, secondary education, the workplace, the media and, ultimately, to our society and democracy.

Critical Thinking and Cognition

This updated edition expands the discussion of critical thinking by connecting it with recent work in cognitive science. It includes insights about:

  • several heuristic thinking strategies commonly used, identifying their potential advantages and biases;
  • the two problem-solving systems which appear to operate in parallel; one being more intuitive, reactive, and holistic decision-making, and the other being more reflective, procedural and rule-governed.

Click for more resources about teaching, training and improving critical thinking in classrooms and workplaces.

Assessing Critical Thinking Skills and Mindset

People of all ages demonstrate either strength or weakness in critical thinking.   Insight Assessment test instruments are used globally for all educational levels, (K-12 through doctorate and professional fields) to evaluate the core critical thinking skills and habits of mind described in this essay.  INSIGHT Business assessments are used for professionals, workers, leaders and job applicants in business, health care, education, defense, as well as science and engineering fields. INSIGHT Development Program is your turn-key solution for learning and development of core skills and mindset.  Deleted the rest.

Critical Thinking: What It is and Why It Counts, written by Peter Facione, Ph.D., a leading authority in critical thinking. This white paper is periodically updated to capture new findings and discussion points to explore critical thinking in all aspects of life and work. Author and the publisher hold copyright, ISBN 13: 978-1-891557-07-1. Permission is granted for paper, electronic, or digital copies to be made in unlimited amounts for purposes of advancing education and improving critical thinking, if distribution is free of charge and properly cited when extracted in whole or in part. For commercial or resale reprint permissions of the “APA Delphi Report” or “Critical Thinking What It Is and Why It Counts,” contact Insight Assessment.

Develop your critical thinking with THINK Critically, Facione & Gittens, Pearson Education, now in its 3rd edition.

Are you interested in assessing your own thinking skills?  Download our personal assessment app, Critical Thinking Insight from your app store.

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