'Critical thinking' is a key underpinning skill for writing assignments and for your Masters` studies and professional development in general. Confidence in critical thinking – and critical reading- is one of the main attributes of good assignments.
What is 'critical thinking'?
The key is to use the literature that you have read in order to question the basic ideas that surround the subject area, to test out and challenge the obvious assumptions. Look for ideas that share common ground, and also those that are at odds with those. Try to tease out what the reasons for those different interpretations might be. In other words, try not to fall back on the 'obvious' reasons, but challenge your thinking. Apply the ideas that seem to make most sense to your own experiences or to the mini-case studies that we provide, and use them as tools to crack open those experiences, to make sense of them. The idea is that by doing so we can become practised at be ready for a range of unpredictable real-world experiences, rather than having just the 'one best way' up our sleeves.
Thinking critically doesn’t mean being negative or argumentative. It means, rather, looking at something objectively, carefully and with an independent and a questioning frame of mind.
Thinking critically involves:
• Looking for the different sides of an argument.
• Assessing the claims and viewpoints that you come across: weighing them and testing how sound they are.
• Looking for the evidence that lies behind the claims made, and testing how sound it is.
• Thinking independently. Being prepared to see both the strengths and limitations in the ideas and arguments that you come across, regardless of who has written them.
• Appreciating that there are different perspectives rather than a single ‘correct’ or true answer.
So, critical thinking is about analysing and manipulating information, rather than simply acquiring knowledge or memorizing facts.