I think critical thinking is a combination of skills that allow one to evaluate, understand, and analyze information in a sophisticated manner. Critical thinkers are people who have a more in-depth understanding of what they are learning. For example, someone who sees only one solution to a problem would not be considered a critical thinker because their point of view is one-dimensional. Critical thinking is multi-dimensional thinking. It’s the ability to see a problem, a question, a situation from many different angles through many different means.
I think critical thinking can be measured as part of a bigger entity. I’m sure there are tests where one can test their critical thinking skills but I think it’s most obvious if someone possesses critical thinking skills when they work on a project such as the one we’re doing in this class. Our experimental college design, for example, combines different academic skill sets and areas. It’s not simply writing a rhetorical essay, a research paper, or a math worksheet. It’s one cumulative project that forces us to engage with different materials, different parts of our brains, and different ways of thinking. The way we might think about the pitch for our college is separate from the way we think about the visual component to our project. That in itself is critical thinking. I think if you measured the quality of a project where the members employed their critical thinking skills and a project where the members lacked critical thinking skills, you would see a significant difference. Critical thinking is active, open, and non-simplistic and it certainly shows through one’s work.