Critical Thinking

According a dictionary definition of critical thinking, critical thinking is a disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence. A person who can make decisions on their feet based on logical reason and acquired knowledge is said to be the best kind of person for a highly competitive work environment. It is because of these high demands within the economy that undergraduates and even high school students are forced to look at literature with a creative mind and go beyond that of the words on a page, but what the words imply. In short, getting young minds to think outside of the box.

I do believe that critical thinking can be measured, but in measuring the amount of critical thinking one can do, is there a specified amount of critical thinking one must meet before continuing on in pursuit of higher education? The difficulty in determining the quality and quantity at which a single individual should be able to think critically is controversial. Factors including social groups, cultural background, type of schooling, and family life are a few of the external variables that influence the way, not only students, but individuals learn to problem solve and think in a critical manner. Measuring an individual’s ability to critically think is nearly impossible, let alone socially acceptable, when so many indirect factors are necessary to help someone view the world in a critical manner.

The book, Academically Adrift: Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, explains how colleges and universities that have made recent changes to the organization of classes and curriculum have put aside the acquisition of ’critical, analytical, and logical thinking’ (Bok 2) for pure academic knowledge. As a liberal arts student, I have to apply my knowledge of my surroundings with academia. I didn’t realize that some universities, as Arum and Roksa have explained, have put a greater emphasis on the knowledge of individual subject of education and learning rather than the student’s capacity to analyze and formulate solutions to problems. Arum and Roksa later clarify how the use of the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and the ACT (American College Test), both nationally used college entrance exam tests, as “general education” tests have helped to socialize the lowering of standard requirements for students to entering college to that of the memorization of an individual subject versus the collaboration of minds to work together to problem solve; to evaluate the world in which we live. Whereas the CLA or the Collegiate Learning Assessment, is a test that assesses “critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and writing” of an individual therefore determining their capability to reason and think for themselves (Arum and Roksa 21, 2011). Why don’t universities use both the SAT, the ACT, and the CLA together to determine the quality of students they wish to attend their school? All three test in tandem would help institutions uphold their high standard for academia while adding elements such as critical thinking to ensure the students attending and graduating from these prestigious universities are in fact well-rounded individuals. Therefore building a stronger foundation of intellectual competition as well as collaboration between students to reconstruct an institution that will produce graduates that are ready to work in our present economy.

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