To become better critical thinkers, students must develop expert thinking skills and become experts at choosing the best skills for the particular situation. These components of critical thinking can be described as maximizing the efficiency and accuracy of one's cognitive and metacognitive skills for successful actions.Cognitive skills refer to strategies used to encode, transform, organize, integrate, categorize, store, and retrieve information. Metacognitive skills refer to the strategies used to monitor and control one's own state of knowledge. (Flavell, 1979; Nelson and Narens, 1990) Metacognitive skills give people the opportunity to gain some awareness of what they are thinking about and how their thinkingprogresses. If students are to exhibit critical-thinking skills, they must learn to decide when specific cognitive skills are relevant (a metacognitive skill) and then successfully apply the cognitive skills to solve problems.
A method to improve cognitive skills is to help students learn about themselves as learners and problem-solvers by recommending effective cognitive skills and providingstudents with experiences to evaluate their cognitive skills (Bransford and Stein, 1993). The critical-thinking topic in this lesson is actually consistent with this method.
Critical-thinking training begins by teaching students a general model of how their minds work so that they can describe their own thinking skills and both students and instructors can refer to similar mental events through acommon vocabulary (Brown, Bransford, Ferrara, and Campione, 1984). The model of the mind is derived from theory and research in cognitive psychology. After students gain some understanding of how people function as cognitive processors (the teaching concepts module), they learn to apply this understanding to help them develop their knowledge and skills in reasoning, problem solving, and decisionmaking. (Bransford and Stein, 1993).
Problem solving on the other hand, as part of critical thinking, is another learning skill of a person, like probabilistic reasoning, and decision making, with problem solving providing a framework for understanding decision making and application of reasoning.
This lesson will explain effective strategies, the macro- and micro-abilities of cognitive strategiesin developing critical thinking and problem-solving strategies. Effective Strategies
There are a number of effective strategies. This lesson will attempt to explain them all.
The first effective strategy is “thinking independently.” According to Chance (1986) critical thinking is independent thinking, thinking for oneself. It is believed that it is acquired at an early age, when we have a strongtendency to form beliefs for irrational reasons. Critical thinkers use critical skills and insights to reveal and reject beliefs that are irrational. Independent thinkers strive to incorporate all known relevant knowledge and insight into their thoughts and behavior. They strive to determine for themselves when information is relevant, when to apply a concept, or when to make use of a skill. Theyare self-monitoring: they catch their own mistakes; they don't need to be told what to do every step of the way.
Next is the development of insight into egocentricity or socio-centricity. Egocentricity means confusing what we see and think with reality. When under the influence of egocentricity, we think that the way we see things is exactly the way things are. Egocentricity manifests itself asan inability or unwillingness to consider others' points of view, a refusal to accept ideas or facts that would prevent us from getting what we want. The development of children's awareness of their egocentric and socio-centric patterns of thought is a crucial part of education in critical thinking. This development will be modest at first but can grow considerably over time.
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