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Critical Thinking: Intro

Welcome to the Critical Thinking LibGuide. This guide has been developed to support Huntingdon College's QEP and more specifically the development of the PACT (Practicing the Art of Critical Thinking) course.

Critical Thinking and Academic Research

The most important skill one can develop is the ability to think critically, for this will provide the foundation for being a truly educated person and a responsible citizen.

“Academic research focuses on the creation of new ideas, perspectives, and arguments.”  The person doing research seeks relevant information from a wide variety of resources in a broad range of formats (yes, print is still important … not everything is available online).  But the research process extends beyond the collection of information.  The researcher must know how to make the most effective use of the information she or he has discovered.  “(T)he research process is about inquiry – asking questions and developing answers through serious critical thinking and thoughtful reflection.”  And the researcher rarely works in isolation, rather he or she will carry on a conversation with other researchers and experts, sharing information and arguing (meant in the most positive sense) points.

“As a result, the research process is recursive, meaning that the researcher regularly revisits ideas, seeks new information when necessary, and reconsiders and refines the research question, topic, or approach. In other words, research almost always involves constant reflection and revision.”

Research is not easy, but then very little in life that is worthwhile is.  Research can, however, be extremely rewarding, and it is through research and critical reflection that we advance civilization, from the most mundane achievements to those that truly change the world.

Paul-Elder Framework

This guide is based on the "Elements of Reasoning" from the Paul-Elder framework for critical thinking. For more information about the Paul-Elder framework, click the link below.

Some of the content in this guide has been adapted from The Aspiring Thinker's Guide to Critical Thinking (2009) by Linda Elder and Richard Paul.