Most college writing assignments are intended to develop and encourage the use of critical thinking skills. Even those that involve researching and reporting on other people’s work usually include an expectation that the selection and review of outside sources will involve critical thinking processes such as:
- Assessment of the validity of the author's viewpoint
- Assessment of the reliability of any findings
- Consideration of other viewpoints, potential interfering variables, etc.
- Connection with prior knowledge &/or understanding
- Reconsideration of previously held notions
- Consideration of broad implications
- Usefulness to the profession or field of study
- Relevance for problem solving/addressing needs
- Contemplation of alternatives and/or variations
- Judgment of acceptability and worth of the information &/or ideas presented
Critical thinking skills are developed through the practice of questionning. An inquisitive attitude and a willingness to challenge assumptions -- one's own as well as others' -- help spark critical thought. However, skepticism must be balanced by the ability to evaluate the source of information and ideas, distinguish fact from opinion, and adjust one's own thought processes to accommodate new perceptions. The best way to develop critical thinking skills is to actively engage in the learning process.
Click on the links below for more writing tips:
Sentence Structure & Punctuation
Punctuation Pointers: Colons & Semicolons
Punctuation Pointers: Apostrophes & Quotation Marks