Category: Critical thinking
Critical Thinking Reflection
University of Phoenix
Have you apply a job in the last 5 years? The job announcements ask if you have a college degree. Most employers want the degree and not the experiences. The focus of this paper is to evaluate if receiving a college degree improve your career opportunities. Once this question is answer I will incorporate the critical thinking process into the answer and how it can be used in other areas. Finally, I will discuss the steps that are used to ensure that the critical thinking process is used in the future.
I personally believe that an education will increase your potential earnings and allotted for you to have a better quality of life. In the past I have earned up to $80,000 without a degree. Then the economy started to change and the recess took place. I was laid off work for more than a year and was applying for jobs in varies industry. I was told that I wasn’t qualified enough and that I need a degree. I got tired of being turned down for jobs. Then I finally got a job as the receptionist. I was told I had to train the worker with the degree and my college degree employee earned more than me all because they had something that I was lacking, a degree. According to Hardy, (2014) A person who has a high school diploma only earns about $28,000 a year in 2008 where as a college graduate earns about $52,000 a year. A high school diploma gets you an entry level job but a college education gives you a career. You are considered a professional if you have that degree. It use to be about who you know and favor but that degree will open up a lot of more doors if you have it.
The critical thinking process that was used in answering the above question was to identify the problem. The question was do a college degree improves your career opportunities. Yes it does and how this answer was determined by using the second step which is evaluating the alternatives. If.
ERIC Identifier: ED436007
Publication Date: 1999-11-00
Author: Shermis, S. Samuel
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
This digest concerns itself with the origin of reflective thought, the application of theories about reflective thought to classrooms, conflicts and issues, and a synthesis of the essential ideas.ORIGIN OF THE IDEA OF REFLECTIVE THOUGHT
The concept "reflective thought" was introduced by John Dewey in 1910 in his "How We Think", a work designed for teachers. Dewey admitted a debt to both his contemporaries in philosophy, William James, and Charles S. Peirce. Dewey's most basic assumption was that learning improves to the degree that it arises out of the process of reflection. As time went on, terminology concerning reflection proliferated, spawning a host of synonyms, such as "critical thinking," "problem solving," and " higher level thought."DEFINITIONS
Dewey's definition of reflective thinking repeated over the years was:
"Active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends". (Dewey, 1933)
However, other researchers added to this definition and modified it. Thus,
"The purpose of Socratic Seminars is to enlarge understanding of ideas, issues, and values. The intent is to create dialogue that gives voice to rigorous thinking about possible meaning. Seminars are structured to take the student thought from the unclear to the clear, from the unreasoned to the reasoned. from the unexamined to the examined." (Lambright, 1995)
Many other definitions exist, but what all have in common is conviction. Some are of a more generalized nature, such as the two above. Others assume that true reflective thinking can only be derived from the application of the various intellectual disciplines.QUESTIONING
For the last four decades, consensus thinking is that reflection in a classroom can take place only when a questioning strategy promotes it. Paradigms and models of questioning have proliferated endlessly. All begin with the assumption that there are unproductive, sterile questions that throttle student thought. Thus, Wasserman (1992) talks about "stupid questions" which ignore student ideas, are "insensitive to the feelings or ideas being expressed," or are irrelevant and disrespectful.
Dead-end questions may be too complex for student experience, may not provide sufficient "wait time" for students to process the question, may involve trick questions or those which ask a question whose answer can be found in the text or lecture of the teacher.
Questions which promote thought begin with the assumption that students do not think unless they have something to think about. Dewey, Hullfish and Smith, Hunt and Metcalf, Bigge, and Bayles argued that this "something" can only be a problem. But the problem must be real, i.e. internalized, felt by students. "Pseudo problems" occur when the importance of the problem is ignored or when a problem is assumed to exist because the teacher or text defines it as a problem. Thus, "What were the causes of the Civil War?" has been a problem to historians for many years. It is unlikely to be one to students.
Many authors (Simpson, 1996) have attempted to create paradigms of questioning, including Simpson, Weast, Hauser and Wasserman. What all of these different paradigms have in common is the strongly held conviction that the traditional, text bound, information coverage, low-level questioning must be replaced by a more fruitful approach that stimulates students to reflect on problems.PROBLEMS
How to Generate Problems. A problem exists when a student is curious, puzzled, confused, or unable to resolve an issue. A situation which was clear and untroubled has now become clouded or obstructed. In recent years, scholars have attempted to come up with useful, generic models of problem setting:
* asking students to devise alternative ways of presenting information, i.e. alternative to text or teacher
* comparing different accounts of the same events, ideas, phenomena
* supplying alternative endings, writing different outcomes
* role-playing, role reversal, attempting to discern what was left out, what was inconsistent
* inserting ideas that do not appear to "belong" in a text
* deleting or omitting information
* playing "what if"
* examining the social context of a given statement
* attempting to identify the assumptionEXAMPLES
The notion that very young children cannot deal with problems is simply false. Here is an example of problem-setting in a kindergarten or first-grade class discussing Jack and the Beanstalk:
* Q. What did Jack do when he got to the giant's castle?"
* A. Jack hid from the giant, found the goose that lays the golden eggs, was discovered by the giant, fled, reached the bottom of the vine, and then chopped it down. The giant, of course, tumbles down, breaks his neck, and Jack lives happily every after with his mother and his newly found wealth.
* Q. Did Jack trespass illegally? (In kindergarten terms, "Did Jack go into someone's house where he did not belong?"
* Q. Did Jack steal the goose that lays golden eggs?"
* Q. Did Jack, then, refuse to give back what did not belong to him?
* Q. Then did Jack escape down the bean vine and cause the giant to be killed?"
* Q. If Jack trespassed, stole, and murdered the giant, why is the giant the villain of this story?
The twist at the end of this questioning strategy takes a very old story, with a comfortable conclusion designed to make everything turn out just right, and turns it on its head: why, in light of the admitted crimes that Jack committed, isn't he the baddie? (Shermis, 1992).
There is no course, age, or grade where reflective theory cannot be applied. Reflective theory simply says that if you wish to generate a problem, enter the thinking and knowing patterns of your students. And then ask them questions which create conflict and confusion. And then help them reach an answer. And attempt to recognize a 24 carat gold question when you hear it. For example, if a student who has been paying attention to the usual information on animal and fish camouflage asks, "How come the Monarch butterfly is so colorful when this makes it easier for a predator to see?" has just asked precisely such a question. There is an infinite number of such questions, just waiting for teachers to recognize or ask. These questions promote the reflection that provides the best kind of learning that human beings have so far invented.EVALUATION
Any educational evaluation stems from the educational purposes specified in advance of teaching. If one wishes to teach reflectively and hold reflective discussions, then the purposes, goals, or objectives must mandate such discussion. This necessarily precludes evaluation that emphasizes memorization. Memorization is what is ordinarily measured by conventional objective tests--true false, fill in, matching, and completion.
What evaluation is mandated? Lambright cites Cross who maintains that, "If you want to teach critical thinking. we suggest that you devise an exercise that requires students to practice critical thinking and simultaneously demonstrate their progress in achieving that complex skill." Some researchers have insisted that appropriate evaluation "must go beyond acquiring facts and learning theories -- they must apply knowledge." (Lambright) However, application of knowledge, in terms of the Bloom Taxonomy, is technically Level III, which is not especially reflective. Reflective thought involves acquisition of facts, understanding of ideas, application of principles, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. In short, reflective thought and reflective teaching involve all levels of the Bloom Taxonomy.
Perhaps the most complete listing of reflective skills may be found in Weast (1996):
* identifying the author's conclusion;
* identifying the reasons and the evidence
* identifying vague and ambiguous language
* identifying value assumptions and value conflicts
* identifying descriptive assumptions
* evaluating statistical reasoning
* evaluating sampling and measurements
* evaluating logical reasoning
* identifying omitted information
* articulating one's own values in thoughtful, fair-minded way.
These skills are the ones which, over the last six or seven decades, have tended to be emphasized by advocates of reflective thought and teaching. They continue to be emphasized. The continuing emphasis is a valid index to the fact that they are still not in schools.REFERENCES
Dewey, J. (1993). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hauser, J. (1992). Dialogic classrooms: Tactics, projects, and attitude conversions. Paper presented at the National Council of Teachers of English convention, Louisville, KY. [ED 353 232]
Hunt, M. P. & Metcalf, L. E. (1968). Teaching high school social studies: Problems in reflective thinking and social understanding. New York: Harper and Row.
Lambright, L. (1995). Creating a dialogue Socratic seminars and educational reform. Community College Journal, 65, 30-34.
Shermis, S. S. (1992). Critical thinking: Helping students learn reflectively. Bloomington, Indiana: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills. [ED 341 954]
Simpson, A. (1996). Critical questions: Whose questions? The Reading Teacher, 50, 118-126. [EJ 540 595]
Wasserman, S. (1992). Asking the right question: The essence of teaching. Phi Delta Kappa Fastback 343. Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.
Weast, D. (1996). Alternative teaching strategies: The case for critical thinking. Teaching Sociology,24, 189-194.
Digest #143 is EDO-CS-99-04 and was published in November 1999 by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and Communication, 2805 E 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47408-2698, Telephone (812) 855-5847 or (800) 759-4723.
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I am sharing once again what has been one of the most read of all my posts – Barriers to Critical Thinking . It continues to be even more timely given the issues that we face as a country and as a civilization today. I re-post and update this article periodically and I continually receive comments on how relevant and important it is for not only students, but for adults.
This is a blog site that primarily focuses on the process of emergency preparedness planning, and it is essential that one develops an effective foundation and skill set for critical evaluation and assessment of facts and circumstances that lead to actions that are effectual, appropriate and beneficial. My philosophical background can’t help but guide me to the two core aspects of the critical thinking process: freedom and choice.
Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.
— Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD 1905 – 1997 Psychologist, Philosopher, Author and Survivor of 4 Nazi Concentration Camps
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
As an expanded Cherokee Proverb states so well:
There Is A Battle Of Two Wolves Inside Us All
One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, sorrow, regret, self-pity, guilt, false pride, resentment, lies, inferiority, elitist superiority and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, serenity, generosity, compassion, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, faith and truth.
The one who wins? The one you feed.
What we cultivate and nurture will determine our result and experience. This applies to building a preparedness program and to all aspects of our encounter with life and our perception of reality. Do we choose freedom and being responsible for our choices and the rewards that follow, or are we going to thoughtlessly and recklessly react without engaging in a critical thinking process?
As an observer of the current events in our society, it is blatantly obvious that those in positions of leadership and influence – government, commerce, media and education – are suffering from “serious delusion and self-interest syndrome.” The polarization, manipulation and deterioration of our society is so insidious and pervasive that I continue to pray and yearn for our citizens, educators and leaders to embrace and embody the skills of critical thinking, truthful evaluation, selflessness and discernment. The lying and deception being imposed upon the people by the government, media and the self-serving has reached epidemic proportions – so many folks are reacting not thinking – fear, selfishness and confusion has robed our populace of the basic fundamentals of thoughtful reasoning.
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable.”
— H. L. Mencken
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”
— George Orwell
Has decades of incompetent, agenda driven and indoctrinating education finally taken its toll on common sense and judicious thinking?
The following list of the barriers to critical thinking, common sense and rational judgment is overwhelming and intimidating to many – so in your quest to be a skilled thinker you are encouraged to overcome obstacles that will appear in your path. Be dedicated, competent and persistent – and be willing to help others to be successful and effective thinkers.
Here are the Seven Essential Questions that must be reflected upon and honestly answered to begin the process of developing critical thinking skills:
I have decided to post this article on the barriers to critical thinking, which I use in teaching, as the 3rd in a series of posts dealing with the psychological, emotional and spiritual components of emergency and disaster preparedness planning.
As I have stated before, there is more to preparing for emergencies than the physical “stuff” you surround yourself with. Evaluating, understanding and acknowledging all aspects of the planning process is essential for a proper and complete preparedness program.
This article, which I wrote, was an important part of the college course I taught on Critical Thinking – a class I believe to be an essential part of a college experience. I have not changed it for this post – this is what the students read, reflected upon and discussed in class. Most struggle with its implications and accuracy. It not only applies to preparedness planning – but to all aspects of human deliberation.
BARRIERS TO CRITICAL THINKING – from my college course on Critical Thinking
Your responsibility as a critical thinker is to be aware of the barriers, acknowledge the challenges they present, and overcome them to the best of your ability.
“If critical thinking is so important, why is it that un critical thinking is so common? Why is it that so many people – including many highly educated and intelligent people – find critical thinking so difficult?” And I [Denis] might add – impossible!
Discovering the answers to these questions is crucial to the understanding of what is required to be a true critical thinker, and the reasons you will encounter from those who resist embodying critical thinking skills are often quite complex, and can be both subtle and blatant. The following list of barriers to critical thinking will help guide you to recognizing the challenges that await you and was compiled from Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction, our text Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking. and personal observation.
In general – the older one becomes the more well-established and rooted these barriers are in the thought process, and the harder it is to overcome them – they become part of you like a scar. It is suggested to triumph over them as soon as possible.
Questions for reflection:
– What is the purpose and value in gaining critical thinking skills? – Is it really necessary?
– What are the rewards? – What are the challenges?
– Am I willing to do what it takes? – How important is it for me? – Can I do it?
– Do I realize that demonstrating, sharing, and embodying wisdom and discernment requires exemplifying critical thinking skills and overcoming its barriers? – Are all these barriers overwhelming?
– Do I realize this is a lifelong process? – What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?
– What are the steps required for developing critical thinking skills?
– How do I communicate with others who are not critical thinkers and have embodied these barriers to such an extent that they are unwilling to engage in a meaningful dialogue or acknowledge any responsibility in the communication breakdown? – Or do I bother at all?
– How am I to react or respond when I experience a lack of critical thinking in the media, among friends and family, at the work place, and in my academic courses and studies?
While many think developing critical thinking skills are for the beginning philosophy student, they are in fact vital for everyone. Recognizing and overcoming the barriers to critical thinking listed above is essential in creating and maintaining genuine, honest, and nurturing relationships – developing leadership skills for both family and vocational choices – fulfilling the goals and missions of businesses and organizations – and discovering and achieving purpose and fulfillment in all aspects of one’s life. Many of the barriers to critical thinking are barriers to joyfulness, selflessness, and contentment.
Do not be discouraged by the enormity of the task of reflecting upon, acknowledging, and overcoming these barriers. Have confidence that you will recognize the hold these barriers have on your thought process, and I encourage you to be committed to achieving the obtainable rewards awaiting you when you have accomplished the goal of prevailing over these barriers one by one.
A common denominator of these barriers is that the individual has no control over their effects. They are held captive by defective responses and impressions. One “reacts” to a situation, idea, or challenge, whereas the critical thinker “chooses” the process of thoughtful evaluation – embracing – and embodiment. The critical thinker has the freedom to rightly assess circumstances and concepts, and the result is to arrive at an appropriate and insightful conclusion and reasonable outcome.
Evaluating and embracing an idea, information, knowledge, guideline, doctrine or theology is a mental exercise and is just the beginning of the process – embodiment is the goal and requires diligent and persistent action for true fulfillment and success.
In the pursuit of the embodiment of critical thinking skills always be mindful of the value and necessity of honesty, wisdom, discernment, and the need to distinguish the truth from the lie. We live in an unprecedented time of media, institutional, educational, and political self-interest that will not hesitate to use any means possible to achieve its objectives including deceptive indoctrination techniques, propaganda, deceitfulness, fallacious argumentation, and fraud.
Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance you must keep moving.
Albert Einstein. in a letter to his son Eduard, February 5, 1930
Egocentric thinking results from the unfortunate fact that humans do not naturally consider the rights and needs of others. We do not naturally appreciate the point of view of others nor the limitations in our own point of view. We become explicitly aware or our egocentric thinking only if trained to do so. We do not naturally recognize our egocentric assumptions, the egocentric way we use information, the egocentric way we interpret data, the source of our egocentric concepts and ideas, the implications of our egocentric thought. We do not naturally recognize our self-serving perspective.
As humans we live with the unrealistic but confident sense that we have fundamentally figured out the way things actually are, and that we have done this objectively. We naturally believe in our intuitive perceptions – however inaccurate [Denis – I personally believe that intuitive perceptions are vital to critical thinking – providing one possesses the required discernment skills]. Instead of using intellectual standards in thinking, we often use self-centered psychological standards to determine what to believe and what to reject. Here are the most commonly used psychological standards in human thinking.
“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT.” Innate egocentrism: I assume that what I believe is true even though I have never questioned the basis for many of my beliefs.
“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IT.” Innate sociocentrism: I assume that the dominant beliefs of the groups to which I belong are true even though I have never questioned the basis for those beliefs.
“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I WANT TO BELIEVE IT.” Innate wish fulfillment: I belief in whatever puts me (or the groups to which I belong) in a positive light. I believe what “feels good,” what does not require me to change my thinking in any significant way, what does not require me to admit I have been wrong.
“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED IT.” Innate self-validation: I have a strong desire to maintain beliefs I have long held, even though I have not seriously considered the extent to which those beliefs are justified by the evidence.
“IT’S TRUE BECAUSE IT IS IN MY SELFISH INTEREST TO BELIEVE IT.” Innate selfishness: I believe whatever justifies my getting more power, money, or personal advantage even though those beliefs are not grounded in sound reasoning or evidence.
Seriously reflect on this post!
 Gregory Bassham, Critical Thinking: A Student’s Introduction. 3 rd ed. (New York, McGraw-Hill, 2008), p. 11
 Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools. Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder
Soenke talks with Kath Fisher about how he establishes an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking and reflection in his classroomInterview on student diversity and equity
Soenke talks to Kath Fisher about the importance of student voice and listening as an ethical practiceContext
Soenke Biermann teaches two cultural studies core units in the Bachelor of Arts (BA),Australia,Asiaand the World and Subjects & Citizens. Students come from different disciplines such as law, commerce and education as well as arts. The first unit also has large numbers of international students and exchange students who take the unit as an elective. Soenke teaches as part of a supportive collegial team, sharing lectures, which are framed as inspirational and thought-provoking, and taking on facilitation in the 'participatory space' of tutorials.
The primary teaching aims are to foster critical thinking and reflection as core academic skills for the BA. The key challenge is how to create and maintain a supportive and inclusive classroom atmosphere where students are valued for their diverse knowledges and experiences, feel safe to contribute their ideas and are challenged to question their own and others' assumptions.Activity
During tutorials, Soenke aims to build a class culture of reflexivity and inquiry through modelling his own critical self-reflection and making conscious processes of challenge through critical questioning (the Socratic method) and a range of different discussion methods. Active participation in class is seen as very important in both units and comprises 25% of the assessment.
The first three weeks are critically important to establish a feeling of safety and a spirit of collegiality. Initially, Soenke sets the tone by establishing a dialogue and shared understanding of what everyone expects to get out of the tutorials. He also uses different strategies to get students (and himself) to share aspects of their personal lives, thus building deeper relationships and a sense of collegial friendship with each other.
Soenke also develops a glossary of terms at the beginning of each tutorial of words students are unsure of that have arisen from their reading, demystifying the jargon and encouraging them to think of the terms as a 'vocabulary' of the language of cultural theory. In this way, he sees himself as a knowledgeable facilitator of a discussion process that focuses on demystifying and taking ownership of academic culture by making its values, assumptions and norms explicit so that all students can learn to 'read' the culture of university and have the confidence to navigate an often unfamiliar environment.
Another important way Soenke establishes trust is through allowing space for students' own knowledges, voices and perspectives, as well as emphasising the importance of listening as an ethical practice and considering others' perspectives in a critical but non-judgmental manner. Thus students learn to be accountable and responsible for the positions they take. He also models critical self-awareness and makes explicit the power relations present in the classroom. And while he deals with serious and challenging topics, Soenke also makes sure there is plenty of space for humour and passion.Impact on teaching and learning
Impact on teaching :
Through using the Socratic method, teachers like Soenke are not mere 'dispensers of information' but rather become�activators of knowledge and skilful questioners who set the tone for learning as a form of enquiry that is both empowering and liberating. In this sense, pedagogy is not just a cognitive science but an art whose practitioners need to be mindful of where students are positioned, engaged at the theoretical level and critically self-reflexive. Soenke finds that opportunities for experimentation, collegial exchange of ideas and time for reflection are central to developing one's own teaching style.
Impact on learning:
In their own words, students recognise that this process of learning 'pushes us to understand', and that it 'always brings up questions, makes us think, which is really good'. Many students come to see things for the first time that have been invisible to them beforehand, such as their own unearned privilege as white people or the way people with disabilities are often excluded from society. Students recognise that this process is often more about 'unlearning' established certainties than learning new information - students learn how to think, not what to think, in a critical and rigorous manner. Though undoubtedly challenging on a personal and intellectual level, students consistently rate both these units and Soenke's teaching very highly in formal evaluations.Tips for teaching
There are certainly many simple and perhaps obvious things that can help to build an engaging and inclusive classroom atmosphere - such as learning everyone's names in the first few weeks, trying to make academic language accessible without shying away from complexity, being self-critically aware of one's own privilege and bringing plenty of passion and enthusiasm into the classroom. However, how we think about teaching and learning is intricately connected to how we view the world, which differs greatly between individuals and cultures. The most important tip for teaching is to think of it as an art, to cultivate one's own practice and thinking, reflect on it often, read widely and talk with others about what we do as teachers that makes a difference to others.
Updated: 30 May 2016
Critical Thinking Reflection
Critical Thinking Reflection
While reading Critical Thinking in Everyday life (R. Ridel, 2015), I have learned a great deal about myself. While I was proud to learn I was an intermediate level thinker, I had a lot of growing to do. I came to the realization of how I’ve allowed barriers to control my way of thinking. I also learned why I’m not as advanced & how I can take my critical thinking and decision-making skills to the next level.
Introducing the puppeteer theory was the most “eye opening” lesson I’ve yet to experience, I had no clue how I’ve allowed barriers such broad influences on my overall decision-making abilities. I’ve learned the lesson of why it is vital not to allow your emotions control over outcomes in situations within and out of your control. Being emotionally charged can gravely hinder my critical thinking. I’ve learned that emotion over reason equals bad outcomes however; reason over emotions equals good outcomes (R. Ridel, 2015) and I keep this in mind daily while making choices.
Message and Messenger
When determining a credible and reliable source, I found it very meaningful to ask the question, no matter the topic, “who benefits?” and I now use this daily with sources. Asking myself this questions challenges me to research further, to where I can discover biases and unfactual opinion. If I’m confident in my sources for information, I’m allowing my reservoir of knowledge to be full of concrete evidence making decision-making a clearer path.
5 Step Model
Another lesson I’ve taken from this course is the examples and methods provided to overcome and solve any issue in daily life. Before, I did not have the ability to apply all five steps because I was not advanced enough, and I doubted my.
Scholars of critical thinking may use the terms reflection or critical reflection as synonyms for critical thinking, or to focus on certain aspects of critical thinking. We use these terms here to help distinguish four different thinking levels: habit, thinking, reflection, and critical reflection.
Adults perform many actions by habit. For example, most people can start up their computer or ride a bicycle without having to think about how each action or movement should be performed. You probably do simple math by habit. Moving your car out of the garage and onto the street requires a series of actions that you may complete by habit, without thinking about the steps needed. If you drive the same route to work each day, you will habitually turn at the same intersections each day without needing to think about the street names or directions.
Of course, thinking is also an important part of your daily activities. For example, as you are driving the same route to work each day, largely by habit, you think about current road conditions and the surrounding traffic, and you make choices and adjust your actions based on your observations. Thinking is foundational to learning. In your courseroom activities, you are asked to read, write, calculate, describe, discuss, apply, paraphrase, analyze, compare, synthesize, and evaluate; these are all thinking tasks.
Reflection happens when you think about how you do things, what you think, or how you think. (Thinking about ones own thinking is also called metacognition .) Reflecting on your thoughts and practices can result in changes to your ideas and ways of doing things. For example, if you have been encountering heavy traffic on your daily commute and getting to work late as a result, you might reflect on changing the time when you leave your house or taking a different route that might get you to work faster. As you reflect on your work in the courseroom, you might plan to revise your first draft of an assignment to express your ideas more clearly. You might reflect on how to interpret the concepts presented in a courseroom video, based on what you have read in the text and what you have learned in previous courses. After reading classmates responses to a discussion topic, you might reconsider your own position and think about what you might want to add or change about your initial response, or how your ideas might add to your classmates understanding. Just as thinking is the foundation of learning, reflection enables you to build a strong structure of knowledge and understanding on that foundation.
Critical reflection focuses specifically on our premises or assumptions. the ways of thinking and viewing ourselves and the world that we have established through early learning and a lifetime of interactions with family, society, and culture. Related to the previous example, if you are sitting in your car, unmoving in congested traffic, you might see a bus move past you (on the shoulder of the road, or in a high-occupancy-vehicle lane) and think, Its not fair that busses are given special treatment when the rest of us are stuck in traffic! Or, you might question your assumptions about what constitutes fairness and special treatment in this context, or about being stuck in traffic. For example:
Or if you choose to question your assumptions underlying being stuck in traffic, perhaps you will find that you do not have to be stuck after all. There may be a bus stop or park-and-ride lot near your home, or your town may offer transportation services that you have not considered. Maybe you could find someone with whom to carpool, and then you could legitimately use the same lane the bus uses. Perhaps you live close enough to bike to work, making your commute into your new exercise program. Maybe you could change your work hours to avoid traffic, or work from home.
Each of these possible new ways of thinking or behaving might be blocked by assumptions that could keep you from pursuing that possibility, until you question those assumptions. By questioning your assumptions about fairness in this context, you open new learning possibilities for yourself and practice critical thinking.