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Understanding the Process of Critical Thinking

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One of the most important aspects that a college student must learn while attending school is how to master the craft of critical thinking. For many, the idea of critical thinking is abstract and elusive; almost nothing more than a keyword they know their professors like to hear.

But there is much more to critical thinking than simply a buzz word that can make a college student appear smart. Although, in reality, those who understand critical thinking, like the collegiate level professors some students are trying to impress by throwing around the phrase critical thinking, likewise understand when others do not know the concepts involved in critical thinking.

Critical thinking is much more than an elusive idea for incoming freshmen. Critical thinking can be a guiding light for those who understand how and when to employ it.

While critical thinking can be brought into use in almost any situation, and indeed should strive to implemented where and whenever possible, the most frequent use of critical thinking most often occurs when college students write essays. Thinking critically is a near requirement for a college student to write a strong essay.

Whether they are pursuing an education in business or a nursing degree, those college students who strive to employ critical thinking while writing their research or midterm essays will be able to write stronger and more effective papers. Thinking critically and writing, at least in this instance, are closely tied together.

But first, a basic definition of critical thinking as it applies to writing college papers could be stated as the process by which a student reflects, contemplates, and analyzes materials, experiences, and research findings to derive unique, insightful, and supported conclusions. While this broad definition may not suffice those who truly understand the process of critically thinking, it most assuredly will suffice for the struggling college freshman who simply wants to know how to go about thinking critically while writing their course essays.

When a college student thinks critically about the paper they are try to write, they will find themselves pondering over their research data and other materials that will help them to come up with their own conclusions. This process can often be jumbled and disorderly, which brings again the need for writing and critical thinking to go hand in hand.

But this does not mean writing an organized paper from jumbled thoughts. No, rather it means that a student must first write their thoughts in whatever form them come so as not to forget these important inspirations once the drafting of the essay does begin.

Writing down the thoughts that a student has while looking over their notes, materials, and research will give them a base to recall ideas for the next step of organizing their thoughts into a cohesive outline of an essay. To begin thinking critically, a student must write down all that they know on their subject, organize that knowledge into groupings of like material and then ask questions such as “what is the purpose of this, or what is the significance of that” which questions will spur further thought and inner discussion.

As this discussion with oneself over the subject matter of the paper continues, one will find that they are beginning to think critically on their theme. By performing this process for each paper, a student will be able to write more meaningful papers.

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