An introduction to critical thinking | Varsity Education

An introduction to critical thinking

Historically, students used to learn by rote, memorising facts and regurgitating other people’s opinions. However, things have changed and students are leading the way by insisting on a more demanding approach to learning; critical thinking.  It’s no longer enough for a potential student to simply read a book. Critical thinking demands that a book is deconstructed to show an understanding and, where necessary, disagreement with it. This, along with demonstrating why one arrived at their opinion is the basis of true critical thinking.  Oxford Summer College applicants are best advised to familiarise themselves with the rationale behind critical thinking if they want to succeed. Most universities now expect undergraduates to be able to demonstrate their intellectual reasoning.

Critical thinking can be broken down as follows:

  • Identification – Examine the relevance of certain ideas
  • Understanding – Identifying logical connections between ideas
  • Reflection – Serious thinking or careful consideration of ideas
  • Application – Apply knowledge and concepts to whatever is being studied
  • Conceptualising – Form a concept based on observation, evidence, experience or data
  • Synthesis – Combining different sources of information to create the basis of an argument or idea
  • Justification – How these ideas feed back to the student’s own personal beliefs and values
  • Change – Is the student’s personal beliefs and values challenged and changed by the presentation of new ideas or evidence?

At its heart, critical thinking is the evaluation and analysis of information through rational, logical reasoning. It teaches students to not only acquire knowledge but to think about and question everything they see, using this to solve problems and formulate ideas of their own.In a typical critical thinking lesson, students are taught how to identify problems and assumptions in statements, highlight the differences between inferences and evidence, fact and conjecture, and come to a conclusion that is clear, concise and considered.Students at top universities need to be able to think critically on a daily basis. Therefore, developing an aptitude for intellectual analysis early on is advantageous for any potential applicant.

The University of Manchester 1 recently published these characteristics of critical thinkers:

  • They’re honest with themselves
  • They resist manipulation
  • They overcome confusion
  • They ask questions
  • They base judgments on evidence
  • They look for connections between subjects
  • They’re intellectually independent

In short, critical thinking teaches skills that will define academic success

Oxford Summer College students learn how to demonstrate this ability to take an analytical and informed approach to studies. They learn how to display knowledge of a subject and give opinions supported by evidence based on appropriate judgements. Students who have this ability will be awarded higher grades than those who have simply recited someone else’s research and are more likely to be accepted at a top tier university. These skills transfer seamlessly into the job market. Employers are always looking for recruits who can show they possess creative problem-solving skills, strategic planning and trouble-shooting.

Science class at Oxford Summer College

It’s now become vital for any students wishing to succeed are familiar with the concepts and philosophy behind critical thinking. This is why critical thinking is such an integral part of the Varsity Education programmes.  Find out about this along with other vital skills that help you gain a coveted place and any of the top universities like Oxford or Cambridge by contacting our amissions team today.

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