Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills Review Help
Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills Review
"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."
—Voltaire, French writer and philosopher (1694–1778)
This lesson puts together a review of strategies and skills. You'll review the key points of each lesson and practice evaluating claims and arguments.
Before going any further, it's time to review what you've learned in the preceding lessons so that you can combine strategies and put them to practical use. Repetition will help solidify ideas about what makes a good argument. Let's go through each lesson one at a time.
You learned that critical thinking means carefully considering a problem, claim, question, or situation in order to determine the best solution. You also learned that reasoning skills involve using good sense and basing reasons for doing things on facts, evidence, or logical conclusions. Finally, you learned that critical thinking and reasoning skills will help you compose strong arguments, assess the validity of other people's arguments, make more effective and logical decisions, and solve problems and puzzles more efficiently and effectively.
You learned that the first step in solving any problem is to clearly identify the main issue and then break the problem down into its various parts. Next, you need to prioritize the issues and make sure that they're all relevant.
You practiced distinguishing between fact and opinion. Facts are things known for certain to have happened, to be true, or to exist. Opinions are things believed to have happened, to be true, or to exist. Tentative truths are claims that are thought to be facts but that need to be verified.
You learned how to evaluate the credibility of a claim by learning how to recognize bias and determine the level of expertise of a source. You also learned why eyewitnesses aren't always credible.
You practiced identifying incomplete claims like those in advertisements. You also learned how averages can be misleading.
You learned how euphemisms, dysphemisms, and biased questions can be used to get people to react in a certain way. Euphemisms replace negative expressions with positive ones; dysphemisms replace neutral or positive expressions with negative ones; and biased questions make it difficult for you to answer questions fairly.
You learned that deductive arguments move from a conclusion to supporting evidence, or premises. You practiced identifying the conclusion and learned the difference between premises that provide separate support and those that are part of a chain of support.
You practiced looking carefully at evidence to determine whether or not it is valid. The two key criteria you analyzed were credibility and reasonableness.
Finally, you learned what makes a good argument: a conclusion and premises that are clear, complete, and free of excessive subtle persuasion; premises that are credible, reasonable, sufficient, and substantive; and a consideration of the other side.
If any of these terms or strategies sound unclear to you, stop. Did you know that studies have shown that if you are reading and you come across a word you don't know, if you keep reading, your comprehension will drop dramatically? Just being unclear on one word is enough to confuse the whole chapter. If there is something in these nine lessons that puzzles you, go back and review that lesson. You will be glad you did.
Skill Building until Next Time
- Review the "Skill Building" sections from each of the preceding lessons. Try any that you didn't do.
- Write a letter to a friend explaining what you've learned in the last ten lessons.
Exercises for this concept can be found at Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills Review Practice.
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