Critical thinking

How to introduce a blog AND entice you to read it?

Maybe a topic of the month? I thought to myself. My topic ‘of the month’ might hold your interest for 5 minutes. That’s all it takes to read a blog, hoping that the ideas will stick with you a bit longer, though … What better to start with than thinking about THINKING at university. Have you thought about anything ‘critically’ lately?

Lightbulb moment

Engaging critically in your learning will help you gain higher marks and a good degree. It will serve you after uni, too, by equipping you with tools to apply in diverse situations. There are different elements that need to be recognised – subject knowledge, general learning and thinking skills, a critical world view.

Take the barrage of news that we are subjected to through so many channels nowadays. It is easy to go with the first piece of news, the first google entry, etc., until you look at it and find out it is someone’s opinion or a majority view, sponsored, (un)supported by (weak) evidence. Information overload is a serious problem! That’s where it starts – you need to get your thinking hat on.

One way of doing this is always stop, breathe, take a step back, reconsider, before attempting to develop an argument or a conclusion. Look at the context and different angles of the issue. Look back in history. You want to make sense of the information available and specific task. You need to be active and alert. Yes, it takes a bit longer, but what are the gains? As a student who is actively involved, you will:

  • develop a deeper understanding of your subjects
  • overcome information overload and evaluate sources
  • engage confidently in classes and assessments
  • become an independent learner
  • be reflective and self-aware of your learning process and personal development

Critical thinking is a lifelong skill that helps us make informed decisions and identify as well as tackle real life problems and solutions. Not bad then, some might think; absolutely necessary, others.

Why not take a free course on Critical Thinking on a MOOC,, or go and see the Learning Development team in your faculty? Peers could act as your critical friends.

Most of all – question everything as if you were a 5 year old again!

Five year old thinking

Anne is an Academic Skills tutor in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

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