Let’s simplify… Student life.

“It’s very simple, you complicated it!”  Everyone who is or was a student has been told this by a parent, mentor or faculty. At some point in our lives, common sense does not seem so common.

You fall in love – rational thinking flies out the window…

You’re in the exam hall with a stats paper in front of you… Rational thinking never made it into the door let alone flying out the window.

While I am writing this, you must be wondering, “Why am I reading this?” or “Is there a point she’s trying to make?”

If any such question comes to your mind, I’ll be able to get my message across to you because that’s what I am trying to get you to do. To QUESTION!

At this moment, you are questioning the use of your time.

When you question, you empower yourself. You enlighten yourself.

As young adults, we are constantly being bombarded with conflicting messages on morality, ethics, behavior, values, career choices….

Then there is the economy, politics, products… the list is endless

So how does one decide?

How do you decide whom to vote for? How do you decide which tooth paste to buy?

Many times people give more thought to the latter.

As an individual, living world connected 24/7, one has to constantly make decisions.

Decision making is a rather daunting task. So, just to make it easier for our selves, let’s simplify and explore the concept of CRITICAL THINKING.

I am sure everyone has heard of the term and are aware of its meaning. Critical thinking is applicable to all the dimensions of our existence. Whether you are a student, teacher, a parent, an employer or employee… whatever you may be or do, following a well thought out “Plan of Action” definitely makes life easier, enjoyable and productive.

Since there are so many areas where critical thinking can be applied but for this post we limit it to academics and the internet.

I am not an expert on the subject and am learning as I go along researching this topic.

Right now, let us take a look at the definition for the term “Critical Thinking”.

Facione, P. defines “critical thinking” as the ability to properly construct and evaluate arguments. (1986, p.222)

Another definition by Robert Ennis states that “critical thinking” is “reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or what to do.”

Our first step will be to isolate a particular issue.

Let us consider “Evaluating the credibility of internet information and sources

One idea central to any thinking process is using the “Five Wives, One Husband” technique.

You pose the questions What, When, Where, Who/m, Why and How to the topic.

So, you have to turn in an assignment on this topic and you decide to use the internet.

This is how the 5W,1H technique can be applied.

  1. WHAT is your topic?

Search for the key word(s) in your topic. We will consider “Credibility of internet information” Here CREDIBILITY is the key word.

You would need to define the term before you move on. Decide the parameters of this term that you want to include.

Eg. Reliable and valid information having research to back up any claims.

You will find a list of sites for this topic.

2. Next question is WHERE should you look?

Wikipedia is useful only to give you an over view of your topic; it will not give you good grades.

So look for sites of educational institutes, research organizations, published journal articles and online books. As you read, you will be in a better position to know where to look.

3. WHO wrote the material?

Tony Buzan writing about Critical Thinking is definitely more reliable than me writing about it. So make it a point to check the credentials and background of the content creator.

4. WHY should you choose credible material?

Researching online will yield a variety of information.

Credible information is believable, ergo; more valuable and more people will be willing to read it.

5. WHEN to stop?

The internet is endless. Remember the key point(s) of your topic and stop the moment you find that the results are widening into other areas of the topic. You will simply waste your time and are less likely to find credible material.

6. HOW to make your content credible?

Include the “credible” sources that you researched. Always remember that books and published material hold more value as credible sources compared to blogs other such sources.

Be sure to include citations of all your references and remember to give credit to someone else’s work.

I think this is enough to begin with. Do comment on this post. Please feel free to share your expertise and experience.

-NG

Check out these links for more information.

http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/default/files/CriticalThinking.pdf

http://education.illinois.edu/wp/credibility/page3.html

http://www.mindmapinspiration.com/problems-are-caused-by-over-thinking/

References:

http://austhink.com/critical/pages/definitions.html

http://www.canberra.edu.au/studyskills/learning/critical

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