Discuss the relevance of critical thinking in academic writing and problem solving. Provide suitable examples to support your arguments. REPORT
Prepared for: Dr. David Chin Prepared by: Jan Van Auza Beldeniza Student ID : 100584581 Due Date : 10 April 2018 No. of Words: 3155
1. Executive Summary 3
2. Introduction 3
3. Critical thinking defined 3
4. Critical thinking in academic writing 4
4.1 Evaluating and using various sources 4
4.2 Applying concepts 5
4.3 Understanding arguments 5
5. Critical thinking in problem solving 5
5.1 Defining the problem 6
5.2 Analysing potential causes 6
5.3 Identifying possible solutions 6
5.4 Selecting the best solution 6
5.5 Developing an action plan 7
5.6 Implementing solution and evaluating progress 7
6. Conclusion 7
7. Recommendation 8
8. Reference List 10
1. Executive Summary
This report discusses the relevance of critical thinking in academic writing and problem solving. In this report, the key terms – critical thinking, academic writing and problem solving, are explained, relationship between them are assessed and applicable examples are provided.
By analysing the relationship of critical thinking and academic writing, the report discusses the importance of critical thinking in every aspect of activities in academic writing like evaluating and using various sources, applying concepts and understanding arguments. In relation to problem solving, the report talks about how critical thinking is demonstrated in the problem solving steps such as understanding the problem, identifying potential causes, looking for possible solutions, choosing the best solution, creating an action plan, applying solution and assessing progress.
The report finds that critical thinking is a fundamental tool in the daily activities of an individual and that includes creating a valuable academic writing and successful problem solving. Although critical thinking does not mean that best possible outcomes will be made all the time, it is a process that any individual will go through in order to reach reliable and better decisions.
The recommendation of this report describes the applicability of critical thinking to an individual’s daily life. In academic writing, critical thinking enables an individual to discuss, analyse, apply knowledge and use high level of thinking skills. On the other hand, critical thinking helps to build effective problem solving skills by appropriately recognising and carefully working through a problem in an inclusive approach, ensuring clearness when the time comes to make choices or conclusions.
Critical thinking is arguably an important tool in life. It enables people to create exceptional academic writing and helps make better decisions. Different settings whether in an academic background or work environment offers problems that need to be solved every day. This report discusses the relevance of critical thinking in academic writing and problem solving. There may be different ways in how critical thinking is related to these skills. In order to understand these relationships, the report looks into the definition of critical thinking, academic writing and problem solving, identifies the relevance between these key terms and provides suitable examples.
3. Critical thinking defined
There are many sources about critical thinking and each of them defines it in various ways. Rainbolt and Dwyer (2015) defined critical thinking as “the skill of correctly evaluating arguments made by others and composing good arguments of your own”. It can be noted that the authors referred to critical thinking as a skill. Different arguments are encountered every day in many different fields. Knowing the facts is not enough. Evaluation of any information received is necessary to understand and use them properly. This is where critical thinking comes into action. As such, critical thinking is as important as any other skills the person have. There is another definition that possibly is less technical and easier to understand by Beyer (1995) which simply defines critical thinking as “making reasoned judgments. It generally views the use of some set of principles to assess the reliability of something in critical thinking. Nowadays, information is presented in various media platforms. In situation like this, the person uses reasonable judgment to validate something. In the case of Facebook platform, a user evaluates newsfeed such as posts from friends or stories, by understanding the facts and thinking about different viewpoints in order to come up with a conclusion on the topic. This is the same with academic writing and problem solving. The assessment process in these areas may be different but reasonable judgement is always involved.
4. Critical thinking in academic writing
Irvin (2010) described academic writing as “a form of evaluation” that displays your knowledge and demonstrates expertise in certain areas like reasoning, explaining, and presenting about something. A vital feature in academic writing is critical thinking. It enables the student to demonstrate his knowledge and skills such as evaluation and analysis. In writing an excellent academic papers, critical thinking skills is a great foundation. Having the ability to reflect and consequently compose analytically, learners should be successful in their required courses and therefore progress to undergraduate and graduate programs with less effort. Students at Washington State University are provided with some guides in thinking and writing critically, stating that thinking critically allows one to recognise different angles. The school mentions that thinking critically in academic writing is not simply following a format but a matter of substance - the significant, intangible scopes embedded in standards and skills." Mauk, Stayer & Mauk (2014) suggests three activities that stimulates the students to think and write critically. These activities should encourage the students to ask questions, express thoughts and join in discussions.
4.1 Evaluating and using various sources
One of the activity that demonstrates the relevance of critical thinking in academic writing is evaluating and using various sources. This activity mostly includes asking a series of questions about the quality of the source and the content itself. Internet is a very handy resource. Although, there is need to deeply evaluate the validity and reliability of the information. There may be a need to get the information from other people by interviewing both the ordinary people and subject matter experts to weigh in the idea. In the process of writing, it is important to describe relevant trends by applying sources that support your argument and developing thesis about the topic that takes different perspectives into consideration. As you develop your writing, pick out some insights from your sources. These can be applied in your work by summarising, quoting or paraphrasing them. It is important to take note the proper style of documentation when citing the work of other people. As an example, the teacher gives the student a list of topics to research. The student proceeds to do some research through various ways and sources such as the library, the internet or conducts interview. In order to evaluate the source, the student asks about the credentials of the author, checks the date of publication, edition and publisher and identify the level of popularity of the journal. Then, the student advances to evaluate the content which includes identifying the type of audience, the coverage of the material and reviews from other users.
4.2 Applying concepts
The second activity touches on the application of concepts. It is a mental activity that assists us to associate, contrast and categorise thoughts, items, and happenings. People are influenced by adopting concepts in the society they live in. A concept can mean different thing from one person to another. For example, if someone asks what a “boyfriend” is, you might answer what the dictionary says, “a frequent or regular male companion in a romantic or sexual relationship”. However, it may mean different if another person is asked which may simply answer as “a male friend”. In this case, the academic writing should consider the circumstances of the audience. According to Campbell, Huxman & Burkholder (2015), it is also a helpful to consider your audience and current affairs as you start to concentrate on your research topics. The audience is important because it determines what to include in the writing. An academic writing has a specific topic that is intended to a specific audience as well. The choice of words must be fitting to the topic discussed. For example, a topic that discusses a good practice techniques to become a golf player with golf players as an intended audience would use terms that golf players can understand. The style of writing may change if the intended audience will change like the general public or group of children.
4.3 Understanding arguments
Another activity that shows relevance of critical thinking in academic writing is understanding arguments. According to Campbell, Huxman & Burkholder (2015), it’s important to consider all aspects of the equation. The student must be able to dissect the topic given and provide all the important information. Sometimes the topic may be too broad and complex and may need to limit the discussion on a more relevant topic. For example, impacts of global warming are too many to discuss. There too many effects of global warming that it may take more time to do research and may even need further study. However, limiting the argument to rising sea level as a result of global warming can be more concise and focus.
5. Critical thinking in problem solving
Different situations poses different problems that require to be solved. Problem solving is an important skill that should not be neglected. Depending on the expert you ask, problem solving is defined in many ways. In Psychology, D’Zurilla (1999) described problem solving as a “cognitive–affective–behavioural process”. It is a high level of mental function that requires to be controlled and developed. In simple terms, problem solving is the method of looking for answers to challenging or complicated issues. It requires understanding and analysing of the situation in order to come up with a good solution. Critical thinking go hand in hand with problem solving skill. In order to come up with a solution to a problem, the person need to collect evidence and look at the problem at various perspective or other interpretations. (For example, two children are fighting over the same toy.)
Chang and Kelly (1993) presents a simple and practical guide to make sure problems are get solved. The relevance of critical thinking in problem solving can be demonstrated in these steps.
5.1 Defining the problem
The first step is defining the problem. In this stage, the person must be able to sense and understand the problem. Some analysis should be made by collecting more information and learn about the background from various sources. Identify the factors that contribute to the problem. A complex problem needs more information compared to a simple one. Research can be useful at this stage. For example, a patient visits a doctor complaining a pain on his chest. The doctor cannot give the patient a medicine until he conducts a check of the illness. In order to completely understand the problem, he needs to identify the cause, gather historical data and do some medical tests.
5.2 Analysing potential causes
The next step is analysing potential causes. In this step, the potential causes need to be identified in order to look deeper on the problem. There is so much thinking to be done to determine the likely causes of the problem. This process will lead to identification of the true root causes. For example, a hurting wrist is already a potential problem. You are suffering with excruciating pain and you decided to see a doctor. However, the doctor does not give you a medicine. The symptom has to be analysed in order to provide the proper medication. A medical procedure maybe conducted in order to know what caused the pain on the wrist. In some cases, it is necessary to engage the help of other people who are more familiar with the problem and can help better understand the situation.
5.3 Identifying possible solutions
Now you identify the possible solutions with less effort to assess the results at this phase. You want to create a list of possible solutions even if some of them are not likely to be useful. All ideas must be considered whether they are helpful or not. Example of activities useful in order to be successful in this stage are brainstorming, developing plans or devising hypotheses. Sometimes involving other people is beneficial because they can contribute other ideas that you are not aware of and share their expertise. For example, in business setting, managers usually hold meetings to gather information and solicit ideas that can be used as possible solutions. Everyone in the meeting is encouraged to think and contribute ideas.
5.4 Selecting the best solution
At this stage, you can select the best solution by removing those that do not meet your requirements. It is helpful to develop criteria for the solution you are looking for and assign weights to the criteria. After the criteria is developed, you apply this to your list of possible solutions. The best solution should be the one that meets the criteria. For example, you are planning for a holiday trip to Japan. Transportation options are train, bus, and plane or drive your own car. Considering the distance, you can easily choose to travel by plane and disregard the rest. But not all problems are simple, you may experience that two or more of your solutions meet the criteria. At this point, you may want to add more criteria and select which gives a long term effect like contribution to company’s mission, connection with other continuing projects or profitability in the future.
5.5 Developing an action plan
You must ensure that you develop an action plan as your next step because you want your solution to work. Depending on the complexity of the problem, you may need to approach it by stages. Activities in this stage include dividing solution into sequential tasks and developing contingency plans. You must identify the inter-dependencies of the activities involved in the solution. The activities must be in the sequence of events as it needs to happen. A deadline can be set in order to achieve the goal. There may also be a need to assign people and resources in each activities. For example, you have a project to educate people about hand washing. This a major behavioural alteration and usually it takes time for people to learn new habit. As a solution, you may need to carry out different programs each month for a year or more. Sometimes plans don’t work as you want them to be. A contingency plan can be developed which serves as an alternative.
5.6 Implementing solution and evaluating progress
The last step is to implement the solution and evaluate the progress. In this stage, the best alternative is selected and put into action. Then, monitor the results of the implemented solution. Ensure there is a continuous monitoring and adjust the solution as necessary to guarantee it is effective all through out. For example, a manufacturing company is creating a prototype of a certain product may find out that the result is not what they want. Further work may be done until the final version of the prototype is achieved.
There are many activities in your life that need much thought. Whether creating a good academic writing or a successful problem solving, critical thinking is a fundamental tool. In the duration of the study, students create a variety of assignments like essay, reports and case studies. Critical thinking can lead to clearer thinking and clearer writing. Your thoughts come as stable and deep when you apply critical thinking. It will allow you to choose the proper words for your thoughts and create paragraphs that are more succinct and useful. Critical thinking activities to expand writing skills supports students to reflect, choose the words sensibly, and create concise, precise, comprehensive and convincing writing. Critical thinking compels you to approach a matter from numerous viewpoints. It implies that you should approach the matter with increased understanding of mistakes, missed out information and inconsistencies. Critical thinking enables the student to be conscious of assumptions and generalities that have been created about the matter in the past. Furthermore, the student enables himself to produce new ideas instead of merely writing on what already is available. Therefore, critical thinking is relevant in academic writing.
In a busy society nowadays, reasonably minor, repetitive, or unexciting choices usually don't need employing a great deal of time or energy since the consequences linked with these kinds of results perhaps don't affect very much. Vital choices can shape lives, and choice quality is enhanced if the individual critically investigate the problems by thinking about new and distinctive choices, measuring the signs quantitatively, and viewing at a problem from an alternate perspective that gives diverse bits of knowledge, creating unique resolutions that successfully unravel problems, and precisely estimating the plausible effect of your choices. Critical thinking is a procedure that highlights a balanced foundation for what one accepts and gives guidelines and systems to analyse, test, and assess opinions. Critical thinking empowers problem solvers to describe problems in best possible setting, to scrutinise information accurately, and to investigate the statements that supports the information and opinions. Critical thinking enables to comprehend and manage with the situations of other people and to clear up and understand their personal opinions too. At the point when critical thinking is used, all phases of the problem solving process are included, from as understanding the problem, identifying potential causes, looking for possible solutions, choosing the best solution, creating an action plan, applying solution, generating alternatives and assessing the outcomes that will come about because of your choices.
On the other hand, critical thinking does not imply that best possible choices will be made all the time, wrong conclusion will never be reached, or mistakes will never be committed; it is merely a process an individual used that allows them to attain at better decisions reliably. As a logical procedure that put emphases on evaluating a challenging situation, decision-making step is always included in problem solving. Since problem solving tries to pinpoint the potential causes of problem in different circumstances, ample period and energy are needed on distinguishing the true problem. Critical thinking is an essential problem solving tool and the senior you go as a leader; the more problems are needed to be solved. Therefore, critical thinking is relevant to problem solving.
It is important to apply critical thinking in your daily life. Critical thinking is embedded into everything that you do. In relation to academic writing, it is essential to note that subject matters can be viewed in multiple angles. Critical thinking is recommended in various activities of academic writing including but not limited to evaluating and using various sources, applying concepts and understanding arguments. As a result, you learn the imperfections of the situations in your surroundings. It will enable you to discuss, analyse and apply knowledge and use higher-order thinking skills.
In relation to problem solving, critical thinking will help you make better decisions which is an essential competency in life and career. It is recommended to be applied in the problem solving steps such as as understanding the problem, identifying potential causes, looking for possible solutions, choosing the best solution, creating an action plan, applying solution and assessing progress. Critical thinking assists you to scrutinise and develop thought processes, ask the right questions, challenge statements and consider different standpoints. Effective problem solving helps you to appropriately recognise and carefully work through a problem in an inclusive approach, ensuring clearness when the time comes to make choices or conclusions. Critical thinking will help improve your problem solving skills. As a result, your performance will improve, productivity will increase, quality of work will be better, and decisions are more reliable.
8. Reference List
Andersen, K. Some guidelines for critical thinking and writing: analysis-contexts-discussion-conclusions. http://public.wsu.edu/~kimander/criticalthinking.htm
Bailey, S. (2012). Academic writing for international students of business [e-book]. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.
Beyer, B. K. (1995). Critical thinking. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.
Chang, R. Y., & Kelly, P. K. (1993). step-by-step problem solving: a practical guide to ensure problems get (and stay) solved (1st ed.). San Francisco, California: Practical Learning Press.
Cohen, M., & Wiley. (2015). Critical Thinking Skills for Dummies. Somerset: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
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D'Zurilla, T. J., & Nezu, A. M. (1999). Problem-solving therapy: A social competence approach to clinical intervention. Springer Publishing Company.
Hasan Basri Memduhoğlu, & Elif Keleş. (2016). Evaluation of the Relation between Critical-Thinking Tendency and Problem-Solving Skills of Pre-Service Teachers. Eğitim Bilimleri Araştırmaları Dergisi, 6(2), 75-94.
Huxman, S. S., & Burkholder, T. A. (2015). The rhetorical act: thinking, speaking and writing critically (5th ed.). Stamford, Conneticut: Cengage Learning.
Irvin, L. L. (2010). What is “academic” writing?. http://wac.colostate.edu/books/writingspaces1/irvin--what-is-academic-writing.pdf
Kallet, M., & Patterson, D. (2014). Think Smarter : Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Mauk, J., Stayer, J., & Mauk, K. (2014). Think about it: critical skills for academic writing (1st ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning.
Rainbolt, G., & Dwyer, Sandra L., author. (2015). Critical thinking : The art of argument (2e [edition].. ed.). Stamford, Conneticut: Cengage Learning.
Shillady, A. (2011). Fostering Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills in Young Children. YC Young Children, 66(5), 12-13.
Wallace, M., & Wray, Alison. (2011). Critical reading and writing for postgraduates (2nd ed., Sage study skills). London: SAGE.
Jan Van Auza Beldeniza, 100584581, MPA111 2