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Critical Thinking and Reasoning

The aim of this guide is to aid students in the development of critical thinking skills and improve their ability to evaluate resources for use in research.


The ability to think critically is a vital skill for academic success.

Without realizing it we use critical thinking skills every day. Thinking critically means not immediately believing or accepting what you hear or read is true without first examining the evidence and considering what the speaker or writer is saying before accepting that something is true.

Robert H. Ennis, philosopher and noted scholar on critical thinking defines critical thinking as, “reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do.”  According to Ennis, it  involves the following skills:

  1. Being open-minded and mindful of alternatives.
  2. Trying to be well-informed.
  3. Judging well the credibility of sources.
  4. Identifying conclusions, reasons, and assumptions.
  5. Judging well the quality of an argument, including the acceptability of its reasons, assumptions, and evidence.
  6. Developing and defending a reasonable position.
  7. Asking appropriate clarifying questions.
  8. Formulating plausible hypotheses; planning experiments well.
  9. Defining terms in a way that’s appropriate for the context.
  10. Drawing conclusions when warranted, but with caution.
  11. Integrating all items in this list when deciding what to believe or do.
    Ennis, R.H. (2015). Critical Thinking: A Streamlined Conception. In: Davies, M., Barnett, R. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

As a student, you need to be able to think critically about the resources and information you use in your assignments. You need to ask questions when reading the work of others; your writing needs to show that you can assess different arguments and viewpoints and use evidence to help you form your own arguments and ideas.

Critical thinking will help you to:

► interpret data, arguments, evidence etc. and be capable of identify significance to your assignments

► develop your own well-reasoned arguments for your assignments

► use evidence to justify your arguments and ideas

► synthesize your thoughts and the thoughts of other writers

A 5 Step Process to Critical Thinking

A 5 Step Process to Critical Thinking


Research Skills: Critical Thinking Source Atlantic Technical University This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Using this Guide

Use the left navigation panel to explore important concepts and useful tools for improving your critical thinking skills.