What is critical thinking?

Applying ‘thinking critically’ to your everyday behaviour

Thinking critically is something that you probably do automatically every day. For example, imagine that you want to read a Study Skills book by McMillan & Weyers. It’s not available in your library, so you decide to buy it from an online retailer. You have a choice of different versions - which one would you choose?

A 2010 unused paperback version? (there’s only one left, but it would be delivered the next day with no delivery costs); a 2010 used version? (there are nine available but this would take longer to arrive and there are delivery costs); a 2010 electronic version? (which you could download and use immediately) Or would you prefer to buy the 2012 newer version which is also available in the same formats?

You would have to consider which version is most suited to your needs.

Applying ‘thinking critically’ to your university studies

The same ‘thinking critically’ techniques underpin your university studies, but you need to use these all the time while you’re studying. We hope that you’ll:

  • Analyse what you’re learning and work out how to apply your learning to the real world;
  • Understand how to do careful research in your subject area;
  • Always be open to self-reflection to allow you to make decisions about your learning;
  • Be able to contribute positively to a multi-perspectival and multi-cultural global environment.

Thinking critically is your key to unlocking the door to your ‘learning journey’. It involves you being committed to three fundamental principles as you learn:

  • Being willing to analyse and evaluate logically
  • Reflecting on your own and others’ perspectives
  • Taking action

In this way, you’ll be the sort of student who:

  • is open-minded and curious about learning;

  • is willing to follow logic;

  • listens to other ideas and tolerates ambiguity;

  • wants to keep up-to-date;

  • has intellectual humility; courage; empathy; patience and perseverance

Find out what a lecturer has to say about how students who don’t think critically behave in this PDF

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This article is from the free online course:

Study UK: Prepare to Study and Live in the UK

British Council