Many people tend to overestimate their critical thinking skills. Here is just one example of documentation of this trend, from a business website, MindEdge, focused on helping students develop skills many employers say they want in college graduates:

“The second annual State of Critical Thinking survey from MindEdge asked respondents to complete a brief quiz requiring them to use digital literacy and critical thinking skills.  “[…] In 2017, 44 percent of survey respondents received an ‘F’ on the critical thinking quiz. In 2018, 52 percent of respondents failed the quiz” (Ascione, 2020).

Chessboard

Many students taking a critical thinking course report a curve in their sense of confidence as thinkers. Like people in the MindEdge survey, they start out thinking they are pretty good thinkers. Then somewhere in the first third of the class, that sense of confidence takes a hit. The complexities of slow thinking can be hard to grasp at first. The homework and quizzes can feel confusing or tough. But as the term progresses, the techniques become more routine and less bewildering. Though slow thinking ALWAYS requires us to use a limited supply of our mental energy. This short excerpt from Kahneman’s work is a nice introduction.

Before you move further along there are some tenets to keep in mind. These will be covered in the next section.

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Critical Thinking in Academic Research by Cindy Gruwell and Robin Ewing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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