Critical thinking is key for many aspects of life and an important skill for university study across a range of disciplines. No matter what you’re studying, you’ll likely be required to use critical thinking to interpret and analyse information. Strong critical thinking skills can help you form better arguments in your assessments, as you’ll be required to engage with materials – not just regurgitate your textbooks.
If you’d like to improve your critical thinking in preparation for your studies, these strategies can help you hone these skills to support a successful academic life.
Don’t Believe Everything You’re Told
The first step to critical thinking is to consider more than one point of view. It’s important to go beyond trusting what you hear or read as the truth, because everyone has their own opinions, motives, and biases – even academics. When learning, you should ask what evidence the source has to support their argument. Consider if there may be other possible solutions or methods. Evaluate every side to the story or problem and the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments to make an informed decision.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
It’s easier said than done, but critical thinking requires you to leave your own opinions and biases at the door and embrace other information. Just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Question your assumptions and beliefs. Be open to considering different points of view and the validity of other arguments – you just might learn something new.
Not sure about something you read in your textbook? Want your professor to elaborate on a claim they made in a lecture? Don’t be afraid to ask. Asking questions is a great way to not only learn more about a topic, but also to learn new ways of thinking about things. Questions can be the catalyst to intelligent discussions with teachers and classmates, where participants can exchange ideas and learn more than what’s in their textbooks.
The more information you have, the better. Doing your own research goes hand in hand with not taking what you’re taught at face value. Dig deeper and take a dive down the rabbit hole – whether it’s in the library or online. Research is your best friend when it comes to solving problems, so get your hands on several sources to be better prepared to form an educated solution.
Evaluate Your Work
Critical thinking involves evaluating your work and the strength of your arguments to determine whether there’s room for improvement. Relying solely on repeating what’s taught in your textbooks isn’t enough. You need to think critically about the material and think for yourself to craft worthy arguments supported by evidence.
A great way to develop critical thinking skills is to engage in conversations with other students – either in the classroom or common areas of your student accommodation. UniLodge can help you find the perfect home away from home with communal areas in a vibrant student community.