Skills for Critical Thinking Some theorists believe that skills, or acquired abilities, play a role in critical thinking. However, it is not immediately apparent that a good mental act is the application of a standard acquired skill. Like in Transit, inferring an anticipated arrival time makes use of both generic and non-generic subject matter knowledge. Bailin and co. 1999a) argue that skilled performance at a critical thinking task cannot be separated from knowledge of concepts and domain-specific principles of good thinking, so it is inappropriate to view critical thinking skills as generic and discrete. They acknowledge that it is unproblematic to talk about skills if it simply means that a person is capable of intelligent performance.

Despite this skepticism, critical thinking theorists have listed what they refer to as abilities as general contributors to critical thinking (Glaser, 1941; Skills (Facione 1990a; Ennis 1962, 1991); or competencies (Fisher & Scriven, 1997; Halpern 1998) The amalgamation of these lists would result in a muddled and disorganized plethora of more than fifty potential educational goals, with only a small amount of overlap. Instead, it makes sense to try to comprehend the reasons for the variety and multiplicity and to select skills that should be developed in a critical thinking curriculum based on one’s own motivations. The underlying concept of critical thinking and the anticipated educational level are two factors that contribute to the diversity of lists of critical thinking abilities. For instance, evaluation-only conceptions involve a different set of skills than constructive-only conceptions do. Some lists, like those in Glazer 1941, are suggested as educational goals for secondary school students, while others, like Facione 1990a, are suggested as goals for college students.

Reflection on the general abilities required to perform well the thinking activities listed in section 6 as components of the critical thinking process described in section 5 yields the abilities described in the subsequent paragraphs of this section. Each collection of abilities is derived from standardized tests that claim to test them and from sources that list such abilities.

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