Critical thinking and how to effectively evaluate information

In an assignment, you not only need to demonstrate that you have studied and understood the subject but also that you have thought about it and can communicate your thoughts. A significant aspect of this is to think critically, analyze, and evaluate the data you discover during your studies.

Critical thinking

The way the thinker thinks— about any topic, material, or issue— increases the quality of his / her thinking by competently analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it. Critical thought is self-directed, self-disciplined, and self-monitored thinking.

Identify the problem

Look at the text you have on the subject:
• What are the main points?
• What’s the case for or against?
• Are there assumptions (things without evidence accepted as real)?

Next look at the problem you have to solve or the issue at hand. Write it down and then see if you can break it down into its separate parts and begin by choosing one of them. Take into account:

• What do you believe about the problem?
• Why do you believe you’re doing that?

Critical thinkers do not recognize as facts all thoughts, theories, and findings. They have an attitude to examine thoughts and findings. They create reasoned, logical, and well-thought-out decisions by evaluating the proof supporting a certain hypothesis or conclusion.

Critical thinkers may ask questions such as;

“What information does that support?”
“How has this information been obtained?”
“Who received the information ?”
“What is the validity of the information ?”
“Why is it like this?”
“Why is it doing that?”
“How are we aware of it?”
“Are there any other options?”

Ask, “for example,” ‘ why’ and’ so what?’

You could also use the sentence:’ “for example,” ‘ why’ and’ so what? To assist with your questioning. For instance, say you thought about the issues created by high charges for students. Start with the subject and ask:’ Can I think of any instances?

Basic concept: high fees for students.
• For example: the cost of the course is as high as $10,000 annually.
• Why: More learners want to study, so there is less tax money per student.
• What, then? Poorer students could be put off from studying.

Now take every fresh concept and apply’ why and what, for example.’ This leads to more thoughts, for which you can use the same method.

Consider looking at opposing opinions. In the above instance, you may consider why learners should pay for themselves.

Best to use diagrams

You can also use diagrams or mind maps to see how concepts relate to each other. The following arrows can be used for a flow diagram, an organizational chart, or a mind map:

• Display sequence:’ This is followed by …”
• Cause and impact:’ A contributes to B because…’
• Mean’ for example’ means’ B causes A.’
• Mean’ Because of that, this is essential.’

Applying ABCDs of Evaluating Sources

Author

• Think about the author(s) of the source after you discover a source of text you might want to use. Are the author’s specialists and able to write about the subject? What are their credentials? Are they a member of any organization or university?
• Consider the publisher or source as well. Where has the data been released? Was it released in a peer-reviewed journal? Examine the author and source a little to make sure the information supplied is reputable.

Bias

• Look for any information bias. Does the submitted text cover all aspects of the subject in a neutral, objective fashion? What is the aim… of informing, teaching, convincing or selling this information?

Content

• Assess the real content of the document critically. Is the information presented as a shallow overview or a thorough analysis? Is the information appropriate to your subject, or is it too different? Is the level of readership too easy or advanced?
• Focus also on content accuracy. Is the information consistent with your knowledge of the subject and can you check allegations from other sources? Compare its results with those of other associated papers. Don’t depend on one source alone.

Date

• Take into account when the information was released, updated, or amended. Has the information become obsolete? See also the date given in the reference list. Is the source of information too old?

Evaluate the material

You can assess the different opinions with your sources, looking at:
• What evidence is there for the multiple viewpoints?
• Which points agree, and which do not agree?
• It’s important to consider all sides of the argument, particularly those with which you disagree.
• Are the different sources and thoughts logically connected?
• Compare your original thoughts on the subject with what you discovered? Do you still believe the same thing, or do you change your opinions?
• Which of your thoughts are applicable to your requirements?

Synthesizing and writing

You should strive to synthesize the content by incorporating published writing into your own writing. Synthesization needs critical reading and thinking in order to compare and highlight similarities, differences, and relations between distinct materials. When the authors effectively synthesize them, they present fresh thoughts based on other proof or arguments.

Synthesis can also be seen as an expansion of — or a more complex type of — analysis. One primary distinction is that various sources are involved, while analytics often concentrate on one source.