A New Way of Looking at Critical Thinking in the 21st Century

Jul 03 2018 Posted: 11:37 IST

Five tips from NUI Galway academic on how to improve our decision-making

Dr Christopher Dwyer from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway has published the book, Critical Thinking: Conceptual Perspectives and Practical Guidelines, which gives a unique and distinctive insight into how to improve our decision-making and a new way of looking at critical thinking in the 21st century.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen the emergence of a new knowledge economy in light of the online information explosion. While Critical Thinking is often highlighted to students, researchers and academics, it is relevant to everyone.

Dr Christopher Dwyer from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, said: “We are faced with more information than ever before, making critical thinking an essential skill in our daily lives as well as our professional lives. In the case of social media, we need the ability to apply critical thinking because of the constant bombardment of both accurate and inaccurate information out there, not only the information we look at and engage with, but also the information we share.”

Dr Dwyer recommends five things to consider when applying critical thinking in day-to-day situations:

  • Save your critical thinking and cognitive energy for things that matter; things you care about.
  • Do your critical thinking in the morning in order to avoid the cognitive load and fatigue experienced from the thousands of decisions made in a day; make sure to complete the work that ‘matters most’ in the morning.
  • Take a ‘reflective step back’ and think about the argument or problem a little bit longer. It is vital to take your time in developing or inferring a solution or conclusion.
  • Play Devil’s Advocate. Our intuition is always going to tell us what it thinks we should do. In the context of critical thinking, a good way of learning to overcome this bias and ‘auto-pilot processing’ of our gut feeling is through playing Devil’s Advocate and by truly considering alternatives.
  • Leave emotion at the door. If we want to be able to think critically, we must remove our emotions from our thinking.

The book is designed for anyone who cares about Critical Thinking and has three fundamental purposes: to provide a general history of critical thinking conceptualisation aimed at teachers and researchers; to act as a practical guide for students (which is included as a module in current courses at NUI Galway), as well as anyone who wants to improve their ability to think critically; and to act as a guide for educators on how best to teach critical thinking.

Dwyer's book, Critical Thinking is available at Cambridge University Press and Amazon at: https://bit.ly/2KsGlsE

To read Dr Christopher Dwyer’s blog on Critical Thinking, visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/experts/christopher-dwyer-phd


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