Critical thinking refers to the ability to reason and understand the connection between facts or ideas. Critical thinking is a complex topic, and it has been a subject of debate since time memorial, and it has continued to be a topic of discussion in the modern age (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018). Critical thinking can also be seen as the ability to engage in independent, reflective thinking where a person can identify, reflect, and solve problems systematically using principled thinking rather than depending on intuition (Lloyd & Bahr, 2010). Critical thinkers carefully question ideas and assumptions and seek to determine whether the ideas/assumptions represent the whole picture rather than accepting them at face value (Adeyemi, 2012). Critical thinking is an essential tool in higher education and more importantly, on the issues of accountability. Accountability is one of the most recent national efforts in institutions to assess or measure student learning gains (Lloyd & Bahr, 2010). Other areas of concern or rather themes include problem-based solving, improving learning outcomes, and following rules it's more emphasized than critical Thinking(Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).
Critical Thinking Can Improve Problem Solving
Critical thinking is a fundamental tool in education and should be integrated into the teaching process so that students may gain knowledge and identify social problems that exist in the society and be part of solving them(Adeyemi, 2012). Occasionally, we see young people discussing and interpreting social issues based on personal judgment and not based on facts. With critical thinking skills, students will understand and identify problems occurring in society in a more realistic manner (Lloyd & Bahr, 2010). Besides, studies have shown teaching critical thinking in higher education institutions is highly beneficial for students because it provides them with a broader perspective that helps discern real-world problem accurately (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).Also, students can operate effectively within society by making better judgments, making effective leadership decisions, and taking personal businesses (Adeyemi, 2012). Summing up, critical thinking is a learned skill which must be developed and continually practiced in active learning to be effective among the learners.
Critical Thinking Improve Learning Outcomes in Higher Education
Critical thinking is an essential learning outcome in higher education. Learning outcomes can be interpreted as the knowledge or skills learners gain at the end of a program or course (Adeyemi, 2012). On completion of any course, one is expected to have advanced knowledge or skill to help them in daily lives, and critical thinking is one of the essential skills to possess. Critical thinking is required to pass judgment on any information, explain reasons, and solve problems (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).This allows different individuals to understand each other better, thus making the world a better place for everyone. National or standardized assessment methods should be incorporated in higher education institutions to test or measure student learning gains on critical thinking and better-informed decisions approach (Adeyemi, 2012).
Following Rules is More Emphasized than Critical Thinking
Learning processes in higher education institutions are considered to be non-critical thinking for students (Adeyemi, 2012).It is saddening on modern educational systems which do not give attention to critical thinking lessons which allow most students to neither practice or value critical reflection. It is even sadder when the educators or rather the teachers do not reflect either but emphasize on following rules which after school, the rules are forgotten (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).Critical reflection is essential for learners because they can develop self-awareness, which is needed in both personal and professional life. Researchers agree that critical thinking is a necessity to practical interpretation and analysis of ideas among the learners (Adeyemi, 2012). Therefore, teachers should emphasize critical thinking programs in institutions rather than rules because with critical thinking skills students can perceive issues in a more thoughtful and open-minded approach.
Importance of Critical Thinking
There are many gains and benefits in mastering critical thinking skills for students in higher education. For instance, the essential skills of thinking guide students in performing researches and also working on their assignments(Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).Other benefits of adopting critical thinking skills in institutions are that students become broad and adventurous thinkers who can generate innovative solutions to the problems and issues in society (Adeyemi, 2012). Also, students can make defensible and reasonable decisions on individual and community-based matters (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018).Critical thinking also enhances language and student presentation skills through thinking clearly and systematically, thus improving the way they express ideas and relate with society.
Barriers towards Critical Thinking in Higher Education
Success after schooling depends on other things rather than books. It is essential to equip learners with skills that can help in daily lives and coup up with world pressures such as critical thinking(Adeyemi, 2012).Students should be trained on critical thinking skills to be able to think critically for purposes of their careers.
Higher Education Curriculums Does not Exclusively Support Critical Thinking
Despite the realization of the importance of encouraging rational Thinking and principled Thinking in addressing both academic and life scenarios, this has not been achieved due to lack of systems in higher education that support critical Thinking (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018). Most of the institutions of higher learning have not incorporated critical thinking in the curriculum, which is highly dominated by non-critical approaches to academic solutions. Interpreting academic problems from a crucial and principled point of thinking improves the overall quality of the results (Lloyd & Bahr, 2010). However, the authors note that institutions of higher learning have neglected the need for critical thinking in the institutional educational and assessment systems which has undermined the overall benefit of applying critical thinking in academic and social problem-solving.
Closed Mindedness of Students and Instructors
In higher education, the lack of willingness to think further due to closed-mindedness is the primary challenge in promoting rational and principled thinking in higher education (Adeyemi, 2012). The closed-mindedness culture is a significant barrier towards achieving critical thinking uniformly in higher education because the majority of the students are not willing to consider multiple perspectives of their current problems (Strakova & Cimermanova, 2018). Closed-mindedness limits the flexibility of the student's minds, which is detrimental to achieving universal critical thinking in higher education levels.
Critical thinking is an essential tool in education, more importantly, in higher education. With everyday advancement in different areas of technology in this modern age, critical thinking is the most valuable skill to master because it can be applied to any situation that calls for reflection and planning, starting from solving classroom problems to facing real-world challenges. Therefore, it is essential for higher education administrators to encourage critical thinking-oriented curriculums.
Adeyemi, S. B. (2012). Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Students: A Mandate for Higher Education in Nigeria. European Journal of Educational Research, 1(2), 155-161. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1086348.pdf
Lloyd, M., & Bahr, N. (2010). Thinking critically about critical thinking in higher education. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 4(2), n2. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1229&context=ij-sotl
Strakova, Z., & Cimermanova, I. (2018). Critical thinking development. A necessary step in higher education transformation towards Sustainability. Sustainability, 10(10), 3366. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/10/10/3366/pdf
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