Critical thinking is the ability to think reasonably and make judgments based on an independent, accurate accumulation of data and open-minded approach to each new topic. Throughout the program, critical thinking helped me in developing a critical, independent and scholarly approach to the course and enabled me to apply my knowledge. Critical thinking in the graduate program and the entire course helped in discovering competencies, such as letter writing and best practices and strategies of critical thinking in management as they relate to administration function and skills. For example, in public administration class, critical thinking enabled me to reinforce and apply academic skills and knowledge in real life situations while addressing authentic public and community needs.
Used in conjunction with sound academic advising, critical thinking in scholarly work played a major role in contributing to the development of a more scholarly approach to the program (Stevens & Levi, 2005). Through critical thinking, the program (regardless of discipline) helped me to produce good habits of thinking and learning. Critical thinking helps students to present a complex argument and then evaluate the arguments, write a well-grounded response, and justify the response. For example, during the course Ethics in Public Administration, students used critical thinking to see reasons and assumptions, respond appropriately, and avoid ambiguousness, worthlessness, circularity and overgeneralized stipulations.
The Benefits of Using Critical Thinking as a Scholar-Practitioner
Moon noted, Critical thinking is fundamental in demonstrating knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of the various areas of study and be able to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information and to propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis. Critical thinking is much more than logical reasoning or a mere intellectual exercise that entails processes of conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information. For a scholar practitioner, critical thinking helps the students to think outside the box and challenge their thinking from the perspective of assumptions underlying their beliefs and behaviors. According to Weil & Kincheloe, based on critical thinking in scholarly work, practitioners are able to think and act differently in the world, as well as make a difference in applying and thinking to concrete settings.
Critical thinking promotes intellectual curiosity. This refers to willingness to know and engage in inquiry. For example, public administration course work would be integrated and thematic while assessment would be performance based and would have value beyond school for the students. In research and practice, critical thinking would be multidisciplinary and would develop students capacities for taking actions on societal and community issues: for example, teach practitioners concern for evidence, viewpoint, cause and effect and hypothesizing.
Limitations as a Result of Failing to Engage in Critical Thinking
One of the major limitations of failing to engage in critical thinking is that students lack of the ability to view problems from multiple angles and myriad points of view. Practitioners take for granted and fail to test notions about program culture that have shaped their own practice. Failure to engage in critical thinking implies that programs lack aspects of being learner-centered, participative, focused and responsive to real problems.
In conclusion, different graduate programs primary goals should be developing persons who can engage in critical thinking and turn around and apply critical thinking in practical settings and situations. It is, therefore, important to note that the major role of education should be to encourage students engagement in critical thinking processes and inquiry-based learning experiences. Critical thinking in scholarly work should promote a strong sense of self-esteem and a sense that one has the individual capacity for effecting a change while serving the public.