Development of Reflective Thinkers; The authors describe our development as reflective thinkers as a lifelong process (see Exhibit 2.1). Consider which stage of critical thinking corresponds to your own development, and then respond to the following:

  • Describe a previous experience in an academic or professional context where you applied critical thinking. In what ways might the same thinking skills be applied in this course and throughout your doctoral program?,
  • Describe one strength and one area for growth in your critical thinking habits.,
  • Describe 2–3 strategies you might use when applying critical thinking habits in this course and throughout your professional life.

If we aspire to develop as thinkers, the stages all of us go through are:

Stage 1The Unreflective Thinker (we are unaware of significant problems in our thinking)

Stage 2The Challenged Thinker (we become aware of problems in our thinking)

Stage 3The Beginning Thinker (we try to improve but without regular practice)

Stage 4The Practicing Thinker (we recognize the necessity of regular practice)

Stage 5The Advanced Thinker (we advance in accordance with our practice)

Stage 6The Accomplished Thinker (skilled and insightful thinking become second nature to us)

Development of Reflective ThinkersSTAGE 1: THE UNREFLECTIVE THINKER

Are you an unreflective thinker? We all are born—and most of us die—as largely unreflective thinkers, fundamentally unaware of the role that thinking is playing in our lives. At this Unreflective Thinker stage, we have no useful conception of what thinking entails. For example, as unreflective thinkers, we don’t notice that we are continually making assumptions, forming concepts, drawing inferences, and thinking within points of view. At this stage, we don’t know how to analyze and assess our thinking. We don’t know how to determine whether our purposes are clearly formulated, our assumptions justified, our conclusions logically drawn. We are unaware of intellectual traits and so are not striving to embody them. At this stage, many problems in our lives are caused by poor thinking, but we are unaware of this. We don’t question our beliefs or our decisions. We lack intellectual standards and have no idea what such standards might be. We lack the intellectual traits but are not aware that we lack them. We unconsciously deceive ourselves in many ways. We create and maintain pleasant illusions. Because our beliefs seem reasonable to us, we believe them with confidence. We walk about the world with confidence that things really are the way they appear to us. We judge some people to be “good” and some to be “bad.” We approve of some actions and disapprove of others. We make decisions, react to people, go our way in life, and do not seriously question our thinking or its implications.

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