Elder and paul model of critical thinking

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Elements of Thought

The Elder and Paul model of critical thinking suggests that, whatever your discipline, it is worthwhile for you to engage in asking eight key questions of the materials you peruse. In doing this, you can look beyond the face value of words to view the underlying messages and intentions. This can make you enlightened and thoughtful consumers of information and opinions.

Foundation for Critical Thinking

Using such a model has other benefits as well. For example, it allows you to develop cogent arguments against opinions that are voiced when you realize the opinions and their source - often underlying assumptions. It also allows you to recognize the opinions and assumptions in your own work, and then try to lessen them.

The Miniature Guide to Analytic Thinking (pp. 24 and 25) provides some guidance on how to answer the eight questions on a particular piece. Pages 37 - 44 offer a more in-depth look. Some practical guidance may also be in order.

Purpose: What was the author trying to accomplish by writing the piece? Was he explaining why/how something happened? Was he trying to influence change on the matter?

Key questions: When someone writes, they are often trying to answer questions that they are posing. These form the main themes of the piece. There may be one primary question and some sub-questions. Identifying them can help you dissect the piece.

Point of view: Even when people are not writing editorials, they are writing from a point of view. Some mistakenly confuse ‘point of view' with the occupation or education of the writer. Point of view is not who someone is, but from where they are coming.

Assumptions: (also see pp. 45 - 46) Assumptions underlie almost everything we say and do. If we ride on the freeway, we assume we will be able to navigate the traffic and arrive at our destination. Most of the time, we are correct in that assumption; on occasion we spend endless hours on the freeway before accomplishing our goal. In writing, assumptions are often the equivalent of ‘reading between the lines.'
Evidence: Some equate evidence with facts, but the author's opinions, or those of others, might also be used as evidence. The quality of evidence and its presence (or lack thereof) may cause you to accept (or reject) the argument of the author. Some writing is predominantly emotional, rhetoric and not factually-based. When forming your opinion of a piece, you may take the quality of its evidence into consideration.

Concepts: A concept is something that can be defined, or something that people understand how it is defined. Some confuse concepts with inferences. Examples of concepts include: communication, critical thinking, homeland security, insurgency, etc.

Inferences: Inferences are conclusions, either tentative ones or ones that the writer feels are more thoroughly supported. An inference may be voiced as an opinion of the writer, or as a statement of fact. They may be deductively arrived at (going no further than the facts used to support them) or inductively created (using the facts as a springboard to predicting, forecasting or some other form that goes beyond facts). Don't forget that under influences are often assumptions.

Implications: Implications are what the main points of the piece mean, from the author's point of view, or from your point of view in your position.

The Intellectual Standards forwarded by Paul and Elder are not limited to critical thinking, but can be used in many aspects of business life. From accuracy to significance, the nine standards cover the level of professionalism that should be brought to written and other products. These partner with the Elements of Thought questions to provide an in-depth look at ways to insure rigor in your work.

Reference no: EM13260951

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