Critical Thinking

“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you're thinking in order to make your thinking better.”

-Richard W. Paul

    Critical Thinking is defined by as being "the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion." It is an extremely important concept to learn, especially in the Internet age where everyone can post anything online and deem it 'credible' and 'accurate' information. Critical thinking allows the individual to assess information being presented in a step-by-step manner to determine whether or not the information is accurate, believable, and understandable. It is an essential process in becoming an educated individual, and is stressed in the social work curriculum.

    Critical thinking involves 6 steps. The first is to be able to identify what is being communicated by the author in question. This involves identifying the topic of discussion, the issues being addressed and stated, the thesis (or central argument) of the information in question, and finally the main points that support the thesis. The second step is comprehending/conceptualizing what was discovered by relating the new knowledge acquired to information already known to you. The best way to test this is to put the information into your own words and build off of known information. The third step is applying the information learned to current events or situations which apply to the information acquired, testing whether the source is relevant. Once the information has been comprehended, conceptualized, and applied the next step is analyzing what was learned in order to test the relevance of the information, what form the information takes on, and the content in general. Once the reader has analyzed the data and determined its credibility to the topic at hand, the next step is to synthesize the learned and newly acquired information together to form a complete thought. Once this is done, the reader then evaluates and decides what to do next with the given information. It is important to note that evaluation is the final step and cannot be done before the other 5 steps have occurred.

    Two very important figures in developing my critical thinking abilities are my father and a former professor of mine, Dr. Nicholas Cooper-Lewter. Growing up my father was always teaching me lessons and lecturing me on ideas and concepts he felt were important for me to learn. One of these many lessons was always question what was being said. He recognized that some people weren't always right in what they said, and he never wanted me to fall prey to believing in wrong information. Even though he wanted me to challenge and think about everything, he always told me to do so in a polite and respectful manner. Even though I was familiar with hoe to think about and analyze information, I was never formally introduced to the critical thinking concept however until I got to college. My second semester I took Social Work 222 to see what the social work profession was about. It was in this class that I was introduced to critical thinking, and how important it was to not only know what it was, but apply it everyday in decision making and gathering information. It was because of him that I decided that I wanted to start utilizing critical thinking in my daily routine, and even though I have not always done so I have tried to utilize it in my everyday life.    

Code of Ethics & Critical Thinking

4.01 Competence

(a) Social workers should accept responsibility or employment only on the basis of existing competence or the intention to acquire the necessary competence.
( b) Social workers should strive to become and remain proficient in professional practice and the performance of professional functions. Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work. Social workers should routinely review the professional literature and participate in continuing education relevant to social work practice and social work ethics.
(c) Social workers should base practice on recognized knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and social work ethics.

Robert Karpe,
Feb 9, 2015, 12:30 PM