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Critical Thinking: Steps 1 & 2: Reflection and Analysis

Identify, Reflect, and Analyze

Step 1: Reflecting on the Issue, Problem, or Task

Reflection is an important early step in critical thinking. There are various kinds of reflection that promote deeper levels of critical thinking (click on the table to view larger):

Brockbank, A., & McGill, I. (2007). Facilitating Reflective Learning in Higher Education. Maidenhead, England: McGraw-Hill Education.

Ask yourself questions to identify the nature and essence of the issue, problem, or task. Why are you examining this subject? Why is it important that you solve this problem? 

Step 2: Analysis of the Issue, Problem, or Task

Get down to the nitty gritty. What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? Formulate a plan to solve the problem; what do you need to do in order to achieve your goal? 
According to The Critical Thinking Community, "when we understand the elements of reasoning, we realize that all subjects, all disciplines, have a fundamental logic defined by the structures of thought embedded in them. Therefore, to understand a [problem or] subject's most fundamental logic, we should begin with" analysis. 

Reflective Thinking

Game:  There is 1 random word below.  Use it as inspiration to think of something it would be interesting if we never had in this world.

  • escalator

  For extra challenge, reply to someone else’s suggestion and predict how life would be different if it never was.  Try and think big.  Think about profound and extreme ways in which the world may be different.

We often think about how life would be better if only we had X (X being something we would quite like).  It can be a fun way to pass the time but it tends to involve adding something new to our lives.  Let's go the other way around and subtract something instead.  But instead of something desirable it will be something that we take for granted, something simple.  Then trying to predict how it would have a profound effect changing the world around us becomes an act in following a chain reaction of influences.  Creativity often involves having keen insights into how everything influences and affects everything around it in often unobvious ways.  This little game is a good way to practice that thinking.