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Why Are Critical Thinking Skills Necessary for Academics?

by Jen Saunders

If you haven't developed any critical thinking skills, you won't get too far in college. Academics orchestrate the way in which people research and write at the college and university levels. Critical thinking skills help to promote respect for truth and knowledge within the folds of scholarship. Critical thinking skills not only stand behind a set of principles, they also make people successful in their ability to grasp and comprehend academic subjects at higher levels.

Writing

Critical thinking skills provide the groundwork for writing high-quality academic papers. Without being able to think and therefore write critically, students would not be able to pass higher-level courses that lead to degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Washington State University provides its students with some guidelines in critical thinking and writing, saying that critical thinking permits one to identify various perspectives. The university states it is "a matter of what and how -- the important, elusive dimensions rooted in values and abilities." Critical thinking skills not only dissect and display the various roots within writing; they justify it and raise its value and soul to the surface.

Peer Awareness

Critical thinking skills assume the role of a two-sided coin when flipped in a diverse peer setting: critical thinking aids in the learning process in diverse classrooms just as diverse classrooms increase critical thinking skills. Academia consists of various cultures; depending on a person's own cultural awareness, interpretation of an academic subject will differ from that of other people. Having the ability to think critically helps students benefit and learn from diverse classrooms, thus heightening their academic experience. Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, states that classrooms with diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultures encourage students to think more critically so that they can understand and communicate the different experiences and perspectives held in the room. As academics rely heavily on interpretation, polished critical thinking skills help students understand the opposing views and experiences their peers share.

Test-Taking Skills

Critical thinking skills help students pass exams and tests. In some cases, an exam may contain an essay question such as, "What is the significance of the color yellow in art and literature?" In more common instances, an exam could pose a series of multiple-choice questions to test comprehension, but both require critical thinking skills. According to Muskingum College, critical thinking skills play huge roles in successfully passing tests. Students must look for context clues and have the ability to decipher word elements -- skills that require critical thinking tactics in order to scan, dismiss and select your way to a respectable passing grade.

Defending a Thesis

Some graduate degree programs require students to defend their thesis before they can graduate. In a typical scenario a student orally presents a thesis before a panel of members who ask a series of questions that require answers based on quick critical thinking abilities. The University of British Columbia advises students to anticipate the questions a panel may ask. Even the ability to anticipate such questions requires a student to use critical thinking skills, as the student must assume another role and think critically from that standpoint to drum up questions pertaining to the thesis.

About the Author

Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.

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