Becoming a critical thinker is a process. Adopting the attitude of a critical thinker is an important part of developing the habit of thinking critically about the world around us.
In Becoming a Critical Thinker, Eighth Edition, Vincent Ryan Ruggiero outlines what he calls “four empowering attitudes” of a critical thinker. We’ve summarized these below. Encourage your students to adopt these attitudes, and they’ll start developing the habits that enable them to think critically about the information that comes their way.
1. Stay humble. As Ruggiero writes, “There’s always room for improvement.” When you stop seeking to acquire more knowledge, wisdom, or skills, or you begin to think you’re beyond reproach… that’s the moment that you stop learning. By maintaining an attitude of humility, you’ll remain open to others’ ideas, opinions, and insights—and you’ll continue to grow and develop as a critical thinker.
2. Remain open to criticism. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to become a doormat, or that you have to accept or validate every piece of criticism you receive. (And it certainly doesn’t mean that you should tolerate abuse!) However, if you listen to others’ feedback, evaluate its merits, and apply the valid points to your life, you’ll build your proficiency and develop your skills even further.
3. Be willing to work hard. A great idea is just the beginning. Your talent will get you far, but in order to achieve success, you’ll need to be persistent in your effort to see your dreams come to fruition. This requires thinking carefully and critically about the steps it will take to get from Point A (your idea) to Point Z (your finished product).
4. Treat others with respect. As you speak and interact with people, remember that they have ideas, hopes, and opinions… just as you do. Give their ideas and feelings the consideration that you would want them to give to yours. This doesn’t mean you need to agree with their viewpoints—simply that you respect their right to hold an opinion that’s different from your own. As you treat people with this respect, you’ll likely notice that your interactions have a sense of calm that doesn’t happen when people adopt a hostile attitude. And when you remain calm and civil, you’re more likely to process the conversation in a thoughtful manner. (Ruggiero, 78-80)
How do you encourage students to adopt the attitude of a critical thinker? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Reference: Ruggiero, V.R. 2015. Becoming a Critical Thinker, 8th ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
1. Scriven M, Paul R. (n.d.). Defining critical thinking. Retrieved February 23 2013, from //www.critical-thinking.org/University/univclass/Defining.Html .
2. Scheffer BK, Rubenfeld MG. A consensus statement on critical thinking in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education. 2000;39:352–359.[PubMed]
3. Papathanasiou I, Kotrotsiou S, Bletsa V. Nursing documentation and recording systems of nursing care. Health Science Journal. 2007;1(4)
4. Facione P. Millbrae, CA: California Academic Press; 1990. Critical thinking:A statement of expert consensus for purpose of educational assessment and instruction.
5. Facione P. Milbrae CA: California Academic Press; 1998. Critical Thinking:What it is and why it counts.
6. Alfaro-Lefevre R. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 1999. Critical Thinking in Nursing:A practical approach.
7. Bandman EL, Baundman G. East Norwalk. CT: Appleton &Lange; 1998. Critical Thinking in Nursing.
8. Paul R, Elder L. Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking; 1999. The miniature guide to critical thinking:Concepts and tools.
9. Paul R, Elder L. Upper Saddle. River. NJ: Prentice Hall Health; 2000. Critical thinking:Tools for taking charge of your learning and your life.
10. Lunney M, editor. Philadelphia: North American Nursing Diagnosis Association; 2001. Critical Thinking and Nursing Diagnoses:case studies &analyses.
11. Schuster PM. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis; 2002. Concept mapping:A critical thinking approach to care planning.
12. Paul RW. Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking; 1995. Critical thinking:How prepare students for a rapidly changing world.
13. Wilkinson JM. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Prentice Hall Health; 2001. Nursing process and critical thinking.
14. Kourkouta L, Papathanasiou IV. Communication in Nursing Practice. Mater Sociomed. 2014;26(1):65–67.[PMC free article][PubMed]
15. Benner PE, Hooper-Kyriakidis PL, Stannard D. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 1999. Clinical wisdom and interventions in critical care:A thinking-in-action approach.
16. Locsin R.C. The dilemma of decision –making processing thinking critical to nursing. Holistic Nursing Practice. 2001;15(3):1–3.[PubMed]
17. Oermann M.H. Critical thinking, critical practice. Nursing Managemen. 1999;30(4):40. C-D, 40F, 40H-I. [PubMed]
18. Dillon Beach, CA: Author: 2001. Foundation for Critical Thinking. Critical thinking:Basic theory and instructional structure.
19. Botes A. Critical thinking by nurses on ethical issues like the terminations of pregnancies. Curationis: South African Journal of Nursing. 2000;23(3):26–31.[PubMed]
20. Green CJ. Upper Saddle River. NJ: Prentice Hall Health; 2000. Critical thinking in nursing :Case studies across the curriculum.
21. Pesut D.J, Herman J. Albany, NY: Delmar; 1999. Critical reasoning:The art and science of critical and creative thinking.
22. Raingruber B, Haffer A. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis; 2001. Using your head to land on your feet: A beginning nurse's guide to critical thinking.
23. Nicoteri J.A. Critical thinking skills. American Journal of Nursing. 1998;98(10):62–64.[PubMed]
24. Di vito T.P. Identifying critical thinking behaviors in clinical judments. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development. 2000;15:174–180.[PubMed]
25. Chan ZC. A systematic review of critical thinking in nursing education. Nurse Education Today. 2013;33(3):236–240.[PubMed]
26. Simpson E, Courtney M. Critical Thinking in Nursing Education:Literature review. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 2002;8:89–98.[PubMed]
27. Papathanasiou IV, Tsaras K, Sarafis P. Views and Perceptions of Nursing Students on their Clinical Learning Environment:Teaching and Learning. Nurse Education Today. 2014;34(1):57–60.[PubMed]