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Critical Thinking Model Designed By Linda Elder And Richard Paul

The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools, 7th edition

Author: Richard Paul and Linda Elder
Publisher: Foundation for Critical Thinking
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 24
Dimensions: 4" x 51/2"
ISBN: 978-0-9857544-0-2

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Educational institutions can license this publication electronically. Faculty and administrators - click here to learn more or to purchase licensing rights.

Limited desk copies available for educators in paper format. Please email cct@criticalthinking.org to inquire.

This miniature guide, which has sold more than half a million copies, is widely used in teaching and learning, in personal and professional life. It distills the essence of critical thinking into a 24-page, pocket-sized guide. It introduces the interrelated complex of critical thinking concepts and principles implicit in the works of Richard Paul and Linda Elder. This guide is widely used at the college level. It can be used as a critical thinking supplement to any textbook or course.

For orders of 500 or more copies, please email us at cct@criticalthinking.org for special pricing. 

Retail Price: $12.99 


Additional Information About:
The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools, 7th edition

Critical Thinking 

Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated. 


Critical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities and a commitment to overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.


Concepts and Tools

This miniature guide focuses on of the essence of critical thinking concepts and tools distilled into pocket size. For faculty, it provides a shared concept of critical thinking. For students, it is a critical thinking supplement to any textbook for any course. Faculty can use it to design instruction, assignments, and tests in any subject. Students can use it to improve their learning in any content area. It's generic skills apply to all subjects. For example, critical thinkers are clear as to the purpose at hand and the question at issue. They question information, conclusions, and points of view. They strive to be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. They seek to think beneath the surface, to be logical, and fair. They apply these skills to their reading and writing as well as to their speaking and listening. They apply them in history, science, math, philosophy, and the arts; in professional and personal life.

Contents Include:

  • Why Critical Thinking
  • The Elements of Thought
  • A Checklist for Reasoning
  • Questions Using the Elements of Thought
  • Criteria for Evaluating Reasoning
  • Universal Intellectual Standards
  • Analyze the Logic of Articles and Textbooks
  • The Problem of Egocentric Thinking
  • Intellectual Traits
  • Three Kinds of Questions
  • A Template for Problem-Solving
  • A Checklist for Assessment
  • What Critical Thinkers Routinely Do
  • Stages of Critical Thinking Development

Helping Students Assess Their Thinking

by Richard Paul and Linda Elder

There are two essential dimensions of thinking that students need to master in order to learn how to upgrade their thinking. They need to be able to identify the "parts" of their thinking, and they need to be able to assess their use of these parts of thinking , as follows:

  • All reasoning has a purpose
  • All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, to solve some problem
  • All reasoning is based on assumptions
  • All reasoning is done from some point of view
  • All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence
  • All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas
  • All reasoning contains inferences by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data
  • All reasoning leads somewhere, has implications and consequences

The question can then be raised, "What appropriate intellectual standards do students need to assess the 'parts' of their thinking?" There are many standards appropriate to the assessment of thinking as it might occur in this or that context, but some standards are virtually universal (that is, applicable to all thinking): clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, and logic.

How well a student is reasoning depends on how well he/she applies these universal standards to the elements (or parts) of thinking.

What follows are some guidelines helpful to students as they work toward developing their reasoning abilities:

  1. All reasoning has a PURPOSE:
    • Take time to state your purpose clearly
    • Distinguish your purpose from related purposes
    • Check periodically to be sure you are still on target
    • Choose significant and realistic purposes

    • Take time to clearly and precisely state the question at issue
    • Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope
    • Break the question into sub questions
    • Identify if the question has one right answer, is a matter of opinion, or requires reasoning from more than one point of view

  3. All reasoning is based on ASSUMPTIONS:
    • Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable
    • Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view

  4. All reasoning is done from some POINT OF VIEW:
    • Identify your point of view
    • Seek other points of view and identify their strengths as well as weaknesses
    • Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view

  5. All reasoning is based on DATA, INFORMATION and EVIDENCE:
    • Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have
    • Search for information that opposes your position as well as information that supports it
    • Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue
    • Make sure you have gathered sufficient information

  6. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, CONCEPTS and IDEAS:
    • Identify key concepts and explain them clearly
    • Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions to concepts
    • Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision

  7. All reasoning contains INFERENCES or INTERPRETATIONS by which we draw CONCLUSIONS and give meaning to data:
    • Infer only what the evidence implies
    • Check inferences for their consistency with each other
    • Identify assumptions which lead you to your inferences

  8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has IMPLICATIONS and CONSEQUENCES:
    • Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning
    • Search for negative as well as positive implications
    • Consider all possible consequences

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