Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, every decade brings a renewed call for the importance of teaching critical thinking. Across the disciplines the importance of the subject is universally recognized, an interesting phenomenon since there is no common definition of critical thinking. To a scientist, critical thinking is often equated with the scientific method. To a philosopher, critical thinking implies a logical analysis of an argument and the ability to develop abstractions. To an engineer, critical thinking refers to effective problemsolving skills.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Belief: The result of thought is the formation of a belief. Beliefs represent ideas held to be true by an individual. Such ideas may be the result of direct experience or may be determined though reflective thought alone.
Scenario: A problem that presents an open-ended situation that requires a judgment or evaluation to solve. Scenarios are used to explore and test possible problem solutions in a controlled environment that limits the number of variables that can impact the solution. For this reason, they are effective tools for developing basic problem solving skills.
Nonlinear Web Design: A nonlinear Web design allows the user to explore resource without predetermining the path that the user will use to access that information. Although nonlinear Web designs are based on hierarchical structures, the use of multiple formats and hyperlinks allows the user to examine conceptual relationships in the resource using a pattern that is not limited to a sequential format.
Ontology: Ontologies define how the ideals and beliefs of reality are perceived by individual or group of individuals. Ontologies are definitions and ordering systems of a world view. These world views limit the willingness of a group or individual to accept a new concept or idea depending on how that concept fits with the existing perception of order.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is thought which is directed toward the cessation of doubts and the testing of new knowledge and beliefs. The purpose of critical thinking is to modify or adopt a belief system that will best meet the needs of an individual or group.
Pragmatism: A philosophical school of thought that defines the value of belief based on the consequences of that belief. It is an important influence in the United States in multiple disciplines including education, engineering, and the social sciences as well as a major school in philosophy.
Electronic Text: Books and other printed materials that are available in a media format that can be displayed on a computer. The media format may be online or may use a compact disk, digital video disk, or other storage device as a distribution media. In many cases, electronic text exactly duplicates the text found in the printed version of the same work.