Intellectual

Intellectual character

Assets | Critical thinking

1. Highlights

In a world in which we are bombarded with new information, opinions and ideas from many perspectives, we must analyze and assess our own beliefs and those of others, engaging our curiosity in carefully evaluating the world around us. Exploring new information and ideas, asking good questions and explaining why we believe what we believe — while having the humility to change our minds — are all part of being a critical thinker.

Analyze and assess our own beliefs and those of others

Explore and evaluate new information, perspectives and ideas

Be open to changing our minds in response to new or conflicting information

Critical thinking is a complex process that defies a simple definition. In the Principled Innovation framework, critical thinking builds on the Intellectual asset of truth-seeking, with its focus on considering multiple perspectives and evaluating sources of information to ensure that they are grounded in reality and objectivity. Critical thinking is also rooted in intellectual humility — as critical thinkers, we must be willing to question our own beliefs and open to changing our minds in response to new or conflicting information. Critical thinking is necessary for moral and ethical decision-making: by insisting on bringing together sufficient information to inform decision-making, it ensures that Principled Innovation moves away from egocentrism to consider one’s own beliefs in light of others’. Critical thinkers understand that as we engage in dialogue with others, our beliefs today become tomorrow’s biases, and the process of learning is never complete.

Two people wearing green discuss framed images on a wall.
Biases could limit our ability to spot the flaws in our own beliefs.
Two people wearing green look at framed images on a wall
Finding creative solutions requires fighting against confirmation bias and seeing our social settings from new perspectives.

2. Context

Two people wearing green look at framed images on a wall
Finding creative solutions requires fighting against confirmation bias and seeing our social settings from new perspectives.

3. Resources

Select one of our featured resources or visit the PI toolkit library for more tools.

Why do our brains love fake news?

  Video

  5 minutes

  By: PBS

It’s time to get serious about teaching critical thinking

  Article

  15 minutes

  By: Inside Higher Ed, Jonathan Haber

What is critical thinking (and why should I care)?

  Video

  4 minutes

  By: SAGE Students, Thomas Chatfield

Evaluating quality of online information

  Article

  20 minutes

  By: Julie Cairo

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