Common Misconceptions in Critical Thinking


Bailin, Case, Coombs, and Daniels (1999) discuss the commonmisconception to critical thinking by detailing the informationprovided by different schools of thoughts. As indicate by theauthors, critical thinking is one of the most misused terms withdifferent people having a varied perception of how students acquireit. They also detail the diverse nature of different schools ofthoughts in the process of critical thinking and the way it develops.Some believe that a learner can become competent in critical thinkingthrough repetitive practices while others argue that it requires asignificant level of intellectual energy directed to it.

The authors work towards several objectives in the paper. First, theyseek to identify the widely held misconceptions about criticalthinking by presenting the thoughts o different authors and providingfounded counter arguments (Bailin et al., 1999). Secondly, they writewith the intention of dispelling and explaining the misconception ofthe perceived forming components of critical thinking includingprocess, skills and procedures. Finally, the article aims atpresenting a proposal for the standard teaching methods of criticalthinking that are applicable in varied circumstances (Bailin et al.,1999).

The article does not have an outrightly defined theoretical frameworksince it inclines on the available literature. The authors arrive attheir conclusions on the dispelled misconceptions about criticalthinking by analyzing the ideas of different authors.

When discussing their findings, the authors break down their argumentinto three perceived units of critical thinking. They include skill,mental process, and procedure. When discussing critical thinking as askill, there is a misconception that an individual who possessessignificant things harbors cognitive skills of evaluation analysis(Bailin et al., 1999). However, the authors dispel this as anunsatisfactory description of critical thinking since skills dependon context. An individual with skills in one area may not use itpractically in another entirely different context.

The authors also discuss the views of other authors on criticalthinking as a mental process. Critical thinking gets the descriptionof proficiency in certain mental processes. The attribute settles inan individual through learning, having the right motivation andreceiving orientation in different situations. However, Bailin et al.(1999), dispels this notion by providing information that a criticalthinking student cannot be taught on how to identify a fallacioussituation repeatedly unless by providing a standard procedure fordetecting such conditions (Bailin et al., 1999).

Scholars also describe critical thinking as the application ofprocedural algorithm and heuristic. An individual arrives at theright solution by following a series of logical steps. However,Bailin et al. (1999) dispel this by asserting that a set of generalprocedures that do not teach a standard way of thinking is misleadingsince it cannot be generic.

Bailin et al. (1999) conclude that the notion of critical thinking asa skill, procedure is mainly presented as a learned and practicedattribute. They juxtapose the practice of the skill and theapplication of a considerable level of intellectual energy to providethe standard way of teaching critical thinking. Practice leads toimprovement of a learned attribute (Bailin et al., 1999). However,practicing non-standard thinking may not result in a desirable levelof critical thinking. However, allowing intellectual energy makescritical thinking generic. The attribute that an individual developscan be applicable in different situations.

The authors’ discussion greatly influences my view of criticalthinking. Before reading their account, I held onto the idea thatcritical thinking improves through practice. Although they do notdiscredit the role played by a repeated practice, I am now aware thata standard way of thinking to develop a decent level of criticalthinking is compulsory. It has also dawned that critical thinking maynot be generic if skill and knowledge become alienated. A skilledindividual in one field may not think critically in another entirelydifferent field without having a standard procedure of analyzing thesituation.


Bailin, S., Case,R., Coombs, J. R., &amp Daniels, L. B. (1999). Common Misconceptionsof Critical Thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3),269-283.