MindEdge Online Learning

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking helps college and university students become better thinkers and more persuasive writers. A cross-disciplinary, principles-based approach challenges and engages learners through narrative scenarios, interactive exercises, and case studies. MindEdge’s Critical Thinking content enhances skills in evaluating evidence, distinguishing fact from opinion, identifying holes in an argument, understanding cause and effect, spotting deceptive or false logic, and making effective and logical written arguments.

MindEdge’s adaptive learning provides students with support for those common “pain points” where students often encounter learning difficulties. A sophisticated software engine guides students through additional layers of content instruction.

This learning resource strengthens the critical thinking and writing skills that are assessed by several nationally recognized tests, including the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) from the Council for Aid to Education (CAE); the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency Critical Thinking Test from ACT; and the ETS┬« Proficiency Profile’s critical thinking proficiency measures.


Module 1: An Opportunity to Think: Making the Most of Your Decisions

  • Define critical thinking
  • Recognize the benefits of critical thinking for outcomes in life, career, and education
  • Describe the characteristics of critical thinkers and how these characteristics support critical thinking
  • Display the characteristics of a critical thinker when presented with a problem
  • Distinguish between objective and subjective statements and discuss the difference between fact and opinion
  • Recognize opportunities to apply critical thinking skills

Module 2: A Process for Critical Thinking

  • Outline the process for critical thinking: identifying the issue, considering evidence, drawing a conclusion, communicating the argument
  • Given a statement, identify when a conclusion is being drawn, what is the issue, and other possible points of view
  • Infer the context and intent of claims and the intended audience
  • Adopt open-minded skepticism as a strategy for assessing the soundness of an argument
  • Diagram the structure of an argument and evaluate the argument’s merit based on its structure
  • Evaluate the soundness of an argument by identifying the role played by premises, reasons, evidence, knowledge, assumptions, and personal biases
  • Consider whether key evidence to support a claim is missing
  • Look for logic, relevance, and truthfulness when considering whether a conclusion is worthwhile and productive
  • When communicating a conclusion, avoid phrasing that makes the conclusion seem unreasonable or unclear to the given audience

Module 3: How Arguments Work: Deductive and Inductive Reasoning

  • Recognize common patterns for deductive arguments
  • Use natural language phrases to construct sound deductive arguments
  • Evaluate the strength of deductive arguments and avoid deductive fallacies
  • Recognize that while valid deductive arguments rely on grammatical rules and the meaning of words, inductive arguments are probabilistic
  • Recognize common patterns for inductive arguments such as cause and correlation
  • Evaluate the strength of inductive arguments and avoid inductive fallacies

Module 4: Says Who? Considering Evidence and Credibility

  • Distinguish evidence provided by disinterested parties from that provided by interested parties
  • Consider his or her own observations as evidence, but also understand the limits of personal observation
  • Evaluate the authority of an expert for claims he or she makes
  • Consider the mode of production when assessing the credibility of a source
  • Evaluate the credibility of a study based on examination of study methods
  • Assess the quality and credibility of statistics
  • Identify common misleading statistical techniques
  • Choose from among median, mean, and mode when communicating statistical information
  • Differentiate between ┬árelative and absolute expressions for values such as those for risk reduction

Module 5: Reasoning in Good Faith: Ethical Obligations and the Responsibility of Individuals

  • Recognize the role of critical thinking in public discourse and affirm the responsibility of each individual to think critically
  • Identify ethical principles for communicating information and ideas
  • Explain how fallacies can mislead or distract individuals from coming to sound conclusions
  • Detect when fallacious reasoning is being employed and re-evaluate the argument after disregarding any fallacies
  • Recognize the role of persuasion in public discourse and the media
  • Detect emotional arguments and recognize the limits of emotional arguments
  • Analyze and evaluate arguments made in visual media such as advertisements

Module 6: Problem Solving Strategies: Empirical Thinking, Comparative Reasoning, and Systems Thinking

  • Recognize empirical reasoning as inductive and probabilistic
  • Explain the role of criticism and ongoing interpretation of data in altering or disproving conclusions gained through empirical reasoning
  • Devise a method for researching a claim empirically
  • Recognize comparative claims and consider their strength
  • Create comparative claims that are productive and sufficient
  • Describe the relationship between parts of a system and the whole system
  • Explain how the circular nature of cause-and-effect in a system creates inertia and suggest strategies for eliminating inertia when necessary
  • Set boundaries between parts of a system and choose the granularity of identified parts based on purpose and circumstance

Module 7: Reasoning for Self and Society: Ideological Thinking, Ethical and Legal Thinking, Heuristic Thinking, and Aesthetic Thinking

  • Recognize ideological reasoning and consider its benefits and drawbacks
  • Given an ideological argument, identify the general principle it relies on to make deductions about specifics
  • Reflect on the value of premises that the individual holds as a matter of faith
  • Identify the process by which personal bias hinders critical thinking
  • Recognize personal bias, reflect on its value to the individual, and consider strategies for minimizing its negative impact on critical thinking
  • Define ethical thinking and distinguish ethical principles from legal, moral, religious, and social principles
  • List key ethical principles and explain the benefits and drawbacks of accepting these principles as universal
  • Explain the role of legal reasoning and processes for creating and enforcing laws and legal principles
  • Explain the benefits and drawbacks of heuristic thinking and evaluate the effect that heuristic thinking is likely to have on a decision
  • Describe standard functions of aesthetic objects and evaluate the aesthetic value of an object based on the functions an object serves

Module 8: Communicating Conclusions: Creativity and Clarity

  • Use creative techniques to analyze and synthesize information into a position
  • Organize information so that it is focused on the issue at hand and so that the reasoning is clear
  • Summarize evidence in a manner that allows an audience to understand its relevance, credibility, and sufficiency
  • Provide appropriate levels of detail in communications
  • Use rhetorical strategies that emphasize the writer’s position on the issue being discussed

Module 9: Critical Thinking in the Digital Age

  • Define civic online responsibility
  • Explain the steps of the critical thinking process and consider their role in the digital experience
  • Identify the use of ideological reasoning in online environments
  • Use questioning strategies to break down arguments made on the Internet
  • Consider the benefits and drawbacks of using the Web for academic research
  • Distinguish between scholarly and non-scholarly sources
  • Evaluate a website for reliability
  • Assess the trustworthiness of social media content
  • Critically examine news that has been posted and shared on social media
  • Analyze the path that content travels through social media channels
  • Define fake news
  • Consider the role of First Amendment law in dealing with fake news
  • Identify the signs of fake news and suspicious content on the Internet
  • Explain the role of native advertising in the digital landscape
  • Identify sponsored content on a website