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BS 201: Problem Solving & Creative Thinking

Module 1: Thinking
Moumita Mukherjee
THINKING – English Language Meaning

• The activity of using

your mind to consider /
ponder on something
• Someone's ideas or
What is THINKING ? (psychologically speaking)
There are two common usages of the term.
 Thinking is everything that the conscious mind does.
That would include perception, mental arithmetic,
remembering a phone number, or conjuring up an
image of a pink unicorn. On this definition, thinking
simply equates to conscious cognitive processes.
 The psychodynamic perspective talks about
'unconscious thinking'. Of course there are
tremendously important unconscious cognitive
processes shaping the way we make sense of the
world, but 'thinking‘, as commonly known and
understood seems to be quintessentially conscious.

• According to Garrett, thinking is behaviour which is

often implicit, hidden and in which symbols (images,
concepts) are usually employed

• According to Mohsin, thinking is an implicit problem

solving behaviour.
Understanding THINKING
• Thinking is conscious.
• It is active.
• It is the kind of cognitive process that can make new
connections and create meaning.
• It is dialogic: it has the quality of an internal
conversation between different perspectives, although
the 'give-and-take' quality of external dialogues may
not always be immediately obvious.
• Thinking is linguistic: verbal for those of us who use
spoken language, visual for those of us who use sign
language to communicate with others and with
Characteristics/Features of THINKING

 Cognitive Activity
 Always directed to achieve some goals or purpose
 Problem-Solving Behaviour
 Mental exploration rather than physical exploration
 Symbolic activity
LOGICAL Thinking
• Logical thinking is thinking based on proven
knowledge and information that is accurate
and certain. Logical thinking is the basis of
modern technology, and it is commonly
referred to as left-brain thinking. Logical
thinking uses the straight facts in order to
solve problems, as opposed to right-brained
thinking, which is more romantic and
emotional in nature.
LOGICAL Thinking
• While logical thinking is referred to as left-brain thinking, it
actually governs the right side of the body and the right
field of vision. There are several aspects to logical thinking.
[Roger Sperry of the University of California performed a study in which
he discovered that logical thinking perceives time and is the foundation
for verbalization skills and analytical thinking. Additionally, logical
thinking forms language and is responsible for planning.]
• Right-brain thinking governs the left side of the body and is
responsible for creativity and imagination. It is the
foundation for visualization and perceives space as
opposed to time. There are people who are perceived as
left-brain thinkers and right-brain thinkers, and there are
also people that are equally left-brained and right-brained
in their thinking patterns. Right-brain thinkers focus on
specific goals and solutions, while left-brain thinkers tend
to rely on their own intuitions.
Building Blocks/Elements of Thinking
Mental Image: An image is a mental representation of a
sensory experience; it can be used to think about objects,
places, and events.

Concepts: The process of classifying information into

meaningful categories.

Concepts serve some major functions in mental life.

 One of those functions is to divide the world into manageable units
(cognitive economy).
 A second major function of concepts is that they allow us to predict
information that is not readily perceived.
Concept formation helps us in organizing our knowledge so that
whenever we need to access our knowledge, we can do it with less
time and effort.
Types of Concepts
1. Relational concepts are based on how an object relates to
something else, or how its features relate to one another. All
of the following are relational concepts: larger, above, left,
north, and upside down. For example, grandmother will always
be elder to mother.

2. Disjunctive concepts have at least one of several possible

features. These are “either/or” concepts. To belong to the
category, an item must have “this feature or that feature or
another feature.” For example, in cricket, if the ball touches the
boundary line, then four runs will be scored, otherwise not.

3. Conjunctive concept A class of objects that have two or more

features in common. For example, to qualify as an example of
the concept of the traditional cricket ball, an object must be
both red and round.
Types of Thinking

•Evaluating Problem Solving
•Reasoning Decision Making

Critical Left Right Creative

Thinking Thinking
• Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process
of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying,
analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information
gathered from, or generated by, observation,
experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication,
as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form,
it is based on universal intellectual values that
transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy,
precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence,
good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

[Critical Thinking as Defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, 1987]
• Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and
well thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don't simply accept all
arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude
involving questioning such arguments and conclusions. It requires wanting to
see what evidence is involved to support a particular argument or conclusion.
People who use critical thinking are the ones who say things such as, 'How do
you know that? Is this conclusion based on evidence or gut feelings?' and
'Are there alternative possibilities when given new pieces of
• Additionally, critical thinking can be divided into the following three
core skills:
• Curiosity is the desire to learn more information and seek evidence as
well as being open to new ideas.
• Skepticism involves having a healthy questioning attitude about new
information that you are exposed to and not blindly believing
everything everyone tells you.
• Finally, humility is the ability to admit that your opinions and ideas are
wrong when faced with new convincing evidence that states otherwise.
Critical vs. Non-Critical Thinkers
Critical Thinkers Non-critical Thinkers
 Acknowledge personal  Pretend to know more than
limitations. they do.
 See problems as exciting
challenges.  Get annoyed by problems.
 Have understanding as a  Are impatient.
 Use evidence to make  Judge on first impressions
judgments. and intuition.
 Are interested in others’
ideas.  Are guided by feelings
 Are skeptical of extreme rather than thoughts.
views.  Claim that thinking gives
 Think before acting.
them a headache.
 Avoid emotionalism
 Keep an open mind
Critical Thinkers Noncritical Thinkers
Have a passionate drive for clarity, precision, accuracy, Often think in ways that are unclear, imprecise,
relevance, consistency, logicalness, completeness, and inaccurate, etc.
Are sensitive to ways in which critical thinking can be Often fall prey to egocentrism, sociocentrism, wishful
skewed by egocentrism, sociocentrism, wishful thinking, thinking, etc.
Are intellectually honest with themselves, acknowledging Pretend they know more than they do and ignore
what they don’t know and recognizing their limitations. their limitations.
Listen open-mindedly to opposing points of view and Are close-minded and resist criticisms of beliefs and
welcome criticisms of beliefs and assumptions. assumptions.
Base their beliefs on facts and evidence rather than on Often base their beliefs on mere personal preference
personal preference or self-interest. or self interest.
Are aware of the biases and preconceptions that shape Lack awareness of their own biases and
the way they perceive the world. preconceptions.
Think independently and are not afraid to disagree with Tend to engage in ‘group think’, uncritically following
group opinion. the beliefs and values of the crowd.
Are able to get to the heart of an issue or problem, Are easily distracted and lack the ability to zero in on
without being distracted by details. the essence of a problem or issue.
Have the intellectual courage to face and assess fairly Fear and resist ideas that challenge their basic
ideas that challenge even their most basic beliefs. beliefs.
Love truth and curious about a wide range of issues. Are often relatively indifferent to truth and lack of
Have the intellectual perseverance to pursue insights or Tend to preserve when they encounter intellectual
truths, despite obstacles or difficulties. obstacles or difficulties.
Critical Thinking skills

1 • Knowledge
2 • Comprehension
3 • Application

4 • Analysis
5 • Synthesis

6 • Evaluation
Knowledge is



interpreting etc

• To know and to apply what you have

• Discovering
• Managing
• Predicting
• Combining: Combination of analyzed parts to form new theory
• Compiling
• Revising
• Proposing something new
• Creating
• Integrating
• 1. Knowledge
• Define, list, describe, identify, show, name,
• 2. Comprehension
• Explain, describe, summarize, differentiate,
discuss, interpret
• 3. Application
• Illustrate, use the information, apply,
demonstrate, show, solve, classify, discover
• 4. Analysis
• Breakdown, distinguish, infer, prioritize, order,
justify, classify, arrange, divide
• 5. Synthesis
• Integrate, modify, rearrange, substitute, plan,
create, design, invent, incorporate
• 6. Evaluate
• Decide, rank, test, measure, recommend,
support, conclude, compare, appraise, defend

Analyzing CRITICAL Evaluating


Decision Making Problem Solving

Components of Critical Thinking

Reasoning: When we apply reasoning, we use logic to determine “what

follows what.”

Evaluating: Weighing the pros and cons of different solutions and trying to
find out the best one.

Analysing: In critical thinking the component analysis helps us to

discriminate as well as arrranging information.

Problem solving: It is mental process involves the act of defining a problem;

determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing and selecting
alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution. Problem solving is
thinking that is goal-directed.

Decision making: It involves thinking in which individuals evaluate

alternatives and make choices among them
Benefits of Critical Thinking
• Academic Performance
– Understand the arguments and beliefs of others
– Critically evaluating those arguments and beliefs
– Develop and defend one's own well-supported arguments and

• Workplace
– Helps us to reflect and get a deeper understanding of our own and
others’ decisions
– Encourage open-mindedness to change
– Aid us in being more analytical in solving problems

• Daily life
– Helps us to avoid making foolish personal decisions.
– Promotes an informed and concerned citizenry capable of making
good decisions on important social, political and economic issues.
– Aids in the development of autonomous thinkers capable of
examining their assumptions, dogmas, and prejudices.