Critical Thinking Essay

(Consult syllabus/schedule for due date)

In the first few weeks, we will watch several TED Talks about the nature of the brain, the complex relationship between critical and creative thinking, and how emerging research in hemispheric science sheds some light on how we think about the world. We will also read several articles on the same (or similar) topics. After watching these talks, we will also review some of the basic material on how arguments are evaluated in academic contexts (by exploring the Greek model of Logos, Pathos & Ethos). Then in your essay, please address the following:

  1. What is the importance of developing a proper understanding of the nature of critical and creative thinking and how the two must be used in relationship to one another? With quotes and references to the TED Talks, class readings, and your own research and experience, please discuss what we are learning about the nature of critical and creative thinking and how we must use the two in conjunction to help us generate ideas for collaborative design and problem solving.(HINT: This should be the lens through which you generate your primary thesis statement which will, in turn, direct the ways you develop and discuss the rest of the elements you have been asked to explore. In other words, use this as the frame by which you choose what you will focus on with regard to the nature of the brain, critical thinking and argument.)
  2. If appropriate to your thesis, discuss how the emerging research in brain hemispheric science influences our understanding of the critical and creative thinking processes.
  3. If appropriate to your thesis, discuss how evidence-based approaches to argument (Logos) are central to properly developing, analyzing and understanding the arguments we encounter in the world.
  4. If appropriate to your thesis, what is the importance of cultivating “intellectual humility” and avoiding the panic often associated with “being wrong” in the process of becoming strong critical and creative thinkers?

Remember, an essay is an “attempt” to interact meaningfully with concepts that require careful, thoughtful reflection and exploration. Think of this assignment as a conversation between yourself and the speakers about the substantive issues the TED Talks address.

Assignment Details:

  • 3-5 sources consulted in the essay and listed on a Works Cited page.
  • 3-4 pages, double-spaced, 12.pt font. MLA format.
  • Present your main idea in a clear thesis statement in the Introduction.
  • Support your claim or focus with evidence and examples from the TED Talks and some more external research.
  • Present one major point (in a topic sentence) per paragraph and explain it fully, with detailed support and examples, before you move on to your next point/paragraph.
  • Wrap up your essay with a conclusion that revisits your overall topic and thesis.
  • Remember to include an “in-text” citation following each source you quote, summarize or paraphrase.
  • We have several pages posted here in The Writing Process page that deal with proper MLA documentation. Please refer to them.
  • Consult the MHCC databases for relevant articles related to your research.
  • Submit your essay by the due date on the schedule in the appropriate place in the week’s lesson module.
  • Follow the submission instructions there for uploading your essay.

Things to Consider:

  1. You may write an essay that is more personal but based in the relevant research. Or you may write an essay that is more clinical and objective in scope that looks at the issue from a societal and/or cultural perspective. Either way, pick something that is interesting to you and to your own life, career path, goals, etc. and make it relevant to the material we have been covering so far.
  2. Remember, also, that a thesis statement may begin (in a draft form) as a question but by the time you turn your essay in, it has to be stated as an assertion.
  3. Develop your thesis through a primary pattern of development: (personal narrative, comparison/contrast, cause/effect, etc.) These can be explored in “The Writing Process” section of our BlackBoard page.

Sample Topics:

These are listed in rough form. You may pick from these or develop your own:

  • Intellectual humility, grounding critical thinking in sound reasoning and authoritative, relevant support, and being curious and asking the right questions.
  • Importance of being wrong, withholding judgment until enough evidence is gathered, and considering multiple perspectives.
  • Being “critical” of something is not the same as attacking or dismissing it. Critical and Creative Thinking. What each is and how they work together.
  • Left and Right Hemispheres. What the new research shows and how this influences our understanding of the critical and creative thinking processes.
  • Memory and the pitfalls and opportunities it presents when engaged in critical and creative thinking processes.

Sample Outline:

Topic choice (converted to a workable thesis statement):

Strong critical and creative thinking skills include the abilities to: recognize the importance of being wrong, withhold judgment until enough evidence is gathered, and consider multiple perspectives.

  1. General Introduction and a developed Thesis based on the above topics.
  2. Importance of being wrong. Support paragraphs that use proper references to the TED Talks, your own experience and external research.
  3. Withholding judgment until enough evidence is gathered. Support paragraphs that use proper references to the TED Talks, your own experience and external research.
  4. Considering multiple perspectives. Support paragraphs that use proper references to the TED Talks, your own experience and external research.
  5. Conclusion that revisits main Thesis and provides a sense of closure.

License

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Critical Thinking by Andrew Gurevich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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