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Critical Thinking


Growing up, we all had that one shady friend who was always trying to pull a fast one. “You should trade me your ratty old Honus Wagner card for this super-rare G.I. Joe. My dad says it’s going to be way more valuable, plus it comes with this awesome hang glider. What do you say?”

Now, we’re not suggesting that your fellow scholars are trying to trick anyone, but we are suggesting that you’ve already practiced the skepticism that is the essence of critical thinking. “Why are you calling my baseball card ‘ratty’? How do you know your toy is more valuable? Is it really that rare? Who cares what you dad thinks? What does the hang glider have to do with anything?”

In the same way, asking questions about the arguments you encounter during your academic career is essential to figuring out where you stand on various issues—where you think the truth lies. Critical thinking is therefore critical in both senses: it’s important—the very core of academic work—and it involves critiquing ideas, both your own and those of others, figuring out what’s convincing about them, what isn’t, and why. 

Just as the natural world shapes living things, discarding adaptations that don’t work and elaborating on those that do, critical thinking shapes and refines our body of knowledge. Those ideas that can withstand continuous scrutiny endure.

To see critical thinking in action, be sure to catch our "Reading with Intent II" workshop. Workshops are offered in the first four weeks of each quarter; you can sign up during workshop season through WCOnline. See the whole workshop list here.

Alternatively, a video of the workshop can be viewed here.

Need even more convincing? Check out these links—and, whatever else you do, for the love of Pete, don’t trade the Honus.
 

Critical Thinking Links

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All-Topics Index


The following index makes searching for a specific topic easier and links to the appropriate place in the sequenced material. We think we have most of them, but please email us at writingcenter@nps.edu if we are missing something!

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A

abbreviations

abstracts

academic writing

acronyms

active voice

apostrophes

argument

article usage

assignments, understanding them

audience

 

B

body paragraphs

brainstorming

building better sentences tips

 

C

citations

citation styles

clarity

clustering

coaching sessions, about

colons

commas, FANBOYS

commas, introductory

commas, list

commas, nonessential elements

commas, Oxford

commonly confused words 

compare-and-contrast papers 

concision

conclusions

conjunctive adverbs

coordinating conjunctions

copyright and fair use

critical thinking  

 

D

dangling modifiers

dashes

dependent marker words

double submission of coursework

drafting

 

E

edit your own work

editing – outside editors

exclamation points

executive summary

 

F

FANBOYS

FAQs

footnotes

free-writing

 

G

gerunds

grammar

group writing

 

H

hyphens

 

I

ibid.

introductions

 

J

Joining the Academic Conversation

 

L

LaTeX

library liaisons 

literature reviews 

logic and analysis 

 

M

memos

methodologies

 

N

note-taking

numbers

 

O

organization

outlining

Oxford comma

 

P

paragraph development 

parallelism

paraphrasing

parts of speech

passive voice

periods

persuasion

phrases and clauses

plagiarism, how to avoid through citations

plain language

polishing

prepositional phrases 

prepositions

pronouns

punctuation

purpose of research

 

Q

questions

quotation marks 

quoting

 

R

reading with intent

redundancies                                                                

reference software

reflection papers 

research

research questions

reverse outlining 

revising passive voice into active voice

revision

roadmaps                                            

run-on sentences 

 

S

self-citing

semi-colons

subjects, grammatical

significance

so-what?

spelling

standard essay structure

STEM/technical writing 

style

subject/verb agreement

 

T

technical writing

that vs. which

thesis writing

thesis advisors

thesis process overview

thesis process tips

thesis proposals – common elements                                                     

thesis statements

tone, professional

topic sentences 

transitions

types of papers

 

U

United States or U.S.?

 

V

verbs and verb tense

 

W

which vs. that

Why write?

writer’s block 

writing process