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Unformatted text preview: Critical Thinking as Disciplinary Practice Stephen C. Yanchar and Brent D. Slife Brigham Young University Russell Warne Texas A&M University Critical thinking in psychology has traditionally focused on method-centered tasks such as the assessment of method use, data analysis, and research evidence. Although helpful in some ways, this form of critical thinking fails to provide resources for critically examining the scientific analytic foundation on which it rests and, when used exclu- sively, prohibits sufficiently critical analysis of theory and research. An alternative view of critical thinking—that emphasizes the identification and evaluation of implicit theoretical assumptions—is advocated. It is suggested that this alternative approach improves on method-centered approaches by addressing not only implicit assumptions but also rule-following concerns. This approach is intended to facilitate innovation and the production of scholarly work in ways that incorporate relational values such as dialogue, care, and respect. Finally, this alternative form of critical thinking is de- scribed as a theoretically situated, open, and evolving conception of critique that should itself be continually reanalyzed and refined, particularly in response to the evolving nature and needs of the field. Keywords: critical thinking, assumptions, implications The prominence of critical thinking in psy- chology, from college curricula and pedagogy to basic and applied research, is difficult to overestimate. Few observers could seriously question the field’s commitment to the assid- uous use of logical and methodological rules in the evaluation of evidence, arguments, and knowledge claims. Notwithstanding this con- siderable emphasis already placed on critical thinking, and recognizing important advances made with regard to this significant aspect of scholarship in psychology (e.g., Baron & Sternberg, 1987; Bensley, 1998; Halonen, 1995; Halpern, 2003; Halpern & Nummedal, 1995; Shiraev & Levy, 2004), we recommend a direction for further advancement in the ways in which critical thinking is conceptu- alized and implemented. In presenting our position, we review forms of critical thinking commonly endorsed in the mainstream liter- ature, discuss their strengths and limitations, and explain why the conception we advo- cate—which emphasizes the analysis of im- plicit theoretical assumptions from a rela- tional standpoint—provides more adequate resources for the development of psycholog- ical theory and research. We wish to state at the outset, however, that we do not presume to occupy an impartial or neutral standpoint on the nature and practice of critical thinking. Our position is informed by a set of ideas that, although persuasive in our view, is historically and philosophically situated within a broader intellectual tradition that ex- plicitly recognizes knowing as perspectival, re- lational, and interpretive. As thinkers such as Heidegger (1962), Gadamer (1975/1989), Bern-...
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- Spring '11
- Psychology, Brent D. Slife