Ayoa’s Critical Thinking template will help you to carry out a critical thinking exercise that can be used to help guide or structure your essays and reports, or even to simply broaden your understanding of a particular topic.
Critical thinking is a practice that requires you to question what you are studying or working on in order to help you effectively describe, analyze and evaluate a particular topic or issue. A common technique used by students when conducting a critical writing exercise or studying new subjects, critical thinking is a practice that is beneficial in many areas of life. For example, it can be used by business owners looking to gain a deeper understanding of their target market, or by anyone that is trying to understand and reflect on topical issues in society.
Critical thinking begins by delving into the description of your topic, where you will ask yourself ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’ and ‘where’. You then move onto the analysis stage, where you ask yourself ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what if’. This then brings you onto the final evaluation stage, where you will ask yourself ‘so what’ and ‘what next’.
By practising critical thinking, it will enable you to fulfil the following functions that are vital in scientific, academic and social life:
Describing – clearly defining your subject matter, what is involved, and under what circumstances.
Analyzing – understanding relationships by examining and explaining how things fit together and any contrasting elements.
Reasoning – demonstrating logical thinking about causes and effects and presenting evidence to provide sound arguments or to refute unsound ones.
Reflecting – taking into account new information or experiences in order to consider differing viewpoints.
Critiquing – identifying and examining faults and weaknesses in arguments, as well as acknowledging strengths and merits.
Evaluating – commenting on degrees of success or failure and ultimately evaluating the use or value of something.
Conducting critical thinking helps you to organize your thoughts, source material and structure, which is particularly helpful when it comes to putting together a critical writing essay or a report. It also encourages you to think about every aspect of your topic so you can gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This will ultimately make you better equipped to carry out the functions identified above, such as identifying and critiquing any weaknesses in arguments, acknowledging any strengths, and also reasoning and reflecting upon new information or differing viewpoints.
Our Critical Thinking template will help you to easily work your way through the description, analysis and evaluation stages of your critical thinking exercise. This template can be used for any topic, subject or issue that you want to explore, and will help you put structure and detail behind your thoughts. It can also be particularly helpful for students when it comes to essay writing, as it allows them to explore a subject with greater analysis to improve their work.
Our Critical Thinking template is broken down into the description, analysis and evaluation stages, with helpful prompts to get you started with adding your own ideas. Aim to address as many of these questions as possible to help you gain as deep an understanding of your topic as you can. See our steps below to help you get started!
To access the template, sign up to Ayoa. Once you've signed up, navigate to the homepage to create a new whiteboard, mind map or task board and choose this template from the library.
Firstly, begin by identifying your topic. This can be an essay title or even a particular subtopic you might want to explore in more detail using the template. Double-click on the text at the top of the template to add this as your title.
The first stage of your critical thinking exercise is the ‘Description’. In the template, you’ll see we’ve already added sticky note examples to reflect the questions you’ll want to answer:
What? Describe the nature of the topic or issue you’ll be exploring. What is this about? What is the context/situation?
Where? Where does this take place?
Who? Who is involved, affected or might be interested?
When? When does this occur?
For these questions, provide some descriptive background information. This will allow you to provide context and set the scene, which can be useful when forming an introductory section of an essay. Feel free to use sticky notes, lists or images to help capture your answers by simply dragging them from the sidebar on the left of your template and dropping them into the Description section.
Next, you’ll want to move onto the Analysis stage. Here, try to answer the following questions:
How? How did this occur? How does it work (in theory or in practice)? How does one factor affect another? How do the parts fit together as a whole?
Why? Why did this occur? Why was it done? Why have you chosen this argument, theory or suggestion, and not something else?
What if? What if this were wrong? What if there was a problem? What if certain factors were added or removed? What are the alternatives?
Answering these questions will help you to explore the relationship between different elements of your topic and consider alternative responses.
Finally, you’ll want to move onto the Evaluation stage. This is where you’ll consider the implications, solutions, conclusions and recommendations of your topic. In this section, try to answer the following questions:
So what? What does this mean? Why is it significant? Is it convincing, and why (or why not)? What are the implications? How does it meet the criteria?
What next? Is it transferable? How and where else can it be applied? What can be learnt from it? What needs doing now?
By working through each of these steps, you should end up with a much deeper understanding of your topic and be able to effectively determine where you can take this next – which can help you to form a strong and considered conclusion to an essay or piece of critical writing.