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How Does Collaboration Foster Critical Thinking?

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/31/2010

From our childhood, we have been taught about the process of critical thinking, but how does collaboration foster critical thinking? Find out here how the input of others helps your own thought processes.

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    What Is Critical Thinking?

    Using Critical Thinking Skills From the time of childhood to that of growing into adulthood, we are taught to use critical thinking in education, business, and our personal lives. But what exactly is critical thinking and why is it important to us? There are many explanations and thoughts on critical thinking, but as a base definition, it is the determination of the meaning of what a person sees around them; basically, it's questioning what they see - from the price of one object against another to whether a person can be trustworthy or not.

    In everyday life, society is presented with a variety of different opportunities in which critical thinking is involved, but can a group of others help with this? A person presented with some sort of project, where they will be working with other people, will also be using their critical thinking skills. Can these people also help with yours? How does collaboration foster critical thinking?

    Image Credit (Freedigitalphotos)

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    How Does Collaboration Foster Critical Thinking?

    Find Some Solutions Think back to the days when you were paired up with another person or a group of people in order to work on a problem or project that a teacher had assigned. The problem was something that would need to be solved and agreed upon by everyone within the group; this may have been a great experience (in which everyone got along and offered advice) or a particularly bad one (in which everyone argued and no answer was achieved). At the time, you - and members of your group - probably wondered the point for doing this (which may have entered your mind as some sort of punishment or busy work).

    What if the true goal of the project was actually meant to show how to work together in groups for a common goal, and how to use that group in collaboration by fostering the critical thinking process? It works by showing one person a path to the solution that they may not have seen; for example, the process of critical thinking is along the lines of 1 leads to 2 leads to 3 and so forth. Perhaps you can see how 1 goes to 2, but not how 2 goes to 3, while someone else may not see how 1 could lead to 2.

    For instance, you are in a group where you need to decide how much it would cost for one person to move from one state to another. The process could possibly start in one state, get the finances together, then move to the other state. One member might state it would cost upward of $10,000 to move, while someone else would say it would only cost $2,000. With collaboration, group members can discuss the different costs of moving based on the type of family situation someone has (i.e.; single, married, children, etc) and they can also discuss how much it may cost to move entirely - will the person hire a mover? Do it themselves? What about driving costs?

    With collaboration, each member in the group has their own separate ideas on how the steps above should follow in a critical thinking process. Collaborating together with others allows a member to see the critical thinking path of another that may be completely different from their own. With a new point of view, a person's critical thinking may change or at least the thought could foster a consideration that may not have been thought of before. If the ideas from others are combined, it creates a completely new idea that the group brought together with their own thoughts.

    Image Credit: (Freedigtialphotos)

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