Critical thinking through the lenses of different theoretical perspectives – a comparative view Tanja Rupnik Vec
Summary: The development of critical thinking in secondary and high school students is one of the most important goals of education in modern democratic societies. However, the concept itself has more than one single meaning: different views exist. This article investigates these different meanings in detail. Six different theoretical perspectives are identified: a) critical thinking as argumentation, b) critical thinking as the wholeness of one’s social-emotional and motivational dispositions and cognitive skills, c) critical thinking as application of different cognitive strategies and procedures, d) critical thinking as the highest stadium of cognitive development, e) critical thinking as society-reflective practice and f) critical thinking as self reflective practice. In the argumentation perspective, we see writers who conceptualize critical thinking as ability to analyze, to evaluate, and to construct arguments. In the dispositions and skills perspective, we categorize authors who widen the argumentation skills with other cognitive skills and who see the personal characteristics of a thinking person as key elements of the concept. In the third group, which focuses on thinking processes and procedures, are writers who see problem solving, decision making, and discovering as the basic elements of critical thought. Those who hold the developmental perspective are theoreticians who investigate the developmental origins of critical thinking and a critical thinker is seen as a person at the final developmental stage. The fifth perspective, the social-reflection one, consists of authors who state the importance of reflection on social dimensions of everyday issues. The final group consists of authors who see critical thinking firstly as a self-reflective practice. These theoretical perspectives are explained and compared and the practical implications for teaching and learning of each perspective are clarified.