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What Are Critical Thinking Skills and Why Are They Important?

Learn what critical thinking skills are, why they’re important, and how to develop and apply them in your workplace and everyday life.

[Featured Image]:  Project Manager, approaching  and analyzing the latest project with a team member,

We often use critical thinking skills without even realizing it. When you make a decision, such as which cereal to eat for breakfast, you're using critical thinking to determine the best option for you that day.

Critical thinking is like a muscle that can be exercised and built over time. It is a skill that can help propel your career to new heights. You'll be able to solve workplace issues, use trial and error to troubleshoot ideas, and more.

We'll take you through what it is and some examples so you can begin your journey in mastering this skill.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the ability to interpret, evaluate, and analyze facts and information that are available, to form a judgment or decide if something is right or wrong.

More than just being curious about the world around you, critical thinkers make connections between logical ideas to see the bigger picture. Building your critical thinking skills means being able to advocate your ideas and opinions, present them in a logical fashion, and make decisions for improvement.

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Why is critical thinking important?

Critical thinking is useful in many areas of your life, including your career. It makes you a well-rounded individual, one who has looked at all of their options and possible solutions before making a choice.

According to the University of the People in California, having critical thinking skills is important because they are [ 1 ]:

Crucial for the economy

Essential for improving language and presentation skills

Very helpful in promoting creativity

Important for self-reflection

The basis of science and democracy 

Critical thinking skills are used every day in a myriad of ways and can be applied to situations such as a CEO approaching a group project or a nurse deciding in which order to treat their patients.

Examples of common critical thinking skills

Critical thinking skills differ from individual to individual and are utilized in various ways. Examples of common critical thinking skills include:

Identification of biases: Identifying biases means knowing there are certain people or things that may have an unfair prejudice or influence on the situation at hand. Pointing out these biases helps to remove them from contention when it comes to solving the problem and allows you to see things from a different perspective.

Research: Researching details and facts allows you to be prepared when presenting your information to people. You’ll know exactly what you’re talking about due to the time you’ve spent with the subject material, and you’ll be well-spoken and know what questions to ask to gain more knowledge. When researching, always use credible sources and factual information.

Open-mindedness: Being open-minded when having a conversation or participating in a group activity is crucial to success. Dismissing someone else’s ideas before you’ve heard them will inhibit you from progressing to a solution, and will often create animosity. If you truly want to solve a problem, you need to be willing to hear everyone’s opinions and ideas if you want them to hear yours.

Analysis: Analyzing your research will lead to you having a better understanding of the things you’ve heard and read. As a true critical thinker, you’ll want to seek out the truth and get to the source of issues. It’s important to avoid taking things at face value and always dig deeper.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving is perhaps the most important skill that critical thinkers can possess. The ability to solve issues and bounce back from conflict is what helps you succeed, be a leader, and effect change. One way to properly solve problems is to first recognize there’s a problem that needs solving. By determining the issue at hand, you can then analyze it and come up with several potential solutions.

How to develop critical thinking skills

You can develop critical thinking skills every day if you approach problems in a logical manner. Here are a few ways you can start your path to improvement:

1. Ask questions.

Be inquisitive about everything. Maintain a neutral perspective and develop a natural curiosity, so you can ask questions that develop your understanding of the situation or task at hand. The more details, facts, and information you have, the better informed you are to make decisions.

2. Practice active listening.

Utilize active listening techniques, which are founded in empathy, to really listen to what the other person is saying. Critical thinking, in part, is the cognitive process of reading the situation: the words coming out of their mouth, their body language, their reactions to your own words. Then, you might paraphrase to clarify what they're saying, so both of you agree you're on the same page.

3. Develop your logic and reasoning.

This is perhaps a more abstract task that requires practice and long-term development. However, think of a schoolteacher assessing the classroom to determine how to energize the lesson. There's options such as playing a game, watching a video, or challenging the students with a reward system. Using logic, you might decide that the reward system will take up too much time and is not an immediate fix. A video is not exactly relevant at this time. So, the teacher decides to play a simple word association game.

Scenarios like this happen every day, so next time, you can be more aware of what will work and what won't. Over time, developing your logic and reasoning will strengthen your critical thinking skills.

Learn tips and tricks on how to become a better critical thinker and problem solver through online courses from notable educational institutions on Coursera. Start with Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking from Duke University or Mindware: Critical Thinking for the Information Age from the University of Michigan.

Article sources

University of the People, “ Why is Critical Thinking Important?: A Survival Guide , https://www.uopeople.edu/blog/why-is-critical-thinking-important/.” Accessed May 18, 2023.

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  • What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

  • Is free from research bias
  • Provides evidence to support its research findings
  • Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
  • What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?
  • When did they say this? Is the source current?
  • Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed ?
  • Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

  • Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
  • Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
  • Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

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critical thinking levels

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

  • Know how to find credible sources
  • Use relevant sources to inform your research
  • Understand what constitutes plagiarism
  • Know how to cite your sources correctly

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

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Critical Thinking

Developing the right mindset and skills.

By the Mind Tools Content Team

We make hundreds of decisions every day and, whether we realize it or not, we're all critical thinkers.

We use critical thinking each time we weigh up our options, prioritize our responsibilities, or think about the likely effects of our actions. It's a crucial skill that helps us to cut out misinformation and make wise decisions. The trouble is, we're not always very good at it!

In this article, we'll explore the key skills that you need to develop your critical thinking skills, and how to adopt a critical thinking mindset, so that you can make well-informed decisions.

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the discipline of rigorously and skillfully using information, experience, observation, and reasoning to guide your decisions, actions, and beliefs. You'll need to actively question every step of your thinking process to do it well.

Collecting, analyzing and evaluating information is an important skill in life, and a highly valued asset in the workplace. People who score highly in critical thinking assessments are also rated by their managers as having good problem-solving skills, creativity, strong decision-making skills, and good overall performance. [1]

Key Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinkers possess a set of key characteristics which help them to question information and their own thinking. Focus on the following areas to develop your critical thinking skills:

Being willing and able to explore alternative approaches and experimental ideas is crucial. Can you think through "what if" scenarios, create plausible options, and test out your theories? If not, you'll tend to write off ideas and options too soon, so you may miss the best answer to your situation.

To nurture your curiosity, stay up to date with facts and trends. You'll overlook important information if you allow yourself to become "blinkered," so always be open to new information.

But don't stop there! Look for opposing views or evidence to challenge your information, and seek clarification when things are unclear. This will help you to reassess your beliefs and make a well-informed decision later. Read our article, Opening Closed Minds , for more ways to stay receptive.

Logical Thinking

You must be skilled at reasoning and extending logic to come up with plausible options or outcomes.

It's also important to emphasize logic over emotion. Emotion can be motivating but it can also lead you to take hasty and unwise action, so control your emotions and be cautious in your judgments. Know when a conclusion is "fact" and when it is not. "Could-be-true" conclusions are based on assumptions and must be tested further. Read our article, Logical Fallacies , for help with this.

Use creative problem solving to balance cold logic. By thinking outside of the box you can identify new possible outcomes by using pieces of information that you already have.

Self-Awareness

Many of the decisions we make in life are subtly informed by our values and beliefs. These influences are called cognitive biases and it can be difficult to identify them in ourselves because they're often subconscious.

Practicing self-awareness will allow you to reflect on the beliefs you have and the choices you make. You'll then be better equipped to challenge your own thinking and make improved, unbiased decisions.

One particularly useful tool for critical thinking is the Ladder of Inference . It allows you to test and validate your thinking process, rather than jumping to poorly supported conclusions.

Developing a Critical Thinking Mindset

Combine the above skills with the right mindset so that you can make better decisions and adopt more effective courses of action. You can develop your critical thinking mindset by following this process:

Gather Information

First, collect data, opinions and facts on the issue that you need to solve. Draw on what you already know, and turn to new sources of information to help inform your understanding. Consider what gaps there are in your knowledge and seek to fill them. And look for information that challenges your assumptions and beliefs.

Be sure to verify the authority and authenticity of your sources. Not everything you read is true! Use this checklist to ensure that your information is valid:

  • Are your information sources trustworthy ? (For example, well-respected authors, trusted colleagues or peers, recognized industry publications, websites, blogs, etc.)
  • Is the information you have gathered up to date ?
  • Has the information received any direct criticism ?
  • Does the information have any errors or inaccuracies ?
  • Is there any evidence to support or corroborate the information you have gathered?
  • Is the information you have gathered subjective or biased in any way? (For example, is it based on opinion, rather than fact? Is any of the information you have gathered designed to promote a particular service or organization?)

If any information appears to be irrelevant or invalid, don't include it in your decision making. But don't omit information just because you disagree with it, or your final decision will be flawed and bias.

Now observe the information you have gathered, and interpret it. What are the key findings and main takeaways? What does the evidence point to? Start to build one or two possible arguments based on what you have found.

You'll need to look for the details within the mass of information, so use your powers of observation to identify any patterns or similarities. You can then analyze and extend these trends to make sensible predictions about the future.

To help you to sift through the multiple ideas and theories, it can be useful to group and order items according to their characteristics. From here, you can compare and contrast the different items. And once you've determined how similar or different things are from one another, Paired Comparison Analysis can help you to analyze them.

The final step involves challenging the information and rationalizing its arguments.

Apply the laws of reason (induction, deduction, analogy) to judge an argument and determine its merits. To do this, it's essential that you can determine the significance and validity of an argument to put it in the correct perspective. Take a look at our article, Rational Thinking , for more information about how to do this.

Once you have considered all of the arguments and options rationally, you can finally make an informed decision.

Afterward, take time to reflect on what you have learned and what you found challenging. Step back from the detail of your decision or problem, and look at the bigger picture. Record what you've learned from your observations and experience.

Critical thinking involves rigorously and skilfully using information, experience, observation, and reasoning to guide your decisions, actions and beliefs. It's a useful skill in the workplace and in life.

You'll need to be curious and creative to explore alternative possibilities, but rational to apply logic, and self-aware to identify when your beliefs could affect your decisions or actions.

You can demonstrate a high level of critical thinking by validating your information, analyzing its meaning, and finally evaluating the argument.

Critical Thinking Infographic

See Critical Thinking represented in our infographic: An Elementary Guide to Critical Thinking .

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Defining Critical Thinking

“Critical thinking relies on content, because you can't navigate masses of information if you have nothing to navigate to.” -Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Professor of Psychology, Temple University

One of the most sought-after skills in nearly every workplace is critical thinking (Doyle, 2018, October 30). But what is critical thinking, exactly? Better yet … what does it take to think critically? To some, it is the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment; for others, it simply involves thinking “outside-the-box”. Either way, to think critically is to possess the unique ability to think reflectively and independently in order to make thoughtful decisions (Figliuolo, 2016, August 2). In other words, critical thinking is not just the accumulation of facts and knowledge; rather, it’s a process of approaching whatever is on your mind in order to come up with the best possible conclusion (Patel, 2018, October 24). Figure 1 illustrates the critical thinking process.

Critical thinking process

Figure 1. Critical thinking process

Three Essential Skills

To think critically, it begins with three essential skills:

  • linking ideas,
  • structuring arguments, and
  • recognizing incongruences.

In order for you to become a better critical thinker, each of the three skills needs to be practiced and applied accordingly. The first skill, linking ideas, involves finding connections between seemly unrelatable, even irrelevant ideas, thoughts, etc. The second skill involves creating structured practical, relevant, and sound arguments. Lastly, to recognize incongruences is to find the real truth by being able to find holes in a theory or argument (MindValley, n.d.).

Food for Thought “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” -Voltaire, French philosopher

Six Low-Level Questions

Once you have the three essential skills down, then you can ask yourself six low-level questions that you can use in nearly any situation (TeachThought Staff, 2018, July 29):

  • What’s happening? Here, you will need to establish the basics and begin forming questions.
  • Why is it important? Ask yourself why the situation at hand is or is not significant.
  • What don’t I see? Ask yourself whether or not there is any important information you might be missing.
  • How do I know? Ponder on not only how you know what you think you know, but how that thought process was generated.
  • Who is saying it? Identify the speaker and their position on the situation, then consider how that position could be influencing that person’s thinking.
  • What else? What if? Think of anything else you be considering when making your decision. In addition, ponder the repercussions of what you’ve considered that might change/alter the outcome of your decision.
Food for Thought “Learn to use your brain power. Critical thinking is the key to creative problem solving in business.” -Richard Branson, Entrepreneur

Blooms Taxonomy

In order to better understand higher-level critical thinking, it helps to be familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy, a classification of educational objectives and skills that educators establish for their students. In Bloom’s Taxonomy, there are three overarching domains known as KSA: (a) Knowledge [cognitive], (b) Skills [psychomotor], and (c) Attitudes [affective]. This taxonomy of learning behaviors is referred to as “the goals of the learning process.” In other words, after a period of learning, the student will have acquired a new knowledge, skill and/or attitude (Bloom et al., 1956). In this resource, we will focus on the Knowledge (cognitive) domain. According to Bloom et al. (1956), the cognitive domain involves the development of intellectual skills. There are six major categories of the cognitive process (Figure 2), beginning with the development with the simplest skills (e.g., remembering basic facts and concepts), through a learning of procedural patterns and concepts that facilitate the development of intellectual abilities, before eventually moving to the highest, most complex skills (e.g., creation of new or original ideas).

Blooms Taxonomy list in lightbulb

Figure 2. Bloom's Taxonomy

  • To further explain, the first level of Bloom’s Taxonomy involves remembering specific information. This includes recalling basic vocabulary, dates, and math facts.
  • Moving up the taxonomy, understanding is demonstrated by a student’s ability to comprehend, organize, compare and to verbalize main concepts. At this level, questions require the ability to understand meaning, not just basic facts. For example, a study might be asked to explain the difference between apples and oranges.
  • The third level, application, is being able to actually use the new knowledge. Within this level, questions often require the student taking what s/he just learned, then applying it in a different way. For example, the student may be asked to take a list of food items, then select four items to make a healthy breakfast.
  • The next level, analysis, involves breaking down information into different parts for a more thorough examination. Here, questions require proven facts (evidence) to support the answer. For example, the student is asked to compare and contrast Republicans to Democrats with regard to their views on supporting or repealing the Affordable Care Act.
  • Evaluation, the fifth level, is the ability to make judgments about information by presenting and defending one’s own opinions. It is important to note that at this level, questions don’t necessarily have a right (or wrong) answer. For example, a student may be asked how s/he would handle observing a friend who cheated on a final exam.
  • The top of the taxonomy involves the synthesis of new information and compiling it in new ways. It is at this level where more abstract, creative, “outside-the-box” thinking comes into play. For example, a student may be asked to design and construct a robot that can walk a certain distance.

While the first three levels of the taxonomy are important to solidify core knowledge, it is within the last three levels – analysis, evaluation, and creativity – that require critical thinking skills. (Anderson et al., 2001).

Practice Activity

In a study by Gottfried and Shearer (2016, May 26), the authors stated that 62% of adults get their news from social networking sites. In fact, the results show that 70% of Reddit users, 66% of Facebook users, and 59% of Twitter users get their news from one or more of these platforms. According to the study, among these three social networking sites, Facebook had the greatest reach with 67% of American adults using the platform. This suggests that the two-thirds of adults who use Facebook to get their news, which amount to 44% of the general population. Unfortunately, social media platforms don’t go through the stringent review process to which most major news outlets are required in order to be in compliance with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Therefore, information can be shared publicly without “fact-checking” to make sure that what’s being shared is truly accurate. With this in mind, one can’t help but ask: What’s the truth versus what isn’t? Better yet … what’s real news and what’s fake?

Your task involves the use of Bloom’s Taxonomy to decipher “fake news” from real news. Using the eight-step infographic on the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) website (https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174) as a guide, review the following news stories to determine which are real and which are fake. Explain your rationale.

1. Strasbourg market attacker ‘pledged allegiance to ISIS’ – source.

2. Lawmakers in California propose a new law called the “Check Your Oxygen Privilege Act”.

3. Four AI-controlled robots kill 29 scientists in Japan.

4. North Korea says it will not denuclearize until the US eliminates ‘nuclear threat’.

5. Two men found living underneath the Calico Mine Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm.

6. Scientists find a brain circuit that could explain seasonal depression.

7. Amazon customer receives 1,700 audio files of a stranger who used Alexa.

8. NFL fines Pittsburgh Steelers $1M each for skipping National Anthem.

9. FBI raids CDC for data on vaccines and autism.

10. Only 60 of 1,566 churches in Houston opened to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

References:

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P. W., Cruikshank, K. A., Mayer, R. E., Pintrich, P. R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York, NY: Pearson, Allyn & Bacon. Bloom, B. (Ed.), Englehart, M., Furst, E., Hill, W., & Krathwohl, D. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York, NY: McCay. Doyle, A. (2018, October 30). Critical thinking definition, skills, and examples. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/critical-thinking-definition-with-examples-2063745 Figliuolo, M. (2016, August 2). Critical thinking. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/Business-Skills-tutorials/Critical-Thinking/424116-2.html Gottfried, J., & Shearer, E. (2016, May 26). News use across social media platforms 2016. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/ MindValley. (n.d.). How to solve the biggest problems with critical thinking exercises [blog]. Retrieved from https://blog.mindvalley.com/critical-thinking-exercises/# Patel, D. (2018, October 24). 16 characteristics of critical thinkers. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/321660 TeachThought Staff. (2018, July 29). 6 critical thinking questions for any situation. Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/critical-thinking/6-critical-thinking-questions-situation/

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Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. It involves the evaluation of sources, such as data, facts, observable phenomena, and research findings.

Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a set of information, and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve problems or make decisions. Employers prioritize the ability to think critically—find out why, plus see how you can demonstrate that you have this ability throughout the job application process. 

Why Do Employers Value Critical Thinking Skills?

Employers want job candidates who can evaluate a situation using logical thought and offer the best solution.

 Someone with critical thinking skills can be trusted to make decisions independently, and will not need constant handholding.

Hiring a critical thinker means that micromanaging won't be required. Critical thinking abilities are among the most sought-after skills in almost every industry and workplace. You can demonstrate critical thinking by using related keywords in your resume and cover letter, and during your interview.

Examples of Critical Thinking

The circumstances that demand critical thinking vary from industry to industry. Some examples include:

  • A triage nurse analyzes the cases at hand and decides the order by which the patients should be treated.
  • A plumber evaluates the materials that would best suit a particular job.
  • An attorney reviews evidence and devises a strategy to win a case or to decide whether to settle out of court.
  • A manager analyzes customer feedback forms and uses this information to develop a customer service training session for employees.

Promote Your Skills in Your Job Search

If critical thinking is a key phrase in the job listings you are applying for, be sure to emphasize your critical thinking skills throughout your job search.

Add Keywords to Your Resume

You can use critical thinking keywords (analytical, problem solving, creativity, etc.) in your resume. When describing your  work history , include top critical thinking skills that accurately describe you. You can also include them in your  resume summary , if you have one.

For example, your summary might read, “Marketing Associate with five years of experience in project management. Skilled in conducting thorough market research and competitor analysis to assess market trends and client needs, and to develop appropriate acquisition tactics.”

Mention Skills in Your Cover Letter

Include these critical thinking skills in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, mention one or two of these skills, and give specific examples of times when you have demonstrated them at work. Think about times when you had to analyze or evaluate materials to solve a problem.

Show the Interviewer Your Skills

You can use these skill words in an interview. Discuss a time when you were faced with a particular problem or challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking to solve it.

Some interviewers will give you a hypothetical scenario or problem, and ask you to use critical thinking skills to solve it. In this case, explain your thought process thoroughly to the interviewer. He or she is typically more focused on how you arrive at your solution rather than the solution itself. The interviewer wants to see you analyze and evaluate (key parts of critical thinking) the given scenario or problem.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer.

Top Critical Thinking Skills

Keep these in-demand critical thinking skills in mind as you update your resume and write your cover letter. As you've seen, you can also emphasize them at other points throughout the application process, such as your interview. 

Part of critical thinking is the ability to carefully examine something, whether it is a problem, a set of data, or a text. People with  analytical skills  can examine information, understand what it means, and properly explain to others the implications of that information.

  • Asking Thoughtful Questions
  • Data Analysis
  • Interpretation
  • Questioning Evidence
  • Recognizing Patterns

Communication

Often, you will need to share your conclusions with your employers or with a group of colleagues. You need to be able to  communicate with others  to share your ideas effectively. You might also need to engage in critical thinking in a group. In this case, you will need to work with others and communicate effectively to figure out solutions to complex problems.

  • Active Listening
  • Collaboration
  • Explanation
  • Interpersonal
  • Presentation
  • Verbal Communication
  • Written Communication

Critical thinking often involves creativity and innovation. You might need to spot patterns in the information you are looking at or come up with a solution that no one else has thought of before. All of this involves a creative eye that can take a different approach from all other approaches.

  • Flexibility
  • Conceptualization
  • Imagination
  • Drawing Connections
  • Synthesizing

Open-Mindedness

To think critically, you need to be able to put aside any assumptions or judgments and merely analyze the information you receive. You need to be objective, evaluating ideas without bias.

  • Objectivity
  • Observation

Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another critical thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating and implementing a solution, and assessing the success of the plan. Employers don’t simply want employees who can think about information critically. They also need to be able to come up with practical solutions.

  • Attention to Detail
  • Clarification
  • Decision Making
  • Groundedness
  • Identifying Patterns

More Critical Thinking Skills

  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Noticing Outliers
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Brainstorming
  • Optimization
  • Restructuring
  • Integration
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Ongoing Improvement
  • Causal Relationships
  • Case Analysis
  • Diagnostics
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Business Intelligence
  • Quantitative Data Management
  • Qualitative Data Management
  • Risk Management
  • Scientific Method
  • Consumer Behavior

Key Takeaways

  • Demonstrate that you have critical thinking skills by adding relevant keywords to your resume.
  • Mention pertinent critical thinking skills in your cover letter, too, and include an example of a time when you demonstrated them at work.
  • Finally, highlight critical thinking skills during your interview. For instance, you might discuss a time when you were faced with a challenge at work and explain how you applied critical thinking skills to solve it.

University of Louisville. " What is Critical Thinking ."

American Management Association. " AMA Critical Skills Survey: Workers Need Higher Level Skills to Succeed in the 21st Century ."

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Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.

3 Core Critical Thinking Skills Every Thinker Should Have

Critically thinking about critical thinking skills..

Posted March 13, 2020 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

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I recently received an email from an educator friend, asking me to briefly describe the skills necessary for critical thinking. They were happy to fill in the blanks themselves from outside reading but wanted to know what specific skills they should focus on teaching their students. I took this as a good opportunity to dedicate a post here to such discussion, in order to provide my friend and any other interested parties with an overview.

To understand critical thinking skills and how they factor into critical thinking, one first needs a definition of the latter. Critical thinking (CT) is a metacognitive process, consisting of a number of skills and dispositions, that when used through self-regulatory reflective judgment, increases the chances of producing a logical conclusion to an argument or solution to a problem (Dwyer, 2017; Dwyer, Hogan & Stewart, 2014). On the surface, this definition clarifies two issues. First, critical thinking is metacognitive—simply, it requires the individual to think about thinking; second, its main components are reflective judgment, dispositions, and skills.

Below the surface, this description requires clarification; hence the impetus for this entry—what is meant by reflective judgment, disposition towards CT, and CT skills? Reflective judgment (i.e. an individuals' understanding of the nature, limits, and certainty of knowing and how this can affect their judgments [King & Kitchener, 1994]) and disposition towards CT (i.e. an inclination, tendency or willingness to perform a given thinking skill [Dwyer, 2017; Facione, Facione & Giancarlo, 1997; Ku, 2009; Norris, 1992; Siegel, 1999; Valenzuela, Nieto & Saiz, 2011]) have both already been covered in my posts; so, consistent with the aim of this piece, let’s discuss CT skills.

CT skills allow individuals to transcend lower-order, memorization-based learning strategies to gain a more complex understanding of the information or problems they encounter (Halpern, 2014). Though debate is ongoing over the definition of CT, one list stands out as a reasonable consensus conceptualization of CT skills. In 1988, a committee of 46 experts in the field of CT gathered to discuss CT conceptualisations, resulting in the Delphi Report; within which was overwhelmingly agreement (i.e. 95% consensus) that analysis , evaluation and inference were the core skills necessary for CT (Facione, 1990). Indeed, over 30 years later, these three CT skills remain the most commonly cited.

1. Analysis

Analysis is a core CT skill used to identify and examine the structure of an argument, the propositions within an argument and the role they play (e.g. the main conclusion, the premises and reasons provided to support the conclusion, objections to the conclusion and inferential relationships among propositions), as well as the sources of the propositions (e.g. personal experience, common belief, and research).

When it comes to analysing the basis for a standpoint, the structure of the argument can be extracted for subsequent evaluation (e.g. from dialogue and text). This can be accomplished through looking for propositions that either support or refute the central claim or other reasons and objections. Through analysis, the argument’s hierarchical structure begins to appear. Notably, argument mapping can aid the visual representation of this hierarchical structure and is supported by research as having positive effects on critical thinking (Butchart et al., 2009; Dwyer, 2011; Dwyer, Hogan & Stewart, 2012; van Gelder, Bisset & Cumming, 2004).

2. Evaluation

Evaluation is a core CT skill that is used in the assessment of propositions and claims (identified through the previous analysis ) with respect to their credibility; relevance; balance, bias (and potential omissions); as well as the logical strength amongst propositions (i.e. the strength of the inferential relationships). Such assessment allows for informed judgment regarding the overall strength or weakness of an argument (Dwyer, 2017; Facione, 1990). If an argument (or its propositions) is not credible, relevant, logical, and unbiased, you should consider excluding it or discussing its weaknesses as an objection.

Evaluating the credibility of claims and arguments involves progressing beyond merely identifying the source of propositions in an argument, to actually examining the "trustworthiness" of those identified sources (e.g. personal experiences, common beliefs/opinions, expert/authority opinion and scientific evidence). This is particularly important because some sources are more credible than others. Evaluation also implies deep consideration of the relevance of claims within an argument, which is accomplished by assessing the contextual relevance of claims and premises—that is, the pertinence or applicability of one proposition to another.

With respect to balance, bias (and potential omissions), it's important to consider the "slant" of an argument—if it seems imbalanced in favour of one line of thinking, then it’s quite possible that the argument has omitted key, opposing points that should also be considered. Imbalance may also imply some level of bias in the argument—another factor that should also be assessed.

critical thinking levels

However, just because an argument is balanced does not mean that it isn’t biased. It may very well be the case that the "opposing views" presented have been "cherry-picked" because they are easily disputed (akin to building a strawman ); thus, making supporting reasons appear stronger than they may actually be—and this is just one example of how a balanced argument may, in fact, be biased. The take-home message regarding balance, bias, and potential omissions should be that, in any argument, you should construct an understanding of the author or speaker’s motivations and consider how these might influence the structure and contents of the argument.

Finally, evaluating the logical strength of an argument is accomplished through monitoring both the logical relationships amongst propositions and the claims they infer. Assessment of logical strength can actually be aided through subsequent inference, as a means of double-checking the logical strength. For example, this can be checked by asking whether or not a particular proposition can actually be inferred based on the propositions that precede it. A useful means of developing this sub-skill is through practicing syllogistic reasoning .

3. Inference

Similar to other educational concepts like synthesis (e.g., see Bloom et al., 1956; Dwyer, 2011; 2017), the final core CT skill, inference , involves the “gathering” of credible, relevant and logical evidence based on the previous analysis and evaluation, for the purpose of drawing a reasonable conclusion (Dwyer, 2017; Facione, 1990). Drawing a conclusion always implies some act of synthesis (i.e. the ability to put parts of information together to form a new whole; see Dwyer, 2011). However, inference is a unique form of synthesis in that it involves the formulation of a set of conclusions derived from a series of arguments or a body of evidence. This inference may imply accepting a conclusion pointed to by an author in light of the evidence they present, or "conjecturing an alternative," equally logical, conclusion or argument based on the available evidence (Facione, 1990). The ability to infer a conclusion in this manner can be completed through formal logic strategies, informal logic strategies (or both) in order to derive intermediate conclusions, as well as central claims.

Another important aspect of inference involves the querying of available evidence, for example, by recognising the need for additional information, gathering it and judging the plausibility of utilising such information for the purpose of drawing a conclusion. Notably, in the context of querying evidence and conjecturing alternative conclusions, inference overlaps with evaluation to a certain degree in that both skills are used to judge the relevance and acceptability of a claim or argument. Furthermore, after inferring a conclusion, the resulting argument should be re-evaluated to ensure that it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that was derived.

Overall, the application of critical thinking skills is a process—one must analyse, evaluate and then infer; and this process can be repeated to ensure that a reasonable conclusion has been drawn. In an effort to simplify the description of this process, for the past few years, I’ve used the analogy of picking apples for baking . We begin by picking apples from a tree. Consider the tree as an analogy, in its own right, for an argument, which is often hierarchically structured like a tree-diagram. By picking apples, I mean identifying propositions and the role they play (i.e. analysis). Once we pick an apple, we evaluate it—we make sure it isn’t rotten (i.e. lacks credibility, is biased) and is suitable for baking (i.e. relevant and logically strong). Finally, we infer— we gather the apples in a basket and bring them home and group them together based on some rationale for construction— maybe four for a pie, three for a crumble and another four for a tart. By the end of the process, we have baked some apple-based goods, or developed a conclusion, solution or decision through critical thinking.

Of course, there is more to critical thinking than the application of skills—a critical thinker must also have the disposition to think critically and engage reflective judgment. However, without the appropriate skills—analysis, evaluation, and inference, it is not likely that CT will be applied. For example, though one might be willing to use CT skills and engage reflective judgment, they may not know how to do so. Conversely, though one might be aware of which CT skills to use in a given context and may have the capacity to perform well when using these skills, they may not be disposed to use them (Valenzuela, Nieto & Saiz, 2011). Though the core CT skills of analysis, evaluation, and inference are not the only important aspects of CT, they are essential for its application.

Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain. New York: McKay.

Butchart, S., Bigelow, J., Oppy, G., Korb, K., & Gold, I. (2009). Improving critical thinking using web-based argument mapping exercises with automated feedback. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25, 2, 268-291.

Dwyer, C.P. (2011). The evaluation of argument mapping as a learning tool. Doctoral Thesis. National University of Ireland, Galway.

Dwyer, C.P. (2017). Critical thinking: Conceptual perspectives and practical guidelines.Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Dwyer, C.P., Hogan, M.J., & Stewart, I. (2012). An evaluation of argument mapping as a method of enhancing critical thinking performance in e-learning environments. Metacognition and Learning, 7, 219-244.

Dwyer, C. P., Hogan, M. J., & Stewart, I. (2014). An integrated critical thinking framework for the 21st century. Thinking Skills & Creativity, 12, 43–52.

Facione, P.A. (1990). The Delphi report: Committee on pre-college philosophy. Millbrae, CA: California Academic Press.

Facione, P.A., Facione, N.C., & Giancarlo, C.A. (1997). Setting expectations for student learning: New directions for higher education. Millbrae: California Academic Press.

Halpern, D.F. (2014). Thought & knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking (5th Ed.). UK: Psychology Press.

King, P. M., & Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Ku, K.Y.L. (2009). Assessing students’ critical thinking performance: Urging for measurements using multi-response format. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 4, 1, 70- 76.

Norris, S. P. (Ed.). (1992). The generalizability of critical thinking: Multiple perspectives on an educational ideal. New York: Teachers College Press.

Siegel, H. (1999). What (good) are thinking dispositions? Educational Theory, 49, 2, 207-221.

Valenzuela, J., Nieto, A.M., & Saiz, C. (2011). Critical thinking motivational scale: A contribution to the study of relationship between critical thinking and motivation. Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 9, 2, 823-848.

van Gelder, T.J., Bissett, M., & Cumming, G. (2004). Enhancing expertise in informal reasoning. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology 58, 142-52.

Christopher Dwyer Ph.D.

Christopher Dwyer, Ph.D., is a lecturer at the Technological University of the Shannon in Athlone, Ireland.

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  • Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework

Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them. (Paul and Elder, 2001). The Paul-Elder framework has three components:

  • The elements of thought (reasoning)
  • The  intellectual standards that should be applied to the elements of reasoning
  • The intellectual traits associated with a cultivated critical thinker that result from the consistent and disciplined application of the intellectual standards to the elements of thought

Graphic Representation of Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework

According to Paul and Elder (1997), there are two essential dimensions of thinking that students need to master in order to learn how to upgrade their thinking. They need to be able to identify the "parts" of their thinking, and they need to be able to assess their use of these parts of thinking.

Elements of Thought (reasoning)

The "parts" or elements of thinking are as follows:

  • All reasoning has a purpose
  • All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, to solve some problem
  • All reasoning is based on assumptions
  • All reasoning is done from some point of view
  • All reasoning is based on data, information and evidence
  • All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas
  • All reasoning contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data
  • All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences

Universal Intellectual Standards

The intellectual standards that are to these elements are used to determine the quality of reasoning. Good critical thinking requires having a command of these standards. According to Paul and Elder (1997 ,2006), the ultimate goal is for the standards of reasoning to become infused in all thinking so as to become the guide to better and better reasoning. The intellectual standards include:

Intellectual Traits

Consistent application of the standards of thinking to the elements of thinking result in the development of intellectual traits of:

  • Intellectual Humility
  • Intellectual Courage
  • Intellectual Empathy
  • Intellectual Autonomy
  • Intellectual Integrity
  • Intellectual Perseverance
  • Confidence in Reason
  • Fair-mindedness

Characteristics of a Well-Cultivated Critical Thinker

Habitual utilization of the intellectual traits produce a well-cultivated critical thinker who is able to:

  • Raise vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
  • Gather and assess relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
  • Come to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • Think open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
  • Communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems

Paul, R. and Elder, L. (2010). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools. Dillon Beach: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.

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Critical thinking

Advice and resources to help you develop your critical voice.

Developing critical thinking skills is essential to your success at University and beyond.  We all need to be critical thinkers to help us navigate our way through an information-rich world. 

Whatever your discipline, you will engage with a wide variety of sources of information and evidence.  You will develop the skills to make judgements about this evidence to form your own views and to present your views clearly.

One of the most common types of feedback received by students is that their work is ‘too descriptive’.  This usually means that they have just stated what others have said and have not reflected critically on the material.  They have not evaluated the evidence and constructed an argument.

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is the art of making clear, reasoned judgements based on interpreting, understanding, applying and synthesising evidence gathered from observation, reading and experimentation. Burns, T., & Sinfield, S. (2016)  Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (4th ed.) London: SAGE, p94.

Being critical does not just mean finding fault.  It means assessing evidence from a variety of sources and making reasoned conclusions.  As a result of your analysis you may decide that a particular piece of evidence is not robust, or that you disagree with the conclusion, but you should be able to state why you have come to this view and incorporate this into a bigger picture of the literature.

Being critical goes beyond describing what you have heard in lectures or what you have read.  It involves synthesising, analysing and evaluating what you have learned to develop your own argument or position.

Critical thinking is important in all subjects and disciplines – in science and engineering, as well as the arts and humanities.  The types of evidence used to develop arguments may be very different but the processes and techniques are similar.  Critical thinking is required for both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study.

What, where, when, who, why, how?

Purposeful reading can help with critical thinking because it encourages you to read actively rather than passively.  When you read, ask yourself questions about what you are reading and make notes to record your views.  Ask questions like:

  • What is the main point of this paper/ article/ paragraph/ report/ blog?
  • Who wrote it?
  • Why was it written?
  • When was it written?
  • Has the context changed since it was written?
  • Is the evidence presented robust?
  • How did the authors come to their conclusions?
  • Do you agree with the conclusions?
  • What does this add to our knowledge?
  • Why is it useful?

Our web page covering Reading at university includes a handout to help you develop your own critical reading form and a suggested reading notes record sheet.  These resources will help you record your thoughts after you read, which will help you to construct your argument.  

Reading at university

Developing an argument

Being a university student is about learning how to think, not what to think.  Critical thinking shapes your own values and attitudes through a process of deliberating, debating and persuasion.   Through developing your critical thinking you can move on from simply disagreeing to constructively assessing alternatives by building on doubts.

There are several key stages involved in developing your ideas and constructing an argument.  You might like to use a form to help you think about the features of critical thinking and to break down the stages of developing your argument.

Features of critical thinking (pdf)

Features of critical thinking (Word rtf)

Our webpage on Academic writing includes a useful handout ‘Building an argument as you go’.

Academic writing

You should also consider the language you will use to introduce a range of viewpoints and to evaluate the various sources of evidence.  This will help your reader to follow your argument.  To get you started, the University of Manchester's Academic Phrasebank has a useful section on Being Critical . 

Academic Phrasebank

Developing your critical thinking

Set yourself some tasks to help develop your critical thinking skills.  Discuss material presented in lectures or from resource lists with your peers.  Set up a critical reading group or use an online discussion forum.  Think about a point you would like to make during discussions in tutorials and be prepared to back up your argument with evidence.

For more suggestions:

Developing your critical thinking - ideas (pdf)

Developing your critical thinking - ideas (Word rtf)

Published guides

For further advice and more detailed resources please see the Critical Thinking section of our list of published Study skills guides.

Study skills guides  

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Supplement to Critical Thinking

How can one assess, for purposes of instruction or research, the degree to which a person possesses the dispositions, skills and knowledge of a critical thinker?

In psychometrics, assessment instruments are judged according to their validity and reliability.

Roughly speaking, an instrument is valid if it measures accurately what it purports to measure, given standard conditions. More precisely, the degree of validity is “the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores for proposed uses of tests” (American Educational Research Association 2014: 11). In other words, a test is not valid or invalid in itself. Rather, validity is a property of an interpretation of a given score on a given test for a specified use. Determining the degree of validity of such an interpretation requires collection and integration of the relevant evidence, which may be based on test content, test takers’ response processes, a test’s internal structure, relationship of test scores to other variables, and consequences of the interpretation (American Educational Research Association 2014: 13–21). Criterion-related evidence consists of correlations between scores on the test and performance on another test of the same construct; its weight depends on how well supported is the assumption that the other test can be used as a criterion. Content-related evidence is evidence that the test covers the full range of abilities that it claims to test. Construct-related evidence is evidence that a correct answer reflects good performance of the kind being measured and an incorrect answer reflects poor performance.

An instrument is reliable if it consistently produces the same result, whether across different forms of the same test (parallel-forms reliability), across different items (internal consistency), across different administrations to the same person (test-retest reliability), or across ratings of the same answer by different people (inter-rater reliability). Internal consistency should be expected only if the instrument purports to measure a single undifferentiated construct, and thus should not be expected of a test that measures a suite of critical thinking dispositions or critical thinking abilities, assuming that some people are better in some of the respects measured than in others (for example, very willing to inquire but rather closed-minded). Otherwise, reliability is a necessary but not a sufficient condition of validity; a standard example of a reliable instrument that is not valid is a bathroom scale that consistently under-reports a person’s weight.

Assessing dispositions is difficult if one uses a multiple-choice format with known adverse consequences of a low score. It is pretty easy to tell what answer to the question “How open-minded are you?” will get the highest score and to give that answer, even if one knows that the answer is incorrect. If an item probes less directly for a critical thinking disposition, for example by asking how often the test taker pays close attention to views with which the test taker disagrees, the answer may differ from reality because of self-deception or simple lack of awareness of one’s personal thinking style, and its interpretation is problematic, even if factor analysis enables one to identify a distinct factor measured by a group of questions that includes this one (Ennis 1996). Nevertheless, Facione, Sánchez, and Facione (1994) used this approach to develop the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI). They began with 225 statements expressive of a disposition towards or away from critical thinking (using the long list of dispositions in Facione 1990a), validated the statements with talk-aloud and conversational strategies in focus groups to determine whether people in the target population understood the items in the way intended, administered a pilot version of the test with 150 items, and eliminated items that failed to discriminate among test takers or were inversely correlated with overall results or added little refinement to overall scores (Facione 2000). They used item analysis and factor analysis to group the measured dispositions into seven broad constructs: open-mindedness, analyticity, cognitive maturity, truth-seeking, systematicity, inquisitiveness, and self-confidence (Facione, Sánchez, and Facione 1994). The resulting test consists of 75 agree-disagree statements and takes 20 minutes to administer. A repeated disturbing finding is that North American students taking the test tend to score low on the truth-seeking sub-scale (on which a low score results from agreeing to such statements as the following: “To get people to agree with me I would give any reason that worked”. “Everyone always argues from their own self-interest, including me”. “If there are four reasons in favor and one against, I’ll go with the four”.) Development of the CCTDI made it possible to test whether good critical thinking abilities and good critical thinking dispositions go together, in which case it might be enough to teach one without the other. Facione (2000) reports that administration of the CCTDI and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) to almost 8,000 post-secondary students in the United States revealed a statistically significant but weak correlation between total scores on the two tests, and also between paired sub-scores from the two tests. The implication is that both abilities and dispositions need to be taught, that one cannot expect improvement in one to bring with it improvement in the other.

A more direct way of assessing critical thinking dispositions would be to see what people do when put in a situation where the dispositions would reveal themselves. Ennis (1996) reports promising initial work with guided open-ended opportunities to give evidence of dispositions, but no standardized test seems to have emerged from this work. There are however standardized aspect-specific tests of critical thinking dispositions. The Critical Problem Solving Scale (Berman et al. 2001: 518) takes as a measure of the disposition to suspend judgment the number of distinct good aspects attributed to an option judged to be the worst among those generated by the test taker. Stanovich, West and Toplak (2011: 800–810) list tests developed by cognitive psychologists of the following dispositions: resistance to miserly information processing, resistance to myside thinking, absence of irrelevant context effects in decision-making, actively open-minded thinking, valuing reason and truth, tendency to seek information, objective reasoning style, tendency to seek consistency, sense of self-efficacy, prudent discounting of the future, self-control skills, and emotional regulation.

It is easier to measure critical thinking skills or abilities than to measure dispositions. The following eight currently available standardized tests purport to measure them: the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (Watson & Glaser 1980a, 1980b, 1994), the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests Level X and Level Z (Ennis & Millman 1971; Ennis, Millman, & Tomko 1985, 2005), the Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test (Ennis & Weir 1985), the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Facione 1990b, 1992), the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (Halpern 2016), the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (Center for Assessment & Improvement of Learning 2017), the Collegiate Learning Assessment (Council for Aid to Education 2017), the HEIghten Critical Thinking Assessment (https://territorium.com/heighten/), and a suite of critical thinking assessments for different groups and purposes offered by Insight Assessment (https://www.insightassessment.com/products). The Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) is unique among them in being designed for use by college faculty to help them improve their development of students’ critical thinking skills (Haynes et al. 2015; Haynes & Stein 2021). Also, for some years the United Kingdom body OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) awarded AS and A Level certificates in critical thinking on the basis of an examination (OCR 2011). Many of these standardized tests have received scholarly evaluations at the hands of, among others, Ennis (1958), McPeck (1981), Norris and Ennis (1989), Fisher and Scriven (1997), Possin (2008, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2014, 2020) and Hatcher and Possin (2021). Their evaluations provide a useful set of criteria that such tests ideally should meet, as does the description by Ennis (1984) of problems in testing for competence in critical thinking: the soundness of multiple-choice items, the clarity and soundness of instructions to test takers, the information and mental processing used in selecting an answer to a multiple-choice item, the role of background beliefs and ideological commitments in selecting an answer to a multiple-choice item, the tenability of a test’s underlying conception of critical thinking and its component abilities, the set of abilities that the test manual claims are covered by the test, the extent to which the test actually covers these abilities, the appropriateness of the weighting given to various abilities in the scoring system, the accuracy and intellectual honesty of the test manual, the interest of the test to the target population of test takers, the scope for guessing, the scope for choosing a keyed answer by being test-wise, precautions against cheating in the administration of the test, clarity and soundness of materials for training essay graders, inter-rater reliability in grading essays, and clarity and soundness of advance guidance to test takers on what is required in an essay. Rear (2019) has challenged the use of standardized tests of critical thinking as a way to measure educational outcomes, on the grounds that  they (1) fail to take into account disputes about conceptions of critical thinking, (2) are not completely valid or reliable, and (3) fail to evaluate skills used in real academic tasks. He proposes instead assessments based on discipline-specific content.

There are also aspect-specific standardized tests of critical thinking abilities. Stanovich, West and Toplak (2011: 800–810) list tests of probabilistic reasoning, insights into qualitative decision theory, knowledge of scientific reasoning, knowledge of rules of logical consistency and validity, and economic thinking. They also list instruments that probe for irrational thinking, such as superstitious thinking, belief in the superiority of intuition, over-reliance on folk wisdom and folk psychology, belief in “special” expertise, financial misconceptions, overestimation of one’s introspective powers, dysfunctional beliefs, and a notion of self that encourages egocentric processing. They regard these tests along with the previously mentioned tests of critical thinking dispositions as the building blocks for a comprehensive test of rationality, whose development (they write) may be logistically difficult and would require millions of dollars.

A superb example of assessment of an aspect of critical thinking ability is the Test on Appraising Observations (Norris & King 1983, 1985, 1990a, 1990b), which was designed for classroom administration to senior high school students. The test focuses entirely on the ability to appraise observation statements and in particular on the ability to determine in a specified context which of two statements there is more reason to believe. According to the test manual (Norris & King 1985, 1990b), a person’s score on the multiple-choice version of the test, which is the number of items that are answered correctly, can justifiably be given either a criterion-referenced or a norm-referenced interpretation.

On a criterion-referenced interpretation, those who do well on the test have a firm grasp of the principles for appraising observation statements, and those who do poorly have a weak grasp of them. This interpretation can be justified by the content of the test and the way it was developed, which incorporated a method of controlling for background beliefs articulated and defended by Norris (1985). Norris and King synthesized from judicial practice, psychological research and common-sense psychology 31 principles for appraising observation statements, in the form of empirical generalizations about tendencies, such as the principle that observation statements tend to be more believable than inferences based on them (Norris & King 1984). They constructed items in which exactly one of the 31 principles determined which of two statements was more believable. Using a carefully constructed protocol, they interviewed about 100 students who responded to these items in order to determine the thinking that led them to choose the answers they did (Norris & King 1984). In several iterations of the test, they adjusted items so that selection of the correct answer generally reflected good thinking and selection of an incorrect answer reflected poor thinking. Thus they have good evidence that good performance on the test is due to good thinking about observation statements and that poor performance is due to poor thinking about observation statements. Collectively, the 50 items on the final version of the test require application of 29 of the 31 principles for appraising observation statements, with 13 principles tested by one item, 12 by two items, three by three items, and one by four items. Thus there is comprehensive coverage of the principles for appraising observation statements. Fisher and Scriven (1997: 135–136) judge the items to be well worked and sound, with one exception. The test is clearly written at a grade 6 reading level, meaning that poor performance cannot be attributed to difficulties in reading comprehension by the intended adolescent test takers. The stories that frame the items are realistic, and are engaging enough to stimulate test takers’ interest. Thus the most plausible explanation of a given score on the test is that it reflects roughly the degree to which the test taker can apply principles for appraising observations in real situations. In other words, there is good justification of the proposed interpretation that those who do well on the test have a firm grasp of the principles for appraising observation statements and those who do poorly have a weak grasp of them.

To get norms for performance on the test, Norris and King arranged for seven groups of high school students in different types of communities and with different levels of academic ability to take the test. The test manual includes percentiles, means, and standard deviations for each of these seven groups. These norms allow teachers to compare the performance of their class on the test to that of a similar group of students.

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  • Critical Thinking and other Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is a higher-order thinking skill. Higher-order thinking skills go beyond basic observation of facts and memorization. They are what we are talking about when we want our students to be evaluative, creative and innovative.

When most people think of critical thinking, they think that their words (or the words of others) are supposed to get “criticized” and torn apart in argument, when in fact all it means is that they are criteria-based. These criteria require that we distinguish fact from fiction; synthesize and evaluate information; and clearly communicate, solve problems and discover truths.

Why is Critical Thinking important in teaching?

According to Paul and Elder (2007), “Much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced.  Yet the quality of our life and that of which we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought.”  Critical thinking is therefore the foundation of a strong education.

critical thinking levels

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy of thinking skills, the goal is to move students from lower- to higher-order thinking:

  • from knowledge (information gathering) to comprehension (confirming)
  • from application (making use of knowledge) to analysis (taking information apart)
  • from evaluation (judging the outcome) to synthesis (putting information together) and creative generation

This provides students with the skills and motivation to become innovative producers of goods, services, and ideas.  This does not have to be a linear process but can move back and forth, and skip steps.

How do I incorporate critical thinking into my course?

The place to begin, and most obvious space to embed critical thinking in a syllabus, is with student-learning objectives/outcomes.  A well-designed course aligns everything else—all the activities, assignments, and assessments—with those core learning outcomes.

critical thinking levels

Learning outcomes contain an action (verb) and an object (noun), and often start with, “Student’s will....” Bloom’s taxonomy can help you to choose appropriate verbs to clearly state what you want students to exit the course doing, and at what level.

  • Students will define the principle components of the water cycle. (This is an example of a lower-order thinking skill.)
  • Students will evaluate how increased/decreased global temperatures will affect the components of the water cycle. (This is an example of a higher-order thinking skill.)

Both of the above examples are about the water cycle and both require the foundational knowledge that form the “facts” of what makes up the water cycle, but the second objective goes beyond facts to an actual understanding, application and evaluation of the water cycle.

Using a tool such as Bloom’s Taxonomy to set learning outcomes helps to prevent vague, non-evaluative expectations. It forces us to think about what we mean when we say, “Students will learn…”  What is learning; how do we know they are learning?

critical thinking levels

The Best Resources For Helping Teachers Use Bloom’s Taxonomy In The Classroom by Larry Ferlazzo

Consider designing class activities, assignments, and assessments—as well as student-learning outcomes—using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide.

The Socratic style of questioning encourages critical thinking.  Socratic questioning  “is systematic method of disciplined questioning that can be used to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions, to analyze concepts, to distinguish what we know from what we don’t know, and to follow out logical implications of thought” (Paul and Elder 2007).

Socratic questioning is most frequently employed in the form of scheduled discussions about assigned material, but it can be used on a daily basis by incorporating the questioning process into your daily interactions with students.

In teaching, Paul and Elder (2007) give at least two fundamental purposes to Socratic questioning:

  • To deeply explore student thinking, helping students begin to distinguish what they do and do not know or understand, and to develop intellectual humility in the process
  • To foster students’ abilities to ask probing questions, helping students acquire the powerful tools of dialog, so that they can use these tools in everyday life (in questioning themselves and others)

How do I assess the development of critical thinking in my students?

If the course is carefully designed around student-learning outcomes, and some of those outcomes have a strong critical-thinking component, then final assessment of your students’ success at achieving the outcomes will be evidence of their ability to think critically.  Thus, a multiple-choice exam might suffice to assess lower-order levels of “knowing,” while a project or demonstration might be required to evaluate synthesis of knowledge or creation of new understanding.

Critical thinking is not an “add on,” but an integral part of a course.

  • Make critical thinking deliberate and intentional in your courses—have it in mind as you design or redesign all facets of the course
  • Many students are unfamiliar with this approach and are more comfortable with a simple quest for correct answers, so take some class time to talk with students about the need to think critically and creatively in your course; identify what critical thinking entail, what it looks like, and how it will be assessed.

Additional Resources

  • Barell, John. Teaching for Thoughtfulness: Classroom Strategies to Enhance Intellectual Development . Longman, 1991.
  • Brookfield, Stephen D. Teaching for Critical Thinking: Tools and Techniques to Help Students Question Their Assumptions . Jossey-Bass, 2012.
  • Elder, Linda and Richard Paul. 30 Days to Better Thinking and Better Living through Critical Thinking . FT Press, 2012.
  • Fasko, Jr., Daniel, ed. Critical Thinking and Reasoning: Current Research, Theory, and Practice . Hampton Press, 2003.
  • Fisher, Alec. Critical Thinking: An Introduction . Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Paul, Richard and Linda Elder. Critical Thinking: Learn the Tools the Best Thinkers Use . Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.
  • Faculty Focus article, A Syllabus Tip: Embed Big Questions
  • The Critical Thinking Community
  • The Critical Thinking Community’s The Thinker’s Guides Series and The Art of Socratic Questioning

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What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas.  Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and thought since the time of early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and has continued to be a subject of discussion into the modern age, for example the ability to recognise fake news .

Critical thinking might be described as the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.

In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information.

Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not.

Critical thinkers will identify, analyse and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct.

Someone with critical thinking skills can:

Understand the links between ideas.

Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.

Recognise, build and appraise arguments.

Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.

Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.

Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs and values.

Critical thinking is thinking about things in certain ways so as to arrive at the best possible solution in the circumstances that the thinker is aware of. In more everyday language, it is a way of thinking about whatever is presently occupying your mind so that you come to the best possible conclusion.

Critical Thinking is:

A way of thinking about particular things at a particular time; it is not the accumulation of facts and knowledge or something that you can learn once and then use in that form forever, such as the nine times table you learn and use in school.

The Skills We Need for Critical Thinking

The skills that we need in order to be able to think critically are varied and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem solving, and decision making.

Specifically we need to be able to:

Think about a topic or issue in an objective and critical way.

Identify the different arguments there are in relation to a particular issue.

Evaluate a point of view to determine how strong or valid it is.

Recognise any weaknesses or negative points that there are in the evidence or argument.

Notice what implications there might be behind a statement or argument.

Provide structured reasoning and support for an argument that we wish to make.

The Critical Thinking Process

You should be aware that none of us think critically all the time.

Sometimes we think in almost any way but critically, for example when our self-control is affected by anger, grief or joy or when we are feeling just plain ‘bloody minded’.

On the other hand, the good news is that, since our critical thinking ability varies according to our current mindset, most of the time we can learn to improve our critical thinking ability by developing certain routine activities and applying them to all problems that present themselves.

Once you understand the theory of critical thinking, improving your critical thinking skills takes persistence and practice.

Try this simple exercise to help you to start thinking critically.

Think of something that someone has recently told you. Then ask yourself the following questions:

Who said it?

Someone you know? Someone in a position of authority or power? Does it matter who told you this?

What did they say?

Did they give facts or opinions? Did they provide all the facts? Did they leave anything out?

Where did they say it?

Was it in public or in private? Did other people have a chance to respond an provide an alternative account?

When did they say it?

Was it before, during or after an important event? Is timing important?

Why did they say it?

Did they explain the reasoning behind their opinion? Were they trying to make someone look good or bad?

How did they say it?

Were they happy or sad, angry or indifferent? Did they write it or say it? Could you understand what was said?

What are you Aiming to Achieve?

One of the most important aspects of critical thinking is to decide what you are aiming to achieve and then make a decision based on a range of possibilities.

Once you have clarified that aim for yourself you should use it as the starting point in all future situations requiring thought and, possibly, further decision making. Where needed, make your workmates, family or those around you aware of your intention to pursue this goal. You must then discipline yourself to keep on track until changing circumstances mean you have to revisit the start of the decision making process.

However, there are things that get in the way of simple decision making. We all carry with us a range of likes and dislikes, learnt behaviours and personal preferences developed throughout our lives; they are the hallmarks of being human. A major contribution to ensuring we think critically is to be aware of these personal characteristics, preferences and biases and make allowance for them when considering possible next steps, whether they are at the pre-action consideration stage or as part of a rethink caused by unexpected or unforeseen impediments to continued progress.

The more clearly we are aware of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, the more likely our critical thinking will be productive.

The Benefit of Foresight

Perhaps the most important element of thinking critically is foresight.

Almost all decisions we make and implement don’t prove disastrous if we find reasons to abandon them. However, our decision making will be infinitely better and more likely to lead to success if, when we reach a tentative conclusion, we pause and consider the impact on the people and activities around us.

The elements needing consideration are generally numerous and varied. In many cases, consideration of one element from a different perspective will reveal potential dangers in pursuing our decision.

For instance, moving a business activity to a new location may improve potential output considerably but it may also lead to the loss of skilled workers if the distance moved is too great. Which of these is the more important consideration? Is there some way of lessening the conflict?

These are the sort of problems that may arise from incomplete critical thinking, a demonstration perhaps of the critical importance of good critical thinking.

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In Summary:

Critical thinking is aimed at achieving the best possible outcomes in any situation. In order to achieve this it must involve gathering and evaluating information from as many different sources possible.

Critical thinking requires a clear, often uncomfortable, assessment of your personal strengths, weaknesses and preferences and their possible impact on decisions you may make.

Critical thinking requires the development and use of foresight as far as this is possible. As Doris Day sang, “the future’s not ours to see”.

Implementing the decisions made arising from critical thinking must take into account an assessment of possible outcomes and ways of avoiding potentially negative outcomes, or at least lessening their impact.

  • Critical thinking involves reviewing the results of the application of decisions made and implementing change where possible.

It might be thought that we are overextending our demands on critical thinking in expecting that it can help to construct focused meaning rather than examining the information given and the knowledge we have acquired to see if we can, if necessary, construct a meaning that will be acceptable and useful.

After all, almost no information we have available to us, either externally or internally, carries any guarantee of its life or appropriateness.  Neat step-by-step instructions may provide some sort of trellis on which our basic understanding of critical thinking can blossom but it doesn’t and cannot provide any assurance of certainty, utility or longevity.

Continue to: Critical Thinking and Fake News Critical Reading

See also: Analytical Skills Understanding and Addressing Conspiracy Theories Introduction to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Critical thinking definition

critical thinking levels

Critical thinking, as described by Oxford Languages, is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.

Active and skillful approach, evaluation, assessment, synthesis, and/or evaluation of information obtained from, or made by, observation, knowledge, reflection, acumen or conversation, as a guide to belief and action, requires the critical thinking process, which is why it's often used in education and academics.

Some even may view it as a backbone of modern thought.

However, it's a skill, and skills must be trained and encouraged to be used at its full potential.

People turn up to various approaches in improving their critical thinking, like:

  • Developing technical and problem-solving skills
  • Engaging in more active listening
  • Actively questioning their assumptions and beliefs
  • Seeking out more diversity of thought
  • Opening up their curiosity in an intellectual way etc.

Is critical thinking useful in writing?

Critical thinking can help in planning your paper and making it more concise, but it's not obvious at first. We carefully pinpointed some the questions you should ask yourself when boosting critical thinking in writing:

  • What information should be included?
  • Which information resources should the author look to?
  • What degree of technical knowledge should the report assume its audience has?
  • What is the most effective way to show information?
  • How should the report be organized?
  • How should it be designed?
  • What tone and level of language difficulty should the document have?

Usage of critical thinking comes down not only to the outline of your paper, it also begs the question: How can we use critical thinking solving problems in our writing's topic?

Let's say, you have a Powerpoint on how critical thinking can reduce poverty in the United States. You'll primarily have to define critical thinking for the viewers, as well as use a lot of critical thinking questions and synonyms to get them to be familiar with your methods and start the thinking process behind it.

Are there any services that can help me use more critical thinking?

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  • Open access
  • Published: 02 January 2024

May I come in? A probe into the contributions of self-esteem, teacher support, and critical thinking to anxiety and shyness in language classes

  • Lei Li 1 &
  • Tahereh Heydarnejad   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-0011-9442 2  

BMC Psychology volume  12 , Article number:  7 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

Metrics details

Many students feel uncomfortable when obliged to communicate in English. Students’ fear of speaking English is influenced by psychological reasons such as the fear of failing, being misunderstood, and making grammatical errors. Students’ active participation in English class discussions might be hindered by shyness, nervousness, lack of confidence, and motivation. Helping these reserved students gain self-assurance and perfect their spoken English is a top priority for all English language instructors. In the classroom, teachers may use some simple methods to encourage their reserved students to open up and speak English with more ease and confidence. The existing literature on students’ shyness shows that the gap in this realm is great and a critical look is needed. To this end, the current research intended to gauge the effects of self-esteem, teacher support, and critical thinking on anxiety and shyness in language classes. 385 language learners attending English language institutions took part in this research. They were at intermediate and upper intermediate levels. The findings of both confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) point to the fact that improving students’ self-esteem, teacher support, and critical thinking may have a moderating effect on students ‘anxiety and shyness in language learning. The implications of this inquiry may be advantageous for language learners, language instructors, as well as policymakers.

Peer Review reports

Throughout the process of their academic journey, multiple learners have encountered some adverse events that might potentially impede their progress in acquiring a foreign language. Language learners may find speaking and writing to be more demanding and tough since they need to use their skills to produce spoken or written communications. Over the years, there have been several improvements in the techniques and methods used to teach speaking and writing in order to make the learning process simpler. As a result, despite numerous obstacles, some students are able to overcome them and persevere in their attempts to learn and utilize a second language. However, some students may struggle to overcome hurdles, perhaps leading to the development of foreign language anxiety (FLA). FLA is a condition that is marked by the experiencing of negative emotions, such as unease, anxiety, and nervousness, when engaging in tasks such as listening, writing, reading, and speaking in a language that is not one’s native tongue.

According to the definition provided by [ 1 ], anxiety refers to a phenomenon that is peculiar to a particular setting, when a person has a negative evaluation of their own communication skills within the framework of language acquisition. The research conducted by [ 2 , 3 ] suggests that anxiety in language learning may be categorized into three different components. The aforementioned components include communication apprehension, exam anxiety, and the concern of receiving poor evaluations. The concept of “communication apprehension” pertains to the anxiety experienced by pupils while interacting with people or encountering challenges in comprehending auditory information. The subsequent element of anxiety in the context of language acquisition is often referred to as test anxiety, which manifests when students have apprehension around their anticipated performance on an examination.

An EFL student who suffers from a phobia of negative assessment is one who intentionally avoids circumstances that have the potential to result in the formation of unfavorable judgments in the perceptions of other people, and who is uncomfortable with the perspectives that are held by other people. Similar research by [ 3 ] found that students’ personality traits (introversion vs. extroversion) significantly impact the degree to which they worry about failing their foreign language classes. In accordance with [ 4 ], students’ anxiety affects their classroom performance in ways that contribute to their development and progression. The Attentional Control Theory (ACT) offers an explanation for anxiety and its negative consequences, as proposed by [ 5 ]. Anxious students, according to the ACT, report high levels of worry and low levels of self-confidence, both of which are associated with poor outcomes [ 6 , 7 ].

The consequences of skill-based anxiety in second/foreign language learning have also been studied in recent studies. The studies looked at many forms of communication anxiety, such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing [ 8 , 9 ]. Research results presented previously indicate that students’ lack of motivation and poor performance may be traced back to their fear of public speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Recent research by [ 10 , 11 ] found that students’ ability to feel academically buoyant and control their emotions helped them deal with their nervousness during language learning.

Shyness is considered to be one of the personality traits that might contribute to anxiety while speaking a foreign language. This is mostly due to the fact that shyness tends to be more evident in social situations that include communication, particularly when people are speaking a language that is not their native tongue. In the words of [ 12 ], a shy person is typically fearful, has a tendency to talk less, and experiences uncomfortable feelings when communicating with others or when in unfamiliar situations. [ 13 ] defined two forms of shyness: frightened shyness and self-conscious shyness. As described by [ 14 , 15 ], terrified shyness is a sort of shyness that emerges when a person interacts with other individuals. The person’s knowledge that he or she is an integral part of a community that has the ability to assess the individual is a cause of the second sort of shyness.

Diverse constructs attributable to the learner can assist students in reducing potential shyness and anxiety in language classes and ensuring their well-being. The construct of self-esteem, which has been extensively investigated within the field of education, pertains to an individual’s subjective evaluation of their own worth or value [ 16 ]. Possessing elevated self-esteem is crucial for fostering healthy mental health and overall well-being. Having a high level of self-esteem is beneficial as it enables individuals to cultivate effective coping mechanisms, effectively navigate through challenging situations, and have a balanced viewpoint towards adverse experiences [ 17 ]. The classification of self-esteem is based on three levels: expanded, substantial, and inadequate self-esteem [ 18 ]. People with elevated self-esteem consistently see themselves as superior to others and engage in the practice of diminishing the capabilities of others. However, those who possess a high level of self-esteem tend to have a propensity for self-love and self-acceptance via placing faith in their own capabilities. On the contrary, those characterized by a diminished degree of se lack confidence in their own talents and exhibit doubt over their capacity to successfully complete a given activity.

The significance of self-esteem in EFL settings is highly emphasized owing to the distinctive characteristics of L2 education, as highlighted by [ 19 ]. According to [ 20 ], self-esteem refers to an individual’s belief in their own abilities and worth. [ 21 ] suggest that the construct being examined is derived from an individual’s subjective evaluations of their own talents, competencies, and social relationships. In the words of [ 22 ], self-esteem is closely connected to the process of self-evaluation, which encompasses cognitive evaluations that play a vital role in an individual’s perception of their own value and mental well-being. Following its establishment within the existing body of literature on the interplay between psycho-emotional factors and EFL settings, numerous studies have been undertaken to explore the relationship between self-esteem, optimistic feelings, academic drive, nervousness, accomplishment, retention, adaptability, and related variables [ 21 ].

In addition, EFL scholars have gone a step further over the past decade to investigate how students’ confidence affects their language skills and academic outcomes in areas like oral communication, written expression, reading comprehension, and listening [ 23 ]. In a similar line of inquiry, [ 24 ] reached the conclusion that structural elicitation plays a mediating role in the process of developing advanced and intermediate language learners’ speaking skills. The results of the research showed that students of another language who were able to demonstrate greater levels of self-esteem fared better on oral examinations when they were given in mixed groups. Evidence was discovered by [ 25 , 26 ] to support the hypothesis that teachers who demonstrate good social and emotional skills to their students play an essential role in the students’ personal growth in these areas.

Teacher support (TS) can also be critical in learners’ mental and psychological success. TS includes educators’ empathy, compassion, commitment, reliability, and warmth for their pupils [ 27 ]. On the basis of Tardy’s [ 28 ] social support paradigm, the wide viewpoint defines TS as the act of a teacher providing informational, instrumental, emotional, or appraisal assistance to a student, regardless of the setting in which the student is located. Supportive instructors respect and are passionate about in developing personal ties with their students, and they may provide aid, assistance, and guidance to pupils in need [ 29 ]. Effective assistance from the instructor is probably to make students feel comfortable and inspired, which will motivate them to put extra work into the course of study, become more involved in educational endeavors, and accomplish greater educational results [ 30 ]. TS is a complex concept that has been interpreted in a variety of ways. There are three components of TS that are central to the self-determination approach: encouragement of self-determination, commitment for engagement, and encouragement for regulation [ 31 ]. TS for their pupils may be broken down into four categories from an interpersonal standpoint: informative, essential, scrutiny, and emotional [ 32 ].

Research findings have indicated a significant positive relationship between TS and various dimensions of student engagement, including behavioral, cognitive, and emotional aspects. Furthermore, it should be noted that teacher support has the potential to indirectly impact students’ academic engagement by fostering good accomplishment emotions and mitigating negative success emotions [ 27 , 31 ]. Previous research has mostly focused on investigating teacher assistance in the context of general education [ 32 ], with minimal emphasis placed on its impact on students’ acquisition of a second language. Furthermore, it should be noted that teacher support has the potential to indirectly impact students’ academic engagement by fostering good accomplishment emotions and mitigating negative success emotions [ 33 ].

Previous research has mostly focused on investigating teacher assistance in the context of general education [ 32 ], with minimal emphasis placed on its impact on students’ acquisition of a second language. The significance of the teacher as a crucial source of positive reinforcement for learners in language courses has been recognized through the interpersonal character of language instruction and frequent communication between teachers and students [ 33 ]. Therefore, it is imperative to delve deeper into the exploration of teacher support as a fundamental factor associated with teachers [ 34 ].

As described by [ 35 ], CT is a process of continually assessing hypotheses in order to draw inferences about the world. [ 36 ] uses the phrase “reflective practices” to define critical thinking, which establishes a logical bridge between initial assumptions and well-grounded conclusions. The American Philosophical Association offers a definitive definition of CT by describing it as the process of making informed, self-controlled decisions by the use of evidence, reasoning, and logic [ 37 ]. Despite the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of CT, a large amount of research demonstrates the importance of CT in many walks of life, notably in accomplishing academic goals [ 38 , 39 ]. Students are in need to have an understanding of how to employ CT techniques in the classroom in order to learn, as [ 40 ] argued.

Moreover, [ 41 ] highlighted the central importance of CT in this debate by highlighting its ability to transform inactive participants into active questioners. Teachers, as the, are accountable for teaching and practicing deep understanding, yet CT is not a natural talent [ 42 ]. With these considerations in mind, the study of critical thinking and its beneficial impacts on academic success in EFL contexts (among many others) is a fruitful area in which to engage in educational inquiry. [ 43 ], for example, have examined the value of creating a model for instructing critical thinking in the EFL classroom. They came to the conclusion that students who are able to think critically are better equipped to develop their own methods of reflective learning. According to the findings of another research by [ 44 ], if EFL instructors acquire sufficient understanding about critical thinking, they will be able to use it in their own classes. Comparable reasons for the failure to properly deploy CT in EFL classrooms were cited by [ 39 , 44 ], who pointed to EFL instructors’ limited comprehension of CT and the discrepancy between teachers’ positive sentiments regarding CT and their actual classroom actions.

With these considerations in mind, the study of critical thinking and its beneficial impacts on academic success in EFL contexts (among many others) is a fruitful area in which to engage in educational inquiry. [ 45 ], for example, have examined the value of creating a model for instructing critical thinking in the EFL classroom. They came to the conclusion that students who are able to think critically are better equipped to develop their own methods of reflective learning. According to the findings of another research by [ 46 ], if EFL instructors acquire sufficient understanding about critical thinking, they will be able to use it in their own classes. Comparable reasons for the failure to properly deploy CT in EFL classrooms were cited by [ 47 ], who pointed to EFL instructors’ limited comprehension of CT and the discrepancy between teachers’ positive sentiments regarding CT and their actual classroom actions. Literature reviews reveal that students experience CT in various ways. CT also has a considerable impact on how students form their sense of self [ 48 ]. Moreover, [ 49 ] found that using CT enhanced both reading comprehension and language acquisition. EFL students with higher CT scores performed better in writing tasks, as shown by [ 50 ]. It was also concluded that CT boosted students’ ability to learn via exploration [ 51 , 52 , 53 ].

Given the substantial impact of the constructs mentioned above in facilitating the acquisition of a foreign language, as well as the limited amount of research investigating their interconnections, the main aim of this study was to investigate the influence of self-esteem, TS, and CT on reducing shyness and anxiety in the context of English as a Foreign Language in Iran. Drawing upon relevant academic literature and theoretical frameworks, a conceptual framework was developed to visually represent the dynamic interplay of the aforementioned elements. The proposed model (Fig.  1 ) was next subjected to CFA and SEM, which are both extensively used statistical methods for evaluating the construct validity of latent variables and the relationships among multiple variables, respectively. In order to accomplish the goals of the study, the researchers developed the following research inquiries:

To what extent does the development of self-esteem skills among EFL learners help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety?

To what extent does the development of teacher support among EFL learners help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety?

To what extent does the development of critical thinking skills among EFL learners help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety?

In light of the aforementioned research inquiries, the subsequent null hypotheses were put forth:

The development of self-esteem skills among EFL learners does not help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety.

The development of teacher support among EFL learners does not help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety.

The development of critical thinking among EFL learners does not help to the reduction of shyness and anxiety.

figure 1

The suggested model

Methodology

Context and participants.

There was a total of 385 students who took part in the study, with men making up 33% of the group and women the other 68.47%. All respondents were Iranian pursuing English learning in private language institutions (Mashhad, northeast of Iran); their ages varied from 16 to 19 with a median of 17. The survey was conducted in English since respondents were proficient enough in the language (upper and intermediate levels) to answer questions in the intended language. Those who were interested in taking part completed an electronic permission form and sent it to the study’s organizers. The researchers made it very apparent that taking part in the study was entirely optional and that individuals might stop participating at any moment. Researchers also promised participants that their comments would be kept secret and that they would be updated on the study’s findings. It is worth mentioning that the studies involving human participants were reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Review Committee at Private Language Institutions in Mashhad (Approval No. 29/213,087/2 M).

Instruments

The Foreign Language Learning Self-esteem Scale (FLLSE) was used in order to investigate the levels of self-esteem held by university students studying EFL. Using a Likert scale with five points, this tool was designed by [ 18 ]. The scale ranges from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The FLLSE is comprised of a total of 25 questions, which are broken down into four categories: (1) language competence (e.g., “I possess a high level of comprehension in the English language.”), (2) actual in-class language use (e.g., “I am available to participate in any English classroom activities as a volunteer.”), (3) in-class correlations (e.g., “I participate in English classroom activities with reluctance.”), and (4) attitude toward behavior (e.g., “I am not well-liked by my English classmates.”). In this particular investigation, the dependability of this instrument was evaluated, and the result of the Cronbach alpha coefficient was found to be satisfactory (α = 0.851).

In order to conduct an evaluation of teacher support, [ 26 ], Teacher Support Measure (TSM) with two subsections was used. These subsections included four items each for teacher academic support and teacher personal support. On a Likert scale of five points, each item was given a score ranging from 1 (always) to 5 (never). For the purpose of evaluating subject-specific teacher assistance, these questions have been revised with the addition of the word “English.” Cronbach’s alpha indicated that the reliability of this scale was satisfactory (with scores ranging from 0.811 to 0.892.

CT was evaluated using the Watson–Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Form A (WGCTAF) by [ 54 ], who were studying university students’ CT. This measure is broken up into five categories: inference, identifying assumptions, making deductions, interpretation, and assessment. Each category has a total of 32 questions. Cronbach’s alpha was determined to be adequate in this investigation (α = 0.865), as reported.

To determine the degree of shyness among the participants the McCroskey Shyness Scale (MSS) [ 55 ] was applied. The participants were asked to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with each of 14 statements (e.g., I keep thinking that the other students are better at languages than I am.) on a 5-point scale, with 1 being a strong disagreement and 5 representing a strong agreement. The study’s results were corroborated by Cronbach’s alpha, which suggested that the reliability of this scale was good (α = 0.876).

The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS), which was developed and validated by [ 2 ], was used in an investigation of the degree to which university students suffer anxiety when studying a foreign language. The 33 questions on this scale, which uses a Likert scale with five points (range from strongly agree to strongly disagree), were chosen to evaluate communication anxiety, fear of unfavorable evaluation, exam anxiety, and anxiety associated with learning a foreign language. Cronbach’s alpha indicated that the reliability of the FLCAS was satisfactory (with scores ranging from 0.833 to 0.862), and this was supported by the findings of the study.

Data collection and analysis

In 2023, researchers conducted the data collection procedure. Online forms (specifically Google Forms) were used to collect the data. This online survey has five sections: the FLLSE, TSM, WGCTAF, MSS, and FLCAS. As a result of the fact that the participants had the requisite qualifications to respond to the text in English, the scales were written in the target language, and translation was not required. Due to the rigorous preparation of the computerized survey, there would have been little likelihood of any data being lost. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was first used to look at the data distribution. Data screening confirmed the normality of the data, demonstrating the reliability of parametric methods. Given the assumption of normal distribution in the data, CFA and SEM were conducted using LISREL 8.80. CFA is a statistical method used to validate the component structure of a given collection of observed data. Additionally, CFA enables researchers to examine if there is a connection between observable variables and the latent constructs that underlie them [ 56 , 57 ].

This part provides an exposition of the findings derived from the data analysis, with comprehensive elucidations for each constituent element. The first phase (Table  1 ) entails the analysis of descriptive data about the different elements of each instrument.

Upon considering self-esteem, the prevailing course of action was seeking out Attitude toward Behavior in the Class of Foreign Language, with a mean score of 23.600 and a standard deviation of 6.062. Upon deconstructing the major factors of the TS scale, it was shown that Teacher Personal Support had the highest average value (M = 14.395, SD = 3.684) compared to the other core variables within the scale. The variable of Recognizing Assumptions had the highest level of significance in relation to CT. The average score on the fourth instrument, Shyness, was 35.584, with a standard deviation of 11.406. Moreover, Fear of Negative Evaluation exhibited a mean score of 30.161, accompanied by a standard deviation of 9.603.

The data was then subjected to the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test in order to identify any anomalous patterns. The results are shown in Table  2 .

Based on the data shown in Table  2 , the values of all instruments and their respective components are above the threshold of 0.05. As a result of this observation, it may be inferred that parametric approaches are appropriate for the analysis of the data.

In this study, the link between self-esteem, TS, CT, shyness, and anxiety are examined using a Pearson product-moment correlation analysis.

Referring to Table  3 , the association between self-esteem, shyness, and anxiety subcomponents were negative. The variables of shyness (r = -0.834), communication anxiety (r = -0.794), fear of negative evaluation (r = -0.782), test anxiety (r = -0.713), and anxiety of foreign language class (r = -0.743) demonstrated a significant correlation. Furthermore, it was shown that there were statistically significant negative relationships between TS, shyness, and anxiety subcomponents. The variables examined in this study were shyness (r = -0.940), communication anxiety (r = -0.883), fear of negative evaluation (r = -0.877), test anxiety (r = -0.846), and anxiety of foreign language class (r = -0.908). Moreover, there was a significant negative correlation observed between the subcomponents of anxiety, shyness, and CT. Specifically, the correlations were as follows: shyness (r = -0.563), communication anxiety (r = -0.645), fear of negative evaluation (r = -0.679), test anxiety (r = -0.609), and anxiety of foreign language class (r = -0.655).

The results are shown in Table  4 , which demonstrates that all of the fitness levels for Model 1 fall within the permissible thresholds. The aforementioned values consist of the chi-square/df ratio (2.958), the root-mean-squared error of approximation (RMSEA) (0.071), the goodness-of-fit (GFI) (0.947), the goodness-of-fit (NFI) (0.938), and the comparative fit index (CFI) (0.962).

In addition, Table  4 provides further evidence that the chi-square/df ratio (2.994), the RMSEA (0.072), the GFI (0.956), the NFI (0.961), and the CFI (0.978) all meet the criteria for a satisfactory fit with respect to Model 2.

figure 2

The symbolic representation of the values of the path coefficients (Model 1)

figure 3

T values for path coefficient significance (Model 1)

The visual representation of the relationship among the components is shown in Figs.  2 and 3 , as well as in Table  5 . The standardized estimates and t-values indicate a significant correlation between self-esteem and shyness (β = -0.80, t = -22.76), as well as between TS and shyness (β = -0.93, t = -31.12). Furthermore, the relationship between CT and shyness (β = -0.54, t = -8.23) was found to be negative. Similarly, negative relationships were seen between self-esteem and anxiety (β = -0.74, t = -17.65), TS and anxiety (β = -0.86, t = -25.12), as well as CT and anxiety (β = -0.62, t = -12.23).

figure 4

The symbolic representation of the values of the path coefficients (Model 2)

figure 5

T values for path coefficient significance (Model 2)

The detailed relationships among the subscales are illustrated in Figs.  4 and 5 as well as Table  6 .

The results indicate a significant and unfavorable correlation between the subsequent factors: Self-esteem and shyness (β= -0.80, t= -22.43), TS and shyness (β= -0.93, t= -30.74), as well as CT and shyness (β= -0.54, t= -7.76). In a similar vein, a statistically significant association was observed between the subscales, namely self-esteem and communication anxiety (β= -0.78, t= -20.81), TS and communication anxiety (β=-0.87, t= -25.33), CT and communication anxiety (β =-0.61, t= -11.59), self-esteem and fear of negative evaluation (β= -0.76, t= -18.84), TS and fear of negative evaluation (β=-0.85, t= -24.76), as well as CT and fear of negative evaluation (β=-0.66, t= -13.27). The results indicate that there were negative and statistically significant relationships between self-esteem and test anxiety (β=--0.69, t= -14.32), TS and test anxiety (β=-0.82, t= -22.95), CT and test anxiety (β=-0.58, t= -9.64), self-esteem and anxiety of foreign language class (β=-0.72, t= -16.55), TS and anxiety of foreign language class (β=-0.90, t= -28.68), and TS and anxiety of foreign language class (β=-0.64, t= -12.88).

The primary objective of this research was to examine the correlation between self-esteem, TS, and CT with shyness and anxiety in language courses within an EFL environment. Consequently, a model was constructed and assessed using SEM to illustrate the interrelationships among these components in this study. The results indicate that self-esteem, TS, and CT strongly influenced the levels of shyness and anxiety experienced by students in language lessons. The mediating effects of self-esteem, TS, and CT are emphasized and discussed below in relation to the connections shown in Models 1 and 2.

The first inquiry was to ascertain the degree to which the elevated levels of self-esteem among EFL students influenced the reduction of shyness and anxiety in language lessons. The findings revealed that pupils with higher self-esteem levels felt lesser shyness and anxiety. The theoretical implications of this discovery might be debated. The idea of self-esteem is supported theoretically by both self-determination theory and self-identity theory [ 16 , 18 ]. EFL leaners may benefit from self-esteem both directly and indirectly since it helps them develop a good sense of self, which in turn fosters positive attitudes about schoolwork and evaluations. The favorable effect of self-esteem on shyness and anxiety, which are fundamental ideas in the field of EFL, is consistent with the results of [ 58 ], who came to a similar conclusion.

A positive self-concept, which is a result of self-esteem, assists language learners in cultivating robust cognitive, metacognitive, and problem-solving abilities. This conclusion aligns with the fundamental principles of social-cognitive theory [ 55 ], which emphasize the need of students actively monitoring and assessing their own performance and making necessary modifications to optimize their efficacy. The self-determination theory proposed by [ 59 ] states that an increase in an individual’s level of self-awareness results in improvements in that person’s levels of motivation, satisfaction, and social participation.

With regard to the second research question, it was found that EFL students who perceived high levels of TS felt more confident and less shy. The acquisition of a foreign language is often facilitated inside a classroom setting, when learners are supported by teachers and their peers. This particular circumstance might elicit feelings of worry, particularly among those who possess introverted tendencies, since they harbor apprehensions of potential unfavorable challenges. Through the process of identifying these learners, educators may get an understanding of the specific sort of motivation that drives their engagement with EFL learning. Additionally, educators can assess the extent to which these learners are inclined to engage in communicative activities, and subsequently, tailor instructional techniques that align with their individual learning requirements [ 60 ].

Based on an analysis of students’ personality traits, such as shyness, and their level of readiness to speak, an educator may assess their engagement in classroom activities and then adapt the curriculum as needed. For instance, in the event that a greater number of introverted students exhibit hesitancy in participating actively during classroom discussions, it may be beneficial to allocate a greater proportion of the curriculum to pair work or solo tasks. This approach aims to provide a learning environment that minimizes the perceived risks associated with public speaking. This finding is supported by the outcomes of [ 61 , 62 ]. They discovered a positive correlation between the level of shyness and the level of fear of language class anxiety, such that an increase in shyness is accompanied by an increase in class anxiety, and conversely, a decrease in shyness is accompanied by a decrease in class anxiety.

The third purpose of this research was to determine whether introverted and anxious feelings diminished in EFL students who used CT. According to the results, students may better safeguard and increase their chances of success by strengthening their conceptual and metacognitive abilities. The results of the second model show that CT significantly declined shyness and anxiety components. To restate, CT directs EFL students in their assessments of the value of the university and their sense of belonging there, as well as in their convictions regarding the efficacy of their language classes. Students are highly encouraged to actively participate in class debates and other speaking exercises, since they are an essential component of any language education [ 15 , 57 ].

This conclusion is logical when one takes into account the fact that students perceptions broaden as they acquire proficiency in language abilities. The CT of EFL students has a significant role in shaping their feeling of identity and academic success. As students actively participate in CT techniques, they increasingly undergo beneficial transformations in their attitudes and beliefs. The researchers [ 40 , 44 , 49 ] reached identical findings. They have shown that there is a correlation between the ability to participate in advanced cognitive processes, self-control, interpersonal skills, and belief in one’s own abilities.

Conclusion and pedagogical implications

In brief, this study set out to examine the potential relationships that exist among self-esteem, TS, and CT to shyness and anxiety at tertiary institutions. In this study, a model hypothesis is generated and tested using structural equation modeling and factor analysis. The findings show that self-esteem, TS, and CT have substantial effects on EFL students’ positive attitudes and academic success. The acquired results supported the suggested model, validating the predictive abilities of self-esteem, TS, and CT to shyness and anxiety. The extent to which EFL students engaged in self-esteem and CT as well as teacher support influenced not only their willingness to communicate but also their academic achievement.

In order to ensure that self-esteem, TS, and CT are successfully implemented, it is imperative that professors and other instructors at schools, universities, and private institutions take an active role in the development and upkeep of an atmosphere that is receptive to such an endeavor. They are required to learn the information essential to cultivate self-esteem, TS, and CT inside their respective courses. EFL teachers can get these strategies from courses taken both during training and prior to employment. Moreover, it is crucial to include actionable techniques for cultivating and implementing self-esteem, TS, and CT within the context of EFL instruction. In order to give sufficient opportunities for learners to gain the necessary skills and to grantee the whole education and society, appropriate activities and materials should be designed. An effective method of providing support to EFL students is by promoting the development of a growth mindset. This will aid learners in discovering a clear and meaningful objective, while also strengthening their feeling of inclusion and connection. The individuals will have both immediate and enduring objectives to strive for, and each accomplishment will be seen as a significant triumph.

Students are expected to advance toward a condition in which the application of appropriate procedures will become natural, and the capabilities of learning will grow into an intuitive form, via the completion of a range of tasks in the classroom. It was highly suggested that those charged with building educational curriculum, developing educational policy, and generating new materials take into consideration the important impacts of self-esteem and CT when they are creating new materials and tasks. EFL students at schools, institutions, and universities may, in addition to other types of academic work, participate in activities that put practical ways for increasing the impacts of self-esteem and CT into practice. These activities may include things like simulations, role-playing games, discovery learning activities, and oral presentations. The provision of additional open conversation channels with the subject matter of self-esteem, TS, and CT, as well as the management of shyness and anxiety at the upper intermediate level, may be an additional beneficial chance to strengthen these abilities and practice their language.

Based on the findings of this study, EFL educators are urged to redesign their curricula and create assessments with the students’ needs in mind. Encouraging students to take an active part in their own education, as well as directing and improving the development of self-help structures, may improve the quality of teaching and assessment in any educational setting. Increasing their proficiency in digital media is a priority for both students and teachers. With this knowledge in hand, both students and teachers may feel secure throughout language instruction and assessment.

The present research, similar to earlier investigations, has numerous limitations: (1) This investigation was carried out using quantitative analytic methods. Using mixed-method approaches provides for a more in-depth look, and they are avenues that may be pursued for future study. (2) As previously stated, it is critical for EFL teachers to play a role in the development of self-esteem, CT, and other self-aid constructs in their pupils. This element was not taken into consideration throughout our study. Further research may be able to investigate how teachers’ own levels of self-esteem and CT impact students’ self-esteem and CT. (3) The learners’ diverse backgrounds, as well as their demographic data, were not taken into consideration in this study. These difficulties may be addressed in future study, and it may be studied to what extent differences in sociocultural environment and demographic information may have an influence on the nature of the link between self-esteem, TS, CT, shyness, and anxiety. (4) Inclusion of students from other faculties and institutions would aid in gaining an overview of the outcomes. This inquiry may be carried out in diverse educational situations, including as schools and private language institutions, in the course of future research. (5) In future research, possible investigators may choose to focus on the relationship between self-esteem, TS, CT, shyness, anxiety and other learner-ascribed traits including buoyancy, grit tendencies, readiness to speak, and identity construction/reconstruction.

Data availability

The dataset of the present study is available upon request from the corresponding author.

Abbreviations

English as a Foreign Language

Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Structural Equation Modeling

Foreign Language Anxiety

Attentional Control Theory

Teacher Support

Critical Thinking

The Foreign Language Learning Self-esteem Scale

Teacher Support Measure

The Watson–Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Form A

The McCroskey Shyness Scale

The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale

The Root-Mean-Squared Error of Approximation

The Goodness-of-fit

The Comparative Fit Index

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Li, L., Heydarnejad, T. May I come in? A probe into the contributions of self-esteem, teacher support, and critical thinking to anxiety and shyness in language classes. BMC Psychol 12 , 7 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-023-01501-y

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