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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Becoming a critical thinker


Critical thinking doesn't just happen. It takes time to develop and practice the necessary combination of knowledge, skills and attitude.

As a critical thinker, you will:

  • ask questions
  • analyse and evaluate information/theories/practice
  • be aware of your own biases, beliefs and values

In developing your skills as a critical and independent thinker at university, the following traits are important.

  • Develop a critical attitude
  • Develop a critical approach to texts

Developing a critical attitude

It takes a conscious effort to develop a critical attitude. Before you can think critically, you need to be aware of what’s stopping you. Attitudes that prevent us from thinking critically include the following:

  • I want you to tell me what I need to know, not figure it out myself.
  • I ‘know’ what is right so I don’t have to think about it.
  • I don't usually try to think about why things happen the way they do.
  • I’m not an expert but this other person is, so I can’t say anything.
  • I don't like to be criticised.
  • I don’t want to get into an argument.
  • I don’t want to be disrespectful.

Reflecting on your learning is a useful activity that can help you develop a more critical attitude. It allows you to think deeply about your experiences of learning and the attitudes you bring to it. Critical or academic reflection is a common assessment task at university.