Student Profile with Introduction

10.1College-Level Thinking

10.2Developing Strong Thinking Skills

10.3Applying Your Critical-Thinking Skills

10.4Bloom’s Taxonomy and the First Year of College


Donna Williford, 41

Health Care Business Informatics Major, Pitt Community College, North Carolina


As a student in a health care field at Pitt Community College, Donna Williford understands the importance of critical-thinking skills both inside and outside the classroom. When Donna arrived on campus last fall, she previously had held many jobs that all had one thing in common: the need to think deeply and to make good decisions.

“Be open to changes and new ideas because that’s what a good life is all about.”

Last year, Donna decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and enroll in college; she doesn’t regret waiting until later in life to do so. “I’m more focused now, at 41, than I would have been fresh out of high school,” she says. Donna uses that focus to her advantage in college, writing essays and preparing for tests. Donna’s ability to think deeply has come in handy more than once, especially when evaluating the quality of sources as she does research. Similarly at work, she has been able to use her thinking skills in her interactions with medical staff and patients who have different backgrounds and needs.

After graduation, Donna hopes to get a job working with computers in the growing field of electronic medical records management, where she plans to continue learning and thinking outside the box. As new technologies are introduced, the medical staff needs to change the ways they work. “Excellent thinking skills will play a vital role in my everyday decisions in the health care field,” she says. Donna’s one piece of advice for other first-year students is this: “Be open to changes and new ideas because that’s what a good life is all about.”

As Donna’s story suggests, the most important skill you’ll acquire in college is the ability to think for yourself. Courses in every discipline will encourage you to ask questions, to sort through different information and ideas, to form opinions of your own, and to defend them.

Learning to thinkusing the mind to produce ideas, opinions, decisions, and memoriesis part of normal human development. Just as your body grows, so does your ability to think logically and rationally about abstract concepts.

The concept of critical thinking might not be new to you; you may have heard the term before. Being a good critical thinker does not mean that you are “critical” or negative in your dealings with others. Rather, the term refers to thoughtful consideration of the information, ideas, and arguments that you encounter in order to guide belief and actionthis is the kind of thinking you will do in college, and it’s what this chapter is all about. We will explain how developing and applying your critical-thinking skills can make the search for answers an exciting and rewarding adventure.