Critical Thinking across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought and Knowledge

By Diane F. Halpern | Go to book overview

Preface

There are times when we have all wished that we could remember better, comprehend complex information more fully, or solve problems more quickly and more easily. Various "miracle" products, including bogus "memory" pills, past-life regression experiences, genius diets, and "thinking with both halves of the brain" (what else would we be using?) have promised to make us better thinkers, but these ludicrous claims are directed at those who most need to improve their ability to examine evidence and think more critically. In fact, there is good evidence showing that it is possible to become a better thinker, but the strategies for improvement are gathered from studies in cognitive psychology and cannot be consumed as easily as a pill. As the comedians like to say, "There's good news and there's bad news." The bad news is that developing the disposition and skills of a critical thinker will require patience and hard work. The good news is that it can be done.

I invite you, the reader, to work through the exercises in this book and learn to recognize and apply the principles of critical thinking. I wish that I could honestly say the "Sally, a student in Oshkosh, did all of the exercises in this book and then received a perfect score on the test used for law school admissions." Perhaps you'll believe that after "only a few hours of reading, Mrs. H., a homemaker in Houston, won the lottery." How about, "after just looking at the cover in a book store, a middle-aged accountant felt younger and more confident and had more dates than any accountant could handle." I suppose that if you are reading this preface, you won't be impressed by ad-like tales like these. The more modest, but true, claims that we can all improve how we think and remember, and the strategies and ideas presented here can help, will never make "good copy," but it could help to make you a better student, bettor investor, better all-around decision maker and problem solver, which, after all, is not so bad.

This is a brief version of the third edition of my text by the same title. The brief version was written as a companion text that can be used in virtually any course where critical thinking is valued. It can also stand alone for use by anyone who wants to know what cognitive psychologists and educators have found that "works" to improve learning, remembering, thinking, and knowing. Enjoy this text. Think well and prosper.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS FOR THE THIRD EDITION

I have been fortunate in having the benefit of the opinions and thoughts of some of the finest minds in psychology. First and foremost, I thank all of the marvelous students who used the first two editions. Their questions and comments shaped the third edition in several ways by pointing out those sections that needed to be clarified, suggesting where I should cut material, and convincing me of the need to write a separate exercise

-vii-

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