As a process, critical thinking is the ongoing effort to improve our cognitive abilities in that capacity.
The capacity for critical thinking varies significantly from one person to another but it can be increased through effort and education.
Meta-components refer to higher-order mental processes that individuals use to plan, monitor, and evaluate what they do.
Performance components refer to the actual steps taken or strategies used, while knowledge-acquisition strategies refer to the ways in which individuals relate old to new material and apply new material.
For a number of years, dental educators thought teaching problem-solving skills was akin to teaching critical thinking skills.
While teaching problem-solving skills is important to the process of learning how to use critical thinking skills, in the absence of other learning activities it may not be enough.
The biases often result from our unconscious application of heuristics, cognitive shortcuts that we use to avoid putting a lot of effort into thinking about things.
The availability bias, for example, is the human tendency to think that examples of things that come readily to mind are more representative than is actually the case.
Researchers debate whether critical thinking can be learned or if it's a developmental process regulated by motivations, dispositions, and personality traits.
Despite differences of opinion, many researchers agree that critical thinking is "Purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological or contextual considerations upon which judgment is based.