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Skill #4: Critical thinking - Evaluate to go beyond facts and make meaning.

You will continue an inquiry-based research process by applying the critical thinking skill of evaluation to the information you have gathered in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge. Reflecting on information and ideas is a way of looking at what you have gathered that allows you to continue seeing ideas and connections. As themes arise, patterns emerge, and connections are made, you go beyond facts and information to create meaning. By considering the relevance of the ideas and information to yourself and others, this meaning will help you begin to draw conclusions and extend your new understandings into your own life and to the world around you.

Skill-builders & Tools


  • Determine how to act on information (accept, reject, modify).
  • Use both divergent and convergent thinking to formulate alternative conclusions and test them against the evidence.
  • Draw conclusions from and about information.
  • Apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.
  • Consider diverse and global perspectives when drawing conclusions.
  • Investigate multiple sides of issues and evaluate them carefully, particularly on controversial or culturally based topics.
    • Determine purpose and point of view, identify bias, and recognize various sides of an issue.
    • Distinguish among fact, non-fact, opinion, and propaganda.

Construct your own interpretation in order to draw conclusions
Here are some ways you can draw conclusions:

  • Draw clear and appropriate conclusions supported by evidence and examples.
  • Combine ideas and information to develop and demonstrate new understanding.
  • Employ a critical stance by demonstrating that the pattern of evidence leads to a decision or conclusion.
  • Recognize multiple causes for same issues or events.  Consider this example about homelessness.
  • Apply strategies for making personal and real world connections with information.
  • List the original ideas that you have generated as a result of your research.
  • Develop a process for evaluating information and ideas.

Resist the urge to "rush to judgement" as you apply your critical thinking skills and construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge. Allow yourself to become a critic of your own thinking process. By applying a logical approach, you will minimize the risk of flawed thinking.

Evaluation: To judge or determine the worth or quality of.  Evaluation has a logic and should be carefully distinguished from mere subjective preference. The elements of its logic may be put in the form of questions which may be asked whenever an evaluation is to be carried out:

1) Are we clear about what precisely we are evaluating?
2) Are we clear about our purpose? Is our purpose legitimate?
3) Given our purpose, what are the relevant criteria or standards for evaluation? 
4) Do we have sufficient information about that which we are evaluating? Is that information relevant to the purpose?
5) Have we applied our criteria accurately and fairly to the facts as we know them? Uncritical thinkers often treat evaluation as mere preference or treat their evaluative judgments as direct observations not admitting of error. (from CriticalThinking.Org).

photo by Karalo Riegler

thinking shirt by Karola Riegler

convergent thinking

divergent thinking

global perspective

Student Resources
Teacher Resources

Gr 9-12 Research Guide Standards Alignment

The Critical Thinking Community

Do Now: Gauge your effectiveness with evaluation by responding thoughtfully to these questions.
  1. Have I located sources with diverse perspectives?
  2. What decisions or conclusions have I drawn, and how are they supported by the evidence?
  3. What new understandings did I develop about the topic or idea?
  4. How does the evidence I found help me form an opinion or support my thesis?
  5. How do those new understandings apply to other situations or contexts?
  6. What new questions do I now want to answer about the topic or idea?

Do Next: Go to the next skill for Step 3: Create