Questions Using the Elements of Thought
(in a paper, an activity, a reading assignment...)
Purpose: What am I* trying to accomplish?
What is my central aim? My purpose?
Questions: What question am I raising?
What question am I addressing?
Am I considering the complexities in the question?
Information: What information am I using in coming to that conclusion?
What experience have I had to support this claim?
What information do I need to settle the question?
Inferences/ How did I reach this conclusion?
Conclusions: Is there another way to interpret the information?
Concepts: What is the main idea here?
Can I explain this idea?
Assumptions: What am I taking for granted?
What assumption has led me to that conclusion?
Implications/ If someone accepted my position, what would be the
What am I implying?
Points of View: From what point of view am I looking at this issue?
Is there another point of view I should consider?
From Richard Paul and Linda Elder,
The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, p. 8
© 2006 Foundation for Critical Thinking - www.criticalthinking.org
* These questions are equally useful in trying to understand a lecture or an article by somebody else. Just substitute “the speaker” or “the author” for “I” (and adjust the verbs accordingly).—JG