Analytical Thinking

Excerpted from the College Competencies

What does this mean in the Core and my other courses? The ability to separate and organize complex topics or issues into their component parts, and through a systematic process, to identify and differentiate those components to gain an understanding of the topic or issue.

Holistic Description

Analysis is used to break a complex problem, issue or question into smaller parts to gain a better fundamental understanding of the whole. Because different analytic approaches are suited to different situations, and many disciplines have developed their own particular analytic tools, an understanding of the context of the problem or question is important when selecting and then applying an analytic method. It is important to know the strengths and limitations of different approaches as well as inherent values and biases that can be surfaced by different approaches. This understanding is vital when making meaning from the results of the analysis, putting them in proper context, and understanding potential impacts, for good and for ill.

Guiding Questions
What is the purpose of the question or problem? How have similar problems been analyzed before?
What are the strengths and limitations of potential analytical approaches?
What values and biases are inherent in the potential analytical approaches
What impacts might the methods of analysis or the results have on people or institutions?
Can I explain the correct steps in the chosen analytical method?
How confident can I be in my conclusions? Where might they not apply or be limited in scope?

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