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Critical thinking studies represent a broad label that can apply to any number of situations or information in a given scenario. Several subcategories that exist in these studies include conceptualization, application, and analysis along with synthesis or evaluation of information. In some cases, critical thinking studies can make use of all these techniques or just a few, depending on the scenario. Additionally, not all individuals have adequate skills or training for conducting certain studies when using critical thinking. Many studies exist that define these types of skills — and more — in order to understand how one can use critical thinking.
The conceptualization of information in critical thinking studies generally refers to the creation or development of specific ideas. This does not mean that one comes up with an entirely new line of thinking or purely original thought; it simply means he or she puts together previous information into a focused thought. The next step after conceptualization is application, which means one puts one's thoughts into action if need be. Again, not all conceptualized thoughts go into actual use; only thought or studies that require action move into the application phase of these studies.
Analysis and synthesis in critical thinking studies are also related, much like the conceptualization and application of information. Analysis simply refers to the study of data or information previously prepared by another party. Rifling through many different ideas or thoughts can help take large data and reduce it down to its basic form or most important pieces. To synthesize data, one places it in groups or reorganizes large bunches of data that may have no previous organization. Again, the connection between these two concepts in terms of critical thinking studies comes when an individual needs to analyze information and then synthesize it into a useful report or study.
The evaluation of information often has relation to other types of critical thinking studies. Once an individual creates reports — either through conceptualization and application or analysis and synthesis — a final evaluation may be necessary. This evaluation can be for nearly any reason or purpose and is based on the information or additional data discovered through the critical thinking studies process. In some cases, an evaluation of the data may come from an outside source, which can validate the information. Suggestions from outside sources can help strengthen a final report or provide guidance on how one can create better critical thinking studies for future use.
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