Some of the very vital skills that are used in any field of study are analysis and evaluation. In all fields of study, whether historical, social or scientific, analysis is the major tool that helps to arrive to a sound evaluation and an expressive assessment. The fact that people are faced with daily situations that require decision making, the need to be an analytical thinker becomes necessary.
Proper analysis requires a clear model while an accurate assessment will require some standards. All these are covered in critical thinking. Critical thinking is consisted of some processes that use reflection and evaluation in order to analyze an item, so as to arrive on a firm judgment that makes sense and is based on some evidence. This requires reasoning. Reasoning on the other hand occurs after a process of thinking that leads to conclusions.
There are some elemental structures of critical thinking and reasoning that can be used in problem solving. The eight elements, as illustrated by Paul and Elder are the fundamental purpose, your point of view, assumptions being used in the process of reasoning, their implications-which must be analyzed whether they are true, the information needed to answer the questions, the conclusions, the most elementary concepts in the question, and the implications of the reasoning (Elder & Paul, 2007).
The following essay can be used to illustrate the eight elements of critical thinking and how they can be applied in our day to day lives in problem analysis and in finding meaningful conclusions. With the first step being the identification of the problem that one wants to solve, the study will use poverty as its case study. It will then follow the procedure in reasoning through the problem. The procedure follows a series of questions as outlined by Elder and Paul.
What exactly is the problem?
In this first step, one is supposed to have a good understanding of the problem. This will help to clearly distinguish the problem from other related problems and prevent ambiguity. One is also required to figure out whether the problem can be or can not be controlled, and to pay attention to the issues that may bring controversy on the problem. This defines the goal and the desired end results (Elder & Paul, 2007).
Poverty can be described as a state of existence under which the victim lacks the means to fulfill their elementary needs. This thus calls for an analysis to determine needs that can be termed as basic. Poverty is however the lack of materials that are necessary for human survival. The main ones are food, housing and clothing. This definition is however not the most appropriate. Economists have other views like poor health, low level of skills, unemployment, among others (Gordon, 2005).
What is the key question that emerges from the problem?
In this step, one is supposed to clearly state the most significant question or questions that develop from the problem at hand. Though the question should be precise, they should contain sufficient details about the problem. Some of the key questions would be; what are the causes of poverty? What are the indicators of poverty? Or what are the ways that can be used to alienate poverty?
What is the purpose in addressing the problem?
The researcher or the student should have enough knowledge on the problem in order to know the exact thing that they are after. This gives no room for any hidden agenda. Using the case of poverty, there are numerous purposes as to why this problem should be addressed. There is a large population that is living in extreme poverty. Many people especially in the low developed countries undergo severe deprivation of food, water, health facilities, sanitation facilities and good shelter. The lack of the above facilities reduces the life expectancy and exposes the victims to other risks in life. This is why the problem should be addressed.
What information is most relevant to your question?
The information can only be obtained through a thorough research and evaluation of the problem. The options for the various actions that can be taken are put forth, keeping in mind the limitations that may arise. Limitations could be in terms of finance or time. However, both short-term and long-term courses of actions should be outlined.
Using the above case study, there is a lot of information that is required in order to analyze poverty. Data on the worlds recommended living standards is necessary. One will also require information about the standards and the terms of poverty, the operational definitions, the poverty index and indicators. Much of the information can be obtained from the internet though many of the sources may not be reliable. Primary data can only be obtained through a field study in the poverty stricken countries. This is however subject to various limitations like time and money factor, weather, accessibility, among others.
Those living with a body mass below 18kgs are deprived from food. Having to walk for more than 30 minutes in search of water indicates water deprivation. The lack of adequate healthcare facilities like failure to undergo a certain vaccine test, inaccessibility to HIV/AIDS control pills, the lack of a toilet and unimproved sanitation facilities are all indicators of poverty (Gordon, 2005). Deprivation of shelter, education and information are also key indicators of poverty.
What are the assumptions in the problem analysis?
This requires one to keenly watch out for the assumptions that form the basis of the problem, and identify whether they are justified. In the study of poverty, there are quite a number of assumptions. Some theorists assume that the poor countries are not poor in reality. They were also rich but have been robbed off by the advanced nations. Another assumption is that those who consume all of what they produce can not contribute to growth of their GDP, and hence economically, they do not produce. Some of the measures used by many of the most developed countries as poverty indicators are also biased (Wodon, 2007).
What are the implications of solving the problem, and what are the implications of not solving the problem?
This will dig on the likely decisions that one can take and their effects. The analysis of the effects should consider both the merits and the demerits, and the most likely consequences. Solving the problem of poverty has a lot of implications. Its eradication would mean a better life. This would mean accessibility to all the basic needs. From food, water to a better health facilities. This would mean an improvement in the living standards leading to a higher life expectancy. A healthy nation is able to work to provide for its needs, and to produce in surplus for purposes of exchange. A country that has access to all the basic requirements is also able to mobilize its resources in the course of production, rather than in improving the life standards.
Failure to solve the problem also has a vast of implications. This would mean an increase in the dependency ratio for the poor countries. The regular strike by diseases and hunger in the LDC’s will reduce the life expectancy and the ability to produce. Intensified land use for farming in the semi-subsistence countries will lead to land degradation. This together with unsustainable farming methods will increase poverty levels and degrade the environment ( R N Ghosh; Rony Gabbay; Abu Siddique; University of Western Australia. Centre for Migration and Development Studies.; International Institute for Development Studies (Australia), 2001). These are just some of the implications.
What are the important concepts or ideas that can be used in understanding the problem?
One should know the most important ideas that can be used in order to familiarize well with the problem. One can choose whether to analyze the concepts in deep or to use the theories as stated or proved by prior researchers. Some of the important aspects and concepts that can be used to understand poverty and its state in the world is research. Conducting a research in the low developed countries, referring from statistical data from print media and also from the internet will be helpful. Observing the consumption behavior of people, their values in life and the manner in which they live will tell about people’s standards of living and their priorities in life. This will help to understand the problem.
What is the best solution for the problem?
The solutions could be derived from the available points of view. This will however require a proper assessment of the multiple points of view at hand in order to identify that best solution (Elder & Paul, 2007).
There are quite a number of solutions that have been put forward by various researchers and world organizations on the ways to eradicate poverty. According to the world social summit, poverty is not just about the lack of basic necessities. Its eradication is therefore multi-dimensional. It touches on all the pillars of a country that is social, political and economical. The government has a responsibility in addressing the issue. It should provide for the poor to ensure they have access to various facilities like good medical care, education and access to credit facilities.
In areas where there is unused land, the land should be put into proper use like agricultural activities. Reclamation of the idle land and relocation of industries closer to the farms will reduce production costs and increase the incentives to produce ( R N Ghosh; Rony Gabbay; Abu Siddique; University of Western Australia. Centre for Migration and Development Studies.; International Institute for Development Studies (Australia), 2001). The markets for the various primary goods should also be expanded. The governments also have a leadership role in poverty eradication. National policies that are in accordance to reduction of poverty should be mainstreamed while ensuring an equal allocation of resources in order to ensure growth even in the marginalized areas. Promoting the full participation of all people in that agenda, including the less advantaged groups is also a strategy. Enhancing equitable income distribution and empowering them will also greatly lead to poverty eradication.