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Reflecting on Personal Critical and Creative Thinking Skills

Reflecting on Personal Critical and Creative Thinking Skills

It is important to validate your own critical and creative thinking skills. We are not always unbiased when evaluating ourselves, of course, since humans tend to have a positive bias towards themselves. However, following through questionnaires, and going through exercises designed to test your skills is a first step in determining what your creative and critical strengths and weaknesses are.

One thing to do is to sit with a questionnaire, such as the one below, and evaluate how you think you do on certain tasks, while also having one or two other trusted individuals also mark how well they think you do. That way, you can try to avoid the self-positive bias, and also enhance your metacognition, considering you will see how others view you in relation to how you view yourself.

Creative thinking skills questionnaire:

Rate yourself on a scale of 0-5, with 0 being unskilled, 3 being neither skilled nor unskilled, and 5 being very skilled

  1. I can take the creative ideas others generate and fill them with my own, making better ideas
  2. I can implement the creative ideas I generate; I'm not only an idea generator
  3. I can usually take a good idea and extend it to apply to other situations
  4. I can step away from a situation and see the big picture; I don't miss the forest for the trees
  5. I know what needs to be done in order to implement an idea
  6. I am persuasive
  7. I am considered off-the-wall in my creativity
  8. I come up with very creative ideas regularly
  9. I am good at reframing things to see them from a different perspective
  10. I can collaborate with others' ideas
  11. I can typically pinpoint the root cause of an issue and solve it
  12. I can merge different ideas into one overall method
  13. I can think of different ways of solving a problem, and filtering out those ideas as needed
  14. I am open-minded to new ideas, even if they seem unconventional, and can weigh out risks and benefits
  15. I enjoy being challenged to think in different ways and am open to those experiences
  16. I can communicate my ideas effectively
  17. I sometimes find myself in a "zone", where ideas flow out of me and I feel energized by the experience

It is important to be honest with yourself. This questionnaire is not meant to be a critique of yourself, but rather, an exploration. Be sure to indicate that to the others also taking this questionnaire on your behalf.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online class in Critical Thinking?

To determine your personal critical thinking skills, the same format as above should be applied to this questionnaire:

  1. When I analyze information or ideas, do I:
    1. Provide in-depth analyses
    2. Figure out how to use the data to solve problems that are similar to ones I have come across previously
    3. Report to others
    4. Copy the work of others
  2. When I apply formulas, equations, concepts, principles and/or ideas to a new issue, do I:
    1. Accurately use these in solving novel problems
    2. Use the data correctly, but only if they relate to problems I have previously come across
    3. Can typically determine what evidence to use, but may not know how to apply them
    4. Have trouble thinking about what evidence to use
  3. When trying to think about a problem or issue in a new point of view, or many points of view do I:
    1. See most, if not all the points of view
    2. See the value in looking at things from differing perspectives, and understand the implications of application
    3. Can see two sides to an issue, but tend to view one as being correct over the other
    4. Typically see things from one point of view
  4. When I am working on pulling in various ideas and consolidating into a bigger picture, do I:
    1. Link the ideas into patterns and explain the relationships that are often complex
    2. Arrange into patterns that are simple
    3. Arrange most of the ideas into patterns that are not too detailed
    4. More see the details rather than the big picture
  5. When I try to come to a conclusion, do I:
    1. Create a rational conclusion that reflects my ideas
    2. Determine a conclusion that is in line with the evidence
    3. Can restate others' conclusions
    4. Am unable to generate much
  6. When others point out my mistakes, do I:
    1. Recognize my mistakes and can figure out ways to solve them
    2. Acknowledge that they may be correct and have only a general idea on how to proceed
    3. Acknowledge the mistakes but do not know how to proceed
    4. Do not acknowledge the mistakes
  7. Whether I achieve success or not, do I:
    1. Take the time to reflect on the things that went right or wrong and figure out how things could have gone better
    2. Reflect on the things that went right or wrong, but may not go beyond that
    3. Reflect only on the things that went wrong
    4. Do not take the time to reflect what's been done has been done and is all in the past is my motto

Of course, questionnaires cannot necessarily evaluate the integrity of the whole individual. Questionnaires may further reflect answer that are more related to current events, rather than the general characteristics of an individual. For example, having had little success recently, an individual may rate themselves lower than is otherwise warranted on a general scale. This may produce a skewed version of themselves. Further, questionnaires only provide snapshots of a reality, and may not reflect the adaptability and flexibility an individual may possess. It is important, therefore, to look at specific real world examples from your life and focus on those. Be sure to look at a spectrum of events, so that you do not make the mistake of performing a confirmation bias, such as choosing only those events in which you were successful, or choosing only things situations in which you did not achieve your goals.

Of course, it is also important to evaluate yourself on the specific skills related to creative and critical thinking skills. It is important to sit down with the following attributes and list situations where you engaged in the following. If you cannot think of events, or you do not see yourself as engaging in those attributes often, it may be an area to work on. So look at this list of characteristics and determine on a scale of 0-5 where you stand, 0 being not a characteristic, 5 being it defines you fully:

  1. I think independently and can typically avoid groupthink
  2. I work to avoid being egocentric or sociocentric
  3. I try to be fair
  4. I work to develop my emotional intelligence and be metacognitive
  5. I work to develop my humility and try not to judge
  6. I work to develop intellectual integrity and courage in my life
  7. I work to develop my perseverance and value that
  8. I develop my reasoning skills regularly
  9. I try to avoid generalizations and oversimplifications
  10. I try to compare situations analogously
  11. I always try to clarify my values and standards
  12. I analyze arguments and evidence closely
  13. I strive to make interdisciplinary connections and patterns
  14. I tend to both generate and evaluate solutions to problems
  15. I can both compare and analyze individually differing perspectives, lines of evidence, or theories
  16. I can compare and contrast theories and ideals
  17. I understand the distinction between hypothesis, theories, laws and ideas
  18. I explore the consequences of the ideas I generate
  19. I can recognize and point out contradictions, especially in pieces of evidence
  20. I am able to distinguish from relevant and irrelevant pieces of evidence
  21. I am able to note similarities and differences
  22. I can articulate well my thoughts and the thoughts of others and tailor my communications to a given audience
  23. I can listen critically and keep my word to myself until others have finished explaining themselves or giving their perspective

People can be creative in different ways. No one way is better than the others; it all depends on what the environment needs and what the individual wants for themselves. The following explains the types of creative individuals there are, and what characteristics describe them. See which category(ies) you fall in:


  • They are precise and reliable. They work efficiently and methodically, with prudence.
  • They are more concerned with the resolutions of problems, rather than finding the problems themselves
  • They seek solutions to the problems utilizing tried and true methods
  • They reduce problems via stability and continuity, and with exacted efficiency
  • They are considered to be sound and reliable, as well as safe and dependable
  • They are goal-setters and goal-seekers, as well as goal-meeters
  • They tend to not challenge rules and the status quo
  • They tend to be the authority figure in structures systems
  • Tends to respond to criticism by conforming to rules
  • They are compliant
  • They can maintain accuracy, even during long sessions with detailed work
  • They perform their work with exacted measures
  • Tend to doubt themselves and their ability


  • They tend to think outside of the box, and typically engage in tangential thinking, and can approach situations from different and creative angles
  • They discover problems and different solution methods
  • They question assumptions
  • They tend to manipulate problems to figure out the best way of solving them
  • They can be seen as impractical and may shock other people with their seemingly radical ideas
  • They may be seen as abrasive
  • They question the status quo and seek alternate ways to set ways
  • They tend to be the ones that shake settled groups out of their complacency
  • They tend to be the ones that can take control of unstructured situations
  • They challenges rules and disregard them with abandon
  • They are the trend setters
  • They have low self-doubt, that is, they are confident and self-assured
  • They tend to delegate work, especially detailed work, and tend to be able to deal with detailed work for only short periods of time

It may be that you represent a mix of these characteristics. That is fine; you do not have to fit into any one category. What is important, however, is that you determine your strengths and weaknesses, and decide what you would like to improve upon, and then pursue those improvements. The important part of developing your creative and critical skills is to always be dynamic. You should never just accept things as they are. Part of being a creative critical thinker is constantly developing yourself, pushing your boundaries, and learning. There is no room for static existence. To be static is to live a life less full, and to stop evolving as a thinker.

You will never learn all there is to know about being a creative and critical thinker. There will always be room for growth. Seize any opportunities you have to work on your skills, improving even your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. Be open minded and self-aware. This is how you will continually improve yourself. You must be open to criticism, but take them in stride and never take critique personally. Take critique as it is: a way to self-improve, and a way to better yourself as a thinker and as a leader.

The beauty of the human mind is its ability to constantly reinvent itself, adjust, and develop. Take advantage of this wonderfully human trait, and develop yourself into the person you want to be. Just as the self is not found, it is made, so is the human mind. You must take charge of your life and mold your mind to be what it is you want it to be. With confidence, patience, and determination, as well as constant learning and metacognition, you will become a stronger creative critical thinker.

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