The Critical Thinking CoachThis is part 2 of an interview with Stephen Haggerty (read part 1 here), a Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year award winner at Eastern Kentucky University.

Does one need to be highly intelligent to be a good critical thinker?

Highly intelligent…what does that mean?  Does that term imply book intelligence? Street smarts?  I would argue anyone could engage in higher-level thinking if they are trained in the terminology and how to apply it.

It takes a lot of practice to be a critical and creative thinker who communicates effectively, but I do believe if one is dedicated to being more successful in life, then they can learn to apply the principles of critical and creative thinking through effective communication.

It seems some critical thinking advocates view critical thinking as nothing more than having adequate knowledge in the area of logic.  Why do you think that is?  Why is that an erroneous way to think?

I wouldn’t say it is an erroneous way to think…I think it’s another way to think.  See…the great thing about thinking is that we can think about it in a number of different ways.  I think logic is vital to critical thinking; if we are able to apply a logical reasoning process to a difficult situation (while employing tools like the Elements of Thought and the Intellectual Standards) we are making an even stronger case for a better solution/idea.  We may have the knowledge, but from my background in communication, I know we also need motivation and skill (and a healthy dose of self-efficacy) to be competent.  So…I believe we should be using multiple tools if we wish to be critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.

Some, including myself, have said rational thinking (as termed by cognitive science) and critical thinking have very similar goals.  And, it would not be incorrect to use the terms synonymously.  Your thoughts?

Rational thinking seems to me to be a loaded term.  In other words, who defines what is rational behavior?  I tend to lean toward this statement: Critical thinking facilitates rational thinking.  If we employ the tools of thinking critically it leads to rational decision-making.  I don’t quite think they are inseparable concepts.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I love Eastern Kentucky University.  I love working for TRiO Student Support Services.  I love what I do.  I envision myself continuing to assist students with being successful in college and in life by becoming informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.  Wherever I may find myself in five years, I believe I will still be teaching and learning how to be successful, and I believe critical and creative thinking and effective communication are vital to my journey.

About Stephen Haggerty

Stephen J. Haggerty, M.A. is the Assistant Director of Eastern Kentucky University’s TRiO Student Support Services project (NOVA Program) as well as a Quality Enhancement Critical Thinking Coach.  Before this, he was a faculty member in the Department of Communication at Eastern Kentucky University, where he still teaches as adjunct faculty.  He is married with two children and resides in Lexington, KY.

More on Critical Thinking



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 0 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Aug 2011
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Hale, J. (2011). The Critical Thinking Coach: Interview with Stephen Haggerty, Part 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2015, from


Recent Comments
  • kimmer56: My husband lost his I.D. a year ago in Jackson Wy. He was suppose to be in Sugarland, Texas. I found out...
  • Risa: Bill- I could not agree with you more. You state it so eloquently.
  • Mary Walters: Depression is a really dangerous illness and it must be cured! I was in situation like the one...
  • doris: Ho my goodness my eyes are now open wide to the relationship that i have been in for 8 years everything that i...
  • Learnthehardway: Terrible that people are like that. My ex husband was/is one combined with a nasty vindictive...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 6263
Join Us Now!