Critical Thinking Toolkit

Thinking is something we do all the time. It means using your brain to work through challenging ideas. Critical thinking is not rocket science – it’s a  process to help us think clearly and make connection between ideas. When you reach your dissertation stage, you’ll need a critical thinking toolkit: Journaling, Analysis, Synthesis and Understanding. I’ll describe how I used these tools for my dissertation.


Doctoral students and scholars use journaling to explore their experiences. These experiences are influenced by our past, future, and present world views.
I used journaling to gain a deeper awareness by integrating concept and personal experiences. We develop a relationship between knowledge and discovering new or original ideas. Integrating analysis and synthesis into journaling helps doctoral students advance their understanding of real world problems.

Analysis and Synthesis

Analysis is reducing larger concepts into smaller ones. Doctoral students use it to reduce complex ideas into smaller thoughts to improve their understanding about something.

When doctoral students analyze other views and ideas, they need to critically examine different ideas and how each was created. The relationship of each idea then connects to a bigger picture. This is considered evidence that will lead to a reliable conclusion.

On the other hand, synthesis resolves a conflict between an opposition and a theory by exploring their commonalities. The purposes of synthesis is to make a new proposal or plan. I used analysis and synthesis to understand the big and small picture of my research.

Two Sides of the Coin

Synthesizing is different from analysis. When doctoral students are asked to synthesize information, they join the separate parts that they have already analyzed with other ideas or concepts to produce something new or unique.

Doctoral students examine various resources and materials to gain insights and fresh ideas. This helps them form their own original concepts. It is a state of combining two or more concepts to form something new. Synthesis is the end product of the dissertation.

Analysis and synthesis are two sides of the same coin. These tools helped me connect theories to practice. It’s how we raise questions as well as acquire new ways of thinking.


Integrating analysis and synthesis into journaling prepares doctoral students for scholarly roles after graduation by sharing their thoughts and feelings.

The more we challenge and not accept views of traditions and myths that have kept explanations from becoming new opportunities, the more we can find better ways of doing things. I learned to understand my research topic through practice and using these tools.

Earning your doctorate is not like getting a business degree, where you apply what you have learned after graduation when you enter the workforce.

Doctoral students continue to journal, analyze, synthesize, and understand in a constant search for something new or unique even after they graduate. Never stop searching for innovative ways of thinking.

Dr. Patti

New habits that create change require action.
~~~Dr. Patricia Mason~~~

Author: Dr. Patricia Mason

Co-Founder Beautiful You * Social Entrepreneur * DBA * Positive Thinker * Nature Lover * Poet * Advisory Board Member * Relay Committee * Certified Reiki 1 & 2 Practitioner

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