The Components of the Paul-Elder Framework

This course will describe the Paul-Elder framework of critical thinking, although there are others. The Paul-Elder framework is a comprehensive model that offers high quality resources such as online courses and guides. It defines specific cognitive skills including metacognition. It can be used across various disciplines and departments, allowing students to utilize the framework in all of their classes, extracurricular activities and outside the dental hygiene school environment. The Facione and Facione Model is also a comprehensive model and offers many resources. However, the Paul-Elder framework utilizes an everyday language. Models such as Toulnin, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Brookfield Five Phase Model are not as comprehensive and do not offer as many high-quality resources.

There are three parts to the Paul-Elder framework. First, the “Elements of Reasoning” (also known as “Elements of Thought”) focus on the building blocks of thinking. This is where the parts of thinking or reasoning are deconstructed. The Elements of Reasoning provide the basis of analyzing the structures present in thought. The second part of the framework is the “Universal Intellectual Standards,” which give you the tools to evaluate the quality of the thinking process. Finally, the “Intellectual Traits” are habits of the mind. Intellectual Traits develop as a result of consistently applying the intellectual standards to the elements of reasoning.2-6

The model below is a visual depiction of how these three components of the Paul-Elder framework interact (Table 1).12

Table 1. Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model.
Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Model

The next sections describe the components of the Paul-Elder Critical Thinking framework.2-6