Robert Ennis: Biography, critical thinking, works

Robert Ennis is an American philosopher considered one of the greatest exponents of critical thinking. He was in charge of deepening the process of thinking of the human being, from the point of view of knowledge, interpretation and issuance of judgments and opinions.

The main premise of Ennis is that critical thinking must comply with a process that includes the analysis of the hypotheses presented, in a rational and reflective manner, and then reach a conclusion that takes into account all the factors involved.

Ennis' definition of critical thinking has earned him the recognition of scholars on the subject, who conclude that his theory is the most successful, accepted and consolidated at present.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Critical thinking of Ennis
    • 2.1 characteristics
    • 2.2 Main provisions of critical thinking
    • 2.3 Critical thinking in education
  • 3 Works
  • 4 References


Robert Hugh Ennis was born in the United States in 1928 into a prosperous family. Years later, he showed interest in the educational process during his years as an educator in a high school and as a graduate student at the University of Illinois.

Upon becoming a professor specializing in the Philosophy of Social Science and Education at the universities of Cornell, Sarasota and Southn Florida, Ennis began working on the postulates on critical thinking.

Thanks to the deepening of Ennis's studies, the legacy of this theorist is able to be seen in a series of publications, articles and thoughts published in unofficial media. Even, it also deals with topics related to the Philosophy of Science and the analysis of educational concepts.

Among his most relevant works is the definition of this current, which expresses that critical thinking is a type of rational and reflective thinking that leads the individual to decide to do something or not.

Currently, Ennis is a professor at the University of Illinois and a member of the Board of the Association of Informal Logic and Critical Thinking.

Critical thinking of Ennis

In general terms, it is understood that critical thinking is the way in which we use our intelligence and preparation to analyze and interpret the stimuli we receive every day.

Critical thinking encourages the person to be able to perform their own analysis without being influenced by social trends. In short, the person must learn to develop their personal criteria.

However, it is in 1989 that Ennis defines critical thinking as a type of current that is reflexive and rational, which allows the individual to concentrate to decide whether he will do something or not, according to the base of beliefs and internal judgments that he possesses. The author's intention was to concentrate the concepts already founded on one.


To better understand this current, Ennis established that this type of thinking has two main characteristics:

  • It is reflective because it analyzes results and situations of the individual or of others around him.
  • It is rational because reason predominates over other elements of thought; that is, it is not random or random because you want to explore the dimensions of the presented problem.

From these features, the human being must guide this thought towards action, since it must move in a context where it is possible to find the resolution of problems.

Main provisions of critical thinking

Critical thinking also focuses on one important feature: constant evaluation. This is mainly due to the need to decide what to do and what not to do. The information we have inside and outside will help achieve the goal.

Ennis presents a series of main dispositions of critical thinking that will allow the development of a well-established skill:

  • Consider if the beliefs are true and if they are justified, using alternative hypotheses, plans, sources of information and personal points of view.
  • Worry about understanding and presenting an honest and clear position for oneself and for others. This should also include the ability to listen to others and respect beliefs that do not match our own.
  • Take into account the person or persons with whom we interact. Avoid having a dominant or aggressive attitude, it will be vital for the understanding of positions beyond our own.

Critical thinking in education

On the other hand, the elaboration of these premises also led Ennis to show the importance of bringing critical thinking to the classrooms, in order to introduce this current at all levels and thus train people with profound capacities of reflection and reasoning.

This important contribution of this American theorist, allowed students of all kinds, to identify their personal processes of formation and opinion, at the same time as they managed to connect with other members of their communities.

Teachers should have the responsibility to stimulate students' capacity for questioning and reflection through questions and exercises, as well as argumentation and the ability to analyze what goes beyond textbooks. In the end, the subject must become integral and interested in knowledge.


It is estimated that the legacy of Robert Ennis is contemplated in a series of books and more than 60 articles published in scientific journals.

However, the most outstanding work of Ennis is Critical Thinking , which contemplates the definition and main foundations of critical thinking.

It includes information about the nature of the current, as well as its dispositions and skills that are needed to have it.

Ennis has also excelled in publishing information about Philosophy and Science, which explores the validation and importance of the science of education, as well as the opportunities that can be obtained through this area. Some of his works include:

- Philosophy of educational research (1973).

- Is critical thinking culturally biased ? (19989).

- Equality of educational opportunity. Journal of Educational Theory (1976).

- Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level X and Z (2005).

- Ennis-Weir Critical Thinking Essay Test (1985).


  1. From Juanas, Ángel. (2013). Questioning evidence, educating in reflection: Robert H. Ennis, the study of critical thinking and its influence on the pedagogy of sport. International Journal of Sports Science. Volume IX. 298-299.
  2. Díaz, Liliana Patricia & Montenegro, Manuel Raúl. (s.f) Professional Practices and the development of critical thinking. Retrieved: February 1, 2018 from the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Economic Sciences of economicas.uba.arg.
  3. Ennis, Robert. (2011). The Nature of Critical Thinking: An Outline of Critical Thinking Dispositions And Abilities. Unofficial document Retrieved from
  4. Critical thinking. (s.f) In Wikipedia. Retrieved: February 1, 2018 from Wikipedia on
  5. Philosophy of Science (Publications). (s.f) In Faculty Education Illinois. Retrieved: February 1 fr Faculty Education Illinois at

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..