Critical thinking skill analysis is the process of methodically breaking something down to gain a better understanding of it. Analysis also includes the ability to connect pieces of information as the basis for generalization or explanation. Analytic assignments in college often couple analysis with the critical thinking skills of interpretation and evaluation.
Analysis can be applied to content but can also cover form, function, and context. For example, an analysis assignment in an art appreciation class might ask you to analyze the subject and iconography of a painting, but also expect you to analyze the use of shape, space, color, and texture (form), as well as the artist’s intended purpose (function) and the culture/time period in which the work was created (context).
While each academic discipline characterizes the analytic process to suit its needs, the essential skills of analysis are the following:
- Deconstructing information or artifacts into component parts
- Uncovering relationships among those parts
- Determining motives, causes, and underlying assumptions
- Making inferences and finding evidence to support generalizations