Critical thinking and reasoning are connected in that critical thinking yields reasoning. When people think critically, they organize and identify information in such a way that a person then can move on to making analyses and forming conclusions or reasons. Both these skills are learned and thus can be improved over time.
Critical thinking is defined as a form of disciplined cognitive processing. Its hallmarks include clarity, rationality, open-mindedness and evidential support. When a person thinks in this way, he is able to identify and organize the information he has available to him.
As an action reasoning is the process of forming conclusions or judgments. A person also can make inferences through reasoning. This process results in a definitive answer or the logical comparison of two or more things.
Understanding the definitions for critical thinking and reasoning, critical thinking requires a person to create a data set with which to work. He selects specific criteria, consciously or subconsciously, into which all the data he uses has to fit. Based on the criteria selection, he then picks information that is relevant and discards data that is not helpful. After an individual has the data he needs, he analyzes it to form a judgment, inference or conclusion, that is, he reasons. Thus, reasoning is the product or result of critical thinking.
People do not always grasp the connection between critical thinking and reasoning because people use the terms interchangeably. The connection is clearer when a person sees "reason" not as a verb, but as a noun. In this position, reason is a fact that makes something true or understandable. It also can mean an explanation or justification for something, a cause or motive. A person critically thinks to produce reasons.
The connection between critical thinking and reasoning is important because it allows a person to show they have considered a topic intelligently from many angles. It also ensures that the individual can explain how he came to his conclusion. That said, professionals such as teachers are concerned that people do not exhibit facility in connecting their conclusions or reasons to an organized thought processes. They assert that students lack the ability to think critically to better organize and support their assertions, causing weak, confusing speeches or writings.
To help people get better at using the connection between critical thinking and reasoning, professionals have designed various pedagogical methods and tools such as writing exercises to guide individual thought processes. These experts agree that critical thinking and reasoning are learned skills. Thus, critical thinking and reasoning can be advanced under the limitations of the student's experiences and brain capacity.