The ability to separate and organize complex topics or issues into their component parts, and through a systematic process, to identify and differentiate those components to gain an understanding of the topic or issue.

Analysis is used to break a complex problem, issue, or question into smaller parts to gain a better fundamental understanding of the whole. Analytical thinking begins with identifying the purpose and context of analysis. Analytic approaches have different strengths and limitations, and inherent values and biases that must be taken into account when selecting and applying the right one for a particular problem and context. This understanding is vital when making meaning from the results of the analysis, putting them in proper context, and understanding potential impacts.

Guiding Questions

  • Why is there a need to address this question or problem?
  • How have similar problems been analyzed before?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of potential analytical approaches?
  • What values and biases are inherent in the potential analytical approaches?
  • What impacts might the methods of analysis or the results have on people or institutions?
  • Can I explain the correct steps in the chosen analytical method? Can I execute those steps?
  • How confident can I be in my conclusions? Where might they not apply or be limited in scope?