Applied Critical Thinking: Developing Problem Solvers & Efficient Thinkers

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Learn how to create a training program to increase your employees' critical thinking and decision making skills.

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  • For the CT Overview, we’ll be discussing Why Is Critical Thinking Important? What Is It? How Do We Measure It? Is It Related To Performance? With respect to Teaching Critical Thinking, we’ll answer the questions… Can It Be Taught? How? Give Me an Example! Then we’ll look at the actual results and ROI for this type of development effort, and look at ways to begin developing critical thinking within your organization.
  • Purpose: To show why critical thinking skills are important. First set of stats courtesy of “Are They Really Ready To Work?” a collaborative study conducted by SHRM, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and The Partnership for 21 st Century Skills. Final stat courtesy of the Pearson/EDA “Trends In Executive Development” survey of 100 organizational leaders including Govt, Mfg, Financial, Services, IT, Education, Communications, Retail, and more. Even more than Leading Change, Creating Vision and Engaging Employees. Even more than Inspiring Others and Understanding how the Enterprise Works.
  • Purpose: To show why critical thinking skills are important. Again, stats courtesy of “Are They Really Ready To Work?” a collaborative study conducted by SHRM, The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, and The Partnership for 21 st Century Skills. Faculty stats courtesy of Derek Bok, former president emeritus of Harvard University. “ National polls indicate over 90% of the faculty in this country think critical thinking is the most important part of undergraduate education.” ~ Derek Bok, Former President Emeritus, Harvard University
  • Purpose: To show why critical thinking skills are important - NOW . It’s no wonder it’s a hot-button issue. Given the 21 st century environment we operate in, it is critical. Four things come to mind . Change: In order to keep pace with change and innovate, we must constantly ask questions to understand the environment that is changing on a minute-by-minute basis. Globalization: Unless we consider a breadth of perspectives, we’ll never succeed in today’s global environment. Information: While the internet has brought about an exponential increase in the amount of information at our fingertips, we must be ever more zealous at identifying the source of the information and checking assumptions. Complexity: Given the complexity of jobs in the knowledge economy, and the interdependencies in today’s matrixed organizations and interconnected systems, it’s crucial that we comprehensively evaluate situations to .understand how a single action can have a broad impact across a variety of functional areas.
  • Purpose: To provide an example of poor critical thinking that has affected all of us. You all have your examples, but here is a relatively recent example of your tax dollars at work. In the 1990s, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing began a program to improve the quality of our paper money. They studied the problem and came up with a variety of solutions – papers, inks, print, machines, etc.. They installed the new machines to print the new bills with new specs. When they printed the first set of trial bills, however, they found that the ink smeared on the bills. Not good, so they resigned to solve a new problem, “Develop a program to find better printing inks.” Over the next year and a half, a number of workshops and panels were convened to study the problem. Government officials and college faculty expended tremendous effort. Universities took up special projects to research and develop better printing inks. Just before the newly developed inks were to be placed into production, the Bureau pulled the plug on the project. They found that the real problem was not the ink, but rather, the new machines. Apparently, they weren’t applying the ink with enough pressure to push it far enough into the new paper to prevent smearing. Their ability to define the problem literally, was not worth the paper it was printed on.
  • Purpose: To define the term. This is an intellectual skill from the cognitive ability family, which research has found to be directly related to performance in all jobs.
  • Purpose: To demonstrate why it can be a challenging concept to address with some, if not most, people. It’s hard to grasp. I can’t see it, so how do I explain it. In university circles, this has been a push since the early 80’s… how to teach our students how to think critically. It’s been a mantra. However, in a survey of 140 faculty at 66 universities, the overwhelming majority (89%) claimed critical thinking to be a primary objective of their instruction, yet only a small minority (19%) could give a clear explanation of what critical thinking is. Second… when asked, many people believe critical thinking is simply about being critical of ideas and proposals to the point where beating up someone’s perspective is a bit like whacking a pinata at a child’s birthday party. It’s not about criticizing ideas and proposals. It’s about critiquing our thinking and reasoning. This plays in nicely to our egos as well – our need to be right and be valued on what we contribute. Society and organizations often reward the right and mighty. Unfortunately, critical thinking is not about your ideas, proposals and suggestions “winning” in a battle of ideas. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about our admitting we don’t know it all, admitting that our thinking is flawed and biased, yet engaging in behaviors that help us overcome it. Finally, most people just take their thinking for granted. It is what it is. Some folks are natural problem solvers and analysts, and the rest of us, when asked to evaluate or analyze simply say, “I’m really more of a ‘people person.” Bottom line: they don’t think it is something they can do anything about. In truth, unlike the Yeti, it does exist, and we can even measure it.
  • Purpose: To show how measuring critical thinking skill can help individuals better understand the concept and what to do to improve their skills on an individual level. There are a number of assessments geared toward critical thinking skills. Of those, the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is the most widely used. Not only does its measurement allow individuals to assess their critical thinking ability, but also provides a framework for understanding critical thinking. This helps individuals overcome the challenges listed on the previous slide. No longer is critical thinking a nebulous, taken-for-granted concept. People are evaluated on the RED model of critical thinking, or their ability to Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Arguments, and Draw Conclusions. A previous webcast back in July highlighted the features and benefits of the new Watson Glaser II development report, which is instrumental in helping individuals identify specific behaviors to start, stop or continue in order to improve their critical thinking skills in and out of the workplace. This begs the question, why would someone want to improve their critical thinking skills. What’s the benefit? As critical thinkers, we should ask for concrete examples from empirical research rather than anecdotal evidence.
  • Purpose: To demonstrate that improved CT skills can be related increased performance. Is there a link between critical thinking skills and performance? For reference, the US Dept. of Labor guidelines denote that correlation coefficients of .35 and above are considered “very beneficial” in determining validity. Coefficients of .21-.35 are considered “likely to be useful.” .11-.20 “depends on the circumstances”, and below .11 “unlikely to be useful.” Research involving the Watson Glaser, and the recently revised Watson Glaser II show that total scores on the assessments correlate positively with: Total Performance + (.39) Job success ++ as measured by organizational level achieved (.33) Cognitive problem solving skills +++ (.26) Overall potential + (.25) and +++ (.24) and (.25) ++++++ Analysis ++++ (.58) plus Problem Solving +++++ (..33) Judgment ++++ (.43) plus Decision Making +++++ (.23) Analysis, Problem Solving, Decision making and Judgement _+ (.40) Professional Technical Knowledge + (.37) Core Critical Thinking BEHAVIORS (.28) ++++++ This shows that improvement in critical thinking skills won’t just make someone better at crosswords, brain teasers and sudoku. Critical Thinking is tied to skills and behaviors that directly impact individual and organizational effectiveness. + (Pearson 2006. 64 analysts from a gov’t agency as rated by their supervisors) ++ (Pearson 2006 survey of 2,303 job incumbents in 9 industry categories) +++ (Spector et. Al. 2000 survey of managerial and executive assessment center participants performance in eight assessment center exercises) ++++ (Kudish and Hoffman 2002 71 leadership assessment center participants performance across a series of exercises including coaching, in-basket exercise or simulation, and group discussion) +++++ (Pearson 2006 142 job incumbents supervisory ratings) ++++++ (Pearson WGII 68 managers and their supervisors from the claims division of a national insurance company)
  • Purpose: To show how measuring critical thinking skill can help individuals better understand the concept and what to do to improve their skills on an individual level. There are a number of assessments geared toward critical thinking skills. Of those, the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal is the most widely used. Not only does its measurement allow individuals to assess their critical thinking ability, but also provides a framework for understanding critical thinking. This helps individuals overcome the challenges listed on the previous slide. No longer is critical thinking a nebulous, taken-for-granted concept. People are evaluated on the RED model of critical thinking, or their ability to Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Arguments, and Draw Conclusions. A previous webcast back in July highlighted the features and benefits of the new Watson Glaser II development report, which is instrumental in helping individuals identify specific behaviors to start, stop or continue in order to improve their critical thinking skills in and out of the workplace. This begs the question, why would someone want to improve their critical thinking skills. What’s the benefit? As critical thinkers, we should ask for concrete examples from empirical research rather than anecdotal evidence.
  • Purpose: To illustrate that these skills can be developed. Halpern (1998) outlines a model for teaching critical-thinking skills that is grounded in research and theories of cognitive psychology. The four components are: * attitude: a willingness to recognize critical thinking as a skill and use it; it does take effort and is worth the investment of energy * instruction and practice: extending the attitude to take time to learn the skills and practice them so that they become familiar and realizing the benefit from the investment * structured facilitation of transfer to new contexts: taking the elements of a problem and placing them in a new context to see how the decision is affected meta-cognition: reflecting and thinking about the process In addition, educational researchers and program developers echo this point when we see that they (Costa, 1985; Keating, 1988) have tended to include four elements in reports and writings on critical thinking. These include (1) content knowledge (knowledge of the discipline), (2) procedural knowledge (knowledge of thinking skills), (3) ability to monitor, use and control thinking skills (metacognition), and (4) an attitude to use thinking skills and knowledge. 
  • Purpose: To address the context-free context-dependent debate.. There is an ongoing debate on whether or not critical thinking skills are best taught in a context-free manner (Halpern… teach general skills that can be applied to any situation… reading an op-ed piece, deciding whether or not to believe an ad, determining if you should take a Dr.’s advice, deciding a course of action on a business problem) or in a context-dependent manner (Keating ’84 and Glaser ’88 - teach skills applicable for a given situation with a given content knowledge – teaching nurses how to critically think in the context of caring for patients.) EDA prefers a blended approach. We work a lot with organizations, be they for profit, non-profit, gov’t or military. The nice thing about organizations is that they, by their very nature, require individuals to constantly develop strategies, solve problems, make decisions, and implement plans. This provides a perfect context for teaching critical thinking. What we have found is that teaching tools and techniques on how to do all of these things better (make decisions, solve problems, etc.) helps to build skills that can be carried to new situations and new contexts where the same problem solving or decision making skills are required. This is what we call “Applied Critical Thinking.” Since many people at this point are confused about how someone might actually learn skills in this area, let’s look at an example of how this might play out. And, we’ll learn a situationally-based critical thinking technique in the process.
  • Purpose: To address the context-free context-dependent debate.. There is an ongoing debate on whether or not critical thinking skills are best taught in a context-free manner (Halpern… teach general skills that can be applied to any situation… reading an op-ed piece, deciding whether or not to believe an ad, determining if you should take a Dr.’s advice, deciding a course of action on a business problem) or in a context-dependent manner (Keating ’84 and Glaser ’88 - teach skills applicable for a given situation with a given content knowledge – teaching nurses how to critically think in the context of caring for patients.) EDA prefers a blended approach. We work a lot with organizations, be they for profit, non-profit, gov’t or military. The nice thing about organizations is that they, by their very nature, require individuals to constantly develop strategies, solve problems, make decisions, and implement plans. This provides a perfect context for teaching critical thinking. What we have found is that teaching tools and techniques on how to do all of these things better (make decisions, solve problems, etc.) helps to build skills that can be carried to new situations and new contexts where the same problem solving or decision making skills are required. This is what we call “Applied Critical Thinking.” Since many people at this point are confused about how someone might actually learn skills in this area, let’s look at an example of how this might play out. And, we’ll learn a situationally-based critical thinking technique in the process.
  • Purpose: To demonstrate a contextual/situational example of teaching critical thinking skills and techniques. Note the following for the participants: Explain that the article appeared in Time magazine, and the news was also reported by major newspapers and television stations throughout the country. A marketing nightmare. The article provides a relatively clear, comprehensive description of the problem. Considerable energy was spent trying to solve this problem. By the time the press got wind of the situation, it had been ongoing for some six months. Paraphrased from a Time Magazine article Strange Malady In The Sky March 10 As a Hollywood horror flick, it might be called “The Rash.” Scenario: on Eastern Airlines flights over the Atlantic between New York City and Florida, flight attendants begin to contract a strange, oozing rash on their faces, neck, chest and hands. The fluid escaping from their inflamed pores looks like blood, though it is not, and so the rash is called “red sweat.” Others are stricken by reddish blotches of pinprick-size dots. But either way, before a doctor can diagnose it, the mysterious rash disappears – until, perhaps, the next flight over the Atlantic to Florida. For Eastern’s baffled management, the story is all too real. For the past three months, more than 90 flight attendants have reported cases of the “red sweat”, many of them more than once. Nearly all are women, and most have been stricken on Eastern’s new European-produced A300 Airbus jets flying between New York and Miami or Fort Lauderdale. No passengers or other crew have shown symptoms, and no rashes have been reported on inland flights. In all cases, the symptoms vanish, leaving the victims wondering if the affliction is only skin deep. “We just can’t track this thing down” admits Dr. David Millett, Eastern’s flight medicine director. “It’s spooky, really spooky.” A rash of theories has resulted. One is that the air in the new jet cabins is too dry and induces skin breakouts. Also suspect is the special fluid used to clean the plane’s food ovens. Another possibility is a combination of factors, such as altitude changes, genetic susceptibility, or even cosmetics. In an effort to solve the mystery, doctors from New York’s Columbia – Presbyterian Medical Center seemed ready to try a bit of shuttle dermatology: flying on Eastern’s New-York to Florida jets to make on-the-spot diagnoses. Transition: “ So, based on the information presented, what’s your theory?”
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Pose the question and wait for responses. You all just went through an exercise in critical thinking. You took in the information (perhaps making some assumptions), you evaluated it, and then you drew a conclusion. The problem is, most of the time we go through this exercise without thinking about our thinking. In fact, that’s what Eastern did. Here is where critical thinking techniques are essential. Most people define the problem by collecting data – LOTS of data. However, critical thinking techniques applied to root cause analysis would have us ask very pointed questions. For instance…
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Pose the question and wait for responses. First… what is the problem? Flight attendants are developing a strange rash. Next, WHO IS the problem affecting? “Flight attendants”. At this point, many people will say “female” flight attendants. Here is where the RED model becomes so important. Let’s start with Recognizing Assumptions. The data actually say “nearly all are women”. So, men are affected, too! However, based on our experience, many of us assume flight attendants are female, perhaps leading us down the wrong path. Now that we know WHO has been affected, whop else MIGHT logically be affected by this problem, but they ARE NOT? Passengers, pilots and other crew. So… this simple questioning technique allows us to narrow our focus. We have identified a key distinction here. There is a VERY HIGH probability that the problem MUST have something to do with something that is unique to flight attendants.. So, let’s move on…
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Pose the question and wait for responses. First… what is the problem? Flight attendants are developing a strange rash. Next, WHO IS the problem affecting? “Flight attendants”. At this point, many people will say “female” flight attendants. Here is where the RED model becomes so important. Let’s start with Recognizing Assumptions. The data actually say “nearly all are women”. So, men are affected, too! However, based on our experience, many of us assume flight attendants are female, perhaps leading us down the wrong path. Now that we know WHO has been affected, whop else MIGHT logically be affected by this problem, but they ARE NOT? Passengers, pilots and other crew. So… this simple questioning technique allows us to narrow our focus. We have identified a key distinction here. There is a VERY HIGH probability that the problem MUST have something to do with something that is unique to flight attendants.. So, let’s move on…
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. Allow participants to type in their responses. Dig deeper on some. When people say “work in the galley” ask “What do they do in the galley?” When they say “Safety demo” ask, “What is involved in the safety demo. Keep pushing to assure that they get the correct answer in the list.
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. So, what we have here might add up to a list of possible causes. We might even be able to cross some of these off, as they also affect passenger, pilots, or crew. An example would be food and drinks. Passengers also handle food and drinks, so we would have to limit ourselves to prepping food and drinks. There might be more, such as any of the “hand out” items. Now, let’s go back to our problem definition.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Now, let’s move on to the WHAT question. What types of flights ARE affected? Flights over Atlantic to FLA. What types of flights MIGHT be affected but ARE NOT? At this point, inland flights. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Now, let’s move on to the WHAT question. What types of flights ARE affected? Flights over Atlantic to FLA. What types of flights MIGHT be affected but ARE NOT? At this point, inland flights. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Now, let’s move on to the WHAT question. What types of flights ARE affected? Flights over Atlantic to FLA. What types of flights MIGHT be affected but ARE NOT? At this point, inland flights. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. So, let’s ask, do flight attendants use the push cart on flights over the Atlantic as well as flights inland? Yes! Then, it’s not the likely root cause. Do they prepare food on both types of flights? Yes! Flights from NY to San Fran serve food just like the ocean flights. Do they use the oven on both types? YES! Use the coffee maker? YES! In fact, by the time we get to the end of the list. There are only a couple of items that are questionable, where there may be some questions. (see next slide)
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. Some of us wonder about the life vests. As we went through our list, it’s likely that some of you said “yes, they demo that on every flight” while others said “No, only on flights over water.” Since it’s questionable, it remains on our list. Hotel stays is another. Do certain flight attendant crews stay only at certain hotels?.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Since we still don’t have a definitive root cause identified, let’s move on to the WHERE question. WHERE is this problem (the rash) physically occurring? Face, chest, neck and hands. Where else MIGHT it be occurring but IS NOT? All other areas. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Since we still don’t have a definitive root cause identified, let’s move on to the WHERE question. WHERE is this problem (the rash) physically occurring? Face, chest, neck and hands. Where else MIGHT it be occurring but IS NOT? All other areas. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue exercise and the situational example. Since we still don’t have a definitive root cause identified, let’s move on to the WHERE question. WHERE is this problem (the rash) physically occurring? Face, chest, neck and hands. Where else MIGHT it be occurring but IS NOT? All other areas. This is another key distinction. Let’s look back at our possible causes and narrow even further.
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. So, either of these make more sense to affect the face, chest, neck and hands? Obviously the life vest. Now, have we identified the root cause? Not yet. Instead we have formulated an argument that must be evaluated, and we have Drawn a Conclusion. You see, the RED model isn’t just about recognizing assumptions, evaluating arguments, and drawing conclusions to information you receive. It’s about formulating your own hypotheses and arguments in such a way that they stand up to logical scrutiny as well. As a critical thinker, it is my job to use the best reasoning I can when I present my ideas. What we have done here is used a formal reasoning process to guide our thinking. We still have to continually check our assumptions throughout this process. Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the “rest of the story.” Eastern Airlines assumed the problem had something to do with the new jets it had purchased from AirBus. This is because the rash started appearing shortly after they put the new jets into service. So, they flew to France with a bunch of folks in lab coats and scoured the Airbus facility, looking for problems with upholstery, air handling systems, surface coatings on galley equipment, etc. This effort (and expense) was fruitless. Eventually, someone found that the problem was indeed the life vests. On the demo vests, printed in red ink, were the words “demo only.” It turns out that the ink was toxic. When the flight attendants would out the vest on to demonstrate, the ink would flake off. Then, when they began working hard, moving about the cabin, they would sweat. Their pores would open up, the ink would get in, and they would develop a temporary rash. Root cause identified, but not until 6-8 months later, and a PR nightmare in the press. Now, where is the power in this critical thinking process?
  • Purpose: To continue the exercise. So, either of these make more sense to affect the face, chest, neck and hands? Obviously the life vest. Now, have we identified the root cause? Not yet. Instead we have formulated an argument that must be evaluated, and we have Drawn a Conclusion. You see, the RED model isn’t just about recognizing assumptions, evaluating arguments, and drawing conclusions to information you receive. It’s about formulating your own hypotheses and arguments in such a way that they stand up to logical scrutiny as well. As a critical thinker, it is my job to use the best reasoning I can when I present my ideas. What we have done here is used a formal reasoning process to guide our thinking. We still have to continually check our assumptions throughout this process. Now, as Paul Harvey used to say, for the “rest of the story.” Eastern Airlines assumed the problem had something to do with the new jets it had purchased from AirBus. This is because the rash started appearing shortly after they put the new jets into service. So, they flew to France with a bunch of folks in lab coats and scoured the Airbus facility, looking for problems with upholstery, air handling systems, surface coatings on galley equipment, etc. This effort (and expense) was fruitless. Eventually, someone found that the problem was indeed the life vests. On the demo vests, printed in red ink, were the words “demo only.” It turns out that the ink was toxic. When the flight attendants would out the vest on to demonstrate, the ink would flake off. Then, when they began working hard, moving about the cabin, they would sweat. Their pores would open up, the ink would get in, and they would develop a temporary rash. Root cause identified, but not until 6-8 months later, and a PR nightmare in the press. Now, where is the power in this critical thinking process?
  • Purpose: To define applied critical thinking. So, applied critical thinking brings practicality into what some deem as a theoretical construct that is difficult to grasp. Whereas critical thinking is about thorough analysis, applied critical thinking focuses on the actions that follow, and making sure those actions are well-reasoned and justified.
  • Purpose: To show a approach for applied critical thinking which ties applied critical thinking to common competencies. Our applied critical thinking approach is tailored to use in an organizational context. Note how it is tied to key competencies being assessed, developed and measured in many, if not all, of your organizations. First, Critical Thinking is the hub of our model. No matter the situation, it centers around our understanding of the RED model and how we can use these concepts to continually assess our reasoning process. Questions such as “What assumptions am I making?” “What is the quality of our assumptions? “What other perspectives should we understand?” “How relevant is the information we are using?” “How credible?” “What criteria are we using to evaluate good options vs. bad ones?” “What is our bias?” No matter the situation, these questions are, well… critical! The remaining parts of our model are tied to the context-dependent aspect of our method for developing critical thinking. From an organizational standpoint, Strategic Thinking serves as the umbrella for all other activities. Whatever activities we undertake, they should be part of a larger construct – a larger goal we are trying to achieve. Finding and charting strategic direction involves asking specific questions such as “What is the purpose of our organization?” What strengths and opportunities can we leverage?” “What weaknesses and threats must we overcome?” “What activities will play the biggest role in our achieving our goal?” “What are our priorities?” “What activities will provide the greatest impact?” Note how each of these questions must STILL be informed by the core, RED, critical thinking questions. In the implementation of your strategy, problems will always arise. Your first job is to identify the root cause. Again, informed by the RED questions, there are other key questions to ask to assure your reasoning is sound. Depending on the type of problem you encounter, you may need to ask, what has changed about the people, process, equipment, materials or environment?” or “What’s distinctive about the people, process, equipment, materials or environment in this situation?” “What problems are we seeing?” or, “Given the evidence, what problems might we be seeing but we’re not?” Once you have identified the root cause of your problem, you must decide on a course of action. This brings other factors into consideration. “What criteria will we use to decide on a particular alternative or option?” “Which of those criteria are most important?” “What other alternatives exist?” “What information do we need in order to make a decision?” “What information is trivial?” Finally, from an implementation perspective there are key questions to ask to assure success. “What exactly do we want to accomplish?” “By when?” “How will we know we are successful?” “What could go wrong?” “What is the likelihood of that risk appearing?” “How serious is it if that risk actually occurs?” “What might be the root causes of some of the highest potential problems, and how might we prevent them in the first place?”
  • Purpose: To introduce the Critical Thinking Boot Camp Beyond just learning about critical thinking and encouraging your employees and driect reports to ask the right questions, you could develop a comprehensive program. Or… Use us! Benefits: Integrates the WGII assessment into development for those who have used the tool for assessment, but have taken it no further. Uses the three-phase approach to ensure alignment, action, and accountability Teaches practical tools refined over the past 30 years Eliminates the need for your internal staff to handle prework assignments, encouraging manager meetings, and follow-up coaching. Collects and disseminates success stories
  • Purpose: To show a model for teaching applied critical thinking skills In teaching these concepts, we advocate a three phased approach. This approach takes into account two key aspects of critical thinking. First, it is hard work to do, and even harder work to develop the skills. Individuals must be engaged at the highest level. Merely discussing theoretical constructs is not enough to capture their energy. Second, there are no short cuts to learning to think more critically. It takes continued effort and support. That is why we’ve settled on a three phase approach which has been proven to produce results which we’ll see in a moment. But first of all, let’s look at what the approach entails.
  • A Level III evaluation of 400 participants in a program following this method (within 18 months of going through the workshop) showed that 91% reported understanding how to apply what was learned. 74% reported actually applying the skills to a work-related situation.
  • Purpose: To provide some ROI information Using a “Three Phase” approach (prework and alignment w/ manager/workshop/follow up) to teaching applied critical thinking (knowing what critical thinking questions to ask in a given situation) is a proven way to boost training ROI. Regarding Return on Investment… In research conducted by Action Management Associates, Inc, a Dallas-based consulting firm, they found that over a 15-year period, organizations utilizing a Three Phase training approach in business application of critical thinking realized incredible bottom-line benefits. For every $10,000 spent on training and materials, participants, on average, reported savings of $170,000. The most amazing thing about these numbers is that these benefits are a very conservative estimate. Given that the numbers are derived from past workshop participants voluntarily submitting successes – they went out of their way to communicate back to the firm conducting the training.  Remembering that 74% utilized the skills on a real work issue within 18 months, In practice, only 2.4% VOLUNTARILY communicated their successes, and half of those, just 1.2% of past participants actually made the effort to communicate the DOLLAR IMPACT of those successes.  In organizations where more participants are encouraged to report successes, the benefits grow exponentially.  For example, one client had 25% of their participants reporting successes, which amounted to 400 TIMES their actual cost of training.”
  • Purpose: To provide some ROI information Using a “Three Phase” approach (prework and alignment w/ manager/workshop/follow up) to teaching applied critical thinking (knowing what critical thinking questions to ask in a given situation) is a proven way to boost training ROI. Regarding Return on Investment… In research conducted by Action Management Associates, Inc, a Dallas-based consulting firm, they found that over a 15-year period, organizations utilizing a Three Phase training approach in business application of critical thinking realized incredible bottom-line benefits. For every $10,000 spent on training and materials, participants, on average, reported savings of $170,000. The most amazing thing about these numbers is that these benefits are a very conservative estimate. Given that the numbers are derived from past workshop participants voluntarily submitting successes – they went out of their way to communicate back to the firm conducting the training.  Remembering that 74% utilized the skills on a real work issue within 18 months, In practice, only 2.4% VOLUNTARILY communicated their successes, and half of those, just 1.2% of past participants actually made the effort to communicate the DOLLAR IMPACT of those successes.  In organizations where more participants are encouraged to report successes, the benefits grow exponentially.  For example, one client had 25% of their participants reporting successes, which amounted to 400 TIMES their actual cost of training.”
  • Purpose: To define applied critical thinking. So, applied critical thinking brings practicality into what some deem as a theoretical construct that is difficult to grasp. Whereas critical thinking is about thorough analysis, applied critical thinking focuses on the actions that follow, and making sure those actions are well-reasoned and justified.
  • Applied Critical Thinking: Developing Problem Solvers & Efficient Thinkers

    1. 1. Applied Critical Thinking A 3-Phase Approach to Developing Problem Solvers & Efficient Thinkers Learn more @ www.ThinkWatson.com
    2. 3. Today’s Agenda
    3. 4. Critical Thinking In the News…
    4. 5. It’s Vital to Education…
    5. 6. Yet…
    6. 7. It is Truly a 21 st Century Skill <ul><li>Today’s need for critical thinking is driven by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Pace of Change </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Global Economy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Availability of Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Complexity of Roles and Organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And more… </li></ul></ul>
    7. 8. Failure Can Be Costly <ul><li>Example: The Bureau of Engraving & Printing </li></ul><ul><li>didn’t correctly assess its </li></ul><ul><li>“ink problem.” They </li></ul><ul><li>focused on the ink </li></ul><ul><li>and not the flawed </li></ul><ul><li>process of applying it </li></ul><ul><li>to new bills. </li></ul>
    8. 9. So What Exactly is Critical Thinking? Critical Thinking is an organized & disciplined way of thinking.
    9. 10. What’s So Challenging About It? <ul><li>It’s hard to grasp </li></ul><ul><li>People have a misconception of what critical thinking is </li></ul><ul><li>Egos and social conditioning </li></ul><ul><li>People take it for granted </li></ul><ul><li>“ Thinking… comes easy to us. What does not come easy is consistent, high quality thinking across the dimensions of one’s life. That is, it is not easy to discover our bad habits and do something about them.” </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Paul and Linda Elder </li></ul><ul><li>Fellows, Foundation for Critical Thinking </li></ul>
    10. 11. And It’s Hard Work!
    11. 12. Can We Measure It?
    12. 13. Is an Individual’s “RED”-iness Related To Performance? <ul><li>Total Performance (.39) </li></ul><ul><li>Job Success (.33) </li></ul><ul><li>Overall Potential (.25) and (.24) </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Technical Knowledge (.37) </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis (.58) </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis, Problem Solving, Decision Making and Judgment (.40) </li></ul><ul><li>Judgment (.43) </li></ul><ul><li>Problem Solving and Analysis (.33) </li></ul><ul><li>Core Critical Thinking Behaviors (.28) </li></ul>Studies show a relationship between Critical Thinking and…
    13. 14. Watson-Glaser™ II Assessment
    14. 15. But… Can You Teach It? <ul><li>Success comes through… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attitude </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical instruction and practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transferring skills learned to new situations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflecting and thinking about the process </li></ul></ul>Numerous studies have shown that critical thinking, defined as the deliberate use of skills and strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome, can be learned in ways that promote transfer to novel contexts. - Diane Halpern Ph.D.
    15. 16. An Important Question <ul><li>Should the approach be “context-free” or “context-dependent?” </li></ul>
    16. 17. An Important Question <ul><li>Should the approach be “context-free” or “context-dependent?” </li></ul>YES!
    17. 18. The Case of the “Red Sweat” As a Hollywood horror flick, it might be called “The Rash.” Scenario: On Eastern Airlines flights over the Atlantic between New York City and Florida, flight attendants begin to contract a strange, oozing rash on their faces, neck, chest and hands. The fluid escaping from their inflamed pores looks like blood, though it is not, and so the rash is called “red sweat.” Others are stricken by reddish blotches of pinprick-size dots. But either way, before a doctor can diagnose it, the mysterious rash disappears – until, perhaps, the next flight over the Atlantic to Florida. For Eastern’s baffled management, the story is all too real. For the past three months, more than 90 flight attendants have reported cases of the “red sweat”, many of them more than once. Nearly all are women, and most have been stricken on Eastern’s new European-produced A300 Airbus jets flying between New York and Miami or Fort Lauderdale. No passengers or other crew have shown symptoms, and no rashes have been reported on inland flights. In all cases, the symptoms vanish, leaving the victims wondering if the affliction is only skin deep. “We just can’t track this thing down” admits Dr. David Millett, Eastern’s flight medicine director. “It’s spooky, really spooky.” <ul><li>A rash of theories resulted. The cause is… </li></ul><ul><li>The air in the new jet cabins being too dry. </li></ul><ul><li>The special fluid used to clean the plane’s food ovens. </li></ul><ul><li>A combination of factors, such as altitude changes, genetic susceptibility, or even cosmetics. </li></ul>
    18. 19. Polling Question <ul><li>What do you think is causing the rash? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dry air in the planes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cleaner used in the galley </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cosmetics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frequent altitude changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Something else </li></ul></ul>
    19. 20. Defining the Problem – Setup What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants WHO WHERE WHAT
    20. 21. Defining the Problem – Setup What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew WHO WHERE WHAT
    21. 22. Polling Question <ul><li>Tell me about flight attendants: What does their role entail? (think people, process, equipment, materials, environment) </li></ul>
    22. 23. What’s Unique About Attendants? <ul><li>Serve food </li></ul><ul><li>Serve drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Push cart </li></ul><ul><li>Galley </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use oven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use coffee maker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle garbage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean galley </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Safety demo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxygen masks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seat belt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Vest/Floatation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk on P.A. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul><ul><li>Jump seat </li></ul><ul><li>Hand out… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blankets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pillows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peanuts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beverages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head sets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overhead bins </li></ul><ul><li>Use lounge in airport </li></ul><ul><li>Hotel stays </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time in pressurized cabin </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic gloves for cleaning </li></ul><ul><li>Collect trash </li></ul>
    23. 24. Defining the Problem – Screen 1 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew WHO WHERE WHAT
    24. 25. Defining the Problem – Screen 1 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew Flights Over The Atlantic WHO WHERE WHAT
    25. 26. Defining the Problem – Screen 1 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew Inland Flights Flights Over The Atlantic WHO WHERE WHAT
    26. 27. What’s Unique About Attendants? <ul><li>Serve food </li></ul><ul><li>Serve drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Push cart </li></ul><ul><li>Galley </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use oven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use coffee maker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle garbage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean galley </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Safety demo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxygen masks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seat belt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Vest/Floatation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk on P.A. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul><ul><li>Jump seat </li></ul><ul><li>Hand out… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blankets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pillows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peanuts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beverages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head sets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overhead bins </li></ul><ul><li>Use lounge in airport </li></ul><ul><li>Hotel stays </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time in pressurized cabin </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic gloves for cleaning </li></ul><ul><li>Collect trash </li></ul>
    27. 28. <ul><li>Serve food </li></ul><ul><li>Serve drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Push cart </li></ul><ul><li>Galley </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use oven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use coffee maker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle garbage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean galley </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Safety demo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxygen masks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seat belt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Vest/Floatation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk on P.A. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul><ul><li>Jump seat </li></ul><ul><li>Hand out… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blankets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pillows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peanuts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beverages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head sets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overhead bins </li></ul><ul><li>Use lounge in airport </li></ul><ul><li>Hotel stays </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time in pressurized cabin </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic gloves for cleaning </li></ul><ul><li>Collect trash </li></ul>What’s Unique About Attendants?
    28. 29. Defining the Problem – Screen 2 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew Inland Flights Flights Over The Atlantic WHO WHERE WHAT
    29. 30. Defining the Problem – Screen 2 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew Inland Flights Flights Over The Atlantic Face, Chest, Neck, Hands WHO WHERE WHAT
    30. 31. Defining the Problem – Screen 2 What the problem IS What the problem might be but IS NOT Flight Attendants Passengers, Pilots, Crew Inland Flights Flights Over The Atlantic Face, Chest, Neck, Hands All Other Areas WHO WHERE WHAT
    31. 32. What’s Unique About Attendants? <ul><li>Serve food </li></ul><ul><li>Serve drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Push cart </li></ul><ul><li>Galley </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use oven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use coffee maker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle garbage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean galley </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Safety demo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxygen masks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seat belt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Vest/Floatation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk on P.A. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul><ul><li>Jump seat </li></ul><ul><li>Hand out… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blankets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pillows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peanuts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beverages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head sets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overhead bins </li></ul><ul><li>Use lounge in airport </li></ul><ul><li>Hotel stays </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time in pressurized cabin </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic gloves for cleaning </li></ul><ul><li>Collect trash </li></ul>
    32. 33. What’s Unique About Attendants? <ul><li>Serve food </li></ul><ul><li>Serve drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Push cart </li></ul><ul><li>Galley </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare food </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use oven </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use coffee maker </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handle garbage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean galley </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Safety demo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxygen masks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seat belt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Life Vest/Floatation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talk on P.A. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Uniforms </li></ul><ul><li>Jump seat </li></ul><ul><li>Hand out… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blankets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pillows </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peanuts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beverages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head sets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magazines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overhead bins </li></ul><ul><li>Use lounge in airport </li></ul><ul><li>Hotel stays </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of time in pressurized cabin </li></ul><ul><li>Plastic gloves for cleaning </li></ul><ul><li>Collect trash </li></ul>
    33. 34. Congratulations! You have successfully applied your critical thinking skills.
    34. 35. Conclusion <ul><li>Eastern Airlines assumed the problem had something to do with its new jets. It turns out the problem was the life vests. On the vests, printed in red ink, were the words “demo only.” The ink was toxic and it flaked off on their skin. An “Is/Is Not” root cause analysis would have helped them come to this conclusion. </li></ul>
    35. 36. Applied Critical Thinking Sequence
    36. 37. Creating a Training Program - How do I get started? <ul><li>Create yours from scratch, or… </li></ul><ul><li>Critical Thinking Boot Camp </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrates the WGII </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses 3-phase Approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses proven tools & techniques </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in practice for 30+ years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-work and Follow-up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collects & disseminates ROI data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to you </li></ul></ul>
    37. 38. A 3-Phase Approach to Development
    38. 40. Results to Date… <ul><li>Survey of 400 participants within 18 months of completing the program </li></ul><ul><li>Understand how to apply skills </li></ul><ul><li>Applied the skills on the job </li></ul>0 50 100 91% 74%
    39. 41. Return on Investment For every $10,000 spent on training & materials
    40. 42. Return on Investment Clients average $170,000 in savings or results
    41. 43. Some Recent Examples <ul><li>A global medical supply firm </li></ul><ul><li>Sr. Manager in manufacturing utilized the strategic thinking tools to uncover $400,000 in annual savings. </li></ul><ul><li>Project Manager used applied critical thinking tools to design a plan to release a product 10 months early with $10M additional incremental revenue. </li></ul>
    42. 45. Questions or Inquiries Critical Thinking Boot Camp or Train-the-Trainer: Breanne Potter – 816.256.3334 [email_address] Presentation: Scott Dannemiller – 615.479.3492 [email_address] www.ThinkWatson.com/bootcamp

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