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Why Everyone Needs Critical Thinking

Good decision-making requires good critical thinking

Every day we all make decisions which affect ourselves, our families, our country and our world. When stakes and consequences are high, strong critical thinking skills are vital. At all ages of life, critical thinking skills and mindset are essential when purposeful and reflective judgment is needed.

Good critical thinking and success 

Good thinking skills aren't optional.

Critical thinking is important in education.  Learning demands strength in critical thinking. Learning requires the interpretation and integration of new knowledge and, then, its practical and appropriate application. This is especially necessary when encountering novel situations, problem conditions and innovative opportunities.

Critical thinking is required for business success. Critical thinking is one of the key skills valued by employers.  Leaders in business and non-profit organizations see a candidate’s capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems as core competencies.

World culture and an information-intensive everyday life invite us to apply critical thinking. We must interpret, analyze, evaluate, explain, and draw warranted inferences about what to believe and what to do in a stream of novel and, too often, time-limited or high-stakes, uncertain situations

Research studies have consistently shown that strength in critical thinking correlates with workplace and academic success, certification and licensure in the most valued professions as well as survival of some of life’s most difficult challenges.

For the thinking process to be successful, it must be done with the habits of mind that have been identified as supporting strength in critical thinking. Individuals can have experience and skills, but not the motivation to use them when making decisions. Mindset really matters.

Comparison of weak critical thinking to strong critical thinking and the results produce by each such as failure to learn/academic success, prejudice/tolerance, sexual harassment/professionalism, violent crime/strong problem-solving, embezzlement/mitigation of risk, poor communication skills/implementation of innovative ideas, gullible voters/educated voters

Risks of poor thinking

Weak critical thinking skills and mindset show themselves in many ways: dangerous and costly errors, repeated mistakes, bad decisions, failed systems, inaction when action is needed, the giving of bad advice, inaccurate assumptions, the poor design of training programs, the poor evaluation of educational curricula, the lack of anticipated action… the list is long.

We can no longer afford to be mistaken about best thinking. The costs are too high. Error rates must be reduced.  Difficult problems and decisions must be addressed reflectively. We cannot accept poor judgments that can lead to irreparable damage and even cost lives.

Unaddressed weakness in critical thinking skill results in loss of opportunities, of financial resources, of relationships and even, loss of life.

Students and workers with weak critical thinking skills and mindset are unable to benefit from the educational training program offered to them. Their presence in the class or lab forces instructors to slow or alter the training for the other students and trainees. Their presence in clinics, internships, or field exercises risks increases in injuries and liabilities related to, likely, errors of both inaction and wrong action. 

Importance of measuring thinking skills

Strong reasoning skills and thinking mindset are needed for decision strength | Insight Assessment

There is probably no other attribute more worthy of measure than critical thinking.

Many believe that the best thinkers are obvious in a given agency or institution. But these impressions are subjective.  These opinions are too often based on chance circumstances; expressions of self-confidence; hierarchical position in the group-- and on hindsight.

We have learned more about how humans engage, try to understand problems, and make judgments. Perhaps, more importantly, we understand more about how they make bad judgments, often without realizing it. 

Human reasoning and problem solving are highly complex processes, but not impossible to analyze, measure and improve.  A measure of critical thinking, which describes an individual's comparative strength in critical thinking, is a valuable aid in determining a person's capacity to benefit from training or to succeed in their job.

When objective measures reveal weaknesses in reasoning and mindset, there are effective training/teaching techniques that can strengthen them.  A positive mindset toward thinking and reasoning can be fostered.  Start with an honest and concerned appraisal of the variances in critical thinking skills and mindset manifested in working adults or students in all programs of study.

Individual measures of critical thinking ability (analysis, inference, evaluation, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning) and mindset (truth-seeking, open-mindedness, resourcefulness, focus and inquisitiveness) provide valuable information about potential hires and guidance as to where to dedicate programs of improvement in workers and students.

Improving critical thinking

Today, workplace training and educational programs are being required to demonstrate that they are effectively improving critical thinking skills and mindset.

Insight Assessment’s critical thinking test instruments are used globally to provide metrics for a full range of professional and academic needs

INSIGHT Development Program is a suite of thinking skills and mindset enrichment modules that focus on improving the quality of employee decision-making. Designed to be used as an independent study by employees, it can also be incorporated into existing training programs. INSIGHT Development Program is online, confidential, and available at staff member convenience.

Contact our testing specialists to learn more about our comprehensive solutions.  

For more about critical thinking

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