Certificate programs are increasingly important in today’s economy. Many essential workers complete 2 year post-secondary programs, preparing them with necessary skills for their future workplaces.
It is a myth that certificate programs train manual skills only, but do not support the development of critical thinking. The best technical programs integrate content knowledge with the consistent demand for mindful attention to careful problem-solving and decision making.
Certificate programs in business, health care, technology, criminal justice, design, construction trades, legal support services, fitness training, education, and hospitality all offer the opportunity to build stronger thinking skills and mindset attributes right along with knowledge that is specific to the industry.
Why integrate critical thinking into certificate programs?
The application of critical thinking skill is essential to success in certificate program coursework and in the workplace.
What are employers looking for when hiring?
They want people who have the ability to apply gained knowledge in a wide variety of real world settings.
Certificate programs are designed to prepare graduates with technical skills required to perform necessary tasks in a specific field. However, that is only part of the training. Graduates must be willing and able to effectively apply those new skills to real-time situations. Problem-solving skills and technical knowledge must be supported by a thinking mindset that motivates those graduates to engage problems, troubleshoot and make good decisions.
Quality certificate programs integrate task performance with reasoning and problem solving. They develop skills in interpretation, analysis, inference, explanation, and evaluation which are core critical thinking skills. That is what learning to troubleshoot and to problem-solve is all about.
The expanding need for certificate programs
There was a time when only technical and community colleges offered certificate programs, and then only on-site. Today undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are available online, on-site, and in hybrid combinations, and they are offered by institutions at every level, even the top ranked- research universities.
Certificate programs have the same opportunity to train for critical thinking as traditional college majors. Perhaps, in some cases, an even greater opportunity. It all depends on how the program is presented. The best programs include well-selected hands-on troubleshooting and real-world problem-solving, guided by good instructors. By addressing the kinds of issues most likely to occur in their workplace, industry-specific programs offer opportunities to engage, to practice, and to strengthen critical thinking.
Certificate programs are easier for colleges to design and deliver, enabling higher education to be nimble and responsive to regional workforce development needs. And, it is easier to market certificate programs to adult learners seeking a more direct relationship between their learning and its practical job-related benefits.
Who are the most effective teachers of critical thinking?
People with strong reasoning skills and a positive thinking mindset, along with practical industry knowledge and experience, are best suited to become certificate program instructors. Combine these assets with some training in the best methods of educating adults, and you have the ingredients for an outstanding certificate program educator.
Building strong thinking in certificate programs
Strategic/well-designed assessment programs provide valuable objective data to validate program outcomes, assure candidate qualification to perform a job or task, or to inform student support and retention. Insight Assessment offers well-respected critical thinking skills and mindset test instruments calibrated for 2 year programs.
Certificate programs developers and instructors interested in tools to assess and to enhance critical thinking will want to consider INSIGHT Development Program. This online program integrates effective self-instructional professional development training modules with a valid individualized assessment of thinking mindset attributes and reasoning skills.