Critical Thinking Learning Modules: Keys & Strategies

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Online Critical Thinking Course

The  Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking Course Pack presents proven learning modules designed to improve thinking and problem-solving. The modules in this training program are designed to externalize evidence of your adult learners’ thinking process as they analyze and work through relevant problems, complete reflective thinking exercises, and as they reflect additionally when the exercises are debriefed (as they are immediately after each exercise is completed).

Available in English and Spanish, learning modules can be completed in any order. Each module contains embedded reflective thinking exercises with a suggesting time frame for completing the exercise. Following each exercise, there is a debrief and transition to the next important learning exercise. Group sessions add the potential for additional discussion and shared insights, helpful for integrating content, practicing thinking skills and building habits of mind.

Each module focuses on one or more very distinct attributes, each of which are valued by employers, community groups, and everyone who works on decision teams.

Critical Thinking Keys are the reasoning skills college students need to succeed


Modules that Train Keys (Critical Thinking Mindset)

These modules focus on the personal attributes that support strength in reasoning and decision-making.  Each module addresses the willingness to engage problems and to make decisions using strong critical thinking.

Fostering a Positive Critical Thinking Mindset

A positive critical thinking mindset gives us that powerful, consistent, internal motivation to apply our critical thinking skills to problem-solving and decision-making. This module offers specific suggestions for cultivating a positive critical thinking mindset. It contrasts truth-seeking, open-mindedness, foresight, systematicity, confidence in reasoning, inquisitiveness, and maturity of judgment with their opposites. Using vivid examples from popular culture, the module notes the ambiguity of the adjective “good” as applied to “critical thinker”, distinguishing the intent to praise the person’s reasoning skill from a judgement about the ethics of what they do.

The Workplace Power of Critical Thinking

This overview module clarifies what we mean by critical thinking, demonstrates the importance of critical thinking, and differentiates between the skills dimension and the mindset dimension of critical thinking. The module introduces the “IDEAS General Problem-Solving” process, which features the application of core critical thinking skills to genuine life and workplace decisions and problems. The module is rounded out by an easily applied evaluation process that will assist you to confidently rate the quality of a decision process.

Committed, Dependable, and Honorable

This module addresses the significance of commitment, dependability, and honor, along with ways we can strengthen these important thinking mindset attributes. For example, the committed employee is orientated toward the company and the job, its people and its mission. Dependability is the motivation to complete assigned tasks and take pride in the accomplishment of assignments. Loyalty and dedication characterize a person who is committed and dependable. Honorable people are honest, they have personal integrity, they are truthful, respect other people’s property, follow rules, and keep promises.

Truth-Seeking, Judicious, and Trustful of Reason

This module addresses the significance of truth-seeking, judiciousness, and trust in reasoning, along with ways we can strengthen these important thinking mindset attributes.  Truth-seeking is always desiring the best possible understanding of any given situation. A truth-seeing person has the intellectual integrity to follow reasons and evidence wherever they may lead. The judicious person has maturity of judgment characterized by displaying thoughtfulness in decision-making and an awareness that there is often more than one reasonable option, and that poor decisions should be dispassionately revisited.    Trust or confidence in reasoning is the habitual tendency to rely upon and to trust reflective thinking to solve problems and to make decisions.

Foresightful, Driven, and Organized

This module addresses the significance of foresight, drive, and organization, along with ways we can strengthen these important thinking mindset attributes. Foresight, also called analyticity, is the habit of anticipating potential difficulties and striving to foresee consequences of decisions. Drive is the consuming internal demand to achieve personal and professional excellence and to achieve a group’s shared vision. And organization, often called systematicity or focus, is the persistence to work through problems in an organized, systematic, and orderly way.

Adaptable, Resourceful, and Inventive

This module addresses the significance of adaptability, resourcefulness, and inventiveness, along with ways we can strengthen these important thinking mindset attributes. An adaptable person has an appetite for innovation and system changes. The person is resilient, flexible, and welcoming toward the need for change in life and work.  The resourceful person has the drive to find the means necessary to fulfill responsibilities. Inventiveness is the creativity and self-reliance to respond to emergent events. Adaptability, resourcefulness, inventiveness, resilience, and self-reliance are closely linked personal and professional attributes.

Motivational, Open-Minded, and Professional

This module addresses the significance of being motivational, open-minded, and professional, along with ways we can strengthen these important thinking mindset attributes. The motivational leader effectively communicates enthusiasm for the work at hand and inspires others to give their best. The open-minded person respects diversity in work and life. This includes showing due respect for different perspectives, opinions, and suggestions. Professionalism means taking an appropriate approach to social interactions in work environments by maintaining focus on work responsibilities.

Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking Course features learning modules to improve thinking skills


Learning Modules that Train Strategies (Critical Thinking Skills)

The Strategies modules stimulate a better understanding of the impact of problem solving skills and provide strategies to avoid common errors.

Getting the Problem Right

Develop your critical thinking skills of analysis and interpretation. This module focuses on the first, and perhaps most important, step of effective problem-solving, namely getting the problem right. Analytical skills enable us to consider all the key elements in any given situation, and to determine how those elements relate to one another. A strongly skilled problem solver uses these skills to determine the issues that must be addressed and to understand the complexities of the problem.

 Clarifying Meaning and Spotting Nonsense

Interpretation is a core critical thinking skill.  We use it in the process of discovering, determining, or assigning meaning.  Interpretation skills can be applied to anything, e.g. written messages, charts, diagrams, maps, graphs, memes, and verbal and non-verbal exchanges. This module presents several tried and true critical thinking strategies for dealing effectively with problematic vagueness and problematic ambiguity. Learn how to spot deceptive messages that twist what words mean in order to control people.

 Analyzing Spoken Arguments

Making decisions in real time conversational contexts involves suggestion and evaluating options, offering reasons pro and con, and explaining why one choice appears to be superior to others. “Spoken arguments” as used here refers to those formal and informal conversations aimed at analyzing or evaluating a situation and determining what choice, if any, is to be made. Use this module to develop and to integrate your skills of analysis, inference, evaluation, and explanation as applied to the problem-solving and decision-making that occurs in conversational contexts.

Evaluating Alternatives

At every level of an organization, members are called upon to set priorities and to differentiate the quality of alternative possible choices that fall within their responsibilities.  The key to successful problem-solving by individuals and teams goes beyond evaluation only, we must be able to explain the reasons behind our evaluations by giving a fair-minded account of the reasons and evidence that support a given choice. This module focuses these evaluation and explanation skills as related to life and workplace problems and responsibilities.

Evaluating Credibility

Develop your critical thinking evaluation skills as applied to assessing the credibility of claims. The four strategies presented include assessing the credibility of the source of the claim, estimating the plausibility of the claim itself, investigating the claim independently, and suspending judgement. Topics include trust as related to the stages of human cognitive development, and how to recognize misleading claims such as fake news, false advertising, political propaganda, slanted language, and loaded expressions.

Reasoning in Logically Precise Contexts

Develop the deductive reasoning skills necessary to anticipate outcomes and to see logical consequences. Effective people must be able infer with certainty the correct applications and the exact logical implications of a given set of conditions, rules, directives, principles, policies, or regulations which shape and constrain their problem-solving. Making logically precise deductive inferences and evaluating arguments for validity are core critical thinking skills.

Reasoning in Ambiguous Contexts

Develop the inductive reasoning skills needed for problem-solving in contexts of risk, ambiguity and uncertainty. Strength in inductive and inferential reasoning lead problem solvers to determine the solution that has the strongest likelihood of success, given the information at hand. Although it does not yield certainty, inductive reasoning can provide decision makers with a solid basis for confidence in their conclusions and a reasonable basis for action.

Reasoning in Quantitative Contexts

The ability to reason well in contexts involving numerical data is essential in every field. Problem solvers must be able to interpret and evaluate vital information presented in a variety of numerical formats. This module develops your skills at making judgments based on quantitative information by focusing on how quantitative information is gathered, manipulated, and represented textually, verbally, and visually in graphs, charts, tables and diagrams. Numeracy, quantitative reasoning, uses all our critical thinking skills.

“This-Is-Like-That” Reasoning

The memories and emotions triggered by an apt comparison or a clever analogy can be extraordinarily persuasive. A strong critical thinker knows how analogies and other comparative reasoning strategies can be used to explain, to influence, and to evaluate when making or justifying decisions.  Develop critical thinking skills of explanation and evaluation as applied to these powerfully effective, but often misguided, reasoning shortcuts.  Comparative “this-is-like-that” reasoning is one of the three main modalities of human inference and explanation. The other two are “top-down” and “bottom-up” reasoning.  Each of the three has its best uses and its serious limitations.

“Top-Down” Reasoning

Top-Down reasoning begins with high level principles, policies, and/or commitments. Once a business, a community, or an individual person is committed to a clear set of broad generalizations or core beliefs, the next logical step is to ask what those commitments imply for how we should act. Develop critical thinking skills of explanation and evaluation as applied in the deductive reasoning process.  Deductive “top-down” principles-first reasoning is one of the three main modalities of human inference and explanation. The other two are “this-is-like that” and “bottom-up” reasoning.  Each of the three has its best uses and its serious limitations.

 “Bottom-Up” Reasoning

Bottom-Up reasoning begins with a set of specific facts and, from those, reason upward, with a measure of warranted confidence, toward broader generalizations. Our professional and personal experiences shape our expectations because of our natural tendency to use this inductive form of reasoning. Develop critical thinking skills of explanation and evaluation as applied in the inductive reasoning process.  Inductive “bottom-up” empirical reasoning is one of the three main modalities of human inference and explanation. The other two are “this-is-like that” and “top-down” reasoning.  Each of the three has its best uses and its serious limitations.

Comparing Three Modes of Reasoning

This brief commentary is by an international scholar and leader in critical thinking, Dr. Pete Facione. He invites you to consider the influence of different modes of reasoning. He compares the three main ways we have of offering explanations: “This-is-Like-That,” “Top-Down,” and “Bottom-Up” reasoning. These three are not at all equal when it comes to everyday problem-solving and decision-making. Each is valuable in a different way, but each has limitations, some more serious than others.  In a personal message to you, the lead author of these training modules describes practical value and the associated dangers of each of the three.

Decision-Making Traps and Releases

In the workplace, as in the rest of life, all human decision-making is driven by two simultaneously functioning cognitive engines. One relies heavily on thinking shortcuts, called heuristics, to arrive quickly and confidently at judgments. The other engine is reflective, deliberative, and more thorough in analyzing situations.  The two can produce conflicting results, that push and pull that many describe as the conflict between what your head tells you and what your heart tells you. By enumerating the advantages and the risks of the Top 10 Decision-Making Traps, this module explains how to harness the advantages of each of the two systems. 

Preview This Comprehensive Online Critical Thinking Course

Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking is a tested training course pack, developed by leading critical thinking experts. Focused on college and adult learners, it includes all the curricular materials faculty need to deliver an effective learning experience.

Instructors control sequencing and the emphasis placed on the course content, can integrate additional course material as desired, and can determine the timing of the self-assessment.  They can enable students to engage in fully remote, asynchronous, self-instructional learning, or use the modules in a guided virtual or flex learning environment.

The Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking Course pack includes a two part diagnostic assessment that objectively measures the thinking mindset and reasoning skills of course participants. The online, validated assessment is aligned with the complete set of thinking mindset attributes (keys) and reasoning skills (strategies) in the course.  Individual and group assessment reports provide objective data about individual and group strength and weakness.

For more details, a free faculty previews and a free price quote, contact us today.

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