The Military and Defense Critical Thinking Inventory (MDCTI) is a two-part scientifically developed measure of cognitive ability that evaluates the core reasoning skills and personal attributes associated with successful leadership decision making.
MDCTI Part 1 assesses ten mental disciplines and attributes relevant to the expression of thought and to one’s style of interaction in decision making and professional contexts. Part 1 uses the familiar “Agree – Disagree” format; and it can be completed comfortably in less than 30 minutes on-line.
Results are reported for each test-taker on all ten disciplines and attributes assessed by Part 1. First the scale is named and described. Then the individual’s score is presented using one of three tags – typically these are “Strongly Manifested,” “Inconsistent,” or “Not Manifested.” To assist in the interpretation of the results, a further characterization of the general tendencies or preferences of individuals within each category is then displayed.
The disciplines addressed by Part 1 of the MDCTI include: Communicative Confidence, Professional Confidence, Peer Expression, Teamwork, Directness, Intellectual Integrity Mental Focus, Mental Rigor, Foresight, and Cognitive Maturity.
MDCTI Part 2 is an objective measure of the core reasoning skills used in thoughtful decision making. Part 2 can be completed in less than 60 minutes on-line. Success on Part 2 demands the sustained application of thinking skills, focus and effort in an environment free from distractions. The questions on Part 2 present scenarios of varying complexity across a range of topics. Sufficient information is presented to enable the test-taker to reason to the best answer from among the choices provided.
High scores on Part 2 indicate the consistently correct application of one’s skills in analysis, interpretation, inference, evaluation, and explanation. Part 2 was designed and calibrated originally for mid-level and senior level officers and for government and industry professionals with comparable levels of authority and responsibility. It has been used successfully with senior enlisted personnel and civilian employees whose responsibilities demand successful reasoning and decision making.
The MDCTI Part 2 reports an Overall score and scores on five more specific reasoning skills: Analysis, Inference, Evaluation, Deduction and Induction. The overall score and scores on each skill scales of Part 2 are reported as numerical results and as one of the categorical results “Not Manifested” “Moderate,” “Strong,” or “Superior.”
Attributes Evaluated on MDCTI Part 1
Intellectual integrity is the discipline of striving to be thorough and honest to learn the truth or to reach the best decision possible in a given situation. A person with intellectual integrity has a driving desire to follow reasons and evidence courageously wherever they may lead. Individuals who strongly manifest intellectual integrity value objectivity, evidence-based decision making, and the courageous, fair-minded, and complete pursuit of the best possible knowledge in any given situation
Mental rigor is the discipline to work hard in an effort to analyze, interpret and achieve a deep understanding of complex material. Individuals who strongly manifest mental rigor are willing to engage difficult material and to work hard to analyze complicated situations and problems. They display a desire for learning, and a concern to achieve a deep understanding of events and their causes.
Foresight is the habit of approaching problems with a view toward anticipating consequences and outcomes. A foresightful person values clarity and the accurate interpretation of complex problem situations. Individuals who strongly manifest foresight value getting the problem right, understanding the reasons pro and con, and projecting the likely outcomes of various options.
Professional confidence is the self-assurance felt by newly assigned, enrolled, hired or newly promoted individuals regarding their readiness to handle the stress, competitiveness, vocabulary, workload, instructional or orientation methods, and related complexities associated with their new role. Individuals who strongly manifest professional confidence have a positive sense of efficacy in their professional role.
Cognitive maturity indicates an awareness that there may be multiple potential perspectives on any given situation, problem, proposal or issue. A person who strongly manifests cognitive maturity endeavors to take this into consideration when making important decisions. This person is likely to move forward when an expeditious decision is required, to hold off making a decision if there is time to give the matter fuller consideration, or to reconsider decisions if new evidence emerges.
Communicative confidence measures confidence in oral and written communication and assesses attitudes about technical writing. Individuals who strongly manifest communicative confidence believe that they have the ability to lead groups through the presentation of oral arguments, to read well, and to write effectively about analyses and opinions.
Teamwork describes a style of interacting that may be collaborative, competitive or a mix of both depending on what is called for in a given situation. Teamwork scores fall into three categories: The “Consistent Collaborator” style may be well suited for professional responsibilities requiring diplomacy and compromise, such as interest based negotiation and arbitration. The “Lone Competitor” style may be well suited to highly competitive practice settings including potentially confrontational responsibilities. The “Situational Competitor or Collaborator” is comfortable with collaborative effort and with individual competition as well. This style is most effective when working within a collaborative group charged with competing effectively against other groups.
Expression describes a style of interacting with peers that may be quietly observational, expressively performing, or a mix of both depending on context. Expression scores fall into three categories: The “Quiet Observer” prefers to stay in the background and observe others even in social situations with peers. The “Expressive Performer” tends to be highly demonstrative and expressive, particularly when with their peers. The “Situational Observer or Performer” may present as a quiet observer or as an expressive performer depending on the context. They are comfortable letting others do the talking or, if the occasion demands, being the one who presents information, explanations and analyses.
Directness describes a style of behaving and speaking in relationship to questions or pressure from peers or superiors aimed at seeking their approval, or forthrightly declaring one’s views, or a mix of both depending on the situation. Directness scores fall into three categories: The “Approval Seeker” tends to present to peers, supervisors and others as being highly agreeable, even if he or she must exaggerate positive characteristics and conceal weaknesses to do so. A “Forthright Declarer” prefers to describe matters exactly as he or she sees them, to speak bluntly, occasionally to the point of painful honesty, and to make decisions with little concern for whether or not others would approve or agree. “Situationally Direct” individuals may exhibit forthrightness or may withhold their true opinions depending on the situation.
Core Reasoning and Critical Thinking Skills Evaluated on MDCTI Part 2
Reasoning Skills Overall
Analytical skills are used to identify assumptions, reasons, themes, and the evidence used in making arguments or offering explanations. Analytical skills enable us to consider all the key elements in any given situation, and to determine how those elements relate to one another. People with strong analytical skills notice important patterns and details. People use analysis to gather the most relevant information from spoken language, documents, signs, charts, graphs, and diagrams.
Inference skills enable us to draw conclusions from reasons, evidence, observations, experiences, or our values and beliefs. Using Inference, we can predict the most likely consequences of the options we may be considering. Inference enables us to see the logical consequences of the assumptions we may be making. Sound inferences rely on accurate information. People with strong inference skills draw logical or highly reliable conclusions using all forms of analogical, probabilistic, empirical, and mathematical reasoning.
Evaluative reasoning skills enable us to assess the credibility of sources of information and the claims they make. We use these skills to determine the strength or weakness of arguments. Applying evaluation skills we can judge the quality of analyses, interpretations, explanations, inferences, options, opinions, beliefs, ideas, proposals, and decisions. Strong explanation skills can support high-quality evaluation by providing the evidence, reasons, methods, criteria, or assumptions behind the claims made and the conclusions reached.
Deductive reasoning is rigorously logical and clear cut. Deductive skills are used whenever we determine the precise logical consequences of a given set of rules, conditions, beliefs, values, policies, principles, procedures, or terminology. Deductive reasoning is deciding what to believe or what to do in precisely defined contexts that rely on strict rules and logic. Deductive validity results in a conclusion which absolutely cannot be false, if the assumptions or premises from which we started all are true. Deductive validity leaves no room for uncertainty. That is, unless we decide to change the very meanings of our words or the grammar of our language.