Critical Thinking The Ultimate Key Success Factor
Agenda • What is critical thinking? • How does the brain work? • What are some of the critical thinking techniques that I can easily learn and use?
Why is critical thinking important? • It is a means of improving your ability to learn • It can help you better understand what you read • It can help you to make more convincing arguments • It facilitates communication • It can help you to address the three basic questions
Critical Thinking: Socrates From Socrates, we get great emphasis on argument and critical thinking. Socrates chose to make argument the main thinking tool. Within argument, there was to be critical thinking: Why do you say that? What do you mean by that? "To find yourself, think for yourself." -- Socrates
Critical Thinking: Aristotle From Aristotle we get a type of logic, based on identity and non-identity, as well as on inclusion and exclusion. "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -- Aristotle
Critical Thinking: Plato From Plato we get the notion that there is the "truth" somewhere but that we have to search for it to find it. The way to search for the truth is to use critical thinking to attack what is untrue. “Knowledge is true opinion.”-- Plato
Critical Thinking: Belardo “Critical Thinking is purposeful goal directed thinking. It is an art of thinking about what one is thinking about in order to make it more accurate, clear and defensible”
Your Brain “The brain is the organ of destiny. It holds within its humming mechanism secrets that will determine the future of the human race.” -- Wilder Penfield (from The Second Career, 1963)
How do you Think? The Brain • “The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know.” • – Isaac Asimov (from the foreword to The Three-Pound Universe by J. Hooper and D. Teresi, 1986)
Brain & Intelligence - Historical • Aristotle believed that brain size wasrelatedto intelligence. • Broca believed that cranial volumereflectedintelligence, hence: • Women were inferior to men (smaller brain sizes) • Non-Europeans were inferior to Europeans • Broca’s work was superceded by the neuronal doctrine (Waldayer) • Neurons are the processing units of the brain.
The Brain: Complexity Human Jack Rabbit “The human brain is generally regarded as a complex web of adaptations built into the nervous system, even though no one knows how.” – Michael S. Gazzaniga (from The Mind’s Past, 1998)
The Brain: A Computer? “The human brain is an amazing piece of engineering that allows us to process billions of bits of information within a compact, powerful, continuously changing computer that we carry on our shoulders our entire lives” -- Nancy C. Andreasen
The Brain: A Network of Cells “The adult human brain weights about 3 pounds and consists of about 100 billion nerve cells or neurons. These neurons are responsible for the transmission of information throughout the brain. The outer wrinkled mantle of the brain called the cerebral cortex contains about 30 billion of these neurons connected to each other by means of a million billion neuronal connections called synapses. The neurons communicate with each other via these connections.”
Neurons “The brain evolves further than any other organ. Beginning as the simplest sort of connecting center for the nerves, it elaborates into a surpassingly complex structure, with many levels of activity, and untold trillions of possible circuits” – Wendell J.S. Krieg (from Functional Neuroanatomy, 1942)
Brain & Intelligence - Neurons • Current models postulate that intelligence and complexity are the result of the properties of neurons and how they are connected. • Not only the number of neurons but physiological properties of neurons are also relevant: channels, cable properties, and the type of synapses. There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected. – Tim Berners-Lee (from Weaving The Web: the original design and ultimate destiny of the world wide web by its inventor, 1999)
Synapses “The human brain is estimated to have about a hundred billion nerve cells, two million miles of axons, and a million billion synapses, making it the most complex structure, natural or artificial on earth” -- Tim Green, Stephen F. Heinemann and Jim F. Gusella (from a paper in Neuron, vol. 420, page 427, 1998)
Brain Principles • Contralaterality • The brain is divided into two mirror-image halves (hemispheres) when viewed from above. • The receptive and control centers for one side of the body are located in the opposite hemisphere of the brain. • Hemispheric Specification • Each hemisphere specializes in different manners of processing information and maintains different abilities. • The percentage of each hemisphere used varies by individual.
Left & Right Brain Source: http://painting.about.com/library/blpaint/blrightbraintable.htm
Left & Right Brain Cont’d Source: http://painting.about.com/library/blpaint/blrightbraintable.htm
Intelligence • Intelligence is the ability to learn from experience and adapt to the surrounding environment. Some well-known intelligence theories are: • Spearman’s Monarchic Theory of Intelligence • General factor (g) present in all intelligences • g is the ability to see relationships between things and manipulate these relationships (this is required for problem solving) • Different problems require different abilities to solve them • Based on correlations • Cattell’s Fluid Intelligence/Crystalized Intelligence • Thought g was made up of two intelligences • Fluid Intelligence (the ability to reason and use intelligence; it declines at age 20) • Crystalized Intelligence (acquired skills and knowledge from past problem solving and application in specific domains; it increases with age) • Gardiner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences • Eight different types of intelligences • People have varying levels of skills/intelligences Source: http://comp.uark.edu/~todegar/PSYC2003/intelligence.html
Gardiner’s Multiple Intelligences Source: http://www.gigglepotz.com/mi8.htm
Knowledge “Knowledge is a gigantic and ever-growing sphere in space and time, made up of millions of interconnecting, crisscrossing pathways” -- James Burke
Learning • Learning is a process by which we acquire new knowledge • Learning occurs by creation of neurons and associations between existing neurons. • If you stop learning your overall mental capacity and performance will decline. This is because of the weakening and eventual loss of brain networks • Over varying periods of time you’ll notice a gradual but steady decrease in your mental agility if you do not nourish and enhance these networks “Whenever you read a book or have a conversation, the experience causes physical changes in your brain. It’s a little frightening to think that every time you walk away from an encounter, your brain has been altered, sometimes permanently.” -- E. Roy John (from Mechanisms of Memory, 1967)
Attention “Attention is the spotlight that our brains use to identify stimuli within the context of time and space to select what is relevant and to ignore what is irrelevant” • Attention is a Limited Mental Resource • Neurons fatigue in 3-5 min. of sustained activity • Recover, but become inefficient in a few cycles • Brain tunes off when only factual information is provided to it • Key to stay focused is to stimulate different parts of the brain • Critical thinking spreads neuronal load across the brain
“The Cocktail Party Effect” • In a classroom or any public situation (i.e. a cocktail party), it is important to filter out the important and non-important information. • Filtering or Selecting • Mental process of eliminating distractions or unwanted messages • Differences between sight and hearing • Sight selection can be focused with eye movement • Hearing selection is more cognitive
Information Processing Model Long-Term Memory Attention Stimulus Information Sensory Memory Short-Term Working Memory Response Revised information processing model adapted from Neisser (1976). Source: Mark H. Ashcraft, (2002) Cognition
Memory • We are our memories • It is the process by which we retain knowledge over time • Episodic Memory • Semantic Memory • Memory is established in multiple stages • Short Term • Long Term • Memory is not perfect “Memory is the most important function of the brain; without it life would be a blank. Our knowledge is all based on memory. Every thought, every action, our very conception of personal identity, is based on memory… Without memory, all experience would be useless.” -- Edridge-Green, 1900
The Magical Number 7 • Problem • Large amounts of sensory information can be experienced • Large amounts of information can be stored long term • Transfer of information between sensor to long term memory imposes “severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process and remember” • Basically, the limit of information that can be processed easily into short term memory is 7 plus or minus 2. “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” -- George Miller. (1956)
Improving Memory What do you do when: • You are introduced to someone new? • Recycle the name for a few seconds, or • Use it in conversation and try to find a mnemonic connection • You are reading text? • Process words at a simple level of understanding, or • Search for connections and relationships that will make the material more manageable
Brain Exercise “You know you’ve got to exercise your brain just like your muscles” -- Will Rogers “The more you use your brain, the more brain you will have to use” -- George A. Dorsey
Sleep and Learning • Research has shown that: • Learning a new skill and then sleeping will lead to better performance3 • What is learned when awake is replayed and rehearsed when asleep2 • Quality of sleep matters2 • At least 6 hours of sleep improves performance2 • It is better to study and get a good night’s sleep before an exam than to cram the whole night! “Sleep affords the opportunity, within certain limits, for the brain to act of itself, and dreams are the result” -- Edward Clarke (from Vision: A Study of False Sight, 1878) 1http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct01/sleeponit.html 2http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/07/02/health/main514038.shtml
Can Learning be Enhanced? • Key to increasing your mental abilities is to increase your cognitive skills. • Cognition refers to your ability to attend, identify and act. • It also refers to thoughts, moods, inclination, decisions, and actions • It includes alertness, concentration, speed, learning, memory, problem solving, creativity and mental endurance.
Thinking Styles • Every thinking style has its strengths and its weaknesses. The first step in using your strengths is understanding and accepting them. Stop thinking that you are different or think differently. You are what you are and you think in your own style. Source: http://sern.ucalgary.ca/courses/seng/693/W98/alang/minor.html
Cognition: Critical Thinking? • One demonstrated way to increase cognitive skills is to use a collection of tools and techniques that can be classified under the rubric critical thinking • These tools were developed by philosophers and thinkers over the last three thousand years • Business leaders do not relate well to these tools
Critical Thinking • We propose to introduce a Rosetta Stone for Critical Thinking which will be more orthogonal to the managerial mindset Classical Critical Thinking Bloom’s Taxonomy Applied Critical Thinking • Syllogisms • Truth Table • Chain Arguments • Inductive Reasoning • Deductive Reasoning • Cognitive • Affective • Psychomotor • Experimentation • Reasoning • Communication
Critical Thinking Why is critical thinking so important? Entrepreneur Asking the Right Questions It can help you become a visionary Critical Intellectual Traits It can help you succeed in important relationships Basic Learning Skills It can help you in your business studies Marketing, Finance, Information Systems, etc. Employee
Critical ThinkingBasicLearning Skills Bloom’s Taxonomy • Cognitive Domain: deals with the development of ascending levels of intellectual abilities and skills. • Affective Domain: describes levels of the internalization process of the learners’ interests, attitudes, values, appreciations and behavior. • Motor Skills Domain: Deals with physical activity requiring coordination.
Critical ThinkingBasicLearning Skills Bloom’s Taxonomy: The Cognitive Domain • Knowledge: I can define it • Comprehension: I understand it • Application: I have used it • Analysis: I know how each part works • Synthesis: I can adapt it to other uses • Evaluation: I know when to use it
Critical ThinkingBasicLearning SkillsBloom’s Taxonomy:The Cognitive Domain • Knowledge • It is rote learning ranging from the recall of specific facts to knowledge of conventions and theories…a rich vocabulary • Comprehension • Encompasses meaningful integrated learning. At this level, the learner has made the material part of his/her own frame of reference…ones own words • Application • Application means that the person can employ the idea, theory, practice, etc. • Analysis • Analytical skills enable the individual to discern unstated assumptions • Synthesis • At this level the individual is able to adapt his/her knowledge to other uses • Evaluation • Making judgments about the value or worth of something
Critical ThinkingBasicLearning SkillsBloom’s Taxonomy:The Cognitive Domain In Finance: Net Present Value • Knowledge: I have heard the term before. Isn’t that a method for ranking investment proposals. • Comprehension: The Net Present Value is equal to the present value of future returns, discounted at the marginal cost of capital, minus the present value of the cost of the investment. • Application : I used it recently to help make a decision concerning two investment proposals. • Analysis: The equation consists of several factors: the net cash flows, the marginal cost of capital, the initial cost of the project, and the project’s expected life. • Synthesis: I believe that this method can also be used as part of a method to determine the value of a firm’s intangible assets. • Evaluation: I know when to use NPV and when to use the IRR method
Critical ThinkingBloom’s Taxonomy & Action Verbs Action Verbs for Active Learning Evaluation Judge Appraise Rate Value Revise Estimate Assess Select Critique Synthesis Compose Plan Design Propose Arrange Assemble Prepare Collect Create Set up Organize Analysis Analyze Compare Diagram Experiment Differentiate Test Inspect Debate Question Relate Examine Distinguish Between Calculate Application Translate Interpret Apply Employ Use Demonstrate Dramatize Practice Illustrate Operate Sketch Comprehension Restate Discuss Describe Recognize Explain Tell Express Identify Report Knowledge Know Define Memorize Repeat List Recall
Critical ThinkingBasic Learning Skills Activities for Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in TQM • Knowledge Level: List or record terms related to TQM List three functions of your job that relate to other departments in the organization Define the various acronyms associated with TQM (e.g., SPC, CQI) • Comprehension Level: Discuss the advantages of TQM with coworkers Identify three departments that are customers of your department Review the major objective achieved in each training session In a role-play, tell what you have learned in this session to your immediate supervisor • Application Level: Demonstrate how four of the analysis tools could be used to locate quality problems in one activity of your work Dramatize how you would facilitate a meeting to introduce concepts of TQM to your department
Critical ThinkingBasic Learning Skills Activities for Using Bloom’s Taxonomy in TQM • Analysis Level: Diagram a process flow chart of the activities for a task in your work Differentiate those processes in your task environment that can be improved with TQM from those where TQM cannot be applied Examine the present departmental activities and determine which one currently use TQM • Synthesis Level: Prepare an article for the company newsletter describing TQM training Design a proposal for policy changes reflecting TQM to be presented to top executives Collect and compile data from department activities that support implementation of TQM • Evaluation: Critique a present training program and revise it to suit the needs of your organization Estimate a budget that would be necessary to implement TQM changes for your department. Rate the leadership in your department as to its readiness to implement TQM
Critical ThinkingCan Help You Succeed in Important Relationships Critical Intellectual Traits and the Affective Domain • Receiving: Getting to 50% • Responding: Seeing the Value • Valuing: Understanding the Value • Organization: Comparing Values & Making Sense • Characterization: Practice & Consistency
Critical ThinkingCan Help You Succeed in Important Relationships Critical Intellectual Traits • Humility: Having a consciousness of the limits of ones knowledge. We should not claim to know more than we know. It implies the lack of pretentiousness or conceit. • Courage: This requires that individuals challenge what they learn rather than accept it at face value. This implies the need to look more deeply into various viewpoints that run counter to those that we hold. Willing to learn, to change, to unlearn, but to have the courage of right founded convictions. • Empathy: Recognizing the need to put oneself in the place of others. It requires a consciousness of our egocentric tendencies to identify truth with our perception of previous experience and beliefs. • Integrity: One must apply the same standards when looking at opposing points of view as when looking at their own arguments. Honestly admitting errors in ones thought and actions. • Perseverance: Recognizing the need to employ intellectual standards in spiteof the difficulties and obstacles this may present.The recognition that it may take time to make sense of confusing situations and to develop a necessary deeper understanding or insight.
Critical ThinkingCan Help You Succeed in Important Relationships To be effective in business it is essential that individuals and organizations focus on two primary objectives. Improve Organizational Effectiveness: What business should we be in? Improve Organizational Efficiency: Who are we in business with, and what must we do in order to gain a competitive advantage?