CRITICAL THINKING SERIES PART 4: – A SELF ASSESSMENT OF YOUR LEVEL OF THINKING AND LEARNING

Disclaimer: Good Day, Readers.  WealthBuildingPowers blog is a financial literacy/competency blog and does not provide specific investment recommendations.  

STYRON’S INTRODUCTION

I was recently asked why the Federal Reserve is continuing to raise the Federal Reserve interest rates and possibly, {I believe, probably} pushing the U.S. into a recession. As I attempted to answer, I realized the individual was not utilizing critical thinking but looking for an easy answer. Never rely solely on others’ opinions for life-critical advice.

This week’s blog allows you to self-analyze your critical thinking competencies and take action as needed.

CRITICAL THINKING REQUIRED

  • U.S. 2022 annualized inflation at eight percent  {What actions can and should you take? What is the real rate of inflation?}
  • 2022 mortgage interest rates increased from ~3.0 to 6.75 percent {What impacts selling or buying a home and rent?}
  • The U.S. is in/entering a recession {Will this impact your future savings, employment, and retirement schedules? What actions can you take?}
  • Federal Reserve attacks inflation by deliberately slowing the economy. This will result in an estimated loss of six million jobs, fewer home sales, and some price decreases in the real estate market. {Is now a good time to sell or buy personal or investment real estate?}
  • 401-K accounts down by ~ 20 percent+ YTD 2022 {Do you hold, sell, buy more, increase diversification, etc.?}

CRITICAL THINKING SERIES PART 4Jim Leemann, Ph.D.

Now that we are familiar with the Parts of Thinking and the Universal Standards of Thinking let’s turn our attention to how we can go about determining our level of thinking and learning.  Throughout our daily lives, we are always consuming data, analyzing that data, and applying what we have learned to our daily activities.  As Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder describe in their Critical Thinking – Learn the Tools the Best Thinkers Use“Each step in learning, like the process of thinking critically, is tied to a self-reflective step of self-assessment.”

In this column, we will explore a means by which you can conduct a self-assessment and begin the process of improving your ability to learn as a student and as an employee.

CRITICAL THINKING SERIES PART 4.  What level of thinking and learning are you?

Individuals that excel at learning rely less on their instructors to tell them how well they are doing and more on understanding the foundational aspects of the subject they are studying.  To understand the foundation of a subject, they focus on the basic information used by professionals in the subject field, the basic concepts the field utilizes, assumptions that underlie the field, and the points of views that define the field.  The best learners avoid memorizing tidbits of information in the field and focus on being problem- or question-based with attention given to checking information for significance and relevance.  Once an interpretation of the information is made, it is verified on what it is based and if the basis of the interpretation is adequate.

The following provides you holistic standards for assessing your level of learning in any given subject at school or work.  This self-assessment model involves establishing four performance levels each defined by how a student or employee thinks and behaves at each level.  The intent of this model, developed by Drs. Paul and Elder, is for you to honestly determine at which learning level you are and strive to improve to the next level or sustain that level of performance.  The performance levels include Exemplary, High Performing, Mixed Quality, and Low Performing.

Be mindful as you perform your self-assessment and determine your learning level, you might find that you may fall into more than one learning level.  

To benefit from this self-assessment, try to avoid forcing yourself into a higher learning level because you meet some of the higher-level attributes.  Be honest with yourself and accept the level that allows you to strive to improve.

Exemplary Performing

At this level, as implied, the individual is demonstrating excellence in thinking within a subject area wherein the individual is utilizing intellectual skills to establish a broad range of knowledge.  The individual’s work is clear, precise, and well-reasoned along with being insightful and well-informed.  The individual has internalized the Universal Standards of Thinking for assessing his or her work and is highly skilled at self-evaluation.

The Exemplary Critical Thinker Routinely:

  • Raises important questions and issues in a clear and precise manner
  • Analyzes key questions and problems logically
  • Distinguishes accurate from inaccurate and relevant from irrelevant information
  • Recognizes questionable assumptions
  • Clarifies key concepts
  • Uses language in keeping with educated usage
  • Identifies relevant competing points of view
  • Displays sensitivity to important implications and consequences
  • Reasons carefully from clearly stated, well-justified premises in a subject

Exemplary Critical Thinkers exhibit excellent reasoning and problem-solving capabilities within their field of work and demonstrate a high level of intellectual excellence, according to Drs. Paul and Elder.  Another feature of these performers is the ability to integrate ideas within and across subjects along with applying their learnings to problems they are dealing with in their daily lives.

High Performing

On the whole, high-performing Critical Thinkers are clear, precise, and well-reasoned in their thinking but occasionally lack the depth of insight when it comes to opposite points of view.  Their level of learning implies comprehension of important concepts and principles of a subject.  They perform well because they internalize the Universal Thinking Standards for the subject at hand and show competence in self-evaluation, according to Drs. Paul and Elder.

The High Performing Critical Thinker Routinely:

  • Often raises questions and issues in a clear and precise manner
  • Analyzes most questions and problems logically
  • Often distinguishes accurate from inaccurate, relevant from irrelevant information
  • Recognizes most questionable assumptions
  • Often clarifies key concepts
  • Typically uses language in keeping with educated usage
  • Commonly identifies relevant competing points of view
  • Displays sensitivity to many important implications and consequences
  • Often reasons carefully from clearly stated and well-justified premises in a subject

High-performing Critical Thinkers demonstrate sound reasoning and problem-solving skills within their field of work and show a commendable level of intellectual performance.  They often interrelate ideas within and among other subjects and apply learnings to matters they are dealing with in their daily lives.

Mixed Quality Performing

Mixed quality performing individuals demonstrate inconsistency in a subject, which limits their ability to build a fundamental level of knowledge in the subject.  Typically, they rely on memorization of various facts rather than understanding the subject.  Sometimes these individuals’ thinking is clear, precise, and well-reasoned; however, more often than not is unclear, imprecise, and disarrayed and lacking in insight.  Learning at this level reveals a lack of comprehension of basic concepts and fundamental principles pertaining to the subject.  Even though they may internalize a few of the Universal Thinking Standards into their work, they often demonstrate inconsistency in self-evaluation.

The Mixed Quality Individual:

  • Sometimes raises questions and issues in a clear and precise manner
  • Sometimes analyzes questions and problems logically
  • Sometimes distinguishes accurate from inaccurate and relevant from irreverent information
  • Recognizes some questionable assumptions
  • Clarifies some concepts
  • Sometimes uses language in keeping with educational usage
  • Sometimes identifies relevant competing points of view
  • Sometimes reasons carefully from clearly stated and well-justified premises in a subject
  • Is inconsistently sensitive to important implications and consequences

Mixed quality thinkers exhibit inconsistent reasoning and problem-solving skills in their field of work, which results in an inconsistent level of intellectual performance, according to Drs. Paul and Elder.  Occasionally, they can interrelate ideas within and among fields of study and apply what they have learned in their daily lives.

Low Performing

As implied, low-performing individuals reason poorly and typically try to skate through their work and studies by memorizing aspects of the subject as opposed to spending the time to understand the subject.  These individuals fail to develop critical thinking skills to understand their work leading to unclear, imprecise, and poor reasoning.  Based on their superficial understanding of a subject, they tend to use terms and concepts incorrectly.  Rarely do they internalize the Universal Thinking Standards within their work and perform poorly in self-evaluation.

The Low-performing thinking individual:

  • Rarely raises questions and issues
  • Superficially analyzes questions and problems
  • Rarely distinguishes accurate from inaccurate, relevant from irrelevant information
  • Does not recognize their assumptions
  • Clarifies concepts only partially
  • Rarely uses language in keeping with educational usage
  • Rarely identifies relevant competing points of view
  • Rarely reasons carefully from clearly stated and well-justified premises in a subject
  • Is insensitive to important implications and consequences

The work of low-performing individuals typically reflects poor reasoning and problem-solving skills.  They fail to interrelate ideas within or among subjects and rarely apply what is learned to their daily lives.

What level of thinking and learning are you?

For a deeper understanding of Critical Thinking, I invite you to explore the following reference sources by Drs. Richard Paul and Linda Elder, published by Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD:

  • Critical Thinking – Learn the Tools the Best Thinkers Use (Concise Edition)
  • The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking – Concepts and Tools.
  • The Foundation for Critical Thinking https://www.criticalthinking.org/

Bio: Jim Leemann, Ph.D.

Dr. Leemann has had a 45-year career that has included being in the forefront of the safety, occupational health, and environmental fields in both the private and public sector. In addition, for 22 of those years, Dr. Leemann was an adjunct assistant professor teaching a variety of environmental and public health courses in the country’s oldest school of public health. In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, master’s degrees in industrial hygiene and environmental engineering, his doctorate is in systemic management, which he has used to apply systems thinking methods to address organizational management problems.  

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ABOUT ME

I am a proud nerd (as my beautiful wife and daughter have told me) investment and finance blogger with an N.C.  State, Chemical Engineering, University Rutgers, MBA and Harvard University, Advanced Management education.

I left a corporate career because I desired to make a difference as a speaker and writer.  I was blessed to be coached and mentored by strong women and men in my family and professional life.  It is my time to serve and give back.

DISCLAIMER

I started my first business at ~13 years of age (a small but brilliantly created plant nursery). I am a successful investor in stocks, options, real estate and am happy to share my finance and investment lessons.  I am NOT a licensed financial advisor.  Please do not construe my suggestions on this blog as recommendations for your situation.  As an investor, you must establish your risk/loss tolerance.  Investment in any asset involves risk, including complete loss. 

 Please seek your licensed CPA or fiduciary financial advisors for individual financial advice.  

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Powers Investments Management, LLC

This blog will provide, information and simple strategies, that will assist you to achieve YOUR financial objectives and long term targets. For over 30 years, I solved multi-million dollar problems, for Fortune 10-250, companies. My formal education includes: Business, Finance and Chemical Engineering {Problem Solving} at: Harvard, Rutgers and North Carolina State. And an additional 30+ years, managing my family’s investment decisions. I currently manage/advise people with net-worths ranging from the tens of thousands to several million dollars.

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