Student Success - Critical Thinking On the Job
The Ultimate Purpose
Yes, it is frustrating to see students using poor critical thinking in completing assignments - whether in the process: procrastinating, using emotional arguments, plagiarizing, or in the product: misidentifying the problem or premise, using fallacious arguments, coming to faulty conclusions, and not being aware of any of these issues.
However ... This is not the primary reason for developing our students' critical thinking skills.
The importance of students being able to think critically is understood and appreciated by educators and employers alike. Nationally, critical thinking has been recognized as a paramount skill needed in the 21st Century workplace. The Commission on the Future of Higher Education (2006) found that employers consistently conveyed the message that college graduates do not have the critical thinking skills necessary to be effective in the workplace. The Commission further stressed the importance of a higher education system that prepares its students with the skills needed to be productive in a fast-paced and constantly changing economy. Between 1992 and 2003, college graduates’ ability to interpret texts such as newspaper articles fell from 40% to 31%. The ability to interpret medical documents such as prescription information fell from 37% to 25% (Secretary, 2006).
The importance of students’ ability to think critically also has been emphasized by local employers. In recent surveys of employers, the need for improved critical thinking skills has been specifically mentioned. In 2006, a panel of local employers participated in SPC’s annual faculty professional development program. When asked what traits they were looking for in SPC graduates, they stressed the need for graduates to be able to think critically; to think through a problem. Several of the employers actually present interviewees with scenario-based problems to determine their ability to think critically. In several of the fields in which there are critical shortages in Pinellas County and the state of Florida, such as nursing and K-12 teaching, critical thinking appears in both accrediting standards and state curriculum frameworks as an essential skill for students.
Encourage students to get critical thinking training through Student Clubs
- Become a student mediator
- Join the debate or speech team
- Become a member of student government
- Start or join a book club
- Join the chess club
Encourage students use On-the-job Training to develop critical thinking skills
Students are engaging in critical thinking in their part-time or full-time jobs when they:
- Follow professional publications
- Join professional associations
- Arrange for an internship related to their major
- Work or volunteer in a clinic or hospital
- Volunteer for a telephone hotline
Building critical thinking skills on a daily basis
Students are engaging in critical thinking when they:
- Read the newspaper
- Vote knowledgeably
- Coordinate complex and competing activities
- Solve problems at home: monetary, equipment, household, emotional ...
Advice from the Foundation for Critical Thinking
As quoted from the Professional and Personal Development Page of the Foundation's website, "The world gets more complex every day. There is only one way to cope – through command of your mind. Thinking more effectively gives you greater control over your life, helps you deal better with adversity, and, believe it or not, transform more of your dreams into reality." That page has numerous helpful links to articles and resources students can purchase to help their critical thinking. Among the most helpful articles are:
- Becoming a Critic Of Your Thinking
- Distinguishing Between Inert Information, Activated Ignorance, Activated Knowledge
- Valuable Intellectual Traits