Module 8: Discussion Forum

Creativity and Strategic Thinking

Discussion Questions

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As you read the selections from Beard (2017) and Paul and Elder (2012), what is the connection between strategic thinking and creativity?
What barriers to strategic thinking discussed by Paul and Elder (2012) do you see in the workplace? What practical steps would you suggest to overcome these?

Requirements for Discussion Boards

Use the required readings to analyze and engage the discussion board questions.
Your initial post should be roughly 200 words (plus or minus 10%). Each subsequent post should be 100 words (plus or minus 10%).
Include one or two scholarly sources that are not required or recommended for the HUM 101 course. The CSU-Global Library (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is a good place to find these sources.
Format your discussion, including all in-text citations and references, according to the CSU-Global Guide to Writing & APA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Each discussion board post (including follow-up posts) should include scholarly citations and references.

Module 8: Portfolio Project 350pts

Option #1: Critical Thinking Paper on Issue or Problem

Select an issue or problem that you wish to investigate critically. Formulate a question or thesis (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. on the issue so that your research has a clear and cogent direction.

Use Paul and Elder’s (2012) intellectual standards to find a topic or problem that is clear, relevant, significant, and precise.

Now, write a paper that addresses the problem or issue via scholarly sources.
Your paper should include the following:

Title page: include your name, date, title of essay, and class
Introduction: provide a two-paragraph introduction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. that frames the issue or problem carefully
Engagement with issue or problem using scholarly sources and the intellectual standards proposed by Paul and Elder (2012): What is the issue? Why is it significant? Why is this issue relevant to you (and/or your community)? What have you learned about the depth and breadth of the issue or problem from scholarly sources? How do the scholarly sources aid you in fair-mindedness and logic?
Conclusion (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.: Reflect on your issue or problem and how the sources informed your thinking. What have you learned? How can you apply the intellectual standards and elements of reason to this issue or problem to come to creative solutions? What critical questions remain?
References
Journal Submission. Each module lecture contains a section with journal prompts that focus on reflection and application of the module content. Use the Journal Template to record your answers for each module’s prompt(s). Include these entries at the end of your Final Portfolio.

Details

Cite all claims and ideas using scholarly sources. While it is acceptable to write in the first person, be sure to cite your sources to support your inferences.
Your paper should engage a minimum of six scholarly sources that are not required or recommended readings for this course. The CSU-Global Library (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. is a good place to find these sources.
Your paper should be eight to ten pages in length and formatted according to the CSU-Global Guide to Writing & APA (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..
Papers should be double-spaced, 12-point font.

Keep in mind the following milestones throughout the course designed to assist you in crafting your Final Portfolio

Week 1: Submit Portfolio Topic (worth 25 points)
Week 4: Submit Revised Portfolio Topic and Preliminary Outline (worth 25 points)

Refer to the Portfolio Project rubric below to understand how your project will be graded.

Option #2: Annotated Bibliography

Select an issue or problem that you wish to investigate critically. Formulate a question or thesis (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. on the issue so that your research has a clear and cogent direction.

Use Paul and Elder’s (2012) intellectual standards to find a topic or problem that is clear, relevant, significant, and precise.

Now, construct an annotated bibliography (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. that addresses the problem or issue through scholarly sources. See this example (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for a good overview of how an annotated bibliography should be
constructed.
Your annotated bibliography should include the following:

Title page: include your name, date, title of annotated bibliography, and class
Introduction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.: provide a two-paragraph introduction that frames the issue or problem carefully
Annotations (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.: Summa

 

Expert Answer:

 

Discussion

The Connection between Strategic Thinking and Creativity

Strategic thinking can be defined as the process which helps one to make correct decisions and to reach the desired goals or outcomes (Elder & Paul, 2012). It may also be defined as the process of analyzing and evaluating a situation in order to make better decisions. One avoids rushing into a conclusion or decision and takes time to analyze the outcomes of every decision and which decision is the most appropriate. Creativity, on the other hand, is the unique ability (in a specific field) to identify a problem, difficulty, gap, or challenge, to search for a solution through the development of a hypothesis and testing, and to come up with a solution (Paul & Elder, 2013). Creativity is a thought process of originality, invention, and flexibility, which involves the critical thinking process. Strategic thinking involves criticizing and analyzing ideas to take the right decision. It is not possible to think strategically without being creative. Creativity involves strategic or critical thinking.

Barriers to Strategic Thinking

Several barriers to strategic thinking exist (Paul & Elder, 2013). In the workplace, the following are some of the barriers that I have identified:

  1. Brief thinking – most of the time, people do not focus on the depth of a problem and fail to consider the precision of an issue that needs solving. the long-term implications of a decision are not given thought when people make decisions.
  2. Failure to think critically as a result of lack of training – many workers do not have critical thinking skills in the workplace. They, therefore, do not engage critical thinking in their decision making.
  3. Lack of a well-established strategic planning methodology – in the workplace, there is often no established methodology for strategic planning, which results in the failure of employees to engage strategic thinking in their decision making.

In order to overcome these barriers to strategic thinking, I would suggest that organizations conduct strategic thinking training in order to train employees on the process of strategic thinking and its benefits. I would also suggest that strategic thinking exercises be conducted in the workplace to enable employees to acquire intellectual standards and strategic thinking skills.

References

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2012). Critical Thinking: Competency Standards Essential to the Cultivation of Intellectual Skills, Part 4. Journal of Developmental Education, 35(3), 30-31.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2013). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personal life. Pearson Education.

 

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking in Effective Decision Making

Introduction

In the day to day personal livelihood of human beings, one is faced with problems that require them to come up with a solution that will eliminate the problem and enable them to proceed with their normal activities. Critical reasoning and thinking have been proposed by several authors and researchers as the best methods for decision making and problem-solving (Paul & Elder, 2005). Defined as the practice of collecting, analyzing, and evaluating information in a manner that is methodical, critical thinking enables an individual to analyze a situation and evaluate the possible decisions and outcomes (Paul & Elder, 2016). It provides an opportunity for thinking through the various possible options and outcomes. The ultimate goal of decision making is to arrive at a conclusion that is actionable and that will result in the best possible outcome. Arriving at the best possible outcome is what is referred to as problem-solving. While many people agree that there is a need to practice critical thinking when making decisions or trying to solve problems (Forawi, 2016), there exists a group of people who believe that critical thinking is not essential in the processes of decision making and problem-solving.

In organizational management, for instance, there exists a group of thinkers that believe that decision making within management does not require critical thinking since one needs to come up with a solution fast. The need for a quick solution or quick fix to problems that face management is often posed as the reason why managers do not practice critical thinking (Harrison, 1995). The role of critical thinking in decision making in investigated in this research to determine whether it is really important in decision making and solving of problems. The research seeks to provide a solution to the question: why is it important to utilize critical thinking when making decisions? The thesis of the research is critical thinking enables one to arrive at the best possible solution to a challenge or problem. The research will be a discussion of why critical thinking is important in making day to day decisions.

Literature Review: Critical Thinking in Decision Making

Simply defined, critical thinking is the art or skill of raising what is subconscious in one’s reasoning to the level of conscious recognition. It is the skill of taking control of one’s thinking processes in order to understand the pathway and inputs that one’s thinking utilizes. Critical thinking enables one to understand the mechanics of reasoning. An individual who is able to think critically uses the art to effectively manage their unconscious influences, which have the capability to affect the decision-making process (Elder & Paul, 2012). By being in charge of their own thinking process, critical thinkers are able to develop a clear understanding of what they are not aware of a subject, enabling them to arrive at better decisions. Critical thinking enables one to critic their own thinking through an analysis of the assumptions made, possible biases, and available information. A critical thinker needs to gauge and evaluate the outputs of the thinking of other people and develop skills that are important in decision-making.

Human beings make decisions on a daily basis, even without realizing that they are doing so. Human beings make small decisions such as what time to wake up, what to wear, and what to eat. They also make serious decisions such as those related to business, family, and politics. While routine decisions such as what to eat are often seamless and very easy, requiring less thought, other decisions such as whether to invest in a business or not require deep thought, weighing of options, analyzing possible outcomes, conferring with colleagues and compromise (Elder & Paul, 2012). Solving a problem and coming up with a good decision depends on one’s ability to identify available options, conduct research on these options, and come up with the best option. To avoid decision-making anxiety, it is good to have a process to work through problems and come up with the best solutions – the critical thinking process.

Critical thinking is made up of three main components – the structure of thought, the standards of thinking, and ethics (Elder & Paul, 2012). Through the structure of thought, one is able to identify errors in their thinking. The standards of thinking enable one to judge the quality of their thinking through comparison. Ethics enable one to identify mistakes in their own thinking and in the thinking of others. They enable one to develop a sense of fair-mindedness. The assessment and evaluation of thinking lead to critical thinking. Therefore, one has to be able to take their thinking apart and identify how they use each component of critical thinking. Each of the parts is then weighed through comparison to the standards of thinking and intellectual ethics are applied. The main objective of decision making is to arrive at an actionable conclusion. Critical thinking is the art of ensuring and proving that the conclusion arrived at is sound. One begins with the identification of the problem at hand and accurately defining it.

After defining the problem accurately, one moves to propose a potential solution to the problem. One then develops an action plan to evaluate the potential solution to the problem and proceeds to take the action plan’s steps. The action plan is finally reevaluated or reviewed to determine whether it solved the initial problem. Even though the process of critical thinking seems easy, there are several underlying concepts that enable the success of critical thinking. Four major concepts are crucial for effective critical thinking: logic – important when evaluating the relationship between cause and effect, and enables accurate prediction of the effects of potential solutions on systems; truth – defined as the unbiased data on an event or issue and important in problem solving (it enables the differentiation of biases from facts); context – consideration of the historical impact of similar solutions to a problem and consideration of external elements; and alternatives – considering various potential solutions that have not been selected.

The critical thinking process involves the consideration of different ways of tackling problems that match with the actual objectives at hand and that are based on accurate, unbiased data. It also requires asking the correct questions – critical questioning. Critical questioning enables one to differentiate facts from biases and potential solutions from solutions. Helsdingen et al. (2011) conducted research to determine how critical thinking can be used to improve decision making. The researchers began with a cognitive model of how people make decisions – commonly known as the “story model”. The premise of this model is that when people encounter problems or situations, they immediately identify the parts that are important from their past experience. After that, they develop an explanation of what will occur or what is going on, and make decisions based on the developed story or based on stories from past experiences. The major issue with this process of decision making is that the developed stories are often incomplete – a failure of metacognition (Helsdingen et al., 2011).

When using this method of decision making, one overlooks the details that are inconsistent since they tend to be “sucked in” by the great story developed. The researchers suggested that people may improve their approach to decision making by incorporating critical thinking in the process. They went on to test a method for incorporating critical thinking in the process of decision making. They first explained the “story model” of decision making then asked the participants of the study to evaluate their story through critical thinking. Examples of the questions that they included to kick start critical thinking included: “Do you have all the necessary information?” and “Is there any conflict in the evidence?” (Helsdingen et al., 2011). The participants evaluated crime cases and were asked to make decisions on the priority of every case for the law enforcement authorities.

The researchers obtained feedback in order to understand what made cases a priority to the police. Some of the participants received critical thinking training during the process of making decisions, while others did not. After the task, the researchers asked the participants to participate in making decisions on traffic offenses to test for transfer of acquired critical thinking skills. The results of the research showed that critical thinking skills training is decision making was effective, and the benefits of the training were transferred to the new decision-making task (Helsdingen et al., 2011). It is important to consider the stories that one tells themselves in the process of decision making in order to make good decisions. Critical thinking improves the process of decision making. In many cases, people tend to think too much about the final decision or action that they end up failing to consider the need for acting. A good decision or action is not achievable without proper consideration of the right critical thinking questions. It is through critical questioning that one is able to distinguish biases from facts.

Since critical thinking works as the lens through which one sees their solutions, critical questioning can be looked at as a telescope that contains the lens, giving it purpose. One should understand what a good question looks like, in order to come up with an answer that is actionable. Adequate information has to be provided to enable one to arrive at the final decision or solution (Salas & Martin, 2017). There are a number of ways to evaluate whether the question asked is good or not. A good question will have a clear purpose. It should be well designed with the aim of meeting a set goal. The question should have a narrow range of possible options to encourage faster, more decisive arrival at an actionable conclusion. After ensuring that the question has a clearly defined purpose, one needs to identify whether the question is properly framed. The framing of the question may hinder the overall effectiveness of the question and the critical thinking process.

One may identify a question that has been poorly framed by noting down a number of issues such as false dilemmas and comparisons, and ambiguity. In addition, a good question will only deal with a single issue at a time, avoiding bundling of various concerns into a single assessment. With a properly framed question, one should evaluate whether the question is closed or open. A major mistake that people make is posing questions that already have predetermined answers – yes or no questions. Such questions do not need any analysis, synthesis, or facts evaluation, and are posed by people who have a predetermined idea of what the solution should be. These people have no interest in any new information or contribution. They, therefore, do not result in critical or creative thinking (Salas & Martin, 2017). The initial question needs to provide a starting point for the critical thinking and decision-making process. One needs to follow up using a series of questions and inquiries in order to arrive at the final action plan.

In the new knowledge economy, critical thinking plays a crucial role as it enables people to deal with the constant changes quickly and effectively. The world’s knowledge economy is largely driven by information and technology. As such, most of the decisions made require an evaluation of available information and determination of the right course of action. The new knowledge economy largely demands flexible intellectual skills and the art of analyzing information by integrating various knowledge sources in making decisions. It is only through critical thinking that one can achieve such skills, which are invaluable in the fast-changing workplace and world economy (Salas & Martin, 2017). Through the acquisition of critical thinking skills, one is able to enhance their presentation and language skills. One learns how to comprehend issues and to express their ideas in a systematic and clear way, skills which are important in decision making and problem-solving.

Critical thinking promotes creativity. Coming up with a creative solution to a problem or a good decision about a certain dilemma takes more than just having various ideas. Creativity is important as it ensures that any new ideas developed are relevant to the current situation and that they will solve the problem at hand. Critical thinking enables one to evaluate new ideas and select the best one amongst the available options (Kamerer & Russ, 2017). It also enables one to effectively modify a selected idea whenever it becomes necessary. Whenever one is making an important decision, it is important to self-reflect in order to avoid biases (Hughes & Lavery, 2015). Critical thinking is important for self-reflection. It enables one to reflect on their values and decision-making skills, enabling them to make better decisions. Critical thinking is also important in the fields of science and liberal democracy, as it enables citizens to think critically about social issues before making decisions and assists scientists in the research process – separating facts from opinions and biases, making rational inferences, withholding personal judgment and biases, and examining issues from all sides.

Many of the decisions that people make in life, be it in business, school, or at home, require composure and a clear mind. Situations and dilemmas often create panic and mass hysteria, as people try to make the right decision to solve a challenge or issue. Critical thinkers are the voices of reason in such instances, having comprehensive skills to enable them to consider all the possible decisions and outcomes to effectively solve the problem at hand (Kamerer & Russ, 2017). An individual who possesses critical thinking skills will remain calm and collected even when others are in a panic. An individual with critical thinking skills is not easily swayed and will not fall for tricks and scams since they know how to approach all situations and decisions with the right amount of skepticism. One who lacks critical thinking skills will often make decisions based on what they are told, as they assume that all that they hear is valid and true, without questioning the source of the information and the issue at hand.

Discussion

Critical thinking can be defined in simple terms as the examination of assumptions – instead of simply accepting conclusions and arguments brought forward. It involves looking for the hidden values, evaluating evidence provided, and evaluating various conclusions to arrive at the best conclusion. Decision making is the destination of an analytical and logical process of solving a challenge or problem using facts and analysis (Hughes & Lavery, 2015). When the destination is reached, an action is taken depending on the resolution arrived at. Therefore, decision making can be looked at as the final product of the critical thinking process. Critical thinking and decision-making are inter-twined since one cannot talk about one without involving the other. When one is trying to make a decision about a particular issue, they most likely begin with or use the critical thinking process (Salas & Martin, 2017). During the process, they evaluate the available information on the problem that they are trying to solve. This process of evaluating information and analyzing which decision is the most appropriate is what critical thinking entails. Arriving at the best solution through analyzing factual information and taking the best action is what decision-making entails.

Even though critical thinking and decision-making are interrelated and depend on each other, the two processes may also be independent. Using critical thinking does not provide a guarantee that a decision will be arrived at. In addition, decisions can be made without logical evaluation or processing of information (critical thinking). However, using critical thinking improves the chances of arriving at the best decision or solution to a problem, as a critical thinker considers all the available options before making any conclusions (Noel et al., 2017). All the relevant information is considered before making a decision, through critical thinking. Even in cases or instances where there is limited time, a critical thinker is able to consider the quickest method of meeting the goal set. Through critical thinking, they may even discover a shortcut as they are able to work smart and not hard. Critical thinking enables one to achieve efficiency in the decision-making process.

Conclusion

Through critical thinking skills and intellectual standards, one is able to differentiate between a rational thought that is based on step by step analysis and consideration, and an emotional response that is based on individual bias. In any instance, emotions are the enemy of reason. When one understands their own perspective, they are able to consider the perspectives of other people and arrive at a conclusion (decision) that is based on facts and not feelings or emotions. Even in the workplace, employers are looking for employees who have good communication and critical thinking skills since they need to make day to day decisions. Employees who are able to learn quickly and think critically are people who are good at making decisions and coming up with creative solutions to day to day problems. Being able to gather and analyze information in a way that is meaningful is an invaluable skill for any workplace setting. Employees in today’s competitive economy need to possess critical thinking skills in order to effectively generate ideas and make important workplace decisions.

It is common for job interviewers today to ask job applicants a number of questions that are meant to test their ability to think critically and make the right decisions. Even in promotions, management look at the critical thinking and decision-making abilities of employees. It is always very easy to let one’s emotions and feelings take over when one is trying to make an important decision or when one is arguing an opinion. It is only through critical thinking that one is able to effectively use emotional appeal when arguing their opinion, letting their feelings influence but not control their reasoning (Noel et al., 2017). Critical thinking skills enable one to better understand the views and opinions of other people and compare them with their own thinking and views to arrive at the best decision, without bias.

References

Elder, L., & Paul, R. (2012). Critical Thinking: Competency Standards Essential to the Cultivation of Intellectual Skills, Part 4. Journal of Developmental Education, 35(3), 30-31.

Forawi, S. A. (2016). Standard-based science education and critical thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 20, 52-62.

Harrison, E. F. (1995). The managerial decision-making process (Vol. 4, pp. 1-39). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Helsdingen, A., van Gog, T., & van Merriënboer, J. (2011). The effects of practice schedule and critical thinking prompts on learning and transfer of a complex judgment task. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(2), 383.

Hughes, W., & Lavery, J. (2015). Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills Canadian Seventh Edition. Broadview Press.

Kamerer, J., & Russ, T. (2017). Critical Thinking and Decision Making Handbook.

Noel, L., Pierre, S., & Watson, J. (2017). Critical Thinking, Decision Making, and Mindfullness.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2005). Critical thinking competency standards. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2016). Critical thinking: concept and tools. 2006. The Foundation for Critical Thinking, Dillon Beach, CA.

Salas, E., & Martin, L. (2017). Decision-making under stress: Emerging themes and applications. Routledge.

 

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