Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Implementation of Critical Thinking Skills in Business Education

Research by Anderson and Reid (2013), delve into the issue of developing critical thinking skills among college students. These skills are particularly important for college of business graduates who may someday need to develop and implement their own strategies.  Such skills are also important in their daily lives as they make the hundreds of miniscule decisions that lead to career success. 

Critical thinking can be defined as the use of cognitive skills or strategies that increase the likelihood of positive outcomes (Halpem, 1998). It may also be defined as the knowledge, skills and strategies that improve rational decision making, problem solving and improve creativity (Reid, 2009). Such skills afford people the opportunity think about the factors that go into making a decision and finding more rational conclusions. 

A 2008 report of business colleges found that 87% had no critical thinking components (Devore, 2008). Likewise, business managers were also disappointed in the critical thinking skills that graduates gained upon graduation (Woods-Bagot, 2012).  The lack of critical thinking skills within colleges and the general disappointment of mangers mean there is a misalignment between education and the needs of employers.

Employers are able to expand upon graduates skills and abilities through further job knowledge and training. College graduates should come with the fundamental broad understandings that employers can further for effectiveness. Critical thinking is an essential and fundamental aspect of successful business management and should not be ignored in the educational process.

The authors put a critical thinking component within capstone courses and evaluated them with the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). They incorporated business case studies that helped to enhance these skills and help students find rational alternatives. The use of case studies is believed to further help students solidify the material.  

The researchers used sixteen-question questionnaires to assess student’s use of critical thinking. The pedagogical methodology of teaching critical thinking skills as a class appeared to have high transference from college to work life. In addition, students viewed after graduation the experience of learning about critical thinking as a positive experience. The authors contend that such critical thinking aspects are beneficial for the students as well as the employers.

The findings of the authors indicated that having a course or two on critical thinking brings about positive results in the students learning process. Even though the study focused on separate course components it is possible to develop critical thinking throughout the college experience in a way that is incorporate into the majority of the course. A single course on methodology may solidify the processes used but it is the critical thinking aspects within courses that creates a pattern of thinking and behavior that students may rely on in their jobs.

Anderson, P. & Reid, J. (2013). Critical thinking in a college of business administration. Southern Business Review, 37 (3).

DeVore, N. (Ed.). (2008). Critical thinking and better decisions. Portland, OR: Verge Consulting.

Halpern, D. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: Dispositions, skills,
structure training, and metacognitive monitoring. American Psychologist, 53, 449-455.

Reid, J. (2009b). A quantitative assessment of an application of Halpern's teaching for critical thinking in abusiness class. DeKalb, IL: Proquest Publication No: 340486.

Woods-Bagot. (2012). Research study: University graduates don't make the grade. San Francisco, CA:

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