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Strong reasoning skills and thinking mindset are needed for decision strength | Insight Assessment

When presented with a tough decision, the way you think through the problem and assess available options is significant. Are these strategies part of your decision making process?

  1. Pre-edit
    • Define the problem in some manner or other. 
    • Identify and list decision-critical factors.
  2. Identify a promising option   
    • Search until you find an option that is good enough.
  3. Test the promising option against others
    • Ask yourself if that option is no worse than any other
  4. Structure the dominance of the “to be chosen” option
    • Marshal your facts and reasons to support the option you are preparing to choose.

With any of these decision-making patterns, you risk renegotiating the factors, redefining the problem, exaggerating the virtues of our preferred option, or magnifying the defects of all other possible options.

The decision process can becomes flawed we when we move, more or less quickly, through a process that includes sorting through options. By discarding the implausible ones, identifying one or more promising options, evaluating it or them on the basis of our decision-critical criteria, and selecting the option we come to judge to be superior,  we may not re-examine our assumptions or question our prior decision even when we should.  And we tend to dismiss the counter-evidence unless it is forceful not only in its content but in its psychological impact or if we begin to see the potential for severely adverse consequences. 

The challenge is always, how to avoid locking-in decisions prematurely. Fortunately decision skills can be improved through training and practice. Here are some practical Strategies to Avoid Locking in Decisions Prematurely.

Insight Assessment offers many other complimentary practical tools and Resources that support the training, development and assessment of decision making skills and the thinking mindset.

With specializations in business, healthcare, law, defense and education, INSIGHT provides the optimal combination of organization-specific skills and attribute testing , test quality, value, scoring and support service.  Discuss your project by phone with one of our client support specialists or senior assessment consultants.

Question Asking skills with photo of red triangles with question mark on them

Success in leadership positions requires strong decision-making skills.

Asking clear and relevant questions is an essential leadership skill because effective decision-making depends on the ability to get optimal answers to strategic questions.

Decision-makers must be able to make judgements based on conflicting or incomplete data involving internal or external challenges. Decision making quality in unfamiliar and uncertain problem situations depends on getting the information needed for optimal solutions.  

Building questioning skills is an important part of training thinking skills.

Crucial question asking skills can and must be improved through practice.

The Insight Assessment complimentary resource, Question Asking Skills:  A Leadership Training Tool  provides a list of focused questions trainers can use to stimulate the skills needed to acquire important information, identify unspoken assumptions, clarify issues and explore options.  

As trainees integrate this question asking strategy into their thinking processes, they will be able to improve core thinking and decision making skills. This list includes questions for each of these components of decision making:

  • Interpretation
  • Analysis
  • Inference
  • Evaluation
  • Explanation
  • Self-Regulation

Talent development training benefits by a practical focus on strengthening the quality of decision-making.

Trainers: Download Question Asking Skills: A Leadership Training Tool so that you can apply this technique to strengthen the training strategies you currently use to improve thinking skills and mindset in your trainee and student groups.

Assessment: Insight Assessment offers a comprehensive array of objective, validated  business thinking assessment tools that report individual and group diagnostics of overall strengths and weakness that can be used to guide the development of educational efforts to address the needs of personnel. Comprehensive personal reports provide insights for to individual trainees, highlighting reasoning strengths and identifying areas for improvement.

Improving employee decision-making skills: The self-paced online modules of INSIGHT Development Program target improving  core thinking skills and mindset attributes that are required for effective leadership and workplace success. Also included are INSIGHT assessments which  provide objective measurements of employee strengths and weaknesses in 15 key cognitive skills and personal mindset attributes .  The cost effective, validated program can be integrated into your training programs or can be implemented as new initiative. The flexible structure lets employees work independently, controlling time on task, pace and progress. 

If you are interested in additional strategies for teaching and training reasoning skills, check out the many complimentary Teaching and Training Resources offered by Insight Assessment including:

Explore our website for practical training resources and our blog, Thinking INSIGHT , for further discussion of the measurement of thinking skills and mindset.

Contact us to discuss your development program goals and needs.

Have you exercized your critical thinking skills today?

“Exercising our critical thinking helps our minds become stronger, healthier, and more youthful. Our approach, proven successful by us and by others, is simple, practical, and focused. To strengthen critical thinking skills, we have to use them. To build positive critical thinking habits of mind, we have to see critical thinking as the optimal approach for solving real-world problems and making important decisions.

 “We all may have different beliefs, values, perspectives, and experiences influencing our problem solving and decision making. But we share the human capacity to be reflective, analytical, open-minded, and systematic about thinking through our problems and choices, so that we can make the best judgments possible about what to believe or what to do. That process of well-reasoned, reflective judgment is critical thinking.”

 “What more could we wish for one another than we all should seek to know the truth, walk in the light of well-trained reason, be courageous, have the intellectual integrity to stand strong, and that, no matter what our chronological age, that we should stay mentally forever young?”

                    Excerpted from the Preface to Think Critically , 2016, Facione & Gittens. Pearson Publishing

How can I improve my thinking abilities?

We all know people who are committed to rigorous regimens of exercise, diet and training programs. These individuals know their body will be stronger with exercise.   But how many of us know someone who takes a disciplined approach to improving their thinking skills and habits of mind? Yet like our muscles, our brain gets stronger with practice. Research shows that your brain grows stronger when you give it a workout by studying new information, learning new skills or reflecting on new experiences.

If you want to practice your skills or see the types of questions that might appear on a critical thinking test:

  • download the Insight Assessment app, Critical Thinking Insight . The comprehensive in app purchasable personal assessments deliver scores and individual analysis on key elements of your thinking. Specific suggestions for improvement help you interpret your scores and grow even stronger in each area covered by the personal assessment. These personal assessments are based on the employment and educational test instruments Insight Assessment provides to business, health care agencies, colleges & high schools around the world.
  • to gain an overview of critical thinking and how the skills and habits of mind go together in problem solving and decision making, we suggest the essay Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts”.   

Get your week off to a good start. Use your critical thinking skills; exercise them every day.

chrysanthemum window

Have you used your critical thinking skills today?  Strong thinking is the common denominator of success throughout the world. Here are 12 quotes to inspire the development of strong thinking skills and mindset.

  • It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle
  • "It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."  James Thurber 
  • "The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein
  • "Begin challenging your own assumptions.  Your assumptions are your windows on the world.  Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Alan Alda
  • “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Sherlock Holmes: The Boscombe Valley Mystery
  • "Few minds wear out; more rust out.” — Christian N. Bovee
  • “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel
  • There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them." Seth Godin
  • "A mind is like a parachute—it only works when it is open."  Frank Zappa
  • "A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."  Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” Brian Tracy
  • “The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”  Christopher Hitchens

Exercise your thinking skills today: read this free download of  “Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts” and follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT .

Are you looking for a good self-test of your thinking skills?   Download Critical Thinking Insight from your app store today.

ICOT BIlbao Conference Center

The ICOT 2015 International Conference on Thinking is underway in Bilbao, Spain. Business and education leaders from 43 countries have convened to discuss effective strategies for training reasoning skills and the mindset attributes conducive to problem solving and decision making.  It's a steamy, sluggish 34 degrees centigrade today in Bilbao, but in the conference center the atmosphere is energetic as experts exchange useful strategies for designing training programs for working professionals and best practices for classroom teaching of thinking.

ICOT Insight Assessment booth

It's clear that those who have come to ICOT share a passion for critical thinking. Insight Assessment brings a focus on the importance of assessing reasoning skills in individuals and groups to document training success and to identify areas where more training is needed. The conference continues until Friday. ICOT members come together once every two years. The rumor is that the next conference will be in Miami ,Florida.

            Report from the Insight Assessment team at ICOT 2015 in Bilbao Spain

ICOT 2015

ICOT 2015 international Conference on Thinking has opened in Bilbao, Spain! Insight Assessment salutes the over 2000 conference attendees who are dedicating four days to focus on the global importance of developing critical thinking in business, education, sports and the arts.  We’re excited to be able to discuss measuring and training good thinking with this enthusiastic group.

 If you’re attending the conference, stop by our booth. We invite you to attend these presentations by Insight Assessment senior researcher Dr. Peter Facione:


1ST JULY: The Educational Power of Measuring Critical Thinking. (available by conference videostream)  Dr. Facione will discuss effective ways of teaching for thinking at all educational levels in all disciplines. He will examine group datasets to demonstrate how the measurement of critical thinking can empower educators and enable more effective student learning.
2ND JULY: Training and Measuring Leadership Decision Making.  Dr. Facione will talk about the importance of critical thought in companies. Leaders with strong thinking skills take advantage of opportunities through effective decision-making, discover opportunities where others can't, encourage collaborative learning and lead the team efficiently.  He will use data gathered by the INSIGHT series of test instruments to discuss practical insights about the potential effectiveness or ineffectiveness of various approaches to training employee thinking at all levels of the business or professional organizations.
 2ND JULY: Round Table on the topic of “Skills for Successful Leadership in Business in which Dr. Facione will link leadership decision making directly to the educational learning outcomes known as critical thinking.

If you’re not able to attend the conference, check out the ICOT website, http://www.icot2015.com for instructions on video-streaming presentations and for free access to the ICOT papers after the conference. Watch for a guest post from our conference participants at the close of the conference.

To find out more about Insight Assessment’s commitment to the International Measurement of Critical Thinking .

ICOT 2015 “The most important conference on thinking in the world”

ICOT 2015

The seventeenth  ICOT 2015 International Conference on Thinking  will focus on integrating scientific findings and best practices in business, education, art and sport. With more than 1600 participants already registered for this Bilbao, Spain conference, the 2015 ICOT is reporting record interest and attendance. The program includes four days (23 June-3 July) of conferences, workshops, lectures, panels, best practices, symposia, think tanks, and round tables lead by over 50 international experts. Presentations will focus on thinking in four fields: Business, Education, the Arts and Sports.

Insight Assessment senior researcher, Dr Peter Facione, has been invited to make two presentations: The Educational Power of Measuring Critical Thinking and Training and Measuring Leadership Decision Making. He will also participate in a round table on the topic of “Skills for Successful Leadership in Business” in which he will link leadership decision making directly to the educational learning outcomes known as critical thinking.

Insight Assessment is excited to participate in this global discussion of the importance of good thinking. Our thinking assessments are used in English and in translations throughout the world ; our clients value our ability to provide language flexibility in the assessment instruments and in the test taker interface (TTI).  Stay tuned for more information about the proposed live feed of conference presentations. We also plan to post portions of Dr. Facione’s presentations after the conference. If you’re attending the conference, be sure to stop by our booth.

Insight Assessment offers practical resources for teaching and training good thinking

Check out the expanded Insight Assessment Resources library.  We've re-organized and enhanced this collection with additional materials to better serve educators, trainers and researchers. Our goal is to present practical materials that support successful testing programs and facilitate the exploration of how critical thinking skills and dispositions can be taught and learned.

This complimentary collection of recommended resources reflects Insight Assessment's commitment to growing, measuring and promoting good thinking worldwide..  

Strong assessment programs are grounded in clear understanding of what is being taught & measured. We invite you to browse these practical resources for training excellence in reasoning. Enjoy exploring how strong decision making can be fostered, developed and assessed.

Contact us to learn more about our objective, validated assessments of thinking skills and mindset.

More to come. Follow  our blog, Thinking INSIGHT to explore ways we can all develop and benefit from stronger thinking in the classroom and workplace. 

facione-education is chalkboard

To teach thinking, you have to model good thinking.

  • It's not a secret.

Effective training to improve thinking must start with the teacher.

Students learn from what teachers do as much, if not more, than from what they say. The most successful teacher will be the one who is able to both nurture and challenge thinking. 

  • Teaching for thinking requires a passionate disposition toward thinking and the explicit and reflective use of thinking skills to form reasoned judgments.
  • Educators must demonstrate thinking in multiple contexts including those that are rich in subject matter content and problem-complexity. 
  • The more a teacher is able to extend participants’ thinking into new domains of learning and inquiry, demanding solid content knowledge and the correct application of standards and methods appropriate to the domain, the stronger students’ thinking will become. It is a matter of active engagement, thoughtful reflection and reasonable reformulations of judgments.

If we expect to help students improve their thinking, educators must intensively practice the critical thinking skills and comment on the habits of mind of those being taught.

This is a surprisingly easy task when educators have trained their own habits of mind toward a standard of externalizing their reasons and evidence for judgments made, and of modeling the habits of mind that are expected from students. Speaking aloud the reasons and evidence for one’s judgments typically results in improved evaluation of one’s own thinking (the critical thinking skill of self-regulation).

As teachers model the characteristics of a strong thinkers , they can employ techniques to engage students and trainees in successful thinking skills development such as:
  • Being sure you know what success would really look like before you set about making things right. Too often we, and our students, do things just to be doing something, without knowing what the problem really is, why we are doing it, or how we will know when to declare victory.
  • Setting clear performance expectations for thinking—and include assessment to measure improvement.
  • Discussing actual examples of successful and unsuccessful decision-making and problem-solving. Case studies are excellent tools.
  • Modelling "Step-Back" and be sure that you understand the problem before you try to solve it.
  • Teaching groups and individuals to reflect upon and critically analyze their problem solving and decision-making processes by asking themselves systematic and tough questions about their own assumptions, methodologies, standards, and theoretical frames of references.
  • Exploring the role mindset attributes play in the application of thinking skills.
In school and in the workplace, thinking and problem solving gains define the success of training programs and their trainers. Everyone can learn to think better. Training someone to focus on their own thinking process, and teaching them about how they evaluate information, draw inferences, and avoid thinking errors, is a lifelong gift.
Whether your goal is improving the thinking skills of students or employees, a good program always incorporates objective assessment . Contact Insight Assessment to discuss how to integrate the development of thinking skills into your  professional development or learning outcomes evaluation programs.

Insight Assessment invites you to follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT .

effective training

To engage students and trainees in successful critical thinking skills development, and to reinforce a positive critical thinking mindset, there are a few basics to keep in mind:

  • Use silence to allow everyone time to think through the question before the conversation begins.
  • Pose thoughtful or insightful questions and intentionally allow 10–15 seconds of silence to elapse before calling on students to respond. Cognitive science research has shown that a pause of this length is necessary for the human brain to sufficiently process a question and formulate a reasonable response. Even 15 seconds of silence can seem a long time in a class session, but setting this expectation assures that one eager student will not end the thinking process for the entire group before all have had some time to practice their critical thinking skills.
  • Work from example to theory. Discuss the examples in the text first, and then draw out the concepts they teach. This technique practices students’ inductive reasoning skills and promotes active engagement and inquisitiveness.
  • Make the language of thinking a familiar vocabulary. Use critical thinking vocabulary when posing questions to students to reinforce conceptual understanding and promote recognition of reasoning. Use the names of the skills and the habits of mind that are found in the textbook. For example, use phrases such as: “What is your reason for that claim?” “Let’s interpret this statement,” “What inferences can we reasonably draw from these facts?” and “Let’s be systematic in our analysis.”
  • Engage students in dynamic learning activities that promote independent thinking or exposure to the thinking of others. Suggested activities include maintaining a reflective journal; conversing with a partner, small groups, or the whole class; investigations, inquiries, and informed conversations; debates; simulations; role playing; fishbowl activities; panel discussions; brainstorming exercises; case studies; course blogs or wikis; individual or group argument mapping; social networking features such as asynchronous bulletin boards that are often found in course management systems; maintaining a paper or electronic Portfolio, and so on.
  • Require students to provide reasons or explanations for all of their claims, interpretations, analyses, evaluations, and decisions. Ask why and expect a good, well-reasoned answer. Don’t let students get by with shut-down clichés such as, “That’s just how I feel,” “I was brought up to think that…,” “My parents always said that…,” and “It’s common sense.”
  • Model strong critical thinking for your students. Your students watch you to see if you believe in the value of critical thinking, so what you say and what you do might be more powerful in motivating them to build their critical thinking skills than anything they read or hear in a lecture. If you show that you practice the positive critical thinking habits of mind and that you engage in problems and decisions by applying critical thinking skills, that message comes through to them. If you do not, you reflect a negative message.

Many thanks to Dr. Carol Gittens for this list of suggestions that are useful techniques an instructor can use to promote strong critical thinking. These appear in the teaching manual accompanying her book THINK Critically by Pearson Education. This is an excerpt from those materials.

If you are interested in additional strategies for teaching and training reasoning skills, check out the Resources on  the Insight Assessment website.

Explore our website for practical training resources and our blog, Thinking INSIGHT , for further discussion of the measurement of thinking skills and mindset.

Insight Assessment offers a comprehensive array of objective, validated education and business thinking assessment tools that report individual and group diagnostics of overall strengths and weakness .  Comprehensive personal reports provide are powerful tools that insights to individual trainees or students, highlighting reasoning strengths and identifying areas for improvement.  Flexible administration options make assessment available 24/7 throughout the world. 

Contact us today to discuss your reasoning skills and thinking mindset training and assessment goals.

Good thinking is in demand. Download Critical Thinking Insight from your app store today:

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