Numerous decisions are taken every day. People choose when to get up on a certain morning, what clothing to wear, and whether to read a particular book. Most of the decisions made throughout the day are relatively trivial or inconsequential. It probably does not matter too much if it is decided to sleep an extra 15 minutes on a certain morning or if a blue shirt is selected rather than a green one. However, some of the decisions can carry substantial consequences.
Choosing to get an undergraduate or graduate degree, deciding on a new job or career, or selecting one vendor out of many candidates to be the long-term supplier of a company of a necessary resource are important decisions that are likely to have a significant and meaningful impact. Learning, understanding, and applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills can improve the quality of the decisions that mean the most to us. The research paper also explores some fields where critical thinking proves a pathfinder in finding the correct solution to a problem.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Introduction Critical thinking and problem solving have been identified as essential skills for college students. Problem solving is defined as a step-by step process of defining the problem, searching for information. The goal of problem solving is to find and implement a solution, usually to a well defined and well- structured problem. Critical thinking is a broader term describing reasoning in an open-ended manner, with an unlimited number of solutions.
The critical thinking process involves constructing the situation and supporting the reasoning behind a solution. Traditionally, critical thinking and problem solving have been associated with different fields: critical thinking is rooted in the behavioral science, whereas problem solving is associated with the math and science disciplines. Although a distinction is made between the two concepts, in real life situations the terms critical thinking and problem solving are often used interchangeably. In addition, assessment tests frequently overlap or measure both skills.
Problem solving is defined as understanding the problem, being able to obtain background knowledge, generating possible solutions, identifying and evaluating the process, and exhibiting problem-solving dispositions. It is easy to fall into routine ways of thinking instead of being creative. The accompanying display lists some common barriers to creative thinking. A major block to creativity is groupthink (going along with the majority opinion while personally having another viewpoint). Nurses or the employees of the company, who engage in groupthink generally, wish to avoid interpersonal conflict.
It takes intellectual courage to think something new and different from one’s peers, and then act on those thoughts. Independent thinking is a hallmark of persons who think critically and creatively. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Critical thinking includes problem solving and decision making processes. People use problem solving in their daily lives. With the problem-solving method, problems are identified, information is gathered, a specific problem is named, a plan for solving the problem is developed, the plan is put into action, and results of the plan are evaluated.
However, this kind of problem solving is frequently based on incomplete data, and plans are sometimes based on incomplete data, and plans are sometimes based on guesses. Conversely, the nurse uses the nursing process to identify and to make decisions about client needs. It is a systematic and scientifically based process that requires the use of many cognitive and psychomotor skills. According to Costello-Nikitas, the following actions interfere with effective problem solving: • Jumping too quickly toward a conclusion before exploring all the aspects of the problem
• Failing to obtain critical facts, about either the problem or proposed change • Selecting problems or changes that are too general, too complex, or poorly defined • Failing to articulate a rational solution to the problem or proposed change • Failing to implement and evaluate the proposal appropriately Definition, Explanation and Importance of Problem Solving E. Paul Torrance’s definition of creativity fully describes problem solving and suggests the skill needed to reach this higher level goal: The process of sensing problems or gaps in information, Forming ideas or hypotheses, testing and modifying
These hypotheses and communicating the results (Torrance 1994). A problem is “a question or situation that presents doubt, perplexity, or difficulty or a question offered for consideration, discussion or solutions” (Webster 1995). Problems are ever present in the life, preschoolers learn to say” I have a problem and apply the phrase to everything from a broken crayon to muddy shoes. Adults spend a great deal of time worrying about their own problems, which range from how to get three kids to various ball practices on the same afternoon to devastating financial or health problems.
The ability to solve problems is highly important and should be a significant part of educational training. Higher-level Thinking Skills Schools curriculums often include the development of higher-level thinking skills, processes that require more mental effort than simple memory and recall. For example, many social studies guides denote decision making and problem solving (higher-level thinking skills) as key skills (Riecken and Miller 1990), which students use to solve problems. Higher-level thinking skills are sometimes known as higher-order thinking skills or productive thinking skills.
Treffinger and Nassab (1996) discuss productive thinking and define it as including “creative thinking, critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making…. ” They further discuss the fact that productive thinking “builds on a rich knowledge base, motivation, personal characteristics and styles, and meta-cognitive skills. ” Critical Thinking Swartz and Perkins (1990) discuss critical thinking as the “the critical examination and evaluation—actual and potential—of benefits and courses of action.
Numerous lists of critical thinking skills exist; however, close analysis of them often reveals similarities in semantics. One list of critical thinking skills (Maker and Nielson 19996) follows: • Determining fact and opinion • Choosing relevant from irrelevant information • Determining the accuracy of a statement • Determining the credibility of a source • Recognizing ambiguities • Identifying underlying assumptions • Determining external and internal bias • Recognizing valid and fallacious arguments Critical thinking in Nursing Profession
Nurses use critical thinking skills in each step of the nursing process. “Everything nurses do require high level thinking; no action is performed without critical thinking” (Rubenfeld & Scheffer, 1999) “Because the conclusions and decisions, nurses make affect people’s lives, our thinking must be guided by sound reasoning—precise, disciplined thinking that promotes accuracy and depth of data collection, and seeks to clearly identify the issues at hand. The role of the nurse has shifted from one of “hand maiden” to one of an autonomous partner in health care delivery.
The impact of technological expansion and the increased acuity level of patients, combined with consumer demand for accountability and responsibility, have fueled this change. Currently, novice nurses must possess cognitive skills that require critical thinking. The nurse uses critical thinking to solve problems, make decisions, and establish priorities in the clinical setting. The framework for solving patient problems is called the nursing process. Critical thinking is an essential skill in the administration of safe, component nursing care. Critical thinking may be defined as “the process of purposeful, self regulatory judgment.
The process gives reasoned consideration to evidence, contexts, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria” (American Philosophical Association, 1990) Ennis describes critical thinking as “reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do” (Nosich, 2001). Critical thinking is a goal directed; it is thinking with a purpose. Critical thinking also involves questioning. These questions include: Why? Who? What if? When? Where? Data are collected and organized within the critical thinking process. Pertinent data are separated from irrelevant data.
Related data are clustered together to encourage the recognition of patterns. These clusters of data are then analyzed, and successful solutions to problems are identified. Knowledge Critical thinking calls for a knowledge base that includes declaration knowledge, (specific facts or information) and operative knowledge (an understanding of the nature of that knowledge). Nursing curricula assist the student in learning specific facts about nursing and the delivery of quality care. Students are also taught how to examine the belief underlying the facts in order to analyze and interpret those facts.
In other words, students are not expected to merely repeat facts that have been memorized but instead to understand the reasoning behind the knowledge. Finding meaning in what one is learning is the core of critical thinking. In order to think critically, to solve problems, and so make decisions, nurses must develop a broad base of knowledge. This knowledge base includes information from other disciplines such as science (anatomy, physiology, and biology), psychology and philosophy (logic) Nurses apply this knowledge to specific client situation through critical thinking. Critical thinking and Problem solving in Business
Gone are the days when management expected workers to check their brains at the door. As a knowledge worker, one is expected to use one’s brains in thinking critically. One will be solving problems and making decisions. Faced with a problem or an issue, most of us do a lot of worrying before separating the issues or making a decision. All that worrying can become directed by channeling it into the following procedure: 1) Identify and clarify the problem Your first task is to recognize that a problem exists. Some problems are big and unmistakable, such as failure of an air-freight delivery service to get package to customers on time.
Other problems may be continuing annoyances, such as regularly running out of toner for an office copy machine. The first step in reaching a solution is pinpointing the problem area. 2) Gather Information Learn more about the problem situation. Look for possible causes and solutions. This step may mean checking files, calling suppliers, or brainstorming with fellow workers. For example, the air-freight delivery service would investigate the tracking systems of the commercial airlines carrying its packages to determine what went wrong. 3) Evaluate the evidence
Where did the information come from? Does it represent various points of view? What biases could be expected from each source? How accurate is the information gathered? Is it fact or opinion? For example, it is a fact that packages are missing; it is an opinion they are merely lost and will sum up eventually. 4) Consider alternatives and implications Draw conclusions from the gathered evidence and pose solutions. Then weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative. What are the costs, benefits, and consequences? What are the obstacles, and how can they be handled?
Most important, what solution best serves your goals and those of your organization? This is where your creativity is especially important. 5) Implement the best alternative Select an alternative and put it into action. Then, follow through on your decision by monitoring the results of implementing your plan. The freight company decided to give its unhappy customers free delivery service to make up for the lost packages and downtime. Be sure to continue monitoring and adjusting the solution to ensure its effectiveness over time. Developing critical thinking and problem solving skills in the child
Reasoning, critical thinking or general intellectual functioning is one of the strongest predictors of academic success and resilience. Teaching children problem solving – how to figure things out—is key to success learning, and problem solving is characterized by the ability to generate possible strategies, analyze those strategies,, and anticipate their possible consequences. Skills that a child learns to master under the heading of problem solving include planning, flexibility, resourcefulness, and critical thinking. Planning entails looking ahead, anticipating possible outcomes, and making healthy choices.
Flexibility entails shifting plans when one’s original strategy does not work out. Resourcefulness involves seeking help when needed, using resources intelligently, and developing “street smart. ” Critical thinking refers to higher-order thinking skills that go beneath surface impressions and opinions to offer understanding and deeper meaning to an event or situation. Conclusion Many decisions don’t need much thought. Relatively small, routine, or mundane choices generally don’t require spending a lot of time or energy because the outcomes associated with these types of decisions probably don’t affect very much.
Important decisions can shape lives, and decision quality is improved if person critically analyze the problems by considering new and different options, weighing the evidence objectively, looking at a problem from a different angle that gives different insights, developing novel solutions that effectively solve dilemmas, and accurately forecasting the probable impact of our decisions. Critical thinking is a process that emphasizes a rational basis for what one believes and provides standards and procedures for analyzing, testing, and evaluating beliefs.
Critical thinking skills enable decision makers to define problems within the proper context, to examine evidence objectively, and to analyze the assumptions underlying the evidence and beliefs. Critical thinking enables to understand and deal with the positions of others and to clarify and comprehend one’s own thoughts as well. When critical thinking is applied, all aspects of the decision process are involved, from defining the problem, identifying and weighing decision criteria, and generating and evaluating alternatives to estimating the consequences that will result from our decisions.
However, critical thinking does not mean that a person always make best possible decisions, never reach the wrong conclusion, and never make mistakes; it is simply a process person apply that enables, to arrive at superior; it is simply a process one apply that enables, to arrive at superior decisions consistently. Problem solving is a part of decision making. A systematic process that focuses on analyzing a difficult situation, problem solving always includes a decision-making step. Many educators use the terms problem solving and decision making synonymously, but there is a small yet important difference between the two.
Although decision making is the last step in the problem-solving process, it is possible for decision making to occur without the full analysis required in problem solving. Because problem solving attempts to identify the root problem in situations, much tine and energy are spent on identifying the real problem. Decision making, on the other hand, is usually triggered by a problem but is often handled in a manner that does not eliminate the problem. Reference DeLaune, Carter, Sue. Ladner, Kelly, Patricia. (2002). Fundamentals of Nursing: Standards & Practice. US: Thomson Delmer Learning. Pg. 82, 89 Heywood, John.
(2000). Assessment in Higher Education: Student Learning Teaching, Programmes and… England: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Pg 177 Meador, S, Karen. (1997). Creative Thinking and Problem Solving for Young Learners. Westport: Libraries Unlimited. Pg. 69, 70 Marquis, L, Bessie. Huston, Jorgenson, Carol. (2005). Leadership Roles and Management Functions in Nursing: theory and Application. Wolters Kulwer Health. The NPEC sourcebook on assessment. US: DIANE Publishing. Pg. 11 Williams, W, Steve. (2002). Making Better Business Decisions: Understanding and Improving Critical. North America: Saga Publications. Pg. 1-3