The Academy for the Scholarship is solely dedicated to using The Science of Learning to teach higher order thinking skills.

Six of the top ten vital skills for 2020 listed in The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report either are or are based on higher order thinking skills. Higher order thinking skills are critical components for the success of any commercial exercise. It has been suggested that the failure of many commercial enterprises can be traced to the lack of value the institution places on higher order thinking skills.

Because of biological factors underlying brain development, higher order thinking skills become viable at the only cognitive development level where the underlying components must be taught – late adolescence and early adulthood; in institutions of higher education. Unfortunately, higher order thinking skills are not being taught in higher education institutions any longer. The emphasis of higher education has shifted from developing individuals to delivering content and conducting research. This fundamental shift has occurred because of a number of factors, but the result is that very few graduates are entering the commercial world with well-developed higher order thinking skills. Because of the shift in priorities in higher education institutions, there is a desperate need for somewhere to go to learn higher thinking skills in order to ensure a competitive edge and prosperous future for you and your company.

As an executive of an organization, you will likely have learned a number of these higher order thinking skills on your own, and find yourself in a frustrating position of having many of your key (or all) employees lacking some or many of these skills. These skills can be learned by anyone who is taught using the scientific principles that underlie learning. The sole purpose of our organization is to teach these skills by creating a learning environment that fosters the acquisition of these skills based on the principles of The Science of Learning. What are the higher order thinking skills I am referring to and what can they bring to your organization?

Skill Definition Quality
Critical thinking The most powerful problem-solving method known Contains a number of subcomponents. Claimed by 99% of university professors to be the most important skill acquired by students with fewer than 10% of the professors able to give an adequate definition of critical thinking. Very few classes designed to foster critical thinking and fewer than 40% of students graduate with any signs of critical thinking and less than 10% with transferable critical thinking skills. A powerful skill that would provide any organization with increased value.
Complex inductive reasoning The ability to take related or even seemingly unrelated concepts or events and develop an overarching theoretical understanding of what draws the concepts together. Many of the problems in the business world and society revolve around the ability to bring together concepts and events that appear to be unrelated into a single, understandable, overarching construct or idea. This inability is one of the impediments to, not only carrying out complex inductive reasoning but understanding how conclusions are reached using this type of reasoning. People with this thinking skill would bring both greater understanding and the ability to synthesize ideas and concepts to an organization.
Hypothetico-deductive reasoning Much more difficult than complex inductive reasoning. This is the ability to take an overarching theory or concept and extract or deduce the concepts, constructs, or instances that will arise from of the theory. Knowing a general organizational, scientific, or societal principle is very different than being able to understand the impact of that principle in specific circumstances. As an example, newly imposed regulations or in-house guidelines almost always have unintended consequences for organizations. Being able to reason out what these consequences are before they take effect allows an organization to prepare for the impact. Having a number of key people able to use this type of reasoning greatly strengthens an organization.
Higher order logical and rational thinking This is the ability to understand the application of logic and general reason to problems and situations and evaluate solutions and outcomes based on the evidence available. Rational thinking and applying the basic rules of logic allow us to communicate with one another. Higher order rational thinking and logic allows us to take our interactions to a different level. Removing ambiguity, insisting on the highest standards of clarity in communication, and demanding robust evidence for decision making have more of an impact in moving organizations toward institutional goals than almost any other factor. Having the majority of your administrative or management team (or even your rank and file workers) able to use these skills in their thinking and communication has the potential to revolutionize your operations.
Higher order creativity Creativity that goes beyond the design of a new mobile phone cover. This is the type of creativity that is seen in the ability to take a static electric shock and develop a light bulb. This requires in-depth expertise from different fields working together as a team in order to be able to make novel connections that result in new ideas or products. Current educational practices are based on models of conformity and obedience to authority that not only discourages real creativity but usually penalizes it. Building a unit of people devoted to really creating something new and different in the way of ideas or products will provide an organization with both a competitive edge and a greater ability to reach its potential.
Metacognition The self-awareness that, among other things, allows individuals to understand their own limitations and the limitations of those around them and identify how these shortcomings can be alleviated. Metacognition is the umbrella skill that is necessary for individuals to begin to realize their own higher order thinking abilities. Metacognition begins with knowing what you know and don’t know and continues through to understanding what you can do and can’t do. Metacognition underlies all of the other higher order thinking skills and must be developed concurrently with the other higher order thinking skills.

Higher order metacognition, possessed by few, but teachable through the principles of The Science of Learning, is the ability to understand and use all of the higher order thinking skills available in whatever situation requires them. A difficult accomplishment given the limitations inherent in context-dependent learning – which limitation includes higher order thinking skills.

Learning these skills is hard work and you have likely seen numerous approaches for acquiring sophisticated skills (higher order thinking skills) using smart-phone apps, weekend seminars and numerous other quick, shallow, and inexpensive methods. Unfortunately, in spite of the technological advances we see in many areas of society, learning today is still done the same way as it was done at the time of Socrates.

What our organization offers is a ten-week course (eight to ten hours a week) that can serve as a foundation for some of the higher order skills development. Over the years, using the techniques I have developed through The Science of Learning, I have had dozens of participants return over and over again for further development in this area as they begin to see the benefits of really being able to think. As a recent participant said to a group of us discussing the course she was on, “Once you get a taste of what real thinking is like, you can’t go back. I just want more and wish that I had been exposed to learning this way early in my university experience.”

Ideally done as a combination online/face-to-face learning experience, depending on your needs, the entire course can be offered online. Through ongoing, evidence-based, rigorous, iterative discussions that take place both online and face to face, the constraints, and requirements of the discussions both foster and support the acquisition of these skills. Although they are the same basic format, different courses that I offer are designed to focus on particular higher order thinking skills, with some of the skills present in every course. The face-to-face discussions can occur online if your organization lacks the critical number of participants for me to run a course in-house.

Teaching based on the principles underlying The Science of Learning is different from any other formal learning experience you will have had. Education has become teacher focussed with either short-term, perishable learning outcomes, or specific organizational learning needs that change on a regular basis. Through The Science of Learning, we have designed methods that have been empirically demonstrated to produce measurable and lasting valuable outcomes that will not be easily replaced by technology (if ever). Based on the science that tells us how people learn, using the method I have developed, I can teach your people the skills that will have a long-lasting, powerful, and positive impact in your organization for decades to come.

 

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