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Research and Study Skills

Table of Contents

Abstract

Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking: Assessing Critical Thinking of Business Students Using Multiple Measures.

The Evidence.

The Analysis.

Reflection..

Abstract on Research and Study Skills

Critical thinking is a very important aspect of our life skills, and has always been so. However, in the information rich modern era, the ability to analyse and extract information becomes far more imperative, and urbane. It is with this view that S. Bandyopadhyay, and J. Szostek. Published a study expressing their concerns about the modern education system and the way it handles such critical skills. It also provides a framework for the assessment of critical thinking and management skills in students, or other willing participant groups.

This report is structured to provide a summary of the evidence provided in Bandyopadhyay and Szostek’s paper, followed by an essay that aims to compare two journal articles that speak of critical thinking – ‘Thinking critically about critical thinking: Assessing critical thinking of business students using multiple measures’, published in the Journal of Education for Business in 2019 by S. Bandyopadhyay, and J. Szostek., and ‘Cooperation begins: Encouraging critical thinking skills through cooperative reciprocity using a mobile learning game’, published in Computers and Education, in 2016 by H. Lee. Lastly, it lays out the writer’s understanding and reflections on the issue of critical thinking skills in education.

Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking: Assessing Critical Thinking of Business Students Using Multiple Measures

The Evidence of Research and Study Skills

Education in the USA legally has eight aims – that the students acquire basic academic skill; learn to think critically about problems and solve them; learn to socialise and gain a set of ethics for their life; they learn how to care for their own health; learn to engage in and appreciate art in all its forms; and prepare themselves for employment. Business education does address a number of these, and there are policies to enable critical thinking in students, but most classrooms fail to implement the ideals such that the students learn to think an solve complex problems.

Smith says that a great part of this is due to the lack of guidance on the way of doing things, Student do not learn how to acquire knowledge they need, they are simply handed their texts and asked to learn it. There are methods to learning, as suggested by Schamel and Ayres, and many other researchers since, but the exercises that are practised in educational institutes are often not it (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019).

Critical thinking challenges students to examine and review their thought process and instigates the idea of learning by curiosity, as shown by Facione et al. (2001). Facione find a positive correlation of the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) scores of 193 tenth graders in 1990 (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019). Extending this to a five-year experiment of 7926 student of varied backgrounds, and found a correlation between the critical thinking skills of a person and their overall disposition.

More studies conducted by researchers like Torres and Cano (1995) provide more evidence for the relation between learning skills and critical thought. Other factors, like age, gender or marks acquired accounted for 13% of the critical thoughts in the individual, while style of learning accounted for 9% for 92 fourth year students of agriculture (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019).

The Analysis of Research and Study Skills

Critical thinking is the skill of using a clear, rational thought process to analyse a given set of evidence and understand the logic connecting them. It enables s person to be reflective of their own thoughts, and form independent opinions.

When presented with information, one must be able to analyse it, without bias, irrationality, or blind belief, in order to determine the quality of the given evidence. It has been the topic of great debate since the early civilisations, and continues even today – especially in the modern climates of deceit and fake news all around us, particularly those in power (McPeck, 2016). The skill of critical thinking is bound inwards, evolved, monitored, corrected and disciplined by the self, since it rarely has manifestations beyond the mind. The idea assumes that the thinker in question has a rigorous standard for their own biases and other mental processes in the first place, and is mindful of the effectiveness of their thoughts.

Critical thinking goes hand in hand with good communication skills, abilities to solve problems, and a sense of empathy for all individuals.

The two papers deal with mass education of critical thinking, but in two different forms – one speaks of learning and teaching critical thinking in the education systems of the USA, while the other studies the effects of new technology, particularly mobile learning applications designed as games, on the uptake of critical learning skills.

Bandyopadhyay and Szostek (2019) sought to understand and assess the critical thinking skills of students across different realistic scenarios, and how they could improve.

On the other hand, the main objective of Lee’s (2016) study was to understand the relationship and differences of solo and team learning in terms of the critical thinking skills, and the effect of strong cooperative bonds in team learning.

Bandyopadhyay and Szostek seek to assess and evaluate critical thinking using a simulated environment. The study was conducted with tests on a total of 94 students, who were each given seven exercises to be completed in four hours in a realistic work environment. Of these tasks, two had their results in a documental form, while the others were videotaped roleplay exercises, and analysed later. The problems spanned the fields of finance, cultural diversity in the workplace, upset clients, employee-employer or co-worker relations, quick solutions and teamwork.

Their performances were evaluated by a randomly selected team of trained raters (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019) In order to reduce bias, it was ensured that the raters were as randomly chosen as possible, without any restrictions of location, age, ethnicity, economic status or otherwise. These persons were trained to reduce their own personal biases, to get a set of ratings as neutral as possible. The criteria for information were as follows:

  • Identification and explanation of the key issue
  • Efficiency of information gathering
  • Identification and analysis of the options involved
  • Behaves as appropriate for the situation
  • Is correct in their estimation of the financial impacts of their ideas
  • Identification of the right data for proper estimation of the above
  • Provision of additional information to impact their decision
  • The integration of the above steps into a final result (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019)

The students were rated according to the objectives met, and then grouped according to a three-step classification rubric common to the authors’ institute. Finally, the students were grouped into the categories of novice, competent and accomplished, with the rating ranges from 0-1, 1.5-2, and 2.5-3 respectively (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019)

This process was carried out as part of a learning exercise, with the idea that, by the end of the exercise the students in the novice category should not be more than 20% of the total number of students participating in the exercise(Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019) It was repeated after a period of time, during which the students were given the chance to get better at their skills.

Lee designed a mixed learning activity with online and offline aspects, such that the information is received online, but certain tasks require the participant to move into the real-world workplace.

There were twenty-five undergraduate Industrial Engineering students participated in the experiment. They were grouped differently, as solo learners, group learners and a mix of the two (Lee, 2016). The game then goes on to affiliate them to a fictional company, give them information and tasks to complete. They went to specific geo-tagged locations, answered quizzes there, and were asked to analyse and explain some aspect of an artefact they found.

Bandyopadhyay and Szostek’s (2019) study makes it easy to see that student do not perform equally in all situations requiring critical thought, and may have a greater aptitude for handling or solving particular types of problems. Hence, the study forms a measure of the individual capabilities and performances of the set of participant students (Bandyopadhyay and Szostek, 2019) This study, if repeated elsewhere, will have different results as the individual participants change.

Lee’s (2016) study found no statistically significant difference in the solo and group players due to the nature of the game itself. All completed their tasks and did it well. Newman’s (1997) coding scheme was applied to assess the participants. It was found that solo learners would only identify the basic materials, while teams tended to find more and more of the required objects (Lee, 2016). The teams with the best bonding were also the ones that could link and engage the most ideas. Therefore, it can be hypothesised that, in mixed learning, teamwork yields the best performance.

The main takeaway from Bandyopadhyay and Szostek’s study is not the results of the study but the process of it. Much like the process being studies itself, the study gives a framework for the mode of action for the assessment of critical thinking in a group of people, and their growth of skill over a span of time.

Lee’s experiment is particularly interesting for all educational institutions looking to blend electronic and traditional learning methods. Studying and remembering information is best done solo, while exercises with the best results can only be a part of teamwork (Lee, 2016).

Reflection on Research and Study Skills

The above two papers are insightful in their analysis, experimentation and hypothesis of critical thinking and learning methods.

We know that in this world of today, information is not a rarity, it is a few clicks away for the majority of the population. Therefore, the simple method of education which prioritises the retention of facts rather than skills is obsolete in the twenty first century. I feel that a child who is taught to express their natural curiosity, explore and learn on their own is by far a better learner than one who can memorise and retain large chunks of information efficiently. The skill of learning is one very few institutions or teachers think to teach a child. A child thus educated is not one who tries to learn on their own, or asks questions simply in order to know more.

This practice itself requires change, if we want more of our youth to be useful to society. People must learn how to analyse, and view information presented with a sceptical eye. The “Why Phase” of the toddlers should not stop, but rather become a way of life. The practical social skills of critical thinking, communication, teamwork and collaboration are the most required skills for the youth of this era.

However, the society and employers must remember that individuals have their own talents and skillsets, and this cannot be made uniform. Their personalities, background, biases and other natural, human factors make up the person they are, and they will be different – expecting otherwise is tantamount to foolishness.

The educational institutes and regulatory boards need to step up for an overhaul of the present information-based education system, and introduce more practical learning aspects to it. It must be remembered that while this idea is often used by play schools, with beautiful results, but is effectively discarded as we move to higher education. Schools and universities need to organise the educational curriculum and lesson structures such that the students think and assess situations a lot more than they do. There needs to be more of practical lessons without a known, set result, and more exploratory and investigative work as part of the courses.

I would propose that the daily routine of educational institutes begin with mandatory practical exercises or group discussions of the work to be done for the day, its relation to previous lessons, and the purpose of it, if possible. Then, as the student learn and face new problems, the issue is debated or analysed, with alternative ideas for a solution, if applicable. The entire process must be guided, and students encouraged to participate, but in no way driven by the instructor.

This, in essence, is an old idea, known better as the Montessori Style, (Montessori, 1917) and is demonstrated to produce well-rounded individuals with a sense of confidence, determination, and ability to solve problems in a systematic way. They have also been known to be better at implementation of these plans. Thus, they are likelier to envision the consequences of their actions before they implement it, too. The qualities of observation and scepticism, as required for successful critical thought, is imperatively present in children educated in this style.

Critical thought requires a neutrality of mindset that most people lack. This, too, can be solved through education and globalised interaction between students. Student exchange programs can be counted as a start to this, but they cannot be static in this regard. The youth must learn to integrate the values of tolerance and social politeness in order to thrive in the globalised world.

Bandyopadhyay and Szostek’s paper gives us a lot of food for thought in regard to the present systems of education in schools and colleges all over the world.

References for Research and Study Skills

Bandyopadhyay, S. and Szostek, J. (2019) ‘Thinking critically about critical thinking: Assessing critical thinking of business students using multiple measures’, Journal of Education for Business, 94(4), pp.259-270

McPeck, J.E., 2016. Critical thinking and education. Routledge.

Lee, H. (2016) ‘Cooperation begins: Encouraging critical thinking skills through cooperative reciprocity using a mobile learning game’, Computers and Education, 97(2016), pp.97-115.

Montessori, M., 1917. The Advanced Montessori Method. (Vol. 1). Frederick A. Stokes Company.

Remember, at the center of any academic work, lies clarity and evidence. Should you need further assistance, do look up to our Management Assignment Help

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