Researches

Critical Thinking Skills Research Report

Critical Thinking Skills Research Report

Introduction

 

This report contributes to Industrial Psychology Consultants goal to help leaders understand the forces transforming the local and global economy, improve company performance, and work for better national policies. The report is in-line with our mission of maximizing returns on human capital. As with all Industrial Psychology Consultants research, this work is independent and has neither been commissioned nor sponsored in any way by any business, government, or other institution.

 

With globalization and the increased speed of business, employees at every level are facing an increasingly complex flow of information. Work settings are changing rapidly, and employees are moving into new roles, often with limited direction. Employees can no longer rely on others to make key decisions. They often must make them on their own, and quickly. And the decisions have to be good ones. If they fall short, there may be no time to recover. This means that critical thinking skills are, to a large extent required in every organisation.

 

Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking, in three interrelated phases. They analyse thinking. They assess thinking. And they up-grade thinking (as a result). A person is a critical thinker to the extent that he or she regularly improves thinking by studying and “critiquing” it. Critical thinkers carefully study the way humans ground, develop, and apply thought — to see how thinking can be improved.

 

Critical thinking skills are imperative for all employees to perform well. Individuals need to be able to make judgments regarding presented knowledge, and need the ability to discern paths towards good judgment. The path towards good judgement rests in the following 5 critical thinking skills that can be taught:

  • Reasoning
  • Analysing
  • Decision Making
  • Problem Solving
  • Evaluation

 

 

The purpose of the study is to find out how different employee levels are performing in critical thinking tests. The tests used are: Inference, Recognition of Assumptions, Deduction, Interpretation, and Evaluation of Arguments.

 

Research also sought to determine if there is any correlation between the marks obtained in critical thinking skills and variables like educational level, gender, employment level and different ethnic groups. It also determines if there is a relationship between gender and critical thinking.

 

The study also sought to determine how critical thinking skills can be improved in Zimbabwe to improve the success of the companies.

 

A research undertaken by Judy Chartrand, ” Critical Thinking Means Business”, suggested that critical thinking is the lifeblood of the most essential workplace skills, including problem solving, decision making, good judgment, and sound analysis. Organizations that can attract, retain, and develop the best critical thinkers have a significant and measurable competitive advantage in the business world. She also concluded that critical thinking can be taught, and applied directly to on-the-job problems and decisions by the use of the RED model, i.e. Recognition of Assumptions, Evaluation of Arguments and Drawing of conclusions.

 

Research Methodology

 

The data was taken from different employees who wrote psychometric tests from 2009 to 2013 at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd. The employees were grouped into 6 levels i.e. Administration and Clerical, Junior and Middle Management, Apprentice, Artisan, Senior Management and Executive and Graduate Trainee.  All the marks under the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal tests were coded and the percentiles were graded into 5 as show below:

 

Grade Percentile
Extremely Low <25
Low 26-49
Average High 50-60
High 61-80
Extremely High >81

 

Profile of the participants

 

A total of 2796 employees who wrote psychometric tests at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd from 2009-2013 was analysed. The employees were grouped into 6 levels and the percentages for each level were as shown below:

The employees come from more than 100 companies in Zimbabwe. 70.8% of the employees were male and 29.2% were females. 98.8% of the employees were Black-Africans, 0.1% were Black-Other, 0.4% were Indians, and 0.5% were White

 

Summary of Key Findings

 

Our findings suggest that most of the employees under the Junior and Middle Management level are performing well in critical thinking. Few are on average level. For example,

  • 8% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 45% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles, and
  • 3% are on average range.

 

In contrast, most of the employees under Senior Management and Executive level are showing low level of critical thinking. For instance;

  • 5% of the employees have high and extremely high performance,
  • 1% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles, and
  • 3% are on average range.

 

Most of the employees under Graduate Trainee level are also not performing well;

  • 4% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 8% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 8% are on average range.

 

Our findings also suggest that most of the employees under Administration and Clerical are not performing well in critical thinking. For example,

  • 9% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 1% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 0% of the employees are on average range.

 

However, our research also suggest that, Attachment students are performing well in critical thinking. For example,

  • 8% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 4% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 42% of the employees are on average range.

 

Analysis shows that some of the employees with a master’s degree and/or doctorate are lacking critical thinking skills. For example;

  • 2% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 5% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 9% of the employees are on average range.

 

Analysis also shows that some of the employees with an Honours degree are performing well in critical thinking. For example;

  • 46% of the employees have high and extremely high percentiles ,
  • 8% of the employees have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 1% of the employees are on average range.

 

However, the research demonstrates that, most of all the employees with educational qualification below a degree are lacking critical thinking skills. For example;

  • 1% of the employees with a Diploma have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 9% of the employees with a Diploma have a low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 13% of the employees are on average range.
  • 1% of the employees with A level have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 6% of the employees A level educational qualification have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 3% of the employees are on average range.
  • 5% of the employees O level educational qualification have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 2% of the employees with O level educational qualification have low and extremely low percentiles,
  • 4% of the employees are on average range.
  • 25% of the employees with other qualifications other than above have high and extremely high percentiles,
  • 75% of the employees with other qualifications other than above have low and extremely low percentiles,

 

We find out also that there is a correlation between gender and the total percentile obtained from all the tests (r= 0.021). There is no correlation between educational level and marks obtained in critical thinking tests (r= -0.163). There is also correlation between employment level and the marks obtained in critical thinking (r= 0.10). There is also a correlation between ethnic group and the marks obtained in critical thinking (r= 0.036).

 

Research shows that critical thinking skills do not vary with gender and all genders are lacking proper critical thinking skills.

 

Training and some other ways to improve critical thinking need to be done in companies.

 

Results

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