Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Dr. Gerald F. Smith, Professor of Management at the University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration. His article, “Assessing Business Student Thinking Skills,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Management Education and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.
My paper tries to provide a substantive account of thinking skills that can inform their effective teaching. Although it was written for and published in a management teaching journal, most of the paper’s contents apply to higher education in general.
In writing this paper, I was motivated by dissatisfaction with the very superficial way in which higher order thinking has been conceptualized and taught, in business schools and elsewhere. The fact that very few students who graduate from college can think effectively is, in my opinion, explained in large part by our simplistic accounts of “critical thinking” and consequently ineffectual efforts to develop student thinking skills. The article’s contents are based on my teaching and extensive research on higher order thinking.
I don’t think it’s easy to develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making skills, but I hope this article inspires faculty, in business schools and elsewhere, to engage more seriously in the teaching of substantive thinking skills, both in dedicated thinking skills courses and across the curriculum.