Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Types of thinking

In order to make reasoned judgments, you will have to think about the problems that are associated with any project or assignment you have to do. There are 16 of these, and you can adapt them to different problems in your studies. Don’t rule any out, but rather keep them in your mind when you come to begin thinking something through. Here ate the 16 types of thinking that you should carry out in any approach to a problem.

• Sequencing
The order in which items are placed in an argument can be for different reasons. Ordering can be according to the time; chronologically, or because of its relative importance, or because of other different reasons or characteristics. The order in which something is placed in a list can affect the way you think about it, the amount of attention you give it, or the detail with which it is studied or looked at.

• Sorting/classifying/grouping
The way something is viewed can determine how it is dealt with. A hurricane is a disaster if it affects people, but merely a natural phenomenon if it does not. A fox is a hunted animal in some circumstances and a protected one in others.

• Comparing/contrasting
Comparing – finding similarities, and contrasting – finding differences in objects under scrutiny or discussion is a way of finding out something about them. Statistics, facts or reason can be brought to bear to assist in the comparison, and used to justify the conclusions made from the comparing and contrasting.

• Hypothesizing
Hypothesizing is a way of saying “Suppose this was such and such a way – what then?” it is a way of exploring without anything being hard and fast, of altering one variable to determine what happens to others. Hypothesizing is a way of learning about something by postulating the question, “What if…?”

• Drawing conclusions
The conclusions we draw from our thinking are the acid test of the efficacy of our thought processes and our powers of reason. Nothing shows faulty reasoning up more clearly than drawing conclusions that are not logical or clearly substantiated by evidence and reasoning.

• Explaining/giving reasons for conclusions
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as we say. It is the explanations offered for particular conclusions having been reached that we find out the soundness of that reasoning; it is like being examined.

• Distinguishing fact from opinion
Distinguishing fact from opinion is simple on one level, difficult on another. In the train of an argument, writers will claim rather than state categorically, and it is up to the alert reader to spot this hedging – the writers way of distancing herself from something, or identifying herself with it and asking her readers to do the same.

• Checking the reliability of evidence
The sources of evidence can help to determine their reliability, but it is well to remember that not everything that is printed is verifiable or true, or correct.

• Relating causes and effects
Connecting things in a causal relationship can and does occasionally go wrong. The fact that one thing coincides with another does not necessarily mean they are causally related.

• Generating new ideas
This is the essence of creativity and is a vital ingredient in any problem solving situation. The inability to look at problems in different ways usually prevents an optimum solution.

• Problem solving
To take a problem solving approach to one’s studies is to realize that questions need to be asked and answered, and that solutions do not just appear without thinking.
• Decision making
Decisiveness is needed once judgments have been formed – the resolution to follow your findings to their logical conclusion is vital. Any veering from rational decision making would render the whole unsound and a lasting solution improbable.
• Enquiry
An enquiring mind is a valuable attribute, but enquiry requires energy, tenacity, and wit. It is not enough to have one without the other two. Energy to enquire is vital, particularly if answers do not come easily, or more questions suggest themselves as others are answered. Tenacity is needed to continue with a line of enquiry until a logical conclusion can be drawn. Lastly, wit is needed in order to maintain the optimum direction in that line of enquiry.
• Planning
With books to read, notes to take, thinking to be done, and assignments to write, it is important to plan. If time runs out, as it inevitably will, if it is allowed to run on unchecked, there will be no point in continuing. Studying at university demands that you plan your time, for if you don’t, others will.

• Systems
It is useful to learn that when phenomena are related, they are connected in ways that are systematic. In ways that are analogous to how the human body functions, even inorganic things connect to function as a whole rather than a sum of the parts. Looking at an assembly line in a car plant, for example, one quickly realizes that the continuity of supply to the production line would be disastrously interrupted by the non-appearance of even the smallest, most insignificant part to be fitted to the growing automobile. So it is with many processes, concepts and the way the individual components fit together.

Last word
Being able to quickly and efficiently resort to these different types of thinking to solve problems and achieve a deeper understanding of a subject being studied is the very essence of being a student – using the whole of your brain, both right and left hemispheres, to discover how the world is connected, and to use that knowledge to build your own theories of how the world is arranged; that is learning.

Source: www.salt.cheshire.gov.uk
Robert L. Fielding


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