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Step 1: Prepare to Think Critically
In this first step, you will prepare to respond to your boss’s request for an analysis of a problem in your organization. You realize that this will require careful thinking. So, you take some time to review the process and to engage in Critical Thinking and Analysis.
Step 2: Identify the Problem
Remember the direction from your boss is to “apply your critical thinking and analytical skills to figure out what happened, what we know and don’t know, and how the organization might remedy this situation.”
So, what is the problem that resulted from the incident, and why might there be different interpretations of the facts?
Outline the points that you want to make in the first two sections of your paper (introduction, explanation), and draft those sections.
Step 3: Analyze the Information
Once that you have some understanding of the issues of the event, gather and analyze information. The Problem Analysis resources will further aid your analysis and development of the third section of your paper.
Outline the points that you want to make in Section 3: Analysis of the Information of your paper, and draft that section.
Problem analysis involves framing the issue by defining its boundaries, establishing criteria with which to select from alternatives, and developing conclusions based on available information. Analyzing a problem may not result in a decision, although the results are an important ingredient in all decision making.
Step 4: Consider and Analyze Other Viewpoints, Conclusions, and Solutions
Once you have completed your analysis of the incident, the next step is to analyze alternative viewpoints, conclusions, and solutions. To do this you will need to apply Ethical Decision-Making and Reasoning. Also highly recommended, Randolph Pherson’s “The Five Habits of the Master Thinker,” a paper written for intelligence analysts, but applicable to all analytical thinking and reasoning.
Outline the points that you want to make in Section 4: Analysis of Alternative Viewpoints, Conclusions, or Solutions of your paper, and draft that section.
Next, you will develop your conclusions.
Ethical Decision-Making and Reasoning
What are the different viewpoints? There are often different interpretations of the facts. This may be one of the more challenging aspects of critical thinking. You will also employ ethical reasoning and decision-making, carefully considering all points of view and recommendations to maintain a critical thinking mindset.
Step 5: Develop Well-Reasoned Conclusions
You considered alternative viewpoints in the last step. Now you’re ready to develop your personal conclusions and suggest remedies so that your boss is well-equipped to brief her leadership about the situation.
Remember, you may need to consult outside references but this is not a research paper. It is more investigative in nature about the facts of the case. Please cite outside sources carefully.
Now, outline your argument and draft Section 5: Conclusions and Recommendations, the final sections. Your boss is expecting to receive a concise, focused paper to prepare her for further meetings. Stay to the main points, although you may have more facts to answer any questions. You will submit your paper in the final step.
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Step 6: Submit Critical Thinking Paper
Your final paper should be no more than 5 double-spaced pages, excluding the cover page and References page(s). Please organize your paper in accordance with your preparatory steps, using these subheadings:
- Explanation of the Issue
- Analysis of the Information
- Consideration of alternative viewpoints and conclusions
- Conclusions and Recommendations
Here are some tips for success:
- Consider outside sources if they inform your case. However, stay on task.
- Use APA style for “in text” and reference citations. At this point, your citations should be error-free.
Consider these Best Practices for a paper:
- An effective introduction that grabs the reader’s attention and sets the tone and direction for the rest of the paper;
- Supporting paragraphs that move the reader from the general introduction to the more specific aspects of your analysis;
- Body paragraphs that provide support; and,
- A conclusion that leads to a natural close to what you have presented in your paper.
Before you submit your assignment, review the competencies below, which your instructor will use to evaluate your work. A good practice would be to use each competency as a self-check to confirm you have incorporated all of them in your work.
- 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
- 1.2: Develop coherent paragraphs or points so that each is internally unified and so that each functions as part of the whole document or presentation.
- 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
- 1.4: Tailor communications to the audience.
- 1.5: Use sentence structure appropriate to the task, message and audience.
- 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
- 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
- 2.2: Locate and access sufficient information to investigate the issue or problem.
- 2.4: Consider and analyze information in context to the issue or problem.
- 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.