LONDON, October 29, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Initial academic study finds analysis, evaluation and interpretation most desirable skills for students to have
Macat, an online learning platform and critical thinking tool launching in early 2016 and currently in beta, today announced the commissioning of the biggest and most detailed study of critical thinking skills ever undertaken. The study aims to highlight both the need for critical thinking and the growing gap between what skills students are entering the workforce with and what employers are seeking in potential recruits. Macat will be working with the University of Cambridge and other academic and industry partners to analyse what critical thinking skills are, why they are important, and how they can be developed.
Macat's new research, commencing in January 2016, will have three parts. First, a survey will ask employers from a wide variety of industries to specify the thinking skills they require in student graduates, helping to define the gap that exists between supply of students and demand for graduates. Macat will also ask over 2,000 universities, schools and companies from across the globe to take an induction test that measures their current level of attainment of six core skills: problem-solving, analysis, creative thinking, interpretation, evaluation and reasoning (also known in academic circles as PACIER skills). This will enable Macat to create the largest ever database of critical thinking skills by age and job role. This part of the research will also be open to members of the public (any company or person interested in signing up should visit here). The last part of the research, conducted in association with the University of Cambridge, ties all this together by investigating the vital features and interactions to develop these skills in the most enduring and best possible way.
In addition, Macat today released the findings from the first study in the critical thinking research program. Led by the University of Cambridge, the team set out to find what the most desirable critical thinking skills are amongst academics and students, across a range of disciplines in social science and humanities at 23 universities, including: the London School of Economics, King's College London and New York University Abu Dhabi. There were 16 skills listed, however six* emerged as the clear winners with analysis, evaluation and interpretation being named as the top three.
Hassan Abdou, CEO of Macat, comments: "We believe that better critical thinking skills can improve society and help us to adapt to an increasingly challenging world of work. We take this so seriously that we have commissioned the world's largest international study of what critical thinking skills are, how they can be developed - and why they are needed more than ever."
Dr. Roy van den Brink-Budgen, co-founder and Director of Studies of the Centre for Critical Thinking in Singapore, comments: "Critical thinking has, for many years, been the subject of extensive academic literature, and the consensus is that it can deliver significant developments in the way in which we understand and deal with the world. With the clear decline (both now and in the future) in jobs that require routine cognitive tasks (and with the growth of automated technologies even in fields like medicine and the law), its potential for producing the high-level thinking that is needed for social and economic advance is clear… This study will help us look at critical thinking in a way that has not been done before."
Helping to develop better critical thinking skills plays an important role in Macat's platform, which includes a number of online learning tools and a library of specially commissioned analyses of seminal works that span 14 major humanities and social science disciplines. Though the platform is currently in beta, Macat will be announcing new features at its official launch in early 2016.
*The six critical thinking skills that were named as the most desirable in the Macat survey of academics are as follows in no particular order:
- Problem Solving: Developing a strategy, organising a strong argument, being persuasive - all of these are problem-solving skills. But finding solutions is not always straightforward. Problem solving teaches you how to identify the information you need from a mass of data and how to combine apparently unrelated information into workable solutions.
- Analysis: Analytical skills lie at the heart of higher-order thinking. They speed up your ability to assess arguments by breaking them down into bite-sized chunks. Analysis also helps you to establish how well the pieces of an argument fit together.
- Creative thinking: The ability to think creatively is the toughest thinking skill to master, but it's also the most powerful. It means taking key problems, assessing hazards and possible answers - and then creating coherent new solutions of your own.
- Interpretation: Interpretation involves decoding the meaning and significance of all sorts of evidence and experiences. It means asking - just as a detective or a scholar might - "what does this evidence really tell me?"
- Evaluation: Evaluation is the skill of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of an argument. Improving your ability to evaluate makes it much easier to decide whether someone else's argument is weak or strong. It also helps you to deal with attempts by other people to knock down your own arguments.
- Reasoning: Reasoning takes two forms. Inductive reasoning involves making broad generalizations from specific observations. Deductive reasoning is the dissection of hypotheses to reach a logical conclusion. It's a forensic skill used by attorneys, and it requires you to identify gaps in the evidence, or flaws in logic.
Additional information on the 2016 Macat Critical Thinking study, and how people can participate, can be found here.
Macat screenshots, spokespeople images and logos are available to download here. Additional information and interviews with Hassan and Dr. Roy are available upon request.
Macat is an online learning platform, library, and critical thinking tool that explains the world's greatest ideas and helps improve problem-solving skills. Macat believes that education is a right, not a privilege. It is dedicated to making the texts of the world's most influential thinkers accessible and comprehensible to everybody, everywhere. Its library consists of academic analyses of key works spanning humanities and social science disciplines, written by active scholars from top universities around the globe. Through its multimedia platform, Macat makes it easier, faster and more attainable to use these texts to develop better critical thinking skills and build a better, smarter world.