Becoming a Strategic Thinker / Edition 1

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Overview

This book addresses the biggest issues facing those readers who are in a learning environment today: dealing with the flood of information in all courses and in the culture in general, and learning the most important information to do well in their endeavors. It shows readers how to become strategic thinkers, thereby enhancing efficiency in decision-making about accessing and processing information. The goal of this book is to help you understand how you can think better, and the topics covered will help you reach that goal. It covers the eight skills necessary to become a strategic thinker: analysis, evaluation, induction, deduction, grouping, synthesis, abstracting, and persuasive expression. A book for anyone who wants to learn to better organize their thoughts and develop more efficient problem-solving techniques.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131179837
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 549,389
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Have any of the following things ever happened to you?

  • You are in a course and nothing seems to make sense to you. You just can't seem to get started learning the material.
  • You spend many hours reading an assigned book or article, yet when you finish it you can't remember much of anything important that you just read.
  • You study much more than other students, yet you earn lower grades than they do.
  • When you hand in an exam, you are confident that you knew all the material that was tested, and you are convinced you have earned a good grade. But when you get the graded exam back, you see that points are marked off, and you did not do nearly as well as you expected.
  • When your professor goes over the answers you wrote on a test, you are frustrated because you feel you knew the material but were not able to express it well in your answers.

We all have experienced these things from time to time. Education is a continuing challenge, and at times students may get frustrated that they are not learning much, especially when they are working hard. If these experiences happen more than you would like them to, then you need to take some steps so that they won't continue to occur in the future. The best way to position yourself so that you will encounter more rewarding experiences instead of frustrating ones is to become a strategic thinker.

Strategic thinkers are people who are able to make good decisions quickly about which information is most important and which can be ignored. They are able to catalog information in their mind effectively so they can retrieve it when they need it. Strategic thinkers are able to see the big picture—about the world, their place in it, and how education will improve their place. With all this as context, they know how to transform information into knowledge effectively and efficiently.

This book is not going to teach you how to think. You already know how to do that. You have made many good decisions and accomplished much already. You have significant abilities or you would not be in college. But you can always get better—if you did not believe that you could strengthen your abilities even more, then you would not have made the sacrifice to enroll in college.

My goal with this book is to help you understand how you can think better by becoming a strategic thinker. You will strengthen your ability to reason more effectively for yourself and depend less on the media and other people telling you what to think. You will learn to think more efficiently so that you can get greater rewards for the same amount of effort you have been putting into your courses. By becoming a strategic thinker, you will be able to solve problems in course assignments as well as in life more quickly and with more confidence.

HOW TO BECOME A STRATEGIC THINKER

In order to become a strategic thinker, you need two things. First, you need some guidance; second, you need commitment to working on exercises that will strengthen your skills and build up your knowledge structures. This book will help you with both of these tasks.

In the chapters ahead, you will develop a set of eight skills that are the core tools for strategic thinking. In Chapter 1, you will see how strategic thinking is a powerful way to meet the challenges presented by the flood of information in our culture and in higher education. In Chapter 2, you will see that there is a core set of eight skills that strategic thinkers use as their primary tools when they encounter information and try to make sense of it. You will also learn how these skills are used to build knowledge structures. In Chapter 3, you will find out what your current knowledge style is and learn how to work from your basic knowledge style to become more of a strategic thinker.

The next eight chapters present each of the eight skills of strategic thinking. They will help you develop each strategic thinking skill more fully and give you exercises so you can practice what you are learning.

The book ends with a chapter that presents a springboard for developing the eight skills. You will see how to begin with your natural knowledge style, then work from your strengths to overcome your weaknesses in order to develop a more useful knowledge style.

This book can open doors of understanding for you. But you must do your part. You need to consider carefully the ideas in each chapter, then incorporate those ideas into your own approach to information. Also, you will need to do the exercises presented in the eight skill chapters. Skills are like muscles—they need to be exercised in order to get stronger. No matter how strong your skills are, you can make them even stronger. The more you work with them, the stronger they get. But if you give up working with them, they will get weaker. Exercising is the only way to improve them.

Developing the eight skills requires an investment of effort from you. In the beginning, it may be difficult to get into the habit of doing the exercises. But when you commit to investing your time and effort to strengthen your skills, you will start down a road toward rewards that will more than pay back all your effort. Improvement may be slow at first, but if you keep investing your effort, the improvements will come faster. Once you start noticing the improvements, the exercises will seem easier, and the rewards will accelerate.

The rewards from your investment of time and energy in developing as a strategic thinker will continue beyond this course. Because the strategic-thinking core skills apply to all bodies of knowledge, these skills can help you work with information and solve problems in any type of course. And even more important, you can use the skills outside of your college courses, in your everyday life—to solve problems about friends and make better decisions about how to spend your time and money. Also, the more you develop this set of eight skills, the more successful you can be in any career beyond college. With stronger strategic-thinking skills, you will be more competitive for jobs in the most interesting and satisfying careers. Without these skills, however, you are limiting yourself to low-level jobs. For example, in the retail sales career path, if your skill set is limited to memorization, you can hold only a clerk-type position. Once hired, you will be given a list of procedures to memorize, such as how to run the cash register, how to stock the shelves, and how to put prices on the merchandise. You will do these things over and over. If instead you have a strong set of strategic-thinking skills, you can take on much more challenging—and interesting—tasks that may be different every day. You might be asked to determine what the prices of merchandise should be and when to put certain items on sale, to suggest changes in the layout of the store, and to train new employees. You need to demonstrate a greater skill set before you will be given these types of responsibilities.

Think about what kind of a career you want to have, and ask yourself if you are developing the kind of skills that would prepare you for the "clerk" level or the "professional" level in that career. If you are interested in a career in medicine, would you prefer to dispense pills and treatments that others have prescribed, or would you rather diagnose people's problems and develop treatments? If you are interested in a career in law, would you prefer to check facts and type up other people's arguments, or would you rather construct your own arguments? If a professional career is what you want, then you need to develop a strong set of skills that help you filter out useless or bad information, filter in good information, and transform that good information into knowledge that can solve challenging problems. Once you have developed this set of skills, you are better able to think like a professional, regardless of the field—medicine, law, business, architecture, teaching, engineering, writing, science, and so on.

The ability to think strategically delivers many kinds of rewards, both in college courses and in the world outside academia. The earlier you develop this ability, the sooner you can start experiencing the many rewards.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. The Challenges.

2. Strategic Thinking.

3. Knowledge Styles.

4. Skill 1: Analysis.

5. Skill 2: Evaluation.

6. Skill 3: Induction.

7. Skill 4: Deduction.

8. Skill 5: Grouping.

9. Skill 6: Synthesis.

10. Skill 7: Abstracting.

11. Skill 8: Persuasive Expression.

12. Conclusion.

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Preface

Have any of the following things ever happened to you?

  • You are in a course and nothing seems to make sense to you. You just can't seem to get started learning the material.
  • You spend many hours reading an assigned book or article, yet when you finish it you can't remember much of anything important that you just read.
  • You study much more than other students, yet you earn lower grades than they do.
  • When you hand in an exam, you are confident that you knew all the material that was tested, and you are convinced you have earned a good grade. But when you get the graded exam back, you see that points are marked off, and you did not do nearly as well as you expected.
  • When your professor goes over the answers you wrote on a test, you are frustrated because you feel you knew the material but were not able to express it well in your answers.

We all have experienced these things from time to time. Education is a continuing challenge, and at times students may get frustrated that they are not learning much, especially when they are working hard. If these experiences happen more than you would like them to, then you need to take some steps so that they won't continue to occur in the future. The best way to position yourself so that you will encounter more rewarding experiences instead of frustrating ones is to become a strategic thinker.

Strategic thinkers are people who are able to make good decisions quickly about which information is most important and which can be ignored. They are able to catalog information in their mind effectively so they can retrieve it when they need it. Strategic thinkers are able to see the big picture—about the world, their place in it, and how education will improve their place. With all this as context, they know how to transform information into knowledge effectively and efficiently.

This book is not going to teach you how to think. You already know how to do that. You have made many good decisions and accomplished much already. You have significant abilities or you would not be in college. But you can always get better—if you did not believe that you could strengthen your abilities even more, then you would not have made the sacrifice to enroll in college.

My goal with this book is to help you understand how you can think better by becoming a strategic thinker. You will strengthen your ability to reason more effectively for yourself and depend less on the media and other people telling you what to think. You will learn to think more efficiently so that you can get greater rewards for the same amount of effort you have been putting into your courses. By becoming a strategic thinker, you will be able to solve problems in course assignments as well as in life more quickly and with more confidence.

HOW TO BECOME A STRATEGIC THINKER

In order to become a strategic thinker, you need two things. First, you need some guidance; second, you need commitment to working on exercises that will strengthen your skills and build up your knowledge structures. This book will help you with both of these tasks.

In the chapters ahead, you will develop a set of eight skills that are the core tools for strategic thinking. In Chapter 1, you will see how strategic thinking is a powerful way to meet the challenges presented by the flood of information in our culture and in higher education. In Chapter 2, you will see that there is a core set of eight skills that strategic thinkers use as their primary tools when they encounter information and try to make sense of it. You will also learn how these skills are used to build knowledge structures. In Chapter 3, you will find out what your current knowledge style is and learn how to work from your basic knowledge style to become more of a strategic thinker.

The next eight chapters present each of the eight skills of strategic thinking. They will help you develop each strategic thinking skill more fully and give you exercises so you can practice what you are learning.

The book ends with a chapter that presents a springboard for developing the eight skills. You will see how to begin with your natural knowledge style, then work from your strengths to overcome your weaknesses in order to develop a more useful knowledge style.

This book can open doors of understanding for you. But you must do your part. You need to consider carefully the ideas in each chapter, then incorporate those ideas into your own approach to information. Also, you will need to do the exercises presented in the eight skill chapters. Skills are like muscles—they need to be exercised in order to get stronger. No matter how strong your skills are, you can make them even stronger. The more you work with them, the stronger they get. But if you give up working with them, they will get weaker. Exercising is the only way to improve them.

Developing the eight skills requires an investment of effort from you. In the beginning, it may be difficult to get into the habit of doing the exercises. But when you commit to investing your time and effort to strengthen your skills, you will start down a road toward rewards that will more than pay back all your effort. Improvement may be slow at first, but if you keep investing your effort, the improvements will come faster. Once you start noticing the improvements, the exercises will seem easier, and the rewards will accelerate.

The rewards from your investment of time and energy in developing as a strategic thinker will continue beyond this course. Because the strategic-thinking core skills apply to all bodies of knowledge, these skills can help you work with information and solve problems in any type of course. And even more important, you can use the skills outside of your college courses, in your everyday life—to solve problems about friends and make better decisions about how to spend your time and money. Also, the more you develop this set of eight skills, the more successful you can be in any career beyond college. With stronger strategic-thinking skills, you will be more competitive for jobs in the most interesting and satisfying careers. Without these skills, however, you are limiting yourself to low-level jobs. For example, in the retail sales career path, if your skill set is limited to memorization, you can hold only a clerk-type position. Once hired, you will be given a list of procedures to memorize, such as how to run the cash register, how to stock the shelves, and how to put prices on the merchandise. You will do these things over and over. If instead you have a strong set of strategic-thinking skills, you can take on much more challenging—and interesting—tasks that may be different every day. You might be asked to determine what the prices of merchandise should be and when to put certain items on sale, to suggest changes in the layout of the store, and to train new employees. You need to demonstrate a greater skill set before you will be given these types of responsibilities.

Think about what kind of a career you want to have, and ask yourself if you are developing the kind of skills that would prepare you for the "clerk" level or the "professional" level in that career. If you are interested in a career in medicine, would you prefer to dispense pills and treatments that others have prescribed, or would you rather diagnose people's problems and develop treatments? If you are interested in a career in law, would you prefer to check facts and type up other people's arguments, or would you rather construct your own arguments? If a professional career is what you want, then you need to develop a strong set of skills that help you filter out useless or bad information, filter in good information, and transform that good information into knowledge that can solve challenging problems. Once you have developed this set of skills, you are better able to think like a professional, regardless of the field—medicine, law, business, architecture, teaching, engineering, writing, science, and so on.

The ability to think strategically delivers many kinds of rewards, both in college courses and in the world outside academia. The earlier you develop this ability, the sooner you can start experiencing the many rewards.

Read More Show Less

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