Can Critical Thinking Be Taught in Business School?
There is universal agreement among educators in the academy and managers in the workplace that critical thinking skills are essential for success at all levels. Over a century ago, the American sociologist William Graham Sumner defined what we now call critical thinking as “the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not.” He further argued that “it is our only guarantee against delusion, deception, superstition, and misapprehension of ourselves and our earthly circumstances,” and education “teaches us to act by judgment” (Sumner, 1906, pp. 632-633).
Hiring managers have long recognized how important critical thinking is in their talent searches. Wall Street Journal reporter Marisa Taylor (2010) argued that “while the ability to think critically is, well, critical in the workplace, employers have long complained that many of the young college graduates they hire seem to lack this skill.”
But what can be changed to help improve the critical thinking skills of college graduates? In their article “Cultivating Critical-Thinking Dispositions Throughout the Business Curriculum,” Janel Bloch and Sandra E. Spataro explore what can be done in the business school module to promote these skills.
Critical thinking is an essential component of managerial literacy, yet business school graduates struggle to apply critical-thinking skills at work to the level that employers desire. This article argues for a dispositional approach to teaching critical thinking, rooted in cultivating a critical-thinking culture. We suggest a two-pronged approach of (a) clearly defining critical thinking and selecting an accessible model for applying it and (b) integrating critical thinking consistently throughout the business curriculum. We illustrate implementation of this strategy in our revised MBA curriculum and conclude by challenging others to consider adopting a cultural and dispositional approach.
Click here to read “Cultivating Critical-Thinking Dispositions Throughout the Business Curriculum” and here to read the September editorial entitled “Finding Ways to Teach Critical Thinking in Business and Professional Communication” for free from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly. Want to know about all the latest from Business and Professional Communication Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!