Critical thinking skills shouldn’t just be stressed in the classroom - they are equally important in the workplace. However, employers are experiencing a critical thinking skills gap. “(Critical thinking) is consistently rated by employers as being a skill of increasing importance, and yet a recent study showed 49 percent of employers rate their employees’ critical thinking skills as only average or below average,” stated the Pearson blog.1
The potential implications of these findings -- if they continue unchanged -- are profound. Without sharp critical thinking skills, employees are unable to solve challenges in their daily work and make smart decisions to help businesses grow.
Using an LMS system, you can help your employees build valuable critical thinking skills.
3 Ways to Improve Employees’ Critical Thinking Using a Learning Management System
1. Provide simulated training that allows employees to choose from several plausible solutions
A contributor to ZipRecruiter said that generating possible solutions, especially out-of-the-box ideas, helps strengthen critical thinking skills in the workplace.2 To promote these skills during LMS training simulations, offer employees an array of potential solutions to choose from.
For example, a retail company could boost new hires’ critical thinking skills by simulating a scenario in which they encounter an angry customer over the phone, and then prompting them to solve the problem. Potential solutions the employer could offer might include transferring the customer to a supervisor, staying on the phone with the customer while following a script for working through conflict, or putting the customer on hold to get feedback from a coworker about how to best respond. The more viable solutions are, the more critically employees will have to think to discern the best one.
Related Reading: 4 Biggest Employee Training Problems eLearning Solves for Enterprises
2. Include a course on effective decision-making during onboarding
While businesses get new hires up to speed with company policies and procedures, they should equip them with skills for successful decision-making. Adding a decision-making course to an employee’s onboarding learning path is one way to do this. The course could explore bias and explain how to choose the best solution out of multiple solutions to a problem. If your company has a protocol for decision-making, introduce it to new hires in the course.
The course should teach employees that jumping to conclusions reduces critical thinking. An online course can educate learners to overcome this habit by training them to “ask questions about the origin of a problem and how it evolved” and “avoid overthinking possible solutions.” These actions can slow the problem-solving process and undermine disciplined thinking,” per Eagle’s Flight.3
3. Encourage learners to keep an online training journal
In the classroom, teachers encourage note-taking to promote critical thinking as well as knowledge retention. Employers can use this simple method to foster critical thinking in their workforce, as taking notes and keeping a personal record of learning can help cement new ideas and encourage them to examine what they’ve learned - a key element in knowledge retention.
Furthermore, having employees take notes on training will help them build their ability to think critically. Taking notes can be done during an online training module or a live training experience. For example, an employee could shadow someone in their same role and take notes along the way. Ask them to write down anything their mentor does that they don’t fully understand so they can ask questions later.
Make keeping a training journal easy for learners by allowing them to jot down notes directly in your learning management system.
To Build Employees’ Critical Thinking Skills, Make Training a Challenge
When designing or purchasing online training, employers should make sure the training challenges learners and causes them to think deeply. This will help to close the critical thinking skills gap and ensure businesses maintain effective leadership, creative employees, and healthy team performance.5
1. Pearson blog. The status of critical thinking in the workplace. https://www.pearsoned.com/the-status-of-critical-thinking-in-the-workplace/.
2. ZipRecruiter. Why critical thinking skills are important in the workplace. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/why-critical-thinking-skills-are-important-in-the-workplace/.
3. Eagle’s Flight. How to promote critical thinking skills in the workplace. https://www.eaglesflight.com/blog/how-to-promote-critical-thinking-in-the-workplace.
4. Absorb LMS. How writing a learning journal can increase critical thinking skills. https://www.absorblms.com/blog/how-writing-a-learning-journal-can-increase-critical-thinking-skills/.
5. Career and Education blog. Benefits of critical thinking in the workplace. https://careerandeducation.expertscolumn.com/benefits-critical-thinking-workplace.