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e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Richard E. Mayer, Ruth C. Clark

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CHAPTER 16 e-Learning to Build Thinking Skills

CHAPTER SUMMARY

When you help staff build thinking skills, you enable the workforce to quickly adapt to changing conditions. For example, in the military, Chatham (2009) observes: “Today’s missions now require that we also train each soldier to be a little bit of a linguist, anthropologist, city manager, arbitrator, negotiator, engineer, contract specialist, ambassador, and a consummate bureaucrat within the Army system. As if that weren’t enough, each soldier must be ready instantly to shift into a shooting mode and then an hour later calmly negotiate with the brother-in-law of the man he shot” (p. 29). How many job roles in your organization rely on flexible problem-solving skills? From managerial skills to consultative sales and customer service, nearly all organizations incorporate job roles with multiple competencies that require thinking skills to achieve bottom-line performance goals.

In this chapter we draw upon a number of research studies and reviews to update the guidelines described in the previous edition. Specifically, evidence suggests that (1) critical thinking skills can be improved through training and (2) explicit training programs that incorporate authentic problems and learner dialog are the most effective instructional approach. Successful teaching of thinking skills requires explicit teaching of job-relevant skills, modeling and discussion based on authentic problems, and a focus on job-specific strategies. ...

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